Adding a pool: should you do it?

Adding a pool can be a great addition to your property

Photo by CC user phoenixreguy on Flickr

Should you add a pool? That’s a simple question, but there is no simple answer for homeowners. No matter where you live, adding a pool shouldn’t be your first priority if you’re a new homeowner. Homes take more money and attention than most people realize, before buying their first house. Unless the house you live in was constructed especially for you, it likely has lots of stuff you need to focus on, like insulating above the ceiling, waterproofing the basement, or trying to catch that mouse in the kitchen.

But once these early homeowner worries are taken care of, it might be time to start thinking about a pool. For some people, a pool will be a no-brainer. Some people love pools so much that they’ll use one in their own backyard all the time. People who love sunbathing, enjoy swimming for exercise, adore throwing backyard parties for friends, or all of the above – a swimming pool might be worthwhile for these reasons alone.

Other homeowners like the idea of having a pool, but want to make sure that it’s a good investment from a financial standpoint as well. Practically any new swimming pool will add value to a home. But how much value we’re talking about entirely depends on where you live, and what sort of pool you construct.

Pools make more sense in South Florida than they do in Montana. In general, the hotter your weather, the more cost-effective new pool construction will be for your bottom line. In the deep south, in healthy housing markets, a good in-ground swimming pool can add 10-15% equity to your home. Those are big numbers. It’s hard to add that much value to a home with any other direct investment, including kitchen and bathroom upgrades.

To put this number in perspective, however, we’ve got to figure out how much it costs to bulld a great pool. This cost comes in at about $20,000-30,000 – no small sum for most people. To break even, the value of your home would have to be in the $200,000 to $300,000 range, at least. That being said, people build pools for more reasons than adding equity.

To determine if a new pool is right for your home, you’ve got to think about how much you and your family would use it. If you have children, getting a lot of use out of a pool is a no-brainer. Depending on their ages, you may get 10 or more years of near-constant use out of it, between the kids and their friends. You’ll also find that your pool can be a center for social engagements, and is a great perk for visiting family and friends. Even if you don’t make all of the construction costs back in your gained equity, the extra cost of a pool can be worth it.

At the end of the day, whether or not you build a pool is up to you. Make sure you can afford to dig, build, fill, and maintain a pool, and leave enough extra money to cover landscaping, fencing, and lighting. If, after general renovations are made in the rest of the house, you can afford this, go for it. You’ll enjoy it, and you’ll build a lot of equity besides.