Home owners installing a new pool need to check that they have enough property to meet their community’s setback rules and other limitations, such as those set by wetland regulations. They should also be certain the topography allows for good drainage, says Glassman. He advises that the setting offer at least five hours a day of sun and some privacy from neighbors. Lizi Tabet with Alain Pinel, REALTORS®, in Burlingame, Calif., warns against planning a pool so big that it gobbles up the entire yard, leaving no room for a lawn or patio.
The pool’s primary use should help determine the size, shape, and amenities. Is the pool for one person to swim laps or a place where multiple generations will cool off? Different needs will dictate a lane, shallow and deep ends, a central area for games, or even an adjacent spa, says landscape architect Steve Chepurny, owner of Beechwood Landscape Architecture and Construction in Southampton, N.J.
In-ground pools are more popular than above-ground ones, especially for luxury homes. The most attractive pools are usually integrated into their landscape and complement the home’s style or materials. Rectangular or oval-shaped pools work well with classic traditional brick, stone, or frame houses, whilenatural poolsthat mimic Mother Nature often look better with modern houses and less formal settings.
Home owners should consider the water’s color, which comes from the color of the interior of the pool, and whether they’d like tile around the interior. It’s also important to think about the type of coping, or architectural elements surrounding the pool—anything from poured concrete to brick, bluestone, slate, travertine, or lawn. Natural pools often include rock clusters and waterfalls to further mimic Mother Nature. The APSP reports that these other extras rank high on wish lists: an automatic pool cleaner, seating area, safety and solar cover, sundeck, salt chlorinator system, lighting, and jets or sprays.
How much home owners can spend will influence whether they have an in-ground or above-ground pool, as well as its size, infrastructure, and additional bells and whistles. The APSP estimates that costs for a modest in-ground pool average around $33,560, though numbers can fluctuate depending on features and geographic location. By contrast, the average price for an above-ground pool was estimated by the organization to be $4,700 in 2011. The newer “stream style” body of water that flows through a yard or a “disappearing edge” pool may each run in excess of $100,000, Glassman says. Whatever type is selected, Chepurny says that setting aside money for the best finishes and equipment will save home owners money on maintenance and replacement costs down the line.
Pools require regular attention, though automatic devices and a competent service company can cut the time commitments for home owners. In addition, home owners may find that salt water systems require less maintenance—as well as cause less damage to hair color, skin, and plantings—than chlorinated ones. Greene advises setting aside an average of $50 to $75 a month for upkeep.
Pools become tired and dated just as interior rooms do. Pool owners should plan to replaster and seal their pool every five to 10 years, maintenance that may cost $3,000 to $5,000, says Glassman. Some materials, such as Pebble Tec, last longer than traditional plaster.
When it’s time to sell
The cost for filling in an unwanted pool can run from $10,000 to $20,000. Some agents suggest sellers have a ready-to-go bid on removing a pool when they list, says Tabet. Similarly, if the yard doesn’t include a pool in a location where it usually appeals to buyers, she suggests finding out if adding one would be feasible. Generally, pools reflect trends of the local real estate market. “The best thing for a home owner is to do is find out what those are,” Greene says.