Originally Posted by ProspectiveBum
I realize that many LBYM-types wouldn't dream of putting a swimming pool in the backyard. That said, I have 2 young kids who have taken to swimming in a big way. I'm contemplating a move in the next few years to a home with a pool, or with a backyard suitable for building one. There is a public swimming pool not that far from us, but we're a family of introverts, and would prefer more privacy & quiet than the public pool affords (though it's definitely a heckuva lot cheaper than building our own pool).
Many folks who have pools complain incessantly about the maintenance required, and I have zero interest in becoming a slave to a big water hole. Any personal experiences, good or bad? It seems like the newer saline pools require less chemicals and futzing with. Is that true?
Any input is appreciated!
Well, as a fairly new pool owner I'll give all the thoughts I have on the matter, for what they're worth.
We've had our pool for 3 years - in-ground gunite by Blue Haven (lifetime transferable shell warranty) w/diving board & 6' slide - I recognized upfront that this is purely a luxury purchase & don't expect it to add value to the house, although it may add some (or a lot? time & the market will tell) In making the decision to purchase this luxury you can look at it many different ways - for me, I finally decided that:
* I always thought when I was a kid that I would have a pool some day (remember back when we all thought we were gonna be millionares?) I realized that "OK, here I am in my mid-40's, where's that pool I always thought I'd have?" We drive older cars, remodeled our house ourselves, always been LBYM, etc - but interest rates were good, our income at peak earning years, so I realized that "yes, we can do this"
* I got a nice unexpected settlement check from a long pending lawsuit that paid for a third of the pool up-front.
* 10 y/o daughter (now 13). Only child. Loves the water. She has lots of good times with her friends over. She's not getting any younger. A pool adds lots of good times for her & us to enjoy with her while she's still younger.
* East Texas summers, hot & humid, not much to do outside that doesn't involve major perspiration within 5 minutes. Overall, this is probably the #1 major benefit for us in having a pool. We also have a pretty long swim season - no pool heater, but we can jump in with wetsuits for much of the cooler months.
* We bought a somewhat upper middle class house for the area in which we live in - therefore an above ground pool would actually detract from the value & a liner pool also, although to lesser degree.
* The particular site of our house had a beautiful setting for a pool on a hillside overlooking the lower 3 acres of woods & creek. The backyard before was just a steeply sloping patch of grass that was hard to mow. The pool really made the house that was lacking just a little something to make a fantastic retreat in the backyard. We did have some major dirtwork done building up the hillside with terraces on the overlook side of the hill. (Building on the hillside was a major motivation for going with Blue Haven with their lifetime shell warranty)
I looked at the options of liner, fiberglass, & gunite. Each as their pros & cons. We ended up deciding on gunite.
Although I'm sure there's some people out there, I've not yet met anyone who did not have at least one or two headaches with their pool builder. We had several, but it all came out OK in the end. (We only hate the salesman now, who's since been fired,
we're still freindly with the owner & other employees)
We had an electronically controlled saltwater chlorination system installed with the four large filter cartridges (rather than sand or other filtration). I love the system. Filter cartridges are about $90 each, but last 3 to 5 years if taken care of properly. Mine are still in pretty good shape after 3 years. Maintenance is very low.
One caution re: saltwater chlorination - it's great, but make sure the pool builder uses stainless steel fixtures on EVERYTHING - including the mounts for the slide & diving board bolts/fixtures - the saltwater will rust anything it frequently gets on.
Costs: $30 to $75 month additional electricity depending on time of year (we have newer energy efficient pumps). Chemicals: lower costs w/ the saltwater system - a $5 bag of water softener salt every once in a while, a little acid $3 from Home Depot every once in a while to adjust ph, some algaecide, a bottle of clarifier every once in a while. Water costs: probably not enough to even discuss - lots of water here in E. TX & it's relatively cheap.
Our house insurance was surpisingly impacted very little actually, I understand though that this can vary greatly from area to area & you should check on it before you build.
We went for a 8' deep 32'x14' irregular shaped diving pool with slide & diving board. I really would have preferred a tennis pool, but DW & DD really wanted the deep pool. If you put in a diving pool I cannot stress enough to insist upon & pay for at least 10' deep - one girl already skinned her lip on the bottom diving, fortunately that's the only incident so far, but now we have to very scrupulously caution anyone who wants to use the dive board. (it's currently taken off due to rusted bolts - & may stay off this season even though I like using it personally) Built in seating & a swim-out in the deep end are really worth the price also.
Daughter & I are scuba certified & have our own gear, so the deep pool is good for training & practicing our drills between dive trips.
When calculating the price of your pool, don't forget fencing & landscaping - can be major costs - we saved some doing ourselves but it was a lot of work. Pool builder will usually give you a standard 3 or 4 feet of decking around pool - their $sq ft cost will be much higher than you can contract it yourself, so you may want to consider.
The fine print of most pool contracts will also specify they are not responsible for any dirtwork or other work beyond 3 or 4 feet from the pool edge, so if you have any slopes or other issues you need to be aware.
If using a major company like Blue Haven, lead them to believe during the "sales" process that you are going to finance through their finance company - they're more likely to throw a freebies in the "included" price. (like a really cool color-changing light!) After price & included items are settled upon you can let them know you found your own financing.
In-pool sprinklers are good if you are in an area where the pool tends to overheat during the worst of the summer. You can run them at night to cool the pool down.
Remember also that companies like Blue Haven are merely general contractors - they have independent sub-contractors that come in & do all the work. Some things like decking you can get contracted yourself. We contracted our own electrician to get the wiring to the pool pump/control box location & ground the pool. $200 vs a flat $600 if Blue Haven had done it. (of course we didn't tell Blue Haven we wanted to do this until after final price was negotiated - they then had to knock the $600 off - they would have used a local electrician anyway & pocketed the rest)
Another thing in building is whether you have underground lawn sprinker lines in the area the pool will go. The pool company doesn't do this (but will be happy to sub-contract it & take a little profit for themselves for their trouble) I did the re-routing of sprinkler lines myself, but it's a pain. You may wish to find your own sub-contractor for that job.
As to looking at houses with existing pools: The newer pools with the saltwater systems, electronic controls, & energy efficient pumps are going to be much cheaper to run & less maintenance. Also find an independent plaster expert to check out the condition of the plaster on a plastered pool - it can last a very long time if chemical balance is kept correct, or a much shorter time if not. New plaster jobs are NOT cheap - several thou' I'm told.
Those are just a few of my thoughts on the subject - some may disagree with some of them - some may not be right for your situation.