A swimming pool in your own backyard may seem like the epitome of luxury and in some ways, it is. Spending the lazy days of summer relaxing in your own swimming pool with no crowds to fight and no scheduled hours to contend with is indeed pleasant. However, a pool is a commitment that requires a fair amount of work and expense in exchange for the privileges. Where you live, how much use your pool will get, and how much time you can commit to its maintenance are all factors that play a role in deciding if you should install a pool.
In-Ground Pools Versus Above-Ground Pools
There are essentially two types of swimming pools, in-ground and above-ground. An in-ground pool is by far the greater expense but it's typically the longer-lasting choice. An in-ground pool has several advantages over its above-ground counterpart, with the primary advantage being size and varied depth. Conversely, an above-ground pool is typically less of an initial investment and, while limited in size and depth, can be a good alternative. Years ago, above-ground pools were considered less aesthetic; however modern designs have incorporated more varied styles, trim packages and decking that make them considerably more attractive.
Regardless of your preference, your local zoning laws may have a bearing on the type of pool you can have. Smaller lots may be limited by zoning variances and building codes that limit the size of pool you can install. You will need to check with your local building inspector or zoning department to inquire about the rules in your area.
Before installing a pool of any type, make sure you have the ability to provide the necessary safety measures. If you have small children in your household or even small children who live nearby, you need to make certain that access to the pool cannot be attained without your knowledge. As a matter of building code, in almost every area a fence is required around the entire perimeter of the pool or portion of the yard where the pool is located. Safety covers and alarms are other safety measures you might consider, especially for in-ground pools. Be sure you've thought the safety concerns through before beginning installation. It's also a good idea to double check with your insurance policy to see if you need to place additional riders on your policy for a pool. These are all valid considerations that also add to the overall expense.
Obviously, there is an initial expense incurred when installing a pool but be sure you understand that it is a continuous additional expense to operate and maintain. Chemicals, water, energy consumed for running the pump, lighting, and optional heating, as well as maintenance and supply expenses like repairing torn liners, replacing pump parts, and so forth. The expense of maintaining and operating a pool will vary with the size and type of pool but keep in mind it is a routine expense so be sure you can live with it.
There is a dispute among even pool professionals regarding the best type of water sanitizing system. There are basically two options -- chlorination and salt water systems. Each one has their advantages and disadvantages, and you should research both options thoroughly to decide what your preference will be. Also keep in mind that you will have to learn a bit about pool water chemistry to keep your pool in clean, operating order. Maintaining pH levels and water clarity as well as proper sanitary levels takes a bit of practice.
Having a grip on the expense and maintenance involved with owning a pool is important but you should also keep in mind the overall impact a pool will have on your property. While a pool can be a definite amenity to one homeowner, it in no way guarantees added property value. In fact, some homes experience a reduction in property value as the result of a pool addition. If you live in a warm climate where pools get the most annual use, it can be considered an amenity. However, in cooler climates with defined seasons of just three months, a pool may be considered a liability during resale. If you can live with the consequences either way, invest in what makes you happy now and worry about property value later.
Choosing a Contractor
Whether you hire a swimming pool contractor to dig an in-ground pool or purchase an above-ground pool from a retailer, make sure they stand behind their product. A warranty should be standard and cover all parts for a minimum of one year. Typically, electrical parts will be warrantied for longer.
Also make sure to deal with a contractor or retailer who has experience installing pools in your area and is familiar with codes. A contractor with localized experience and service is a better bet than an unknown out-of-town contractor.
Timing Is Everything
As long as you've considered your purchase carefully and have committed to the maintenance, the last thing you should know is that timing the installation is important. While it may seem logical to wait until the weather is at its hottest to install a pool, it may be to your benefit to install in the off season. Some pool retailers offer better pricing in the fall and early spring, and are more likely to schedule the job at your convenience. If you've chosen an in-ground pool, keep in mind that most contractors won't (and shouldn't) dig in the winter or during the rainy season. Time your decision so you get the best deal but also so you can get the quickest return on your investment.
There is quite a bit of information to cull when considering installing a pool but all things considered, owning a pool can be a very satisfying and rewarding experience that you and your family can enjoy for years to come.