More Bad News for Swimming Pools

Brett Arends at the Wall Street Journal calculates the cost of a backyard pool and advises prospective pool-owners to tread carefully. Arends estimates that installation costs run from $25,000-$50,000, and ongoing costs can easily hit $3,000 a year. Financial experts agree: “It’s definitely not an investment. It’s a big liability, if anything,” says Jim Holtzman, a financial planner. “I question whether it adds anything to the [sale price],” says Ed Rose, a financial planner in Florida. “It may contribute something, but you’ll never get your money out of it on the resale.” Plus there’s that pesky safety issue. (HT: Planet Money) [%comments]


Does home insurance cost increase when there is a pool on the property? I would think so just considering the risks of having a pool (neighborhood kids getting hurt, destructive pool scum, etc).


You're missing the point. A pool is there because the owners want to float around in it in the privacy of their own backyard. How much is that worth? It may well be like one of those credit card ads: Priceless.

Eileen M. Wyatt

It'd be interesting to get an estimate on whether any other form of backyard landscaping pays for itself versus turning into a money sink.


If you have a pool that you abhor. What are the economics of abandoning it, maintaining it, getting rid of it?

Robert Rippee

to challenge the conventional wisdom as well...the use of the swimming pool dramatically declines (long tail) with the amount of time you have it so it eventually becomes a giant chemical storage reservoir. I speak from first hand experience.


British swimming pools are self-filling.


That assumes you have a house. It's makes economically much more sense to live in a wooden barrel underneath a bridge. I'm surprised they didn't look into THAT.

In the mean time I will enjoy floating in my pool.


#4, when we were looking into buying a house with an unwanted pool a few years ago, it was going to be about $5k to jackhammer the pool and fill in the hole.


#5, that may be your first-hand experience. However it will not hold true for all pool owners.

My wife's parents have had an in-ground pool for the past 40 years and I can assure you that the pool has been and will continue to be heavily used each year. If anything, usage has increased over the years with the addition of spouses and grandchildren to the extended family.

Drill-Baby-Drill Drill Team

How to Market an Abandoned Swimming Pool to the Millenial Generation.

That is not an abandoned swimming pool. That is Your Own Personal Gnarly Tony Hawk Freestyle Skateboard Park.

I'll throw in a pair of skate board helmets, elbow and knee pads. Work on your own version of the Double McTwist 1260! Totally Awesome to the MAX!


If i remember correctly from when my parents sold and looked at houses in FL, not having a pool actually decreased the value of the house because all of the other houses had pools.

Drill-Baby-Drill Drill Team

I wonder if a survivalist can cheaply re-engineer a swimming pool into a Bomb Shelter.

That would be more of a conversation starter than anything else you could put in a suburban backyard.


Anyone know the economics on hottubs?


I wouldn't call this "more bad news". There's nothing in this article that hasn't been true pretty much since the concept of backyard pools was dreamed up.

" "I question whether it adds anything to the [sale price]," says Ed Rose, a financial planner in Florida."

Stop questioning; it doesn't. You install a pool because you want a pool, not because you think it's some sort of investment.

"Anyone know the economics on hottubs?"

In ground, same as a pool. Above ground you can take with you if you want. If you're building a home and think there's even a remote possibility you might want to get one someday, spend a couple hundred bucks and have a 60/220 line run to wherever you think you'd put it (or terminating somewhere on the exterior of the house if you have no idea). It'll save you a lot of money down the road.


So here are some things I've been batting around as I consider becoming a home or land owner who would LOVE a pool...

Commenter #2 is right on - the luxury of a private pool has its own series of hard-to-quantify pros for those of us who swim in water like most people walk on dry land. Like anything else, the cons tend to feel less bothersome when you want something badly enough.

Off the top of my head - the pros:

The reduction of wasted time and money of dealing with eye and ear infections I've gotten from public pool usage.

The reduction of travel time to/from pools not in my backyard.

Control over water temperature and chemical strength.

Reduction of lap lane-sharing with those who don't know how to share a lane (Including Mr. Arm-Flailer and Mr. Clears-his-Sinuses-in-the-Deep-End.) To me, an uninterrupted swim is truly a thing of rare and exquisite beauty on par with a work of fine art.

Never showing up for laps after fighting rush-hour traffic and finding the pool closed due to: rescheduled youth swimming practice, collapsing roof, or a new water-walking class.

And the best one of all...

Legal skinny dipping under the stars.

These things all add up over the years and, if given the option, would lead me to buy a plot of land for a pool and live in an Airstream trailer if that's what it takes to keep on budget.



I originally didn't want a pool when looking for a new home. However, I was "lucky" enough to live in the former foreclosure capitol of the US (Stockton, CA). I found a wonderful foreclosed home for a great rate and found banks easier to negotiate than owners. Per the appraiser, the pool added a paltry $400 to the value of the home (and the neighbor told us that pool cost $30,000 to install, and judging by the prior records, they refinanced the home with a 3/1 ARM for it). It clearly was a very bad decision on the prior owner's part, however I certainly benefited from it.

Yes, it is expensive to maintain, although I estimate about $1000 - $1200 a year (we do all the work ourselves), but my friends and family love coming over. I also noticed that I don't have to work so hard for entertaining guests as I used to as the pool (basically self-service) takes care of that. Just fire up the barbeque! It also helps me stay in shape too, which is always great.



I wonder if you could re-engineer a bomb shelter into
a pool...


I have an above ground pool which my kids (3) love and I spend hours each week maintaining. I have already decided that when the kids leave the house I am tearing it down. I spend 5 hours+ a week doing chemical checks, vacuuming and cleaning the filters. We have horribly hard well water, so I am constantly having to apply expensive chelating agents, pH up and chlorine to keep it clear. Sometimes I even swim in it.


We live in Minnesota and had an in-ground pool growing up. I recall when my parents tried to sell their house, the pool actually made it more difficult to sell. The reasons were mainly maintenance (including chemicals, repairs to linings, cleaning, winter prep). In addition, I remember that the pool was great when I was younger but the novelty of it wore as we became older andunfortunately the pool still needed to be maintained though no one used it.


i think it depends on where you live - i could maybe justify the costs of maintaining a pool if i lived in an area like CA or the southwest or something, where you could conceivably use the pool upwards of 8-9 months out of the year. but i think people who live in, say, the northeast, as i do, who have pools are nuts. we can use them 3 months a year if we're lucky, maybe a little bit more.

so someone else mentioned that if every house in a particular neighborhood (he mentioned FL specifically), then not having a pool could be a problem when it comes time to sell. but when i was looking for a house to buy, a pool was a big detractor for me - i didn't want the maintenance cost, plus the safety issues were a really big problem for me (i was pregnant at the time).