Being a savvy homeowner, you know that the decision to get a pool is not one to be taken lightly. If, after weighing the pros and cons of pool ownership, you’ve decided to become the proud owner of a “backyard swimmin’ hole,” there are a few more things you should consider before you begin the financing process:
Rules for Pools: Does your neighborhood have a homeowner’s association? If so, what are its covenants regarding pools? Every HOA is different, so be sure to check with yours before you enter the design phase of your pool construction. Are there are any municipal laws governing pools and water usage?
Insurance: How will this affect your homeowner’s insurance premium? While extra insurance coverage might not be required, it is recommended by many insurance carriers because of the increased risk of slips, falls and injuries on your property. Consider pushing up your liability coverage as well as your property coverage. You’ll feel more secure knowing that unexpected accidents will be covered by your carrier.
Taxes: What will it do to your property tax bill? Every municipality is different, but it is likely the pool will add to the assessed value of your home and, with that, your property tax bill. Check with an official appraiser to get a read on how much they value they think it adds to your house and what that will do to your tax rate.
Obstructions: Are there any obstructions in your yard that will require extra work to make way for the pool; things like sprinkler systems and large trees? What is the subsurface like? In some areas, heavy rock concentration adds to the cost of excavation. Know your surroundings before committing to the project.
Yard Demolition: One thing home owners often forget is that once the pool is installed, the yard must be landscaped again. This could include re-sodding, a new irrigation system, installation of trees and shrubs and any other extras you may want. Factor these items into your cost assessment.
Protection: The U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends a “completely fenced-in pool…(with) self-closing and self-latching devices on gates.” This is especially important in homes where children under the age of five live or visit. Their data shows that a pool surrounded by fencing on all four sides provides superior protection to one that uses the house as the barrier for the fourth side with the fence covering only three sides. They recommend a fence of no less than four feet in height, but suggest that five feet or higher is preferable.
The CPSC suggests pool covers as another line of defense for child safety. The CPSC provides excellent, detailed instructions regarding fence and pool cover installation. While considering pool safety, also think about these precautions:
Life Jackets: Have a few available for inexperienced swimmers.
Phone Access: Keep your phone handy at poolside in case you have to call 9-1-1 in an emergency.
First Aid: Do you know CPR? It might not be a bad idea to take a class to learn how to deal with a drowning victim in the event of an emergency.
Safe Surfaces: Not all pool-related accidents happen in the water. Slipping and falling on a slick surface around the pool can also be an issue. Make this a priority when choosing the materials that will surround your pool.
Extras: Does it make sense to have an adjoining hot tub installed at the same time? After all, there is already going to be a work crew in the yard, digging holes and laying pipes. About half of all pool customers choose to go this route, too. Would a small pool house really tie the project together? Have you dreamed of having a natural-look pool with a waterfall and rock treatments? What about underwater lighting or a heated pool? Your imagination is only limited by your budget!