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Last updated: July 17, 2019 • Home Improvement

The Pros and Cons of Installing an Inground Swimming Pool

What does the house of your dreams look like? Would you rather have a pool or an uncropped piece of land behind your house? Depending on your age and geographic location, you may be in favor of the former or the latter. We all love to wallow in water during a hot summer day. But should we replace the ground with water? Which one is more valuable? Hard to decide. In this article, you’ll find what is the best type of inground swimming pool and the main pros and cons.

But first, it is good to remember that water features can increase the value of your home. Swimming pools come at considerable costs ($20,000 on average). Fortunately, you can recover some of your investment, or even more when you sell the property.

  1. Types of in-ground pools
    1. Vinyl liner pools
    2. Concrete Pools
    3. Fiberglass Pools
    4. Stainless Steel (Inox) pools
  2. The pros of owning an in-ground swimming pool
    1. The enjoyment of having an in-ground swimming pool
    2. Convenience and intimacy around the pool
    3. Pools improve property resale value
    4. Pools may wash away mom guilt/parental guilt
    5. Replacing vacations with “staycation”
  3. The cons of owning an in-ground swimming pool
    1. Short swimming season
    2. Swimming pool reduces the yard space
    3. Pools require a lot of attention
    4. Safety hazards
    5. The high cost of installing a swimming pool
  4. When is the best time to install a swimming pool? 

Who can give you an estimated value of your home after the pool installation? An appraiser – his/her job is to compare similar properties and analyze if buyers in that market/neighborhood are willing to pay a premium for that feature. According to the National Association of Realtors®, swimming pools may increase the value of a house by 4-6%. So, in case you want to sell your property after installing an inground swimming pool, you have to know the profile of those who might qualify as buyers. In middle and upper class neighborhoods and in the warmer regions of the country, a swimming pool is not a bad investment at all.

Moreover, our home-buying behavior is quite predictable depending on the generation we belong to. For Millennials with kids, owning a pool means fewer tickets to water parks and less time spent preparing the kids for the trip and driving. For seniors, owning a pool could be too expensive and may require too much maintenance, so they would rather rent or choose a retirement home with a swimming pool. With arthritis and osteoporosis reducing their mobility, aquatic therapy (hydrotherapy) is highly recommended.   

Types of in-ground pools

young woman relaxing in the pool

We are not going to discuss above-ground swimming pools here because there’s no long-term change of the backyard landscaping. You inflate or install the pool on the ground and fill it with water from May till the end of summer, then you put it back in a box ‘til next year. With in-ground swimming pools, though, it’s different. You can’t hide them so fast! If you want to get rid of it, you have to fill it up with soil again. You will laugh, but in some parts of the country, people who filled their pools back with soil have sold their house for more. Now, let’s move on to find what are the main types of inground swimming pools.

Vinyl liner pools

vinyl liner pool

Cheap to install and maintain over time, this type of inground pools are customizable and you can have one in your yard ready to use in just a few weeks. The installation process is messy, but the end result will be worth it. However, the major drawback is that the vinyl liner has to be replaced every five years, or even sooner if it’s punctured. Vinyl is a smooth surface which doesn’t make it a thriving environment for algae, like concrete. And with a low algae threat comes a reduced need for chemicals. So, if you’re looking for a huge pool at an affordable price, go with this type of inground pool.

Concrete Pools

beautiful concrete swimming pool with palm trees around

The second type of inground pools in our list is concrete pools. Concrete pools are durable and can be formed in whatever shape you have in mind. Among the concrete swimming pool cons are the following:

  • The high cost to install.
  • Installation takes a long time so if you want to use it immediately, start the preparations during the off-season months.
  • Requires intensive maintenance: chemicals, pH control (which should be maintained at the ideal 7.4), frequent calcium and chlorine level checks and the like.
  • Need to be resurfaced every 10 years.  

There are some positive aspects, too:

  • Durability – you can enjoy it for a lifetime.
  • You can add extra water features: jets, waterfalls, hydro-massage, spillways or fountains. 

Concrete pools are what you usually find in big seaside resorts, aqua parks, and Olympic swimming pools. 

Fiberglass Pools

fiberglass pool

If you’re looking for the swimming pool with the lowest maintenance cost, then this is it! Fiberglass inground pools are as durable as concrete. The smooth finish doesn’t allow algae to grow, same like the vinyl liner – so fewer chemicals needed. Then there is no need to replace the coating. In fact, fiberglass is just a reinforcement for some kind of resin. One problem that you may find though could be an increased pH because the plaster already has a high pH. Keep your test kit handy! However, you may have to do a fiberglass pool resurfacing either because of cracks or because of they fade in color. Overall, though, this seems to be the ideal in-ground pool. 

Stainless Steel (Inox) pools

inox or stainless steel material

The most expensive pool structure, this type of pool can be found both in-ground and in high-rise buildings, on rooftops, due to its lightweight. Custom water features can be added, too. Stainless steel is not going to crack, de-laminate, peel, discolor, corrode or leak. Pools can also be finished with tiles, such as ceramic tiles, stone veneers, glass mosaics or other exotic materials so you won’t feel like floating in a stainless steel cooking tray. These type of inground pools are also great for mirroring. Did you know that some architects often include reflecting pools in their projects?

So, we have just seen that each type of swimming pool has its own strong and weak points. But, what are the advantages and disadvantages of owning an inground swimming pool after all?

The pros of owning an in-ground swimming pool

When public pools appeared for the first time, the water was usually cold and people didn’t spend much time in the water. Pools were pretty basic – most of the time rectangular. Since Alfred Moen invented the single-handed mixing faucet in 1937, the water in the pools got warmer and people spent more time splashing around. And with this, we arrive at the main reason for installing an inground swimming pool – for the joy it brings in your life!

The enjoyment of having an in-ground swimming pool

mother and child enjoying the pool

What better way to relax at home than to jump in the pool and cool down on a hot sunny day? And what better way to make your kids happy while keeping them off their screens? You may say that a home with a swimming pool is complete. When you have an inground swimming pool you can feel more comfortable knowing that nobody is judging your physics. Or if you have an inaesthetic skin disorder like psoriasis or vitiligo, you can enjoy a swim without feeling like you have to give everyone an explanation or excuse yourself for having some fun. So, at the end of the day, it pays off for itself. If you don’t plan to move any time soon, investing $20,000 in a pool is like paying in advance for a “lifetime ticket” to your own water park.

Besides being pleasant to look at, a pool comes with a series of health benefits: it relieves back and joint pain, it takes off the weight (which obese individuals as well as for pregnant women will really appreciate), and it has a calming effect. Moreover, the pool is an entertainment option when having friends and family over, and with a heater, it can be used year-round. 

Convenience and intimacy around the pool

Obviously, no more long drives to visit America’s biggest water parks – no long queues, no expensive hotel rooms, no curfew or early check-outs. You make your own rules! Of course, when you have little kids and start baby proofing your home, you may want to put a fence around the swimming pool and install an alarm on your doors until they grow up and become great swimmers.

Pools improve property resale value

inground swimming pool work site

Maybe this shouldn’t be the first reason behind replacing your nice lawn with an inground swimming pool. You can still add more beautiful plants and flowers around the pool. Or why not use the remaining yard for an organic garden to grow some healthy vegetables at home? In the future, if your kids ever sell that house and get a price higher than the average, good for them! In the meantime, if you want to obtain a home equity line of credit, you may qualify for higher amounts after a new appraisal, so you can make other significant home improvements. 

Pools may wash away mom guilt/parental guilt

Every parent has feelings of guilt at some point. Mom guilt is particularly prevalent in our society and can be triggered by excessive work or by not keeping the house clean and tidy. So, instead of going on long expensive holidays just to evade for a while and spend some time alone or with your kids, install an inground pool and have fun at home every day! Turn every weekend into a holiday! Just imagine how nice it would be to have your family time around this beautiful water feature…

Replacing vacations with “staycation”

If you’ve traveled a lot before becoming parents, then once you have kids you may not feel like globetrotting again. You were willing to take more risks back then and now you are more concerned about safety. The fear of a terrorist attack or other similar threats may reduce the appetite for travel as well. So it makes a lot of sense to invest a lot in your backyard.

Replacing vacations with “staycations” is an ongoing phenomenon nationwide. According to Expedia, 38.4% of Americans take at least one staycation a year, while 22.2% take two. When you have your own pool, though, your house becomes an “all-inclusive” holiday. But a pool will make you more active when staying at home. It’s like having a home gym – swimming will train many muscles, especially your tricep muscles and pectoral muscles. 

The cons of owning an in-ground swimming pool

Neglecting the pool for long periods of time or turning the filtering pump off to save on electricity may not be a good idea. Maintenance is a constant for pool owners. But here are some more cons. 

A short swimming season

Do you live in a temperate climate? Then constructing a pool outdoors doesn’t make much sense for the two or three months of good weather. Save your money and go to a local aqua park, instead. But if you live in a state with high temperatures all year round, like Florida or Arizona, then an inground swimming pool is a necessity, not a luxury. In fact, did you know that two-thirds of properties in Coral Springs have a swimming pool? A high pool density can be found in Arizona and Texas, as well.  

Swimming pool reduces the yard space

This is a negative point if you have a small yard. However, pools come in different shapes and sizes so it shouldn’t be too hard to choose the right one. If you don’t want to lose your yard, you can opt for an inflatable pool or other temporary installations, just for the season. Or, you can even cover the pool when not using it. Haven’t you heard of the disappearing swimming pools? You can hide an inground pool and still be able to use the space it takes up. 

Pools require a lot of attention

hand holding small tubes with chemicals for pool

Regular checks are mandatory. To lower the maintenance you may be tempted to choose a saltwater swimming pool instead. Saltwater is great for your skin and hair. The water is very silky and less irritating for the eyes, too. However, with salty water, you have to constantly check the metal components and wires for rust, especially if you have an automatic pool cover. It is highly corrosive. And maintaining an adequate pH is not easy at all. You will be caught in a yo-yo effect that will give you headaches. A salt chlorine system or generator will have to be replaced after a while so it is not cheaper than tap/hard water pools. Most pool and spa specialists don’t recommend this system, however, it’s good to know all the options.

Checking your pool chlorine level after a heavy rain is also important. Chlorine might zero out and the water may not be suitable for swimming.

To make your maintenance easier, install a pool control app for your smartphone. These apps make all the calculations for you. 

Pools are possible safety hazards

pool surrounded by a fence

During heavy rains pools can become a flooding hazard and your homeowners’ insurance may not cover this risk. Also, if you have guests over, you have to be aware of the private swimming pool liability laws in your state. Some insurance companies also recommend that the liability coverage be increased to at least $500,000 after installing a pool, so your home insurance will go up.

Do you have a furry friend? Then remember that not all pets are good swimmers. To protect your pets, install a pool alarm or a safety turtle that sounds off an alarm when submerged. Be aware that your neighbor’s pets may wander in your backyard and could drown in your swimming pool, so secure the perimeter of your pool with a fence or invest in an automatic pool cover.  

Unintentional drowning is also to be taken into consideration. Two out of ten cases are children age 14 or younger, according to the CDC. People who survive may remain with lifelong disabilities, memory problems and permanent loss of basic functioning. 

The high cost of installing a swimming pool

The cost of a swimming pool may be prohibitive for some people, especially if you want a heated pool. Financing is available, but make sure you don’t exceed the 50% threshold for housing. Maybe you can save some money for this big investment and pay for it in cash. However, after saving $20,000 or more in cash, you may think about investing in a rental property instead of blocking so much money into the ground.

Not all of us have what it takes to become real estate investors. Do a self-introspection and see what you value most in life. If you and your spouse decide that family time is more important than real estate investments, installing a pool will be rewarding. And if you managed to save $20,000 for this goal, you have the financial maturity to prioritize your spending and you can save money for other goals with ease. 

When is the best time to install a swimming pool? 

contractor cleaning and polishing the swimming pool bottom

Since construction can take quite a lot of time, especially if the weather is fluctuating, you have to start building during the colder months so that you can use the pool during the entire season. You should also install the pool as soon as possible after the purchase of the house to enjoy it for more years. 
The longer the swimming season, the more you will benefit from having your own inground swimming pool. But look beyond the fun! It is a place that binds people together and brings families closer. And as we get older and join the empty nesters’ club, all we have left are the relationships we have nurtured along the way. So don’t keep the pool all for yourself!

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