While images of a backyard pool can conjure up the feel of cannonballing into cool water on a hot summer’s day, the reality is a bit different. Upkeep of a pool is a lot of work.
Before you dive in, you may want to look at the reality of owning a place to take a dip. Here are six reasons not to own a pool.
1. High installation costs
Building an in-ground pool is expensive, and can range from $10,000 to $100,000 in the United States depending on the style, size and materials used, according to FIxr, a site where you can compare home remodeling estimates. FIxr puts the average pool installation cost at $50,000 for a 12x14-foot fiberglass inground pool with a concrete deck. On the high end, a concrete infinity pool with an enclosure is about $110,000.
As for an above ground pool, FIxr estimates that purchase prices (including installation) range from $1,500 — a metal-frame aboveground pool with a ladder and no deck — to about $10,000 for a 12’x24’ rectangular hard-sided pool with a full deck.
Don’t forget to add in the costs for fencing and gates, which nearly every municipality requires.
2. Time and money in maintenance
You can DIY weekly pool upkeep in about five to 10 hours of your spare time, but don’t forget that you also have to purchase all the supplies: pH kit, chlorine, pool vacuum, pool brushes, filters (replacements), skimmer, pool cover. And right now, the chlorine you need might be hard to find—there’s currently a shortage.
Costs for pool vacs, for example, vary wildly depending on size to functionality (scrubbing, leaf removal). Home Depot sells a leaf vac for just $90 but also a Turbo in-ground automatic robotic cleaner for $1,715. Just wading through the options could give you a headache.
Home improvement website HomeGuide estimates the one-time cost for a pool maintenance kit with a telescopic pole, vacuum, skimmer net, and wall brush is around $35. Chemical kits can run $20 to $100 per month.
You can hire a pool service but expect to shell out $125 on average for weekly professional maintenance.
If you live in a warm climate you might get to enjoy the pool year-round, but in other parts of the country, there are additional costs for seasonal shutdown, too. In addition, you’ll pay higher utility bills when the pool’s in use, an extra $300 annually for the additional electricity needed, according to HomeAdvisor, a website that helps connect homeowners with local professionals that do repair and remodeling.
3. Scary safety issues
As if you don’t have enough to keep you up at night, there’s this sobering statistic: The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s 2020 data shows that, on average, there are “379 reported pool- or spa-related fatal drownings involving children younger than 15 years old each year.” Seventy-five percent of these drownings involve children younger than 5.
There are also possible slip-and-fall injuries and diving board accidents to consider. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistics Center, diving accidents headed the list for recreation-related spinal cord injuries between 2010 and 2017.
Finally, there are the unseen, creepy-sounding things that can survive long enough in your pool — even those treated properly with chemicals — to make you sick: cryptosporidium, giardia, shigella and norovirus (diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting); pseudomonas (hot tub rash and swimmer’s ear); and legionella (respiratory issues), to name a few.
4. Higher insurance rates
You’re responsible for whoever is in your pool, invited or not. Pools are known in the law as an “attractive nuisance,” something tempting to children that might harm them. Having a fence and a pool cover aren’t enough.
Your homeowner’s insurance will cover in-ground pool damage with additional fees added to your premium and it may cover above-ground pool damage under personal property coverage. But when it comes to liability, that “attractive nuisance” adds a much deeper cost layer.
If someone gets injured, you can incur medical and legal expenses. The typical homeowners liability insurance policy is $100,000. The Insurance Information Institute suggests raising that to $300,000 to $500,000 if you have a pool. And the institute says to consider an umbrella liability policy, which kicks in when you reach the limit on your main liability coverage, and it will help pay for attorney’s fees.
5. Repair Costs
The most common trouble spots are liner or cover tears, leaks in concrete, and clogged lines, according to family Handyman, a DIY resource for homeowners. If you’re handy, you might be able to repair the problems yourself, but if you’ve got to hire a pro, expect to pay about $200 to fix a tear in a vinyl liner. Cracks or leaks in an in-ground pool can set you back quite a bit. FIxr puts the average range for that type of repair at $500 to $3,500.
6. No help at resale
If you sell, in most cases you’re not going to recoup the cost of installing an in-ground pool, and “it’s not going to increase the resale value,” says Colleen Wightman, a Realtor with Hunt Real Estate in the greater Rochester, New York area. “Maybe in the Southwest that might be different, but if you’ve got accessible lake or ocean shoreline within twenty minutes of your home, a pool is not going to increase your home’s value.”
If you still want a pool, get in line
Even if you ignored all of the above and still want to own a pool, you might not be able to purchase one this year, anyway. In 2020, pool sales soared around the globe. Reuters reported a three-week wait just to get an appointment to order a pool for summer 2021.
Building materials have all risen in cost and are difficult to purchase. The global supply chain has broken down due to everything from the pandemic to the weather and power outages to supply and demand issues.
Even the items you’d need to maintain your pool will be hard to come by. There’s a shortage of pool heaters, pool liners, and other pool parts as well as that widespread chlorine shortage.
You may want to keep in mind this old chestnut: you don’t want to own a pool; you want to be friends with people who own a pool.
Stacey Freed is a contributing writer who covers remodeling, construction, lifestyle issues, education and pets. Her work has appeared in Beautiful Kitchens & Baths and This Old House on Forbes.com.