By Danielle Jenkins
First Home Buyer
There are many things buyers look for when searching for their dream home and a pool is not always on their wish list. This of course depends on where you live, with people in Darwin considering a pool much more essential than those in ‘4 seasons in one day’ Melbourne, for example.
There are a number of pros and cons to buying a house with a pool and most of them come down to practicality and cost. When deciding whether your next property should have a pool or not, you should consider what the benefits of buying a house with a pool are to your family. If you have a bunch of active kids, who will use it with their friends for at least a quarter of the year, then it may be worth throwing some extra cash at buying a home with a pool. However if you have busy active lives away from the house, then the pool may stay untouched (and possibly uncleaned) for months on end. If it’s a smallish lap pool that can be heated during the cooler months, then the only question to ask yourself is why wouldn’t you use it?
The size and position of the pool should be considered too – a large pool in a leafy backyard will drive you nuts all autumn and spring as it becomes a leaf littered swamp. A smaller pool that doesn’t get much sun through the day, may end up being too cold to swim in, even in summer. The other considerations are operating and maintenance costs. Do you have the time to take care of a pool and if you don’t, can you afford to pay someone to come and do it for you regularly? Additionally, pools require chlorine or salt, chemicals to keep the Ph in balance, equipment, fences and more, which can all add up. You have to really want a pool to commit to having one – much like a puppy (except thankfully the pool stays in one spot). But you do have to feed a pool and clean it and it may not bring you selfless joy every day like a puppy will.
It’s not so common for people to go house hunting in the southern parts of Australia, specifically looking for a house with a pool. So if you do chance upon one at an open home, it can either be a nice surprise or a quandary, depending on your position. It can also unfairly affect the price of the property if the owners/agents feel the pool is more of an asset to the property than you do. Recent research found that almost 50% of Australians don’t want to pay extra for a house with a pool, so new home owners deciding to put one in to boost their property value, may be sorely disappointed when it comes time to sell.
If you are house hunting and looking for a bigger home with more to offer for your family, then the option of a pool should be considered based on the issues outlined above. From an investment perspective make sure you get confirmation on how and when the pool was installed, if it conforms to the relevant building codes of your state and if it’s still under warranty. Make sure all the lining or tiles are in good condition and check the pump and maintenance equipment to be sure everything is in working order – especially if the property price has been increased because of the pool!
Also consider what else you could use that space for and how much it might cost to have the pool filled in. Is it taking up space that could otherwise be used for a more valuable extension or maybe even an off street parking space? This could be a good sign, if the costs of removing all trace of the pool don’t outweigh the value of the new addition you decide on.
Owning a pool is a big responsibility where safety is concerned so it’s essential to check the 8 categories of The Royal Life Saving Society of Australia’s Home Pool Safety Checklist (download the very handy app for smartphones for prospective buyers of homes with pools) to be sure that the pool conforms to the standards. Understanding what you will be responsible for as the pool owner is not just about building codes and fences, it’s also about the safety of every single person that ever gets into it – intentionally or not.