Nothing quite says summer like a dip in the pool. Nothing quite says summer like a dip in the pool.
Finance Property Swimming pools: Serious investment, or just a bit of fun? Updated:

Swimming pools: Serious investment, or just a bit of fun?

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It’s easy to understand why someone would want their own swimming pool.

On a stinking hot summer day, a Calippo doesn’t quite cut it.

And buyers in some locations all but demand a pool, too.

That’s not to say, though, that home owners should dive into the venture without a moment’s hesitation.

For while some pools add tens of thousands of dollars to the value of a home, many do not.

Wakelin Property Advisory director Jarrod McCabe, for example, would never advise a client to build a pool if the main objective was adding value to their property. He described it as a “lifestyle decision”.

“Particularly in Victoria, they’ll cost far more than they will add in value – because for every person that wants a pool, they’ll be one, two, three, four others who say they don’t want it,” he told The New Daily.

David Notley, director at independent valuers Herron Todd White, offered some words of caution, too.

He told The New Daily most owners could expect to recover no more than 75 per cent of the cost in added value – at least not within weeks or months after installation. (And that’s without taking into account running costs, which average about $1000 a year.)

Though he said it varied greatly across locations and property types.

Builders say the key is to integrate the pool into the entertaining area. Photo: Kay & Burton – Armadale

“There’s no exact science to it – it’s really just an analysis of the evidence within the surrounding area, and what the demographic in the area is willing to pay,” Mr Notley said.

“You can get circumstances where you’re getting a pool that is $100,000 or $150,000 in value … and in an area with a median house price that might not be a prestige price point, then you’re overcapitalising somewhat.”

Of course, people already living in their forever home won’t need to pay much attention to the cash they plough into their pool.

For them, and many other families intent on staying put for a lengthy period, it’s simply about making life a little more enjoyable.

Complete with rooftop swimming pool, this apartment has price hopes of $7 million. Photo: Ray White TRG

Take a deep breath before diving head first

Even so, prospective pool owners should approach with caution. Pools don’t come cheap, and making changes down the track can be difficult.

Which is why Lindsay McGrath, CEO of non-profit Swimming Pool and Spa Association Australia, advises home owners to be “very clear on what they’re expecting” before bringing in the builders.

“A lot of people see the pretty picture and don’t ask simple questions like, ‘how many kids are going to be in the pool and how often’, because that really dictates the equipment,” he told The New Daily.

“You want to make sure that you buy a pool that suits your needs.”

Aesthetics shouldn’t come at the expense of practicality, but they’re still important. Not least because most pools cost somewhere between $20,000 and $40,000 to build.

Depending on the site and location, that should be more than enough for a 8x4m fibreglass pool.

Mr Magro said rectangular pools are back in vogue. Photo: John Reid Real Estate – Broadbeach Waters

What are people splashing their cash on?

The good news is pools now come in all shapes and sizes, Mr McGrath said.

And they no longer come at the expense of living space, either, with home owners increasingly viewing pools as part of a broader “entertainment complex”. So much so, Mr McGrath said, that some owners spend as much on landscaping as they do on the pool itself.

“It’s all one thought process. People go, ‘Okay, what is the total area going to give you as a family’,” Mr McGrath said.
“It’s all about total entertainment for the long-term – not just, ‘we’d like the kids to have somewhere to swim for three months a year’.”

Fire pits, barbecues and outdoor kitchens are proving particularly popular, Mr McGrath added. As are in-built spas, the use of structural glass, and plunge pools.

Modern-day pools come in all shapes and sizes. Photo: JW. Prestige Agents – Broadbeach

Marty Magro, director of Sydney-based Bombora Pools, said the combination of shrinking backyards and growing living areas was driving the trend towards better integrated pools – the average size of which had shrunk from 10 or 12 metres to six or seven.

“The living area overflows onto the alfresco area, which is getting bigger and bigger. And you try to overflow that into the pool area,” he told The New Daily.

“That way, when you’re in the main area of the house, you actually look out over the pool.”

As for materials, Mr Magro said most owners favoured fibreglass over concrete, largely for its cost-effectiveness and versatility.

“And the chances of a budget blowout with a fibreglass pool is minimal, whereas, with a concrete pool, you’re open to different ground conditions, and there’s a lot more that can go wrong,” he said.

“The only downside with fibreglass pools is you are limited to certain shapes and sizes.”

These days, living and pool areas are closely connected. Photo: John Reid Real Estate – Broadbeach Waters

Before you take the plunge…

  • Choose your builder carefully. Only hire a licensed pool builder, and don’t go on price alone. Ask to see examples of previous work, and make sure you pick an experienced operator who understands what you’re looking for.
  • Think about your future – because “it’s not just for today, it’s there forever,” Capital Country Pools director Sharyn Duggan told The New Daily. This means thinking about how you’d use the pool once your children fly the nest.
  • Consider automatic cleaning technologies. “It will cost a bit more to get all that done, but it’s well worth the money and pays itself off,” Ms Duggan said.
  • And look at heating, too. Having it will mean your pool is more than a place to cool down in summer, but it doesn’t come cheap.
  • Don’t forget to factor in running costs. The SA government says these are typically between $660 and $1000 a year, but that’s a conservative estimate. Especially if you opt for gas heating.