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Matt Gohlke: Weigh your options before buying a home with a pool

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Matt Gohlke

With the hot real estate market that we continue to experience in North Texas, many of us in the swimming pool industry are being faced with the question — "Is purchasing a house with an existing swimming pool a good idea?" The answer is yes. No. Maybe.

First, you should determine if a swimming pool would be a good fit for your situation. If you have decided that it is, the following is some information to help you determine whether to purchase a house with an existing pool.

What type of swimming pool is it?

There are three different of in-ground swimming pools in the Denton area:

Concrete (gunite) pools — This is by far the most popular type of swimming pool in the Denton area. The advantages of a concrete (pneumatically applied called gunite) pool are permanence, durability and flexibility in terms of design. In addition, this is typically the most expensive of the three types of pools.

Vinyl-lined pools — Vinyl-lined pools are typically the least expensive type of in-ground pool, and they were a very common type of pool in the Denton area in the 1970s and 1980s, with Blue Dolphin Pools and Pools Plus installing the majority of them. Although vinyl-lined pools are durable, the vinyl liner will not last forever and will need to be replaced every five to 10 years, depending on several variables.

Fiberglass pools — Fiberglass pools tend to fall between vinyl-lined and concrete pools in terms of price. These pools are prefabricated and then delivered to the site. Fiberglass pools are somewhat limited in size and shape. They have historically not been very popular in the Denton area but some do exist, and they seem to be making a comeback.

Is the pool the right pool for you?

Swimming pool designs have changed dramatically over the last 25 years, and your perception of what you want your swimming pool to be might not fit what the existing pool is. Does the size and depth of the pool fit your needs? Is the style what you had in mind?

For example, you might want a very natural, lagoon-type pool and it is a Grecian-style pool with straight lines. There are many things that can be done to an existing pool and to a backyard environment to make changes that you desire, such as landscaping, concrete or wood decking, cooking area, furniture, lighting, sound system, putting green, children's play area, etc.

What condition is the pool in?

This is the most important part of the process in determining if purchasing an existing house with a swimming pool is right for you.

One of the most important determinations to make is whether or not the pool is leaking. Pools will typically lose no more than half-inch of water in 24 hours because of evaporation, so I would suggest checking this initially. Pool leaks can be repaired, but it is important they be repaired. A few other things that you can visually check prior to purchasing the house are the following:

Tile and coping — Do they appear to be in good shape? Is any grout missing?

Interior finish — Are there any spots where the gunite shows through the interior finish? Any cracking?

Caulking around the pool (between coping and pool deck) — Does it appear to be in good shape?

Concrete decking around pool — Does it have large cracks in it? Does it show signs of stress or movement?

Deck equipment — Is the diving board, slide, ladder, etc. in good shape?

Mechanical equipment — Are there any leaks in the pool equipment area (pump, filter, heater, timer). Does it operate? How about the pool light?

Fence — Is the fence in good shape? Most municipalities (as well as insurance companies) require fences and operating gates be in working order.

Most real estate inspectors do a fairly good job of checking the pool, but in some cases it might be beneficial to have a pool professional look at the pool. Please be aware that all pools have some type of flaw or repair that needs to be made, so do not get discouraged if the pool is not perfect.

How much will it cost to own the pool?

There are several costs of owning a swimming pool. Monthly chemical and utility costs (electricity and water) are approximately $100 to $150 for the average-sized residential pool. If you hire someone to maintain the pool for you, expect to pay approximately $150 to $250 per month, depending on several variables.

In addition, repairs sometimes have to be made to the pool, so it is a good idea to budget some repair costs as well. If you do not use the pool or could use the money elsewhere, then purchasing a swimming pool is probably not a wise financial move. There are people who love their pool and would not think of owning a home without a pool, and then there are people who do not like pools and do not want one. The determining factor as to what side they fall typically comes down to whether or not they use the pool.

There is little doubt that in most situations you can save money by purchasing a house with a pool versus having a pool installed in your backyard, and as long as you do your homework and understand what you are getting, you can have a pool that can provide enjoyment for many years. With that being said, we all get excited when considering a new home (and pool), but it is important to do your due diligence and know what you are getting into prior to making the commitment of pool ownership.

MATT GOHLKE owns Gohlke Pools, which has earned national awards, certifications and recognition in the pool industry. He can be reached at 940-387-7521 or matt@gohlkepools.com.