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Pool and Spa Purchase Tips

As a return on investment is concerned, a pool is at the bottom of the list of home improvements. For example: after five years a $200,000 home might sell for $230,000 to $250,000. With the addition of a $35,000 swimming pool that house (again five years later) might sell for $3,000 to $5,000 dollars more, or $233,000 to $255,000. Not a good return on investment, in fact, a big loss. On the other hand, if you can afford the depreciation, a pool can provide years of fun and relaxation. But a pool is a lot of work and requires daily maintenance and upkeep. And it will increase your utility bills.

Typically there are three types of in-ground swimming pool construction: gunite (a trowled-in-place cementicious material), fiberglass, and liner types. Some pool salesmen will say “Gunite is the best, the most durable and far less expensive than fiberglass.” Of course they sell only gunite pools. Another salesman will say, “A liner pool is the least expensive and easiest to maintain.” He sells liner pools exclusively. Truth is they’re all good. Get the type that fits your particular needs and budget.

The consumer’s philosophy about pools has changed quite a bit over the years. Folks are beginning to build their pools onto their property as an extension of their home’s interior and the basic shape of the pool has become extremely important. They aren’t just rectangles anymore. At one time the kidney shaped pool was an extraordinary achievement. Now, the more unusual the shape, the better. The contemporary home may have two intersecting squares as the pool shape; for the Mediterranean, arches and sunken pillars.

Today’s pools are also shallower. Diving has been replaced with floating, exercising and just plain swimming. Today’s pools are more usable by more age groups at both ends. The deep end is no more. Diving laterally has replaced diving downward. And now the younger set can wade from one end to the other. Shallower pools make both ends accessible to games, increasing the activity area and making for full use out of the pool. It makes you wonder how many serious injuries occurred between the arrival of home diving boards and today.

When you purchase a pool, upgrade filtering and cleaning equipment and get a pool cover to reduce evaporation losses. There are two basic types of pool cleaning: surface cleaning and subsurface cleaning. Filter ports at the water’s surface known as skimmers draw floating debris into the pool’s filter system and make light work of leaf removal. The other type, subsurface cleaning, is handled in two ways: First, a subsurface vacuum system on wheels constantly traverses the bottom of the pool for 3 to 4 hours a day, vacuuming up debris that sinks to the pool’s floor; and second cleaning by hand with appropriate tools. Another subsurface problem is dirt. Dirt in the air always seems to end up at the bottom of the pool. and it must be vacuumed as well. Here, a pump jet agitates the water (thus mixing in the dirt particles), allowing the filter system to capture the dirty water and filter out the particles, making it crystal clear, and pumping the cleaned liquid back into the pool.

Regardless of the type of pool you select, cleaning and maintenance will be an ongoing task. But the big thing that you will have to deal with is a safety fence. Pools are dangerous for small children and like a backyard trampoline, may be considered an “attractive nuisance”. In some communities, for example, the fence around the pool must be 6 feet tall and all gates must be locked from the inside.

Be sure that you have a safety fence (with locking gates) between the back of your home and your pool area. Just as the building department will want you to protect your neighbors’ children, you will want to protect your family from within.

Michael Joseph