The perennial question for homeowners considering a backyard pool is whether the return on investment will be positive. Pools are expensive, and there may be no easy answer. There is no doubt that, at least for some, enjoying a private pool is as desirable as an expensive annual vacation. That enjoyment factor is a prime reason for installing a pool in the first place.
Other homeowners suggest, however, that over time a pool loses much of its appeal, and that long-term maintenance and upkeep costs climb. Some of those families believe that fitness club dues or a country club membership can represent a better long-term use of funds.
Prime Factors: Weather and Cost
In Calgary, weather is a limiting factor for use. The season for an outdoor pool is typically no longer than mid-May through mid-September. Some years, even that is optimistic. Although Calgary summers are typically hot and dry, spring and fall conditions can make pool use iffy. A pool heater is almost considered a necessity, and a cover is recommended by most installers.
But pool construction and technology, including automated and programmable equipment, have improved to the point that weekly maintenance is minimal. Winterizing a pool is also less demanding than was once the case. Today owners can expect to spend more time enjoying a backyard pool than caring for it.
Initial cost, however, is still the prime factor, with some estimates placing expenditures between $35,000 and $100,000, or even higher, depending upon size, type, configuration, siting and the landscaping associated with outdoor, inground pools. An indoor pool installed during home construction will bear a similar price tag, if not more.
Pool Popularity in Calgary
Real estate agents agree that pools are luxury amenities; it is true that homes with either indoor or outdoor pools have higher price tags than comparable properties without pools. Private pools are abundant and popular in Quebec, numbering more than 300,000 throughout the province. Many of them are less expensive, above-ground installations, the result of a targeted sales effort begun in the 1990s. In British Columbia, pools are relatively uncommon, with fewer than five percent of all homes in the province boasting private pools.
Not all home buyers are equally drawn to pools, and a pool is sometimes considered a negative in buyers' eyes. In early January 2019, Calgary MLS listings showed only 61 homes with pools, and that number includes condominium listings and homes in neighbourhoods with community pools.
Typical return on investment is between 40 and 50 percent of the initial cost, according to information cited in the Vancouver report, but homes with pools appreciated approximately 45 percent from 2011 to 2018, while the typical jump in value for homes without pools was only 25 percentage points. Available information cites average monthly maintenance costs during the swimming season of between $350 to $470.
Pros and Cons of Pools
In addition to being an attractive landscape feature, a pool can be a social gathering spot, especially for families with children. A well-designed swimming pool, with an adjacent hot tub, can have therapeutic value, and offers a way to promote a healthy exercise routine. Pools are aesthetically pleasing, and may help to relieve stress, even if owners simply enjoy them because of the view.
On the minus side of the ledger are the initial cost of a pool and associated landscaping, and the ongoing expense and effort of routine upkeep. Owners must also consider insurance and security expense, and seasonal costs for draining or necessary winterizing. In the end, is a pool worth the money? That always requires an individual answer.