Who doesn’t love the thought of lounging by a pool, sipping your favourite cold beverage, hosting family and friends for memorable get-togethers, and cooling off with a dip - all in your backyard! With Ottawa winters being as cold and long as they are, the summers are precious and we want to maximize our outdoor time. As a result, backyards are becoming more and more like a resort, and less like a slab of grass for kids and dogs to hang out.
Historically, backyard pools were often a “no go zone” for many home buyers. The maintenance, cost of installation, potential hazard for young children, and taking up of back yard space were reasons often cited for buyers to avoid homes with pools. Pools were seen more as a liability than an asset when selling a home. But the COVID pandemic shifted that thinking, and with families limited to stay at home vacations, the back yard oasis saw a resurgence in demand. Pools became hugely popular, and often sellers of homes with pools benefited with premiums on sold prices.
While life is returning to pre-pandemic days, and people are looking to travel more, backyard pools will likely remain on the wish list with many buyers or at least they’ll want a lot large enough to install a pool.
So, what are the Pros and Cons to consider when deciding to purchase a home with a pool, or whether to install one yourself? Here are some factors to start thinking about.
1. Convenience of having a pool just outside your door. Want to do early morning laps, or a pre-dinner cool down, or a Sunday afternoon get together with buddies? Nothing beats the convenience of having your own private pool.
2. Exercise away by doing laps (depends on the shape of your pool) or hire an instructor to offer private water aerobic lessons to a small group of friends. Movement in water is known to provide several health benefits – it is a low impact activity that strengthens bones, joints, and muscles, and improves heart health. Overall, you can improve your endurance, and reduce your stress without leaving your home. For many aquatic exercises, you don’t need to know how to swim if you use flotation devices in deeper water. People with chronic conditions like osteoarthritis could even see a reduction in pain with regular aquatic exercise.
3. Children and adults can learn to swim in a back yard pool.
4. With a pool heater or solar heat system, you can control the temperature of the water.
5.If your pool is salt water, it is easier on the skin than chlorine and actually can have a softening effect.
6.Pool side is the perfect zone for reading, relaxing, and chilling on your own or with other like-minded folks.
1. Parents of young children have to be extra vigilant to ensure the safety of their children and their playmates. For some parents, it is a stressor they just don’t want to deal with. Child-proof locks on back doors, fencing, locked gates, and of course constant supervision are required if young children live in a home with a back yard pool.
2. Pools need regular maintenance throughout the season in order to keep the chemicals balanced. That balance is critical to limit the growth of algae, mold, and contaminants, and to keep the water clear. Regular maintenance also extends the life of your pool liner, which is in constant contact with the water. Maintenance does take a commitment of time, as well as the cost of the chemicals and equipment. A homeowner can do the maintenance themselves, or can hire a specialized pool company which will come weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly to perform proper maintenance. Depending on the schedule and company you choose, the cost of hiring a company can run up to approximately $3,000 per season. Pools are a science laboratory, and if a homeowner will do it themselves it’s a good idea to look for courses that are often offered by pool installation companies.
3. Opening the pool in the Spring and Closing in the fall are rituals that must be performed by someone who knows what they’re doing. If using a company, the cost of opening and closing operations should be considered.
4. According to municipal by-laws, all backyard pools must be fenced in and must have gates that self-lock. The City of Ottawa has stringent fencing requirements to prevent children from entering a pool area without supervision. Here is the link for information. https://ottawa.ca/en/planning-development-and-construction/building-and-renovating/pool-enclosures/pool-enclosures-pool-hot-tub-pond#section-793a5d27-3efa-4784-9f42-ffb8ba6fa0eb.
The cost of a fenced in yard can run several thousand dollars, depending on the length and style of the fence. If you are installing a pool, take this important expenditure into account.
5. Cost is a huge factor in whether to purchase a house with a pool, or to install one. A new pool with all the equipment and landscaping can cost $50,000 and up. There is no guarantee that you’ll recoup that expenditure on selling the house. Then there is the cost of the fencing, repairs and eventual replacement of equipment (think heater, pump, filter, salt cell if a salt pool, liner, lighting, etc.), and hiring a pool company to open/close the pool and do regular maintenance. A gas pool heater will incur significant natural gas expenses, and the running of equipment will increase your hydro bills. Adding water as necessary throughout the season will impact your water bill. So if you’re on a tight budget, think about how the pool expenses will affect your bottom line.
There’s no question that you’ll hear arguments from proponents and opponents to backyard pools. Ultimately, the decision is yours whether the enjoyment it will bring your family is worth the additional expenses and commitments. Some people love the routine of vacuuming their pool with beer or coffee in hand. There are several excellent pool companies in the Ottawa region. Talk to friends who have pools to get referrals, and then speak to someone with the expertise to help you decide what is best for you.