We are constantly getting inquiries on whether or not the installation of a swimming pool would be a good investment for their California-based home. With some areas of California such as Central Northern California where temperatures can reach well over 100 degrees in the summer months the idea of a swimming pool might be very attractive. The question most want to know is whether or not they are going to take a bath in shelling out the initial cost to have a pool installed.
As the housing market continues to gain traction we are seeing contractor costs rising. It is not uncommon today for a consumer to spend anywhere from $30,000 – $42,000 for a fairly simple in-ground gunite style swimming pool. Gunite is also called Shotcrete and refers to a concrete type material that is shot through a hose in construction of the pool. If you are considering another type of pool installation such as vinyl liner (colorized chlorinated PVC thermoplastic) or fiberglass you can expect costs today to be anywhere from $20,000 – $30,000. Keep in mind that these figures don’t take into consideration additional costs that can be realized for things such as more complicated excavations or topography challenges.
Our first recommendation to a home owner is that if they want a swimming pool and they plan to live in the home for at least five years then go for it. A pool should be installed for its enjoyment and not the resale value. Yes, they are expensive, and yes, there can be a lot of upkeep. Make sure to account for the fact that maintenance cost can creep up on you if you haven’t budgeted for this. Pools require chemicals, periodic equipment replacement, and replastering. Some of these costs can be shocking so we recommend that you do your homework before signing an installation contract.
As far as what your return on this investment might be it ultimately depends upon what type of pool you install and whether your neighbors have similar improvements. In our real estate market up in Northern California we have found that a vinyl lined or fiberglass
pool does not carry the same weight as a gunite pool when it comes to buyer appeal. With that being said we recommend that you try to go the gunite route if your budget permits. In general we are seeing returns of 25 – 30% on gunite pools in our area however this
number can change drastically based on total installation costs and whether or not neighboring homes are receiving similar improvements.
A home we sold only a couple of years back had a gunite pool with an estimated build cost of around $250,000. This was a very elaborate pool to say the least. Because it was installed on the large lot of a tract home where it was uncommon to see this level of improvement the seller was not able to recoup but a very small fraction of his initial build costs. The point here is to look at what your neighbors have done and build accordingly. Customize the build to your taste but be aware that as the price goes up your returns go down.
Now when it comes to high-end homes such as luxury property it is almost a given that these homes will have a pool of some sort. If they don’t they have lost a share of the buyer market since most in our area will expect this feature. If you are selling in Northern California there is absolutely no doubt that we have more buyers looking for homes with pools than without. That being said, if you have a home that is clean and in good condition with a swimming pool you are probably going to get a fair amount of interest from prospective buyers. This can result in more offers and a faster selling time which almost always results in more money.
In closing I would like to add that if you think you might list your home for sale within the next couple of years rethink the idea of installing a pool. Paying $40,000 to get $12,000 or so in return doesn’t seem like such a good financial strategy. Make sure you are going to have some time to enjoy this investment before you move forward with installation. Sometimes your best bet is finding your dream home with the pool already installed. You are only paying a fraction of the cost for this feature if you do it this way. That’s the best return on your investment when it comes to pools. Either way, we encourage you to explore and have fun with the project.
For more information about home improvements or buying and selling real estate feel free to contact the author directly at: (916) 223-8119.