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What to know before adding a swimming pool

And how it will affect your insurance

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It’s summertime and the livin’ is easy! Or at least it’s hot. 

With temperatures regularly hitting triple digits, you might consider building a pool to relax in. After all, few things are more soothing than soaking up the sun and chilling in the water.

But before you plan to cannonball and splash your neighbors, here’s what you need to know about adding a pool to your home.

Common types of home pools

While you probably can’t build an Olympic-sized structure in your backyard, you do have quite a few options when it comes to installing a pool. Here are some of the most common types you’ll see.

Above-ground pools

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Often made from aluminum, resin or steel, above-ground pools sit on top of your yard, and may come with a patio, pool deck or locking gate.

These pools are typically less expensive, averaging around $1,500 without installation and close to $5,000 with installation. They’re also easier to assemble than other types of pools. Whereas you may need to hire a landscaper for certain water structures, you can DIY assemble an above-ground pool.

Above-ground pools don’t last as long as other options, and you usually can’t add things like a diving board or water slide. They also may actually decrease the value of your home because the ground underneath a pool often suffers, leaving an unsightly blob of dead grass or damaged surfaces.

In-ground pools

Typically made of concrete, fiberglass or vinyl-liner pools, in-ground pools are permanent additions to the home, built directly into the lawn or landscape. Your home may have certain rules about altering the landscaping, so be sure to check before making a major purchase. 

These pools tend to be more expensive but more durable than above-ground pools. A vinyl-liner pool will start at about $35,000, while concrete pools can surpass $100,000 in total cost. However, they’ll typically add value to your home, too.

In-ground pools offer more landscaping flexibility. Since they don’t come pre-built, you can fit them in most yards. Additionally, you can potentially add fixtures such as diving boards, water fountains and slides.

One thing to watch out for: Since in-ground pools are closer to ground level, young kids and pets can wander into the water more easily. If you don’t have a fence or other secure perimeter, never leave anyone who isn't a strong swimmer unattended near the pool. 

Hot tubs and home spas

The biggest difference between hot tubs and home spas is where they are in relation to the ground. Hot tubs are above-ground, while home spas are in-ground. In both cases, you’ll use them to relax and soothe achy muscles.

Since hot tubs and home spas take up less surface area — and, in the case of hot tubs, are portable — they generally don’t cost as much as a full pool, both to install and maintain. They also tend to be a bit less durable, but are still a nice way to stay warm on cooler nights.

Infinity pools

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If you really want to be extravagant, an infinity pool might be the right choice.

Infinity pools look particularly cool if they’re built by a steep drop-off. That way, the water appears to endlessly flow down the wall. It also provides picturesque scenery if you live near a mountainside or lake. And what’s more romantic than watching fireworks in the sky while relaxing in your pool?

However, the complexity of infinity pools means they’re pricier to install and maintain. And if you don’t have a lot of yard space, it might be difficult (if not impossible) to create the effect of an infinity pool.

Inflatable pools

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Technically an above-ground pool, inflatable pools are a nice alternative to making a major pool investment. While some inflatable options include things like mini-jets or filtration systems, at their core, inflatable pools only require two things: a way to blow them up to full-size and a hose for filling them with water. 

Because they’re designed to be blown up and then deflated after use, inflatable pools are typically inexpensive (under $100) and can be placed just about anywhere in the yard. However, that cheaper cost often means cheaper materials, and it’s easy for an inflatable pool to wear out or experience a tear.

Cowboy or stock tank pools

This one is also technically a version of an above-ground pool. It can be a cheaper DIY option, as the average stock tank costs less than $300. But you will still need to do some research to do it right.

First the ground needs to be level and able to support the weight of the filled tank. You will also need a pump and chemicals to keep the water clean. It's better to put the stock tank pool in a shady spot because the water will heat up quickly in the summer time.

With a little know-how though, a stock tank pool can be an easy-to-install option for a summer time dip. 

 

Does building a pool affect your insurance?

So, will adding a pool increase your monthly premiums? The answer is, unless your pool is an inflatable one, likely yes. 

The important thing is to disclose your plan to build a pool to your insurance provider, so it can be accounted for. It will likely be added to your other structures coverage.

You may want to increase the liability coverage for your homeowner’s insurance. Most policies have a limit of $100,000. With the increased risk you take on by building a pool, it’s worth raising your liability coverage to something higher, all the way up to $500,000. 

In-ground pools will likely be covered at replacement cost, meaning that your policy would cover the full cost to repair any damage without depreciation. For an above-ground pool, it might be considered personal property coverage, which pays to repair or replace external structures. If your current personal property limit is $100,000, you may want to increase that limit to $250,000 or $500,000. If the above-ground poool is a permanent structure especially with any sort of built-in deck, it is more likely to be treated as part of your other structures coverage. Again, talking to your insurance company is the first step to getting clarity on your particular pool and policy. 

Increasing those limits will also increase your annual premium, typically by about $50 to $100 per year.

Get input from your insurance agent and the construction crew that’s building your pool. Both can offer insights and tips to try and minimize the amount your insurance increases, from safety measures to yard adjustments. 

Attractive nuisances and how to keep your pool safe

Most insurance agencies refer to a pool as an “attractive nuisance,” which means it can attract a child and pose an imminent danger if the child is unsupervised. Beyond a pool, other attractive nuisances include trampolines, farm equipment and water elements like ponds or lakes.

If you build a pool, you’ll need to take reasonable measures to protect children from danger. That means posting a sign, building a fence with a locking gate, adding a pool cover, providing safety gear such as life vests or floats and other precautions.

All those costs add up. For example, the average pool fence installation costs between $1,000 - $2,000. Make sure to factor these into your pool building budget. 

Other considerations for backyard pools

Still onboard for a pool? Here are a few other things you might want to consider:

  • Your water bill will increase. A standard pool requires up to 20,000 gallons of water, which adds an extra $80 or $100 to your bill. If your area is in a drought, you might be limited by how much water you can use.
  • You’ll have to keep your lawn cleaner. Pool users tend to eschew quality footwear, either walking around barefoot or in flip flops. Make sure there’s no glass or other debris near the pool area (or anywhere in your yard) or else your afternoon pool party may turn into a nighttime trip to the emergency room
  • It might irritate your neighbors. Plenty of people enjoy pools in peace. But if you’re planning to invite friends and family over at night for a moonlight dip, your neighbors may get upset if you can’t keep the volume down.

A pool can be a great addition to your home. Just make sure you take the time to research and understand what your options are so you don’t get soaked.

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Joey Held

As a writer, Joey Held has specialized in business, marketing, sports, music and insurance topics for more than a decade. He's also a podcaster and author of Kind, But Kind of Weird: Short Stories on Life's Relationships. His first car was a Buick Regal with an inconsistent radio but pretty good gas mileage.