Written by John Williams
The lifestyle advantages of having a swimming pool in your backyard are obvious and many – relaxation, entertainment, wellbeing, aesthetics, to name but a few. Emotions aside, however, a swimming pool isn’t cheap to install or maintain and, in Auckland, unless it’s heated, it’s probably only usable for four months of the year… if you’re lucky.
It’s fair to say that you wouldn’t put in a pool to make money for same reason you wouldn’t buy Ferrari to do the school run. A pool is for fun – a luxury and an indulgence to be enjoyed – rather than for counting its cost or value.
Check out your neighbours: If resale value is a determining factor for you, carry out some research on the homes in your area. Do most of the houses around you have pools? If not, there may be a good reason. If nearby houses are modestly priced, then adding an expensive pool won’t necessarily benefit you when it comes to resale. On the other hand, if homes in your neighbourhood carry higher prices, then adding that pool could work to your advantage when it comes time to sell.
The lay of the land: A pool is going to cost a lot less to install if you have a level section with good access for machinery. If you have a land-locked, sloping site, or underground services that have to be relocated, the costs may outweigh the benefits. Also, consider the space you have available – don’t put in a pool that’s going to completely dominate your outdoor living area. When it comes to resale, this could put off potential buyers.
Not all pools are equal: An above-ground, vinyl-lined pool is your cheapest option, but this type is unlikely to add value to your house – in fact, data indicates that this style of swimming pool can actually decrease the value of your home. An in-ground pool is most likely to add the maximum value if the pool is well landscaped and integrated into the design of the property. Here, you have two options – concrete or fibreglass. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, depending who you speak to. Do your research.
Your time of life: If you have a young family and are settled in a house, a swimming pool can be worthwhile, as it will most likely give you years of enjoyment and memory-making pleasure. However, be warned, when they grow into teenagers, those children are likely to abandon the pool for the beach with their mates, and you’ll be left with an expensive birdbath.
In summary, a concrete, in-ground swimming pool is very likely to increase your home’s value, but you’re unlikely to recoup the money spent on installing it. The primary reason for installing a pool should be based around lifestyle and whether you’re planning to stay in your home for the foreseeable future. If a pool is right for you, the investment will pay for itself in the enjoyment you get out of using it.
When it comes to selling: We asked two of Ray White Damerell Group’s top agents – Chloe Wither and Aaron Haabjoern – for their opinions and advice on swimming pools.
Haabjoern says that, in his experience, buyers and vendors are split roughly 50-50 when it comes to swimming pools. “People either love them or hate them.” Wither says her experience is that pools are still very popular, but for the right buyer. “A lot of people are put off because they see the cost and time involved with the maintenance as a hassle… and, of course, Auckland's fickle weather can mean the pool only gets a limited amount of use,” she says.
Wither says that if you are planning to put in a pool for yourself, then, yes, of course it will add value, but if your goal is to do it to sell the property, then get further advice before committing to that investment. Haabjoern agrees. “My advice would be if you’re considering putting in a pool, do it for the right reasons – for yourself and your family – not as an investment.”
“There seems to be a trend towards homeowners preferring saline over chlorine pools, and, in terms of heating, electricity can be much more cost efficient than gas,” says Wither. “Colour choice is always a personal preference, but we are seeing a trend towards darker colours, rather than the traditional light blues and aquas.”
From a buyer’s perspective, Haabjoern recommends getting advice regarding the condition of the pool, especially if it’s an old pool. “The LIM report will let you know if it complies with the code and whether it’s up to date regarding safety checks, but I’d certainly seek professional help if I had any doubts about its watertightness, or the operating equipment.”
A developer’s viewpoint: Cameron Ireland has been a canny developer of boutique homes in the Greater Ponsonby area for almost two decades, so he knows a thing or two about what sells and where to spend money to make money.
“If I can, I always put in a pool,” he says. “The only time I didn’t, the person who bought the house asked me to put one in for him.”
He says a pool adds a boutique feel and a sense of luxury to the homes he designs and builds, and he tries to make a feature of each pool that he puts in. “Around Greater Ponsonby, most of the sections are relatively small, and don’t allow for large swimming pools, so I’m usually restricted to narrow lap pools, or small plunge pools. Having water around is kinda soothing, too,” he adds.
One thing to bear in mind, however, is that, because most of the homes Ireland renovates and builds are from the ground up, it’s a lot more cost effective for him to configure a pool into the overall plan from the outset. And he always specifies concrete, as it’s more durable.