Don't Buy a House With a Pool Until You Can Answer These 7 Questions


Having a built-in pool on your property comes with plenty of perks — like providing respite from the summer heat and elevating your kids' social status. But this luxury isn't all splash battles and cannonballs. Pools, among other things, require costly maintenance while also introducing a laundry list of liability and safety concerns into your life. Keep your head above water when considering buying a house with a pool by asking these eight important questions.

1. Does everyone in the family know how to swim?

This may seem like a silly question to ask yourself before buying a house with a pool, but you might be surprised at how many pool-owners either can't swim themselves, or have children who can't swim. Both of these scenarios could end in tragedy. And if you can't swim, there's only a 13 percent chance your child will learn how to swim. Not the best odds to have when a life is on the line.

2. Does everyone in your family know CPR?

If you're planning to own a pool, it's a wise decision to be trained in CPR. The few minutes' time between on-the-scene CPR and that which is administered by EMTs, who may take several minutes to arrive, is literally life and death.

3. How old is the pool?

Keller Williams Real Estate agent Jen Teague provides a few important construction questions to ask, including:

  • What company installed the pool and is it still in business?
  • Is it under warranty?
  • Has there been any major work done to the pool over the last year?
  • Are there any consistent issues (leaks, etc.) the owner has had with it?

You're specifically looking to find out how much longer the pump life is, as well as any maintenance that may be needed for the liner or granite. After a while the chlorine wears down the liner and it will be more prone to tearing. Granite cracks over time as well.

Three-decade pool industry veteran Michael Kern of MGK Pool Service in Lowell, Massachusetts adds, "Cement pools need to be replastered every six to nine years; above ground pools need the liner replaced every four to eight years; and in-ground pools need the liner replaced every 15 to 20 years."

4. Is the pool surrounded by a fence?

A fence around your pool isn't to keep your kids in, but rather other people out — like wandering toddlers and even pets. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) Pool Safely campaign, which focuses on drowning prevention and water safety (a must read if you're planning to become a pool owner!), suggests that the fence stands at least four feet high, surrounds the pool on all four sides, and includes a self-closing, self-latching gate. Adding an alarm to the door is an extra layer of protection so you're alerted to unauthorized visitors.

5. Does the pool have a safe drain cover?

The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act, named after a little girl who died in 2002 when the suction from a spa drain trapped her under water, mandates drain covers for public spas and pools — but homeowners also should practice this safety measure. A pool technician can tell you whether or not your drain cover needs updating, which is generally about every five years. The ZAC Foundation, an organization working to strengthen pool safety legislation and educate children on water safety, explains the difference in drain covers and why having a compliant drain cover is important.

6. How much will maintenance cost?

Most homeowners have a general budget in place for day-to-day home expenses, plus a little extra to cover emergencies. But those who have never owned a pool may not be prepared for the added expense. Be sure to ask your agent about how much annual maintenance the pool will need so you can get a good idea of whether or not you can afford its upkeep.

This is also a good time to ask the previous owners what pool necessities will be left behind and what you may need to buy when you assume ownership.

7. How much will your homeowners insurance increase?

Your swimming pool is a liability, for sure, and your insurer will consider that when pricing your policy. Before you jump in head first, hammer out the details of the policy and its cost. Additional umbrella insurance is always recommended for homeowners with a pool.

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