Financing a pool: How to keep cool without breaking the bank

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Adding an inground swimming pool can be a costly undertaking. And while the addition might increase your property values slightly, you probably won’t make back the entire costs of its installation when it comes time to sell the home.

Still, that doesn’t mean swimming pools aren’t worth it. If you live in a hot climate, a pool can be a summer oasis — not to mention a marketing tool when you list your property. It can also be great for staying in shape (hello, full-body workout in the privacy of your own backyard!)

 If these sound like perks you might want to enjoy, then read on to learn more about the costs of pool installation — as well as how you can save on costs along the way.  

Cost of a swimming pool

Swimming pool costs fall into two buckets: installation and maintenance. At the outset, the initial installation will cost you anywhere from $25,000 to upwards of $60,000, according to home contracting pros. The total cost varies depending on the materials you use, the features you include, and your location (more on this later).

Maintenance-wise, there are a lot of different costs to consider. First, you have chemical and water costs, which vary based on the type of pool you have, its size, and your utility company. There are also heating, cleaning, and filter costs to factor in. Most homeowners can expect to pay at least $1,000 per year in pool maintenance costs.

Small decisions that can save you money

If it sounds like pools are a money pit, don’t fret. Making the right choices from the get-go can reduce your costs both on installation and over time. Take a look at the chart below to see which pool options can save you the most.

Low Cost High Cost
Water chemical Saltwater Chlorine
Covering Mesh cage Solid structure
Material type Vinyl or fiberglass Concrete or gunite
Installation time Fall or winter Summer or spring
Pool design Simple and rectangular Curved and complex

Ways to save on the installation

Installation is easily the most expensive part of owning a pool. Fortunately, there are a few ways to reduce these costs, as well as make them more manageable as a whole.

 You should:

Set a budget from the start.

How much can you afford to spend? How much do you have in savings? It’s important you have cash to cover the initial costs of installation but also funds beyond that to maintain and repair the pool as needed. If you’ve just begun to save, opening an account with an automatic savings plan can be a great place to start. Many banks, including Capital One, have this option available.

 Do your homework.

Know what pool options (above) can reduce your costs, and don’t be afraid to shop around. Compare different contractors, equipment rentals, materials, and more, and make sure you’re getting the best value at the best price. 

Book in the off-season.

Pool companies are in highest demand during the spring time — when people are busy gearing up for the hot summer season. If you can hold off on your project until cooler months, your bank account will thank you for it.

 Keep it modest.

The more bells and whistles your pool has, the more it’s going to cost you. Try keeping your pool simple and streamlined. Think clean lines and a basic, rectangular shape. Steer clear of extras like water features or diving boards and save the decking for later on.

Save on maintenance.

Most pool owners will pay at least $1,000 in maintenance fees every year. These include things like cleaning and treating the pool, as well as powering it, heating it, and making any repairs. Though many of these costs depend on how (and how often) you use the pool, there are a few ways you can keep your expenses to a minimum.

Forgo the pro.

It can be tempting to hire a professional to handle your pool’s cleaning and maintenance, but it can also get pricey fast. If you really want to save cash, consider doing the basics yourself. Cleaning, changing filters, and treating the water only take a matter of minutes and can be done by any cautious adult.

Make sure you get a warranty.

Choose a pool company that includes a warranty with its work. This will keep you from costly repairs and, often, even some maintenance work in the first few years you own the pool.

Avoid heating your pool when possible.

Pool heating costs can add up, so try to avoid turning the heater on whenever possible. Your best bet is to rely on the sun to warm the water (you might consider a solar-powered heater, too).

Plan your yard consciously.

If your yard is particularly windy, it can speed up evaporation and increase your water costs as a pool owner. Consider planting some carefully placed bushes, trees, or foliage to shield your pool from wind, and minimize the evaporation as much as possible.

Other considerations before you break ground

In addition to the installation and maintenance costs of your pool, there are other financial obligations you’ll want to take into account as well.

You may also see expenses due to:

Your Homeowners Association – If your HOA requires a permit for your pool installation, this will cost you additional money up front.

Fencing – If you have little ones or animals at home, you may want to install a fence around your pool as an extra safety measure. Pool fences generally cost around $1,000.

Decking – Want an area of lounging poolside in the side? Then you may also want a deck. These generally cost between $3,000 and $12,000 depending on the size and materials you choose.

Water features – Adding things like waterfalls, fountains, or water slides can all add money to your pool costs. Waterfalls alone cost $7,000 or more.

Taxes – Your pool may increase your home’s value. If it does, that means higher property taxes come January (and the entire time you remain in the home).

Insurance – Because pools make your home “riskier,” from an insurance standpoint, your homeowner’s insurance premiums might increase once installation is complete.

Utility bills – You’ll likely see higher water and energy bills once your pool is installed — particularly during the spring and summer seasons when it’s in high use.

Additionally, the location — both of your house and where you plan to put the pool — could impact your costs as well.

The more expensive your area is to live in and the more difficult your yard is to access or work in, the costlier your pool installation will be. Your climate and location may also impact maintenance costs down the line as well.

Get help paying for your pool

If you have the money in the bank to front the project, as well as the cash to keep up on maintenance and repairs, then a pool can be a worthwhile investment for your household. If not, you might consider financing your purchase through a personal loan, home equity or improvement loan, or a cash-out refinance. A cash-back credit card may also help in some cases.

 Just make sure you’re prepared to manage your monthly debt payments, as well as the maintenance costs that will come with the pool. Smart budgeting and careful money management are critical if you plan to finance your pool purchase.