The true cost of a backyard swimming pool can be hard to pinpoint. That should be pretty obvious to anyone who’s spent much time on this site, which covers everything from the huge financial impact of your choice of features to the comparatively minor cost of filling your new pool with water. At each stage, we have to point out that prices can vary – a lot.
Well, here’s one thing we can say for certain: Regardless of what the numbers are, the hardest costs to bear are often those you didn’t see coming. Here are some expenses that have a way of blindsiding new pool owners, either because they’re so easy to overlook or because the dollar figures are simply much higher than you might think.
1. Excavation Problems
Many unexpected costs rear their ugly heads after the pool is installed, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention one major complication that can crop up at the very start of the project. Simply put, you never know what you’re going to find when you start digging in your yard. For all you know, you could be living on an ancient Indian burial ground. But a more likely problem is that there’s rock or ground water down there that makes installing a pool significantly more challenging (read: expensive). One fiberglass pool builder estimates that they run into issues like this in about 1% of their installs.
2. Homeowners Insurance Increases
You may think your new pool is swell, but your insurance company sees it as an “attractive nuisance.” That’s the legal term for something that could lure children to trespass on your property, where they could suffer injuries for which you are liable. Depending on where you live and the particulars of your pool’s setup, this could cause your premium to skyrocket. Your insurance company could also require you to spend money on additional safety features, including a fence (more on that later).
3. Pool Heating
There’s lots involved in pool maintenance, but heating is the major variable when it comes to costs. If you’re not planning to heat your pool at all, you’re off the hook. Otherwise, you may be shocked to learn how much it costs to maintain the water at a comfortable temperature, especially that first year when you’re eager to use the pool even on cooler days. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize your pool heating costs with pool covers, solar heating, and plain old common sense.
4. Fence Construction
It’s no surprise that installing a fence is a big deal. However, the thing that may surprise some prospective pool owners is that they need to install a fence in the first place. In many cases, this safety feature is not optional – it’s required by local law and/or homeowners insurance policies. Even those who are aware that they need a fence (or simply want one for their own peace of mind) may underestimate exactly how much it costs.
The right landscaping can help a pool look its best and blend seamlessly into its surroundings. Unfortunately, you may not know what the “right” landscaping is – or how much it will cost – until after the pool is built. Professional landscaping can easily cost thousands of dollars, and even do-it-yourself projects can be pricey depending on the materials you’re using. It’s all money well spent, but it hurts nonetheless.
6. Pool Furniture
Sure, you can surround your pool with cheap patio furniture. In fact, it may even be advisable for the first year while you form an opinion on what pieces would look best in your pool area. Just be warned: When you do decide to invest in nicer furniture fashioned from teak or wrought iron, you may be surprised by how much it costs. Fortunately, you can usually find deep discounts in the fall as the swimming season winds down – another good reason to hold off on buying.
7. Pool Guy
Pool maintenance is something most people can do themselves, especially with the help of high-tech tools that automate much of the work. However, even if you initially plan to do your own cleaning and pool chemistry, you may find that your willingness to perform these routine tasks fades over time. Eventually, that monthly fee for a professional pool service company that you were hoping to avoid… well, it may not look so bad after all.