Flying in or out of most Australian capitals on a sunny day, you can’t help but notice the suburban landscapes punctuated by the shimmering blue of backyard pools. But are swimming pools as popular as they appear to be? Will adding a pool add value to your home? Before you ‘take the plunge’ and invest in a pool, Aussie explores some important things to consider.
Aussies love to make a splash
While a backyard oasis is a popular vision for many Australians, a 2015 Roy Morgan survey found only 12% of Aussies have the option of cooling-off in their own swimming pool.
Perth, where summer temperatures can surpass 40 degrees, leads the nation with 18% of people living in homes with a pool. Sydney at 16% and Brisbane at 15% are also above the average for pool ownership, though both are outnumbered by regional Queensland at 17%. No prizes for guessing that our southernmost capital Hobart has the lowest rate of our cities at just 4%, dropping even lower to 3% in regional Tasmania.
With warmer climates dominating the ownership figures, the first question you need to consider is will you, and a prospective buyer, actually use a swimming pool?
Are pools popular in your neighbourhood?
If you’re thinking about a future return on your investment, keep an eye on the local market. Are pools in demand from new buyers? While pools are popular with families (20% are families with children aged 12–15 years), the ownership rate drops to under 10% for families with young children under six. If your area is more popular with downsizers or retirees, a pool could just seem like too much hard work.
In a survey conducted by Swimart, around 90% of pool owners believed their pool boosted their property’s value with their estimates ranging between $10,000 and $100,000, with an average of $30,000. Of course, with so many variables it’s next to impossible to quantify value added. By getting a professional property appraisal – one including your planned pool, the other without – you can get a feel for how much you should (or shouldn’t!) be investing.
How much does a pool cost?
As with any renovation, costs depend on many factors including your personal preferences, finishes and extras such as heating. Largely because of excavation costs, inground pools can be the most expensive – from $35,000 to well over $100,000, with the average around $50,000. A more affordable prefabricated fibreglass pool – costing from $6,500 to $25,000 is still likely to cost between $25,000 and $75,000 to install.
With the right planning, you could turn even a basic above ground pool into an enviable summer retreat. Expect to pay from $3,500 up to $6,500 or more for DIY kits plus the potential cost of excavating or pouring a concrete slab, along with decking and landscaping.
Landscaping and fencing
A popular trend in Australian living is opening the indoors to the great outdoors. How you plan to position and integrate your pool will impact your budget so it’s important to think about the costs involved in decking, paving and other landscaping. Whatever type of pool you have in mind, you will need to consider the cost of approved fencing to ensure your pool is a safe place. All pool fencing must comply with Australian safety standards and each state and territory has their own requirements. Check with your local council or ask a qualified pool installer what you have to do.
Can you see it through?
Dreams of a tropical oasis are one thing, but achieving the look you have in mind is likely to add even more to your budget. If you are planning to sell your home, complete with your value-adding pool, you’ll want to be sure you’ve budgeted to complete the landscaping. Otherwise, the hard work and expense that’s still needed could be a turn-off to potential buyers.
Not all fun in the sun
Keep in mind that looking after your pool will take ongoing work to keep it sparkling all year round. Be prepared to do the work yourself (even if you’ve invested in automated pool cleaning and sanitising systems) or to pay someone to do it for you. And keep in mind that no matter how easy it may seem to you, some potential buyers simply won’t be prepared for the effort and expense of looking after a pool, which could be as much as $2000 a year or more if you’re heating your pool.
Before you splash out, there’s plenty to think about. Make sure your pool installers (and any other professionals such as landscapers or builders) are licensed and insured. Always follow up on references and get written, fully itemised quotes so you can see that there are no hidden extras. Only then can you decide if a pool will be a rewarding investment when you sell your home.