Everyone here in AZ seems to want a backyard pool. (Interesting fact: The most common house people want in my experience is a single level, split floorplan house with a three car garage and a pool.) People of all ages list a pool as a must have. Often I wonder if they ever plan on using the pool, or if they just like the way it looks in the backyard. I love the way a pool looks too, and I have probably spent more time in pools than most, and I LOVE how much fun you can have in your backyard pool and the opportunity to exercise in it as well. But I don’t have a backyard pool right now, and I am VERY happy about that.
You might think I am crazy about being happy I don’t have a pool…but I think I just say the things other people think. Or I point out truths, and make you think things through. But not all pools are created the same…and not all people make use of a pool to make it worth the time and expense a pool creates. I have had pools in past houses I have owned and loved them, but NOT having one NOW is perfect!
The Play Pool
This is a commonly built pool. Often suggested by pool builders for people wanting to stay within a modest budget. Usually there are two shallow ends, with a slighter deeper section in the middle of the pool. 3-5-3 is the standard play pool depths. Often there are pretty waterfalls on these pools. These pools are fantastic for backyard ambiance, and maybe some floating around while drinking cool drinks. They are too small for activities that might be called swimming. They also turn into bathtubs by July in our summer heat, not even refreshing to jump into when you need to cool down. If you are new to Arizona this may not sound believable, but trust me…the water feels grossly hot by mid summer. I also worry about kids getting hurt in shallow pools. Diving into a shallow pool is very dangerous, and can cause spinal injuries from hitting their head on the bottom. It is hard to keep kids from diving into pools, no matter how many reminders you give.
The Diving Pool
The diving pool is essentially just a pool with a real deep end. I think the depth required for diving pools is 10 feet deep. I know in Gilbert they will not put diving boards on new build pools, and I imagine that holds true in most places. Though I love a diving board, I know enough about the dangers they could bring to a pool so respectfully accept this. On the other hand, if I come across an older pool with an installed diving board, I would not remove it if it is still in working condition. Kids get big, quickly. The diving board was the best thing about our backyard pool many years. Kids have a lot of energy and pool play can last for hours. The diving board adds so many additional games for the kids…and adults. Also, the deep end in these pools make water exercises possible. Floating with floats under your armpits allow you to run in place in the water, or scissors your legs front to back and side to side. Great workout and great for core strength…with none of the bad stuff running does to your joints.
This is the part of the conversation that nobody loves. I don’t love it either. I would probably be described as a “free range” parent, rather than the common “helicopter” parent…so if I am bringing it up, it is important. I love the freedom I had as a child, and I think freedom to make mistakes and take risks is what will make our children the best adults they can be, but when it comes to pools you absolutely can’t be this way. I already mentioned safety issues above when discussing diving boards, slides, and shallow pools that kids might dive into, but there is also the issue of children getting into the pool when they aren’t supposed to. Pool fences can be hideous. I agree. They are expensive, and if sprinklers or any other water source hits them they will rust and look worse quickly. They can make your backyard feel small, and they can confine you into your porch if the pool is directly behind it. When I go to listing appointments I have suggested taking pool fences down for this reason. But if you have children, or grand children, you must have some protection and barrier to keep kids out of the pool when you aren’t with them. If you think your kids won’t get outside without you, you are wrong. If you think you are a better parent than that, you are also wrong. We all get distracted for a minute, or need to use the bathroom. Don’t think it won’t happen to you. When my son was 4 years old he would push a chair to the pool fence gate and open it. Gates open towards you, but my 4 year old made sure the chair wasn’t too close to the gate to open. Kids will find a way in, so your diligence is always necessary to keep them from the pool. There are other options besides a pool fence, like a net called Catch-a-kid, or pool alarms and house alarms. I am not familiar with either, but I have heard good things.
COSTS associated with backyard pools
How expensive is pool maintenance? That depends. There are salt water pools, and chlorine pools, but they all require pool pumps, filters, and weekly maintenance. Some pools have cleaning systems built in with pop ups, and other have vacuums that run with the pool pump. Of course all of these can break if not cared for, or with age. Pools also make leak, and I have seen leak repair cost several thousands. There are all different types of pool surfaces too…plaster, pebble tech, pebble sheen, and a million different kinds in between. Some stain, some chip, some will tear the bottoms of your feet so it looks like they were attacked by a cheese grater. If you want to care for the pool yourself I think it is easily done, but if you hire someone it usually costs $85-$110 a month, depending on size of the pool and chemicals needed. Also, check with your home owner’s insurance and see if if pool ownership makes that go up. Also, look into the average cost of running a pool pump…SRP has a calculator that will help you figure out your electrical cost per year. I used it for the pool in my old house and it said $479 annual cost. There is also water cost involved, and I know that pools should be emptied every few years or so…but the daily evaporation, especially in the summer, is significant.
Pools add value to a house, especially here in Arizona. But pools are impossible to change once they are there…unless you just want to fill them in. You can’t make them deeper, or bigger, or move them into the corner of the yard so you have a bigger grass area. Whether you are putting a pool in, or you are buying a resale house with a pool already installed, pools are something to give more than a passing thought. Pools can add hours of entertainment and exercise to you life. The RIGHT house will have the RIGHT pool, the pool that is perfect for your life and your family’s life…get kids away from video games and playing with friends and their imagination. They can make you healthy and give you an activity the whole family can enjoy. For my shocking opinion on pool, read below:
I might be able to give myself the title of pool EXPERT. I was a competitive swimmer as a child, and became lifeguard certified in college. I lifeguarded at ASU’s student rec center, and then worked at the City of Tempe’s pools in the summer. I did that for a LONG time…continuing my job with the city pools over the summers when I was a school teacher. I taught lots of swim lessons, and lot of water exercise classes. I also have two teenagers that were born and raised in Arizona. They learned how to swim very early…by age 3 I think. They both loved to swim in our backyard pool and spent countless hours doing just that. My daughter was a synchronized swimmer, and is now a lifeguard herself…so the pool expertise continues in my family.
Will you use a pool?
As a pool EXPERT I am certainly not a pool hater, but for MOST families, the only time backyard pools get used regularly, even here in Arizona, is when the children are ages 5-12. Those 7 years of childhood are the years that kids will have friends over the most often, and they can spend hours in the backyard pool playing. Once the teen years hit things change, and the backyard pools are ignored and become much more of a burden than a benefit. Sure some adults swim in their pools…but I am thinking it is nearly as often as you’d imagine. So if your kids are over age 12 and you don’t have grandkids getting close to 5 years and above…I’d skip the pool in your next house. I am a HUGE fan of the public city pools we have in Gilbert, Chandler, Tempe…and the community pools in Power Ranch, Val Vista Lakes, Seville. That is something I think everyone should consider instead of insisting on the wet money pit and HUGE safety hazard in their back yard. Call me crazy…but if you think about it I bet you’ll agree with me!
See homes with pools in Gilbert Arizona:
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