A backyard pool is just the ticket for cooling off during the dog days of summer, but it's a big-ticket home renovation that should give you pause before diving in.
According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of installing a pool ranges between $16,791 and $44,524. While above-ground pools range from $700 to $3,600 and are by far the more economical option, in-ground pools are the gold standard for properties that have the backyard space for them.
For in-ground pools, expect to splash out between $36,750 and $65,000 before you even dip a toe into that crystal-blue water -- which will cost you a ton to keep looking like that, by the way. And if you want a high-end, custom pool that's the stuff of a magazine photo shoot, you can expect the costs to creep into the six figures. And don't forget about installing a pool fence to secure your very attractive nuisance and keep children safe.
A belly flop for your budget
A pool is a high-maintenance addition to any yard, regardless of the style or design. From water filtration and sanitation to maintenance and repairs, owning a pool can cost between $3,000 and $5,000 each year, per HomeAdvisor. Chlorine shortages during the pandemic have made basic upkeep even pricier.
The problem with pool maintenance is that if something goes awry, the pool is likely off-limits until it gets fixed. Issues often arise during the summer months, when pool maintenance pros are fully booked, so a resolution could take days or even weeks.
That's disappointing enough when it happens to your own backyard pool, but if you've got a vacation rental whose bookings depend on that backyard oasis, your bottom line might need a life preserver.
Is your ROI completely down the drain?
To be clear, there is value in having a pool. According to the 2018 Remodeling Impact Report: Outdoor Features from the National Association of REALTORS (NAR), you'll achieve a 43% ROI for an 18-by-36-foot in-ground pool with a cost estimate of $57,500.
In hotter climates that promise much longer swimming seasons, a pool is practically a necessity to beat the heat. But in other regions where a pool is only in use during the summer months, house hunters might see it as more of a bane than a boon. In fact, the NAR report noted that only 2% of member agents cited a pool as the factor that clinched a sale for their clients, and less than 1% of agents recommended sellers install one before listing.
The bottom line
Due to expensive ongoing maintenance, a pool is not on every homebuyer's wish list. While it does add value to a property, you're unlikely to get back all of the money you've sunk into it. If you count your own enjoyment of a pool as part of its ROI, go for it. Otherwise, there are other, more affordable home enhancements that will recoup more at resale.