It’s the season of home-buying, so we wanted to prepare a little PSA on the actual cost of owning a pool for you guys when you’re out looking at fancy-pants pool homes.
This is Part 2 of a three part series, so feel free to start at the beginning:
- Part 1 – Building A New Pool Cost The Entire House
- Part 2 – We Only Have A Pool Because It Was Free (this post)
- Part 3 – The Hard Numbers of Pool Ownership (coming Friday)
We Only Have A Pool Because It Was Free
If you’re joining in on this without reading Part 1, here’s a quick recap.
The previous owners of our house, Mr and Mrs PO purchased our home without a pool, promptly installed one, treated the house as a bit of a piggy bank, and when illness hit ten years later it was too much. They were foreclosed on and Mr PoP and I think a lot of it (at least at this house) started with the pool.
Why The Hell Did We Buy A House With A Pool, Then?
Knowing all this (and really we pieced together most of the story from public records and a 5 minute conversation with the neighbors before we closed on the purchase), why did we go ahead and purchase a home with a pool?
Well, It Was A “Free” Pool For Us
We’ve written in the past about how real estate prices track along inflation rates over the long term. So we applied this principle to our house from the most recent sales.
From 1997 – 2008, inflation averaged 2.54%. So taking the previous sale value of the house ($110K), and increasing it by inflation for those twelve years, we get around $150K. So using just inflation, our house without a pool was worth about $150K. We paid about $130K for our house – which is $20K less than what inflation projected it at for the date of our sale. So we figure we got a free pool and earned about $20K in “free” equity that we would easily earn back as prices normalized that we could mentally account as pool expenses.
So considering how much we loved everything about the house except the pool, and that it was a little like getting *paid* to take the pool, we went for it and put in an offer. But we still wanted to keep costs down on the pool as much as possible.
Flashback to Chief TANSTAAFL
When I was in high school, my economics teacher was hilarious. And occasionally very un-PC. So to instill in us the economic principle that “free lunch” does not exist, he donned a Native American headdress and called himself Chief TANSTAAFL for the day.
TANSTAAFL = There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
Grammatically incorrect and horribly un-PC, but an incredibly effective teaching tool regardless. I will NEVER forget that there are hidden costs when something looks “free”. But we didn’t know what the hidden costs of pool ownership were.
We Tried To Guess-timate
I had a lot of trouble trying to find good information on the true cost of owning a pool at the time online. (That’s one of the main reasons we wanted to write this series.) So we asked my older sister and a couple of friends who owned pools what they cost to run. They all said it’s about $100/month to get a guy to come and take care of all the chemicals and maintenance. But my sister who was in the process of buying her third pool home gave us an additional nugget of wisdom.
“Yeah, it’s about $100/month. But inevitably something always happens once a year that’s $200 – $300 to fix. So call it an even $1,500/year for a pool.”
My sister and her husband weren’t big into DIY the way Mr PoP and I are (to give you an idea – they paid for a weekly pooper scooper service for the dogs), so Mr. PoP and I guessed that we’d be able to DIY the pool care and save some money.
“My dad took care of our (above ground) pool growing up. I’m sure I’ll be able to maintain the pool, too!” – Mr. PoP’s Famous Last Words On Pool Care
Our goal was to shave 50% off my sister’s $1,500 estimate, but we made sure we had room in the budget for the entire $1,500 just in case.
Stay tuned for the rest of the series:
- Part 3 – The Hard Numbers of Pool Ownership (goes live Friday)
What do you think a pool costs to run and maintain? Do you think we were able to shave 50% off of my sister’s estimate?