You’ve been prequalified for a mortgage and are ready to start seriously looking at properties. One question remains: should you consider looking at houses with pools? Hot summers seem to suggest that a pool is a must-have, but there are a number of things to think about before you agree to buy that house with a pool or add one to the backyard of your new home. Think about cost, safety and whether you’ll get much use out of the pool.
The average homeowner in Atlanta spends about $305 each year to maintain a swimming pool, according to HomeAdvisor. A swimming pool needs to be cleaned regularly. The water needs to be tested regularly, and unless you enjoy jumping into frigid waters, it needs to be heated. You can save some money by only heating the pool when you plan on using it, such as right before a big party or picnic and by doing the cleaning and water testing yourself. Ideally, the water’s pH will be around 7, which isn’t too acidic or too basic. The water should also be free of algae and other organisms that can make people sick.
Houses with pools have a number of safety issues that pool-free homes don’t have. For example, Appendix G of the Georgia International Residential Code describes the type of barrier that must surround the pool to keep people, particularly small children, from falling in. The barrier must be at least 4-feet tall, and the space between the bottom of the fence and the ground can’t be more than 2 inches. Having the fence around the pool shields you from liability in case a trespasser goes into the pool and drowns. You’ll need to check with your state and town to find out the specific requirements for pool safety in your area.
As a pool owner, you’ll need to be aware of your liability if there’s a diving board or if a person using the pool dives in and gets hurt. You can be liable if the pool is shallow and there aren’t any signs pointing out its depth or advising people not to dive.
Checking out the pool
If the house you’re considering buying has a pool already, you’ll want to work with a home inspector who has experience inspecting swimming pools. The inspector will examine the pool for cracks and look at the pump and heating system to make sure they will function as advertised. Depending on the results of the inspection, you might be able to work with the sellers to have them cover the cost of repairs, or walk away from the home if repairing the pool is too pricey.
When deciding whether a pool is right for you, think of the enjoyment and use you’ll get out of it in contrast to the money and effort you’ll spend maintaining it. If you love swimming, the cost of having a pool and risks involved might be worth it.
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