Real Estate Review: Lounging at your poolside

Maybe it’s time to dive into the discussion about whether or not to create your own little oasis at home and add a backyard pool.

In-ground pools can reshape your backyard

All it takes is just the hint of better weather on the horizon to have some of us already thinking of where to go to cool off with a swim.

Lakes and rivers are easy to find, but sometimes the crowds, the sand in the sandwiches and constant game of find-a-parking-spot can spoil these rare sunny days.

Maybe it’s time to dive into the discussion about whether or not to create your own little oasis at home and add a backyard pool. Will it add value to the home? What will it cost?

If you are already convinced you want to sip your chardonnay at your own poolside, then the next question is whether to put in an above-ground pool or an in-ground pool.

“They are like comparing apples and oranges, “ says Ann Bradshaw, of Vantage Pools.

Above-ground pools are more of an impulse buy, she notes.

As soon as the weather gets better, the above-ground pools start flying off the shelves, and after a couple of good weekends, her company, which deals in steels-sided higher quality above-ground pools, might be sold out for the season.

“The rush happens every year,” she says, noting that people often upgrade to a strong, long lasting above-ground pool after a year or two of lesser quality pools that tend not to last the winter.

In-ground pools are clearly more expensive. Customers often take awhile to decide on the expense, then just how they want it to be shaped to make the most of their backyard space. Vinyl and fiberglass are the two main types of material used in these pools, with an “ultra nice” vinyl pool running about $30,000 and the longer lasting fiberglass running almost double that, says Bradshaw.

“People know this option is a long-term commitment and can transform your entire backyard,” she says. She often makes several trips to a purchaser’s home before creating detailed plans. Sometimes people don’t come back until the next season.

“It’s an important decision,” she says, noting that she’s inclined to think in-ground pools do add value to a home because she has so many realtors on her list of clients.

There are a few other things to consider while you are at it.

You’ll likely need to landscape your yard and add some decking before you’re ready to enjoy your backyard oasis. You can brighten things up yourself with plenty of free-standing planter boxes that bring the space to life.

You’ll also need to ask yourself just why you want a pool? Are you happy to paddle around, or are you planning on staying fit and doing a few lengths?

In the quest for your perfect workout, you can find above-ground pools that you can swim against a current and mimic the effects of an Olympic sized-in-ground pool.

There are other advantages to above-ground pools. They are much cheaper, of course. They are portable and you can have one up and running in a day or two. But they also don’t last as long and will still cost you to maintain..

Adria Whitcher, who specializes in maintaining pools for Vantage in Maple Ridge, has been teaching pool owners how to keep their pools clean for almost two decades. She sees a lot of young couples thrilled at buying a home with a pool, but she doesn’t pull punches when it comes to letting them understand the costs and work involved in maintaining one. It costs about $250 a year to buy the chemicals.

“It can be a lot of work,” she says. “But it’s worth it.”

The toughest question you’ll have to ask yourself before you bother breaking ground is whether you can keep your pool safe. As tempting as lounging by your 25-foot pool might be might be, you may want to hang on to the paddling pool until your toddler can swim.

The municipality has made steps to ensure local pools are safe for babies by requiring a safely-gated four-foot fence be put up around any 24-foot-round pool or 22-square-foot pool, deeper than 18 inches.

No matter which type of pool you choose, you’ll still have to comply with a few other municipal requirements. In Maple Ridge, you’ll need a permit that includes site plans, input from both geotechnical and structural engineers and include compliance with seismic regulations. If you on flood plain or a septic field, you’ll also have to meet special requirements.

If you are still keen to put in some hard work and make a splash in your backyard this summer, you’ll deserve that rest by your pool no matter which style you choose. Dive in.

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