10 Smart Questions Before Building a Swimming Pool

Things to Consider Before Diving Into a Pool Project

Outdoor pool and sunny deck
Andreas von Einsiedel / Getty Images

Before diving into a pool building project, think about why you really want an in-ground swimming pool. It's a major addition to your home and property and a huge investment that may not pay off. The average range is between $38,707 and $69,656, according to Home Advisor.

If your number one reason for getting a pool or hot tub is because your sibling, neighbor, or college roommate has one, maybe you should reconsider. Planning, building, and maintaining a swimming pool or spa is not a whim or keeping-up-with-the-Joneses kind of purchase. It dramatically alters the landscape of your outdoor living space. It can be a lifestyle change, albeit a positive one: more entertaining, more fun with your family, more exercise.

Pool and spa projects often cost more than anticipated. Are you really ready to take the plunge? Here's what to consider before you commit to building a pool.

  • 01 of 10

    Why Do I Want a Pool, Spa, or Hot Tub?

    Meet with your family, partner, and all household members for a "Getting in Touch With My Swimming Pool Needs and Desires" session. Everyone should write down the reasons they do—or don't—want a swimming pool, spa, or hot tub. Consider each person's opinion, even the youngest at the table. Building a pool will disrupt your lives for many months.

  • 02 of 10

    What Will I Use It For?

    Do you love to swim and plan on swimming laps? Did your doctor recommend a pool or hot tub for therapeutic reasons? Do you have visions of entertaining guests in and around your pool? Is it for your children and their friends? Determine who in your household will use the pool, and what it will be used for.

  • 03 of 10

    What Type of Pool Do I Want?

    There's a sea of styles out there, some you probably have no idea about: all kinds of shapes, sizes, and combinations. This is one of the fun aspects of the project; it's like going pool shopping. Research books, magazines, online, and visit home and garden or pool and patio shows to see a few spas or hot tubs in action and gather brochures.

  • 04 of 10

    What Size and Shape?

    If you have a sprawling estate—well, lucky you. Your biggest considerations are where on your vast property you want to place your swimming pool or spa.

    For those of us with smaller lots, it may take some creativity, special design, and compromise to make a swimming pool or spa work for your outdoor space.

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  • 05 of 10

    What Is My Budget?

    Oh yeah—that. Pool builders and suppliers always like to say, "There's a pool to fit every budget," which is a positive sales pitch, but a sales pitch nontheless. Financing a swimming pool project is like any other home addition, and the funds often come from the same sources: home equity accounts or lines of credit, savings, inheritance, home loans, family, and the like. Don't expect to finance it after a trip to Vegas, Atlantic City, or your closest casino.

    As with any home addition, expect it to cost more than you anticipated or have calculated.

  • 06 of 10

    Maintenance: Me or a Pool Pro?

    Ah, maintenance. Heaters, chlorine, bromine, pumps, pool cleaners, test kits—the list of chores is endless. Are you up for the time commitment and monthly costs of maintaining your pool? Can you afford to hire a monthly pool maintenance service to do the dirty work for you? Research local rates and get smart about all that's entailed in maintaining a swimming pool, spa, or hot tub.

  • 07 of 10

    Will This Raise the Value of My Home?

    It used to be that everyone wanted a private backyard swimming pool. Then, those who had them found them challenging to maintain and repair, with many walking away from these obligations. Think about the costs of building, maintaining, fixing, and upgrading—and whether those costs will hurt or help your home value whenever it's time to sell.

  • 08 of 10

    Is This My 'Forever' Home?

    Are you living in a home or area in which you plan to stay? Or do you have a job that may transfer you to another location? Consider long-range plans before installing a pool. Will you be living in the same house with the same yard, where you can continue to enjoy the benefits of that pool?

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  • 09 of 10

    When or How Soon Do I Want It?

    If you're planning a backyard wedding at your house for even six months after the pool-building start time—don't. Be realistic about how long it will take to build or install your pool, and discuss with potential contractors which months will be optimal for construction.

  • 10 of 10

    Would I Be Happy Using a Community Pool?

    If you want to build a pool because you love to swim and relax, have you considered using a local pool? Join the nearby YMCA, a club, or gym with a pool. You can get your exercise whenever the pool is open without the expense of building and maintaining it.