Let’s face it: buying a house with a pool can be a scary proposition. Everyone seems to want a pool these days, but there are a few things to know beforehand to make the best decision possible.
It’s extremely important to ask a bunch of questions if you’re dead set on finding a home with a pool.
The simple fact is that things can get very costly if it’s in bad shape, so you’ll want to know these things.
Depending on the condition of the pool itself, you may have a bit of negotiating power if repairs are needed if you ask the right questions beforehand. The seller should always be upfront about these things.
If you’ve never owned a pool, it can be easy to overlook big problems that will cost a lot of money to fix later on.
For this reason, today I’ll outline several important questions to ask in several categories if you’ve got your eye on a house with a pool.
Has the pool been inspected?
This is one of those commonly overlooked questions to ask, but it’s a great idea to have a certified pool inspector give you an unbiased analysis of the pool and everything related to it.
One thing to know in the United States is that some states or counties do require some type of inspection credentials/certifications for people selling homes with pools.
One of these organizations is the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI®).
This organization offers a certified pool and spa inspector course, so this is something worth asking about when looking for a home inspector to check out a pool.
The ICA (Inspection Certification Associates) offers more specialized training for pools as well and is another to ask about.
Talk to the seller
The best place to start if considering a pool is to start by talking with the seller about its maintenance history and any issues.
As I mentioned, some home inspectors are able to offer a fairly basic pool inspection, which could uncover serious red flags. But it is a relatively superficial inspection.
Having a pool specialist, (preferably an actual pool inspector rather than a pool serviceman or pool company), can give you much more complete information. Pools are complex systems involving structural, mechanical, plumbing, and electrical components.
The most experienced inspectors may charge up to $600 or more but will be able to offer guidance on this decision.
If you’re a serious buyer and have concerns about the pool, it finding a knowledgeable pool inspector is simply a wise investment.
Is the pool safe?
Safety is the primary concern because a pool may still present all kinds of hazards even when everything works and is correctly installed.
You should be especially concerned with potential electrical hazards, as well as finding out what things may be needed to be replaced (if any).
Here are a couple of safety considerations to ask:
- Are all the pool/spa lights and any adjacent lighting or receptacles GFI-protected?
- Is your pool in compliance with the local requirements?
- Does the pool have a locking gate and fence surrounding it?
- Are there any loose wires or exposed splices in the equipment area?
- Are there any other electrical issues with the equipment?
- What’s the condition of the pool fence and gate?
- Are there any windows or doors near the pool? If so, do they contain safety glass?
When it comes to these safety concerns and liability issues, be sure to check out my post Residential Pool Owner Liability Basics: What to Know.
This article covers the basics, including making sure your pool isn’t a liability for small children by including essentials like a fence and gate.
What is the condition of the pool shell or surround?
There are several different types of pool construction. The shell could be fiberglass, concrete (gunite), or vinyl-lined.
Below are several questions to ask in relation to the pool itself and its surround.
- What material is the pool made of?
- What is the condition of the pool shell itself? Are there pits or stains on the surface?
- Are there cracks (other than hairline cracks) in the pool surfacing?
- Are there cracks in the grout in tiles or other joints around the rim of the pool or in the surrounding features?
- Is there a drain in the bottom? Is there more than one drain?
- Does the pool include an anti-vortex or anti-entrapment drain cover (desired for safety)?
- Is there an operational valve to adjust the proportion of water taken from the pool bottom (or the skimmer) and sent to the filter?
- Are there any features like a fountain, cascade, waterfall, etc.? Are they properly functional?
- Last but not least: Was the pool installation and its equipment properly permitted?
What is the condition of the pool equipment and accessories? What is included?
Every pool should have a pump and filter to continuously circulate the water for some period each day through the filter to clean it.
A quick visual inspection of the pump may not be the first thing you look for when inspecting a pool, but noting its visual condition and age is important.
Again, a qualified pool inspector should be able to notice these things right away.
Is there a heater to warm up the water?
Keeping the water in the pool warm can be expensive—unless the owner has solar heating equipment or another system. For this reason, you’ll want to make sure that any pool heater installed actually works.
What is the condition of the pool’s jets?
Jets are a critical line of defense against algae, so it’s important to ask a few questions related to the conditions of these to note.
- If there is an attached spa, is there a second pump for jets?
- Are all the jets working and providing strong flows?
- Is there a blower to create bubbles from the bottom of the spa?
When it comes to lights, it’s important to ask about the condition of the lights, if they are controlled by a timer. Are any of the lights defective?
Many lighting systems are programmable, and much more advanced than others.
Pool control systems
When it comes to the pool and spa control systems, these can really date a pool. Asking about the condition of the control system is important, as well as its age.
For example, some systems may include a simple mechanical timer to operate the pump, while other more sophisticated systems can be programmed and controlled remotely.
Many pool control systems can automate a lot of tedious tasks, including:
- pH balancing
- filtration and cleaning
- Controls to turn on the pump, lights, and heater
- Ability to be controlled with a smartphone app
Accessories for pools can be quite expensive, so this is another category of questions to ask if you are looking for a house with a pool.
Pools generally cost anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 per year to maintain (including maintenance and repairs), so having some of the basics included is essential.
In addition, here are a couple of good questions related to accessories:
- Is there a pool cover? If so, is it vinyl or a mesh cover?
- Is the cover automatic? If so, does the pool cover operate smoothly and have appropriate safety controls?
- Is the pool cover material in good condition?
- What is the condition of the diving board or slide? (These are fun but can be hazardous and may create a liability risk)
How has the pool been maintained?
It’s pretty easy to tell if a pool has been neglected, so one of the important things to look for is the color of the water and whether or not it’s in a rough-looking shape.
If you are negotiating with the owner, it’s important to ask a few questions regarding maintenance, like:
- Have the pool walls and bottom been brushed and vacuumed regularly?
- What color is the water -is it full of debris?
- Who was responsible for the maintenance? The homeowner or a pool maintenance company?
- What chemicals were routinely added, and how frequently? Is it a saltwater pool?
Ideally, pools should undergo some degree of care every day (like removing debris) and regular weekly maintenance which leads to another question—will you do it yourself or hire a pool service?
It never hurts to ask the current owners about what they do and how much they pay for their service.
Keep in mind that pool restoration can be quite expensive, and if the previous owner did never little to maintain it, you could be stuck with a pretty hefty repair job to get it right.
How might a pool affect my homeowner’s insurance policy?
When it comes to a new pool you are considering, or a property with a pool, an important first step is to check with your insurance provider to know how much more a pool will cost relative to a homeowner’s insurance policy that doesn’t include a pool.
Here are a couple of questions to know beforehand:
- To what extend will a house with a pool increase your homeowner’s insurance?
- How will the pool affect property values?
While there are a lot of things to consider before purchasing a home with a pool, they are a delightful addition for many people and provide hours of enjoyment to you and your family.
And while they require a good amount of upkeep, the enjoyment is definitely worth it for many families I know.
I hope this post has been helpful! If you’re pretty close to making a decision, go ahead and check out my post 15 Flippin-Sweet Gift Ideas for Pool Owners.