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REAL ESTATE

5 Reasons I Hate Swimming Pools -- and I'm Not Alone

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skimming pool (Copyright: Bill Oxford)

When I was a kid, my parents bought a house with a pool in the backyard. It was glorious. My sister and I spent our weekends practicing our dives in the deep end, lolling about on pool floats, and even enjoying some primo relaxation in the attached hot tub on cool nights. We had friends over all the time, and our domestic social lives were centered around that cool, blue water.

That lasted about one summer.

The next year, fewer friends came over. We still dutifully pulled out the pool floats sometimes, but we'd pretty much had our fill of diving for buried treasure or endlessly racing laps. By the third year, hardly anyone went in the pool at all.

By the time I hit my teens, my relationship with the pool consisted of two activities: Listening to my parents complain about the broken pump, the leaking seal, or the rising cost of water treatments, and arguing with my sister over who had to clean out the ever-mounting pile of leaves and trash circling the deep end.

I didn't want to admit it, but I hated the pool.

When I hit adulthood, the first of my friends to buy a house bought one specifically because it had a pool. She had grand plans for weekly poolside barbecues and big family gatherings for pool volleyball. And they might have happened, if the pipes hadn't sprung a leak and flooded the backyard, forcing her to get a second loan to cover the cost of repairs. For the next two years, the pool was off-limits while a multitude of pros tried and failed to fix the leaks or seal the liner. Even the pool lights started to pop and fizzle, adding the risk of electrical shock if you got in the pool.

I decided then and there I'd never own a pool unless it was made of pink plastic and just big enough to hold some beer and ice.

And it turns out that I'm not totally crazy -- or alone -- in this. There are some very valid reasons to hate pools.

1. You'll spend way too much time cleaning it

Some lucky pool owners can afford a weekly service to handle most of the ongoing maintenance, but the majority of owners go at it alone. You'll save money, sure, but you'll work for it.

"Owning a pool is a lot of work and not just a financial commitment, but a time commitment as well," says Linda Turner, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Niceville, FL.

On top of regular water treatments and filter cleanings, literally everything gets in the pool. I've had to fish out grocery bags, leaves, bugs, and even rats. But what about those cool robotic pool cleaners, you ask? Much like with a Roomba, you'll spend most of your time trying to put the thing back on track and keep it away from larger, clog-inducing nightmares -- like, you know, rats.

2. It costs a lot of money

Forget the fact that installation alone costs $22,000 on average -- the real problem is that the costs never end. Never. You have to buy chemicals, acid treatments, and new filters just to keep the pool from turning green. You could spend $500 a year on the chemicals alone, according to The Wall Street Journal. If you pay a company to maintain your pool, you're looking at anywhere from $84 to $127 a week.

And that's if nothing goes wrong.

3. Stuff will go wrong

"A homeowner needs to be prepared to repair or replace large-ticket items such as pool pumps, pool liners, cool decks, and screened enclosures," Turner says.

The thing is, the primary equipment will eventually need to be replaced again and again. The pump -- the small device that filters water -- became a source of constant frustration in my family pool. It would break. It would get repaired. It would break again. Then -- and here's the twist -- it would get replaced and it would break again. This went on for so long I can't even remember the number of repairs or missed swimming seasons it took to finally sort out the problem. And it was always only a matter of time before it happened again.

4. Insurance is tricky

When I was growing up, my friends had some truly fabulous pools. High diving boards were common. There was even a slide or two. But that isn't the case anymore. Homeowners insurance providers have cracked down on safety regulations for pools (I'm betting the twisty metal slide probably wasn't the safest thing). Even something as typical as a regular diving board is a big deal.

"They [usually] won't insure one with a diving board. So the homeowner is forced to remove it, if one exists, or they'll be canceled by the insurance company, who will come and check," Turner says.

5. You won't see that money again

While remodeling your kitchen or finishing a basement can be a boon to your resale, pools aren't -- especially if you live farther north. In hot climates like the Southwest, an inground pool might add up to 11% on the value of your home; however, in the Midwest, where the summer doesn't stretch on forever, you're looking at maybe only 6%, according to U.S. News & World Report.

"As for recouping the cost of installing a pool, it's a terrible investment, with the return mainly being from whatever enjoyment the homeowner got out of it," Turner says. "Appraisers typically only give 40% to 50% value, and in some cases, even less than that."

So after all those years of dutiful maintenance and aggravation, when you finally go to sell your home, you won't even get most of that money back. Hurrah, hurrah.

Still daydreaming of swan-diving into your new personal pool? As long as you see it as a personal investment and not a financial one, a pool can give your family a few years of summertime fun. But as for us: We'll be chillin' in our inflatable one.