Although they are a novelty in Calgary due to our short summers, pools can add value to a property. Photo courtesy of Oasis Pools & Spas Ltd.

Taking the plunge

Owning a home with an indoor or outdoor pool is a rarity in Calgary. If you dream of owning a backyard lagoon, here are some considerations before you dive in.

Imagine having your own private swimming pool – a place to entertain, exercise or just kick back and listen to the soothing sounds of moving water.

Lynn Lucyshyn, owner of Oasis Pools & Spas, says pools are a luxury few Calgarians enjoy. Her company installs as many as 12 pools in a good year, but as few as three in slower years.

According to CREB®, only 167 properties listing pools as a feature were sold in 2016. In that same year, the average sale price of a detached home with an indoor or outdoor pool was $974,388.

Lucyshyn says homeowners who install pools tend to be those with “large disposable incomes,” citing doctors, hockey players, and oil-and-gas executives among her clients. Pools themselves cost between $35,000 and $60,000, plus at least $20,000 for associated installation costs including electrical, gas hook ups, venting, and the required fencing.

Most pools Oasis installs are of the outdoor variety, because an indoor pool can only be installed with a new build or when building an addition.

The average pool is 16 feet by 32 feet, though a person’s yard ultimately determines the size and shape of the pool one can have.

City bylaws require pools be at least three feet away from building structures and four feet away from property lines. What’s more, a pool owner must have a non-climbable fence with six-foot high, lockable gates around the property or pool perimeter.

Cameron Gerlitz owned a home in the southwest community of Mayfair that came complete with an indoor pool.

“The pool offered an incentive to buy that particular property because of my two kids,” Gerlitz recalled. However, after he purchased the house, he found his young children didn’t use the pool as much as he had anticipated.

The pump was going 24 hours a day. I was thinking about how much the pool was costing per month, especially when the kids weren’t using it as much as hoped.

“The pump was going 24 hours a day. I was thinking about how much the pool was costing per month, especially when the kids weren’t using it as much as hoped,” he said.

Lucyshyn estimates the monthly cost for pool-associated electric and gas is, on average, about $200, with chemical maintenance costing another $1,000 per year.

For outdoor pools, Lucyshyn says maintenance, which includes vacuuming the pool, checking equipment and adding sanitizing chemical, is required weekly. For indoor pools, maintenance can be monthly, although chemicals need to be added once every two weeks. Chlorine and bromine are used to kill bacteria and prevent algae growth. Since these chemicals can be volatile or corrosive, she says they should be stored away from pool equipment.

“It’s a commitment to keep up a pool,” she cautioned.

Despite worrying about cost and pool maintenance, Gerlitz says his home pool did offer a calming and relaxing past time right in his very own abode.

His advice for would-be pool owners? Have the pool inspected before purchasing the associated property. “Be mindful about updating the pool area, because a pool can date a house quickly,” he added.

Lucyshyn says Oasis offers site inspections for potential purchasers and they will also perform regular maintenance.

“It’s imperative to keep the filters clean and have a sanitizer of sorts,” she said, adding it usually takes about 24 hours to fill an outdoor pool with a garden hose.

While one “puts the pool to bed for the winter,” Lucyshyn says that does not involve draining it. “You never empty a pool over winter,” she said, explaining that water freezing in the ground can cause the ground to move and shift and, as a result, cause cracking and buckling in pool walls if the pool has been emptied.

Another consideration is pool safety. The Pool & Hot Tub Council of Canada provides a range of safety tips for pool owners, the most important of which is to always supervise children when they are in or around the pool. Other safety tips include:

  • Have a floatation device, a phone, and first-aid kit near the pool.
  • Don’t use alcohol when around the pool.
  • Avoid swimming at night or in stormy weather.
  • Always enter a pool feet first.
  • Keep chemical products away from children.
  • Ensure the transition between the pool’s shallow and deep end is clearly marked.
  • Keep children away from the main drain, as suction from the pump could trap them underwater.
  • Don’t chew gum or eat while you swim.
  • Ensure fencing around the pool meets with local bylaws and has self-closing and self-latching gates.

 

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