Are you sure you want a pool?

If you're in the market to buy a home right now, you should think twice before you buy one with a pool or start making plans to put in a pool as soon as you move.

"Pool upkeep is time consuming and expensive," says Dr Piet Botha, chairman of the Nationlink estate agency group, "so it is really only worth having one if you are going to use it often, especially in these times when everyone is trying to trim their budgets.

If you like entertaining round the pool, if your children love swimming or if you do lengths every day to keep fit, a pool can be a great asset and you probably won't mind having to maintain it. It might also add to the appeal of your home when the time comes to resell, and at the very least will give you somewhere to cool down quickly on a hot summer day.

"However," he says, "owning a pool also has disadvantages, apart from the ever-rising cost of pool chemicals. A pool needs to be properly secured and the look of pool fencing can spoil the aesthetics of your garden. A pool consumes valuable yard space and can be overwhelming on a small stand.

"It generally also costs more to insure a home with a pool and pool equipment, and if you have to refill the pool, or heat it in order to get more use out of it over the year, this can push up your water and electricity bills. In short, it can easily become a money pit."

What is more, says Botha, a pool will not automatically add value to your home when you decide to sell it. In fact a pool may put off buyers with young children who are concerned about the drowning risk, and it is likely to discourage those whose work commitments leave them little time for home maintenance.

"In fact, when given a choice between similar homes with and without pools, buyers are increasingly choosing to purchase those without, although it is still an advantage for a sectional title complex or an estate to have a communal pool - where the cost is shared and the maintenance is not the homeowner's problem."

As for those who still think a house is not a home without a pool, Botha suggests they try a temporary above-ground option first. "You can buy a kit and put up the pool in a matter of hours and this will enable you to test how much your family really uses it, and whether you can stand the upkeep, before committing to an in-ground structure that might just turn out to be a blue elephant."


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