#Floridalife is best enjoyed in the sun (sunshine state, right?) so most people moving to the area want to have a pool in their own backyard. This raises a lot of questions about pool maintenance and cost, the benefits of adding a pool while building or buying a home with a pool, and much more! Today, we hope to answer those questions for you.
2. How much does it cost to add a pool while building versus adding separately?
Swimming pools are very much like homes in that they can be as custom as you want. Some builders have a standard pool they add on to new construction homes, with a spa and pavers and the cage, for about $60,000 OR you can design your own and build it for around the same price, if not less! An average size custom pool runs about $30,000, then you add another $8,000 or so if you want the hot tub portion and heater, plus the cage enclosure which is $8000+. You make choices like tile, design, cage size, heater vs no heater, and other aspects that can impact the cost, but going directly with a pool company does eliminate some additional fees added on by the builder. They want to make money off the pool, too, so you end up paying a premium to have it constructed with the home. Now, it is definitely more convenient to do it all at once, so you just have to weigh the options and see what works best!
We built our home and did not love the pool design required by the builder, so we decided to design and install our own pool after the home was built. Now, the builder would not allow the pool company to start construction until we owned the home (obviously), so we had to essentially wait until we had closed before we could add the pool. We designed every element, right down to where the pool lights would be placed, and opted for a panoramic cage because we love our water view. Our final cost ended up being very close to the builder cost, and we got so much more for our money! We had the inconvenience of waiting for it to be built, but for us it was totally worth it. We used the community pool while we waited!
What does it mean if a listing says “wired for pool” or “pool ready”? Does that save any money?
Sometimes builders construct the home and add the wiring for the pool, but they do not include the pool. This means the electrical is done and it’s very easy to add the pool, saving you about $1500 off the pool install.
3. Saltwater versus Chlorine? What's the difference?
Misconception: salt water pools do not have chlorine
This is not the case (and I was guilty of thinking this, too!) A salt water pool IS chlorinated by chlorine, but you use the salt to electronically convert it to chlorine. The benefit of this is you do not need to buy chlorine tablets constantly, the salt in the water makes the pool feel soft and silky, and the constant flow of chlorine from the generator keeps the pool cleaner longer. It is also more efficient and easier to maintain in the long run, but the upfront costs are higher to install a salt cell generator.
Traditional chlorine pools are the most common type, especially when going with a new construction home that includes a pool. They have a lower initial cost, but require more maintenance in the long run. The pH level needs to be tested more frequently and chlorine tablets need to be refilled every couple of weeks. The use of the tablets makes the delivery system for the chlorine very simple, and this works on all types of pools. Basically, it just depends on your personal preference. For us, the salt water pool seemed more cost effective and easier to maintain on our own.
4. Why do I need a cage? Are there different types of cages?
The cage enclosure is beneficial for many reasons. The cage filters the sun so the UV rays coming through are less damaging for you to enjoy the Sunshine State. Cleaning your pool is a million times easier when it is covered with a screen enclosure because nothing can really get it in. It also provides security from unwanted critters (lovebugs, anyone!?) and larger unwanted visitors (GATORS, SNAKES, LIZARDS oh my!) And it is extra security for the neighborhood so no one wanders into your pool. The screen enclosure also extends your living space and makes the pool area feel more like a part of your home to relax and enjoy the outdoors, without those pesky “no-see-ums”. The cage enclosure is built to withstand strong winds, helps to reduce chemical evaporation from the pool water making it easier to maintain, slows algae growth in the water, and helps maintain water temperature which keeps your energy costs down.
There are some customizable choices to make with the cage beyond the size; you can choose different types of screens depending on how tight you want it and how much visibility you want, you can also choose varying finishes on the aluminum and different roof styles for the cage to best match your home. We opted for a panoramic screen so we had an unobstructed, bug-free view!
5. How much does it cost to maintain and care for the pool? Do I need to hire a company?
There are many pool companies that will come out and help care for your pool on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. They will test the chemicals and make adjustments, clean the pool for you, check the equipment and keep your pool working efficiently. This hands-off approach is great if you do not want to be worried about the pool and should cost about $85 to $200 a month depending on the company you choose.
If you have a saltwater pool and feel confident in your pool-cleaning abilities, you can handle the maintenance yourself. Pool stores offer free water testing, so bring the water in once a week (at first) and test the chemicals to get them balanced correctly. You may have to buy a few things to add to it, but you shouldn’t spend more than a couple hundred dollars a year on this.
We did a separate video on this process:
Be sure to take good care of your pool and equipment if you aren’t hiring the pros!
6. How much should I expect to pay for a home that has a pool? Does it add value?
Yes! In Florida a pool definitely adds value to a home. Which is another reason builders tend to not include pools on homes that are priced at $350,000 and under. They have to account for the cost of the pool, which then drives the price of the home up. You can expect to add about 60% of the cost of the pool onto the value of the home. So, if the home price is $350,000 without a pool, and the pool costs about $50,000, then the home is worth more like $380,000. In this area of Lakewood Ranch and Sarasota, you should expect to pay at least $400,000 for a 3 bedroom new home with a pool. Anything less will be built without a pool, but you can easily add your own, just factor that into your budget.
7. How much does it cost to heat my pool? What are the types of heaters?
Choosing the right heater is another component of designing your own pool. If your home is built with a pool, you most likely have a gas heater. These are inexpensive to purchase and heat the pool water quickly, but they are expensive to operate and can cost you $300 per month, or more. They are not as energy efficient and only have a lifespan of about 5 years. (They also aren’t very environmentally friendly)
Electric heat pumps use electricity to transfer heat to the pool. These are much more inexpensive to operate, costing only about $50 a month. They are energy efficient and have a much longer lifespan, as well. The pool water will heat more slowly, but once it reaches the desired temperature it is easy to maintain it (in the warmer months, especially). These systems are pricier to purchase, but save you money in the long run. And they use renewable energy sources which makes them friendly for the environment.
Solar heaters are a third option, and in the Sunshine State this is definitely a viable option! The solar panels collect heat by sitting in the sun and transfer that heat to the water. These are very inexpensive to operate, very energy efficient, and very environmentally friendly. They can be expensive to purchase and it requires having a spot to place the solar panels near your pool, but it might be a good option if you get a lot of sun and don’t mind being dependent on the weather for heat. If you live in a community with an HOA, you may have to check with them before installing this kind of heater.
8. How do I keep the pool safe if I have kids?
In order for a pool to pass the inspection and be considered safe, there must be a pool alarm on the doors and windows leading to the pool, an alarm in the pool itself that alerts homeowners to a splash, and/or a child safety gate installed around the pool. This is something you can take down when using the pool, but leave up when you aren’t in order to feel safe having your children near the pool.
9. How long does pool equipment and cage last?
Pool pumps are designed to last for 10-12 years, on average. The pool shell itself should have no issues for 40+ years. Pool filter cartridges should be replaces every 2-3 years. The PebbleTec finish in most pools will last 20+ years if well-cared for, and the water line tile should last for up to 20 years. A gas heater should last 10-12 years and salt cell generator 5-7 years, maybe longer if well-cared for. The pool enclosure itself should last a long time (up to 20 years!) but the screens are more fragile and may need to be replaced sooner. If they are well-cared for and not damaged, they should last almost as long as the cage structure. (Some of that life expectancy depends on the quality of the screen initially installed, as well)
10. Can I use my pool all year round?
Yes! Generally, temperatures stay warm enough to use your pool from March through October, and if you have a heater then you can warm up the water in November – February and keep swimming!
Please note - we are not pool pros! We wanted to share the information we learned through our own research, but be sure to contact a pool company for specific information and pricing. We will gladly give you a referral!
Also, if you would like a list of current pool homes in Lakewood Ranch within your budget, fill out this form: