Are swimming pools a worthwhile investment?

Private pools were once essential to the perfect family home, but those days may be over. In fact, property investment advisers now believe that installing a swimming pool is one of the biggest, most expensive mistakes a home owner can make.

The recreational benefits of the swimming pool cannot be denied, nor their aesthetic appeal. But where they once were a major draw card for home buyers, they now not only fail to boost a property's value in any significant way, but may actually diminish its appeal.

A dip in value

Consider the costs of a swimming pool, not only in terms of upfront charges for installation, but also how much it will cost to maintain it.

According to Mary Wilson, the price of a pool installation could range from £10,000 to £100,000, depending how elaborate it is. On top of that are the maintenance costs, which Swimming Pool and Allied Trades Association (SPATA) estimates at £10 to £15 a day for indoor pools. There's also the energy costs involved in heating a pool, which could come to about £500 a year if heated by gas and twice that with electrical heating.

Aside from the costs, there are two other significant factors that come into play: effort and safety. Putting in a swimming pool involves extensive alterations to the home, and often the dirt being removed will have to be carried through the home itself. The pool will require regular maintenance, filtration systems, cleaning and the purchase of expensive chemicals.

Then there's the safety issue, as the pool area poses a threat to children and pets if no protective fencing is present. Twenty-eight children under the age of 10 drowned in pools throughout the UK in 2010, according to Never Paint Again!.

All-in-all, pools are a hassle that many buyers would rather avoid, meaning that if you're looking to install a swimming pool in order to boost the value of your property, you could achieve the exact opposite. Spending £20,000 on a home extension does not automatically increase its value by £20,000, as value is dependent on demand. Estate agency chain Spicer Haart ranks swimming pools as the most worthless home improvement, while makes it number one on the list of ways to waste money on your home.

Take the plunge?

Ultimately, the question of whether or not a pool is worthwhile depends on whether your reasons for getting one are financially or emotionally motivated. As an investment decision it's one of the worst you could make, and you'd be better off focusing on home improvements that would actually enhance the appeal of your property, such as a bigger kitchen or a parking space.

But if you see your home as a place where you and your family will be staying for the long-term, then it may have much to offer in terms of recreational value.

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