By Gordon King
You need more space. You’re working from home, extended family is visiting (though it seems like they moved in), the eat-in kitchen isn’t big enough for you all to actually eat in, and by January, you’ll be staring out the glass doors yearning for a little breathing room.
Have you looked closely at the options for extending your living spaces outdoors? The contemporary designs are not as vast and overwhelming as they once were. They’re easier to install (and to remove if you happen to change your mind in 20 years), are significantly less expensive, and smaller, than versions of the past. With the optional outdoor kitchen and patio, maybe even a cabana, pools also have become architectural design elements that are beautiful when lit at night, provide added dining space, get-away-from-everyone space, and add significant resale value to your property.
I’ll admit that several years ago, I feel like I couldn’t give away houses with pools. Buyers considered them an expensive liability, and those who had a pool at their primary residence didn’t want the regular maintenance and cost at their second home. It was a cautionary tale. But that was then. Now, the environment has changed, and buyers view pools as an extension of their indoor living space that are a beautiful way to entertain family if they can’t go downtown, to the beach or out to eat. People are slowly starting to realize that pools can solve their overcrowding issues, and the broader options could fit their current lifestyle.
The main difference is the size. These new pool options are smaller and have a shrunken footprint compared to traditional dig-a-hole-in-the-ground-and-fill-it-with-water structures. These pools and hot tubs are pre-fabricated, meaning they come in sections that are already built and are assembled in a smaller space in your yard. They can be installed anywhere, including on top of the ground, built into the deck or inside on the second floor, and cost a third to 50% of the average “big pool” installation.
The most popular option of Soake Pools, based in New Hampshire, is 13’x7’ and 5’1” deep, comes pre-built and ready to install. Tiles, a salt water sanitation system, concrete shell, and automation, so you can control it from your phone, are standard features, while customizable options like seats, a lockable cover and Static Swim System offer the option to swim for miles in the confines of 13 feet. You can even design your Endless Pool in 3D, with its extensive fitness options, including an underwater treadmill. And this all costs less than a standard in-ground pool.
This flexibility also means regional properties that can be constrained by the location of septic systems and wells no longer automatically eliminate pool options as they have before. These systems occupy a lot of real estate, and you simply can’t put a big traditional pool next to one, because there isn’t enough space. But this smaller pool can be tucked into a corner adjacent to the house and doesn’t jeopardize existing septic or well systems because the overall footprint is much smaller.
It also takes less time to install. For a larger in-ground pool, it can take a year just to get a building permit in Newport, notify the neighbors, then excavate and construct. Though you still need a permit for these smaller pools, it’s not as complicated and there are fewer moving parts so you’ll be taking a dip in a few months.
Then all of a sudden, this second home, which you thought was a weekend thing, now is a destination for seven people who are staying a month to flee the pandemic.
This happened to me too. When my wife and I built our house in California several years ago, we wanted a spot and activity for the grandkids, but didn’t want the upkeep of a big pool. So, we built a glorified hot tub with three tiers and fountains that they could use during the day, and into which we could sneak with a cocktail at night. It wasn’t quite a pool but rather a fun water element they could play in, and it got them out of the house to provide us a little peace.
Did I mention resale value? The extension of your inside living space means your property is physically bigger, so it’s more valuable. And in today’s market, where inventory is low so demand is exceptionally high, that speaks volumes in terms of value. Trust me, this is not an “oh my gosh, what are we going to do with an Olympic-size swimming pool?” conversation you have with your spouse. This is more like, “huh, never thought we’d like this but now that I see it, I really like it,” which has incomparable and long-lasting appeal.