A Pool of Your Own

Eager to spend some time sitting by the pool this summer but tired of schlepping around armloads of towels, goggles, noodles, floaties and sunscreen? Close your eyes for a moment, and imagine stepping out your back door … and into your very own, crystal clear swimming pool. No schlepping required.

More and more Triangle residents are installing swimming pools in and above the ground in their yards. Pools are relaxing and refreshing, and swimming is great exercise — cleverly disguised as great fun, of course.

Originally from California, Fran and Phil Coleman were determined to buy a house with a swimming pool in the backyard. They found their dream house, and pool, in a North Raleigh subdivision.

“We both grew up with swimming pools in the backyard so we wanted our children to have the same opportunity,” says Fran. “It took a while, but we eventually found the perfect house with the perfect pool.”

The Colemans also have enrolled their children in swim lessons at the Finley YMCA. They knew the importance of water safety and want to pass along these skills to their two daughters.

“We already are looking forward to the summer and getting the pool ready,” says Fran. “We don’t plan on going to the beach this year because we can stay home and enjoy the water right here.”

In North Carolina, pool season frequently stretches from the early days of April to the late days of October, which means swimming pools are used more frequently and are more cost-effective than in other parts of the country.

If you’re considering a backyard pool, don’t wait until the mercury has already risen. Typical pool installation and preparation can take anywhere from three to five weeks, so you’ll need to start asking questions now if you want a pool by Memorial Day weekend.

What Kind of Pool Do You Want?

“We can tell when the weather gets warm because our phones start ringing off the hook,” says Tara Vassallo-Onthank, an owner of Rising Sun Pools in Raleigh. “We are already getting busy for the summer with a lot of orders.”

The 32-year-old family-owned business installs approximately 400 pools — both in the ground and above the ground — each year. Pools come in a variety of shapes from the basic rectangle to kidney, and custom pools can be made to fit any yard. Tara tells of installing a boomerang-shaped pool to fit snugly in the corner of a yard.

“Most people that come in know what type of pool they want,” she says. “Often, they have to get approval of a homeowners’ association before the pool can be installed.”

All area counties require a 4-foot high fence with a locking gate to be around the pools as part of the safety requirements. Tara estimates that diving boards are installed on about half of all pools. She also says shallow game-style pools and slides have become more popular in the Triangle.

How Do Pools Affect Home Values?

Kelly Cobb of the Kelly Cobb Home Team with Fonville Morisey in Cary says backyard pools are the exception in Triangle neighborhoods. She estimates that one out of every 100 homes has a pool.

“There are so many opportunities to swim with pools in every subdivisions and country clubs that people usually just don’t need a backyard pool,” she says.

Newcomers from California or Florida, where pools are more common, often indicate a preference for a pool, but Cobb says it’s never been a deal-breaker.

Having a pool in the backyard does not necessarily mean more value when the house is put on the market, Kelly says. She recently put a $10,000 value on a pool, but the homeowner also had an acre lot with plenty of extra space. A pool that completely fills all the space in the backyard may not add any resale value to a home, Kelly says.