|Article From Houselogic.com
By: Julie Sturgeon
Published: March 10, 2010
If you don't want the expense or hassle of installing an in-ground swimming pool, an above-ground pool is an affordable alternative.
In-ground or above-ground? That's the first question facing homeowners who want to add the ultimate backyard amenity of a swimming
pool. Although an in-ground pool(http://www.houselogic.com/articles/what_to_consider_before_building_pool/) wins on aesthetics, an
above-ground pool has other attractions, chiefly cost. At around $6,000 for a basic model versus $30,000 for in-ground, you'll spend 80%
less, and you avoid the disruption of heavy equipment digging up your backyard.
Of course, that's just a starting point. if you select upgrades like patterned or textured liners, fancy stairs, and custom decking, you could
be looking at a price tag of $15,000 or more. At that point, it makes sense to consider an in-ground investment, which you may be able to
list as a selling amenity someday.
RING POOLS: THE LEAST EXPENSIVE OPTION
Above-ground pools come in two basic types: ring and frame. Ring pools, also known as "float to fill," are commonly around 12 feet in
diameter and 3 feet high. Made of heavy-duty vinyl, they get their name from an inflatable ring at the top of the pool, which rises as the pool
fills with water and lifts the sidewalls into place. The filled pool is flask-shaped, wider at the bottom than the top for greater stability.
A 12-foot ring pool holds approximately 1,400 gallons of water, enough to require chlorine
tablets(http://www.houselogic.com/articles/swimming-pools-alternatives-chlorine/) for chemical balance and a filtration pump. You can
buy one for these for around $300, load it into the back of the SUV, and get it ready for filling the same day. Many families see this as an
inexpensive way to test the waters on pool ownership and maintenance.
FRAME POOLS: MORE COSTLY AND MORE PERMANENT
A frame pool has a sturdy metal frame and an interior pool liner. One of these can stay up year-round, although it can be disassembled in
a matter of hours. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes; the most popular size is a 24-foot round, which gives plenty of room for
laps or a rowdy game of water polo. Most frame pools come with a lifetime warranty that translates into 25 to 30 years of practical use,
even with kids pushing off the sides and jumping off the deck area.
The typical frame pool has walls that are 48 inches to 54 inches high, which means you'll need a ladder to get in and out. Depending on
the size and shape of your yard, installers may be able to bury one end of the steel framework deeper in the ground to create different
water levels, but even with this trick, 6.5 feet is the depth limit. Once the pool is set up, you can add decking or landscaping to make it look
like a more permanent feature of the yard.
A bare-bones frame pool costs around $4,000, and as much as double that if you add niceties like a high-end patterned liner or a wood
frame to blend in better with the landscape. As with a ring pool, you use the backyard hose to fill these with the requisite 3,000 to 6,000
Depending on size, plan on two to five days for installation, which includes leveling the site and laying a sand bed. The best time to get on
a dealer's installation list is in the winter or early spring. The impulse-buying nature of an above-ground pool means dealers can be
backed up several weeks once summer turns hot.
MAINTENANCE AND SAFETY ISSUES
Above-ground frame pools need many of the same working parts as inground versions, such as filters and automatic pool cleaners. They
can definitely support a heater, although to keep costs proportionate, many people just spread a solar
blanket(http://www.houselogic.com/articles/solar-pool-heaters-can-lower-energy-costs/) over the pool when not in use. It's also possible
to hook up automatic cleaners on the circulation line to avoid manually cleaning the sides.
Chemicals are required, but in smaller quantities. Plan on spending an average of $400 a season on chlorine, compared with $600 for
an inground pool. Homeowners also need to be aware of local safety ordinances and erect the appropriate fencing. In many jurisdictions,
fencing can be attached to the top of the pool itself instead of around the perimeter of the yard.
Because it isn't permanent, an above-ground pool doesn't require a permit, and it won't impact the resale value of your home. Note that
some homeowners associations(http://www.houselogic.com/articles/hoas-what-you-need-to-know-about-rules/) or developers don't
allow them, and they're not suited for diving. It's always a good idea to notify your insurance agent that you've added an above-ground
pool, as coverage policies vary.
Julie Sturgeon has written about residential pools for nearly a decade. She owns an inground pool because that's what came with the
Reprinted from HouseLogic (houselogic.com) with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS (R).
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