Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

That $199 pool sounds like a great deal until…

The ads are everywhere when Summer hits. The big box stores advertise a complete pool package showing a family happily splashing around in a 24 inch beauty of pool, all for only $199. A pool company touts a 54 inch pool for under one thousand dollars with only a $99 installation fee.

What the ads do not reveal is that the up-front cost of a pool and installation, does not include all the required extras.
First, towns require a permit that usually runs about $50. It is not enough to simply obtain a permit. Once the permit is issued, a homeowner, upon installation, must have the pool pass inspection.

That $99 advertised installation is under level ground, perfect installation conditions. Un-level ground and various other conditions may cause that installation fee to skyrocket. One Walworth resident had to blast through bedrock to complete and installation.

Recently, a Lyons two year-old child died when he drowned in a neighbor’s pool. The neighbor obtained a permit, but never had the inspection completed. A waiver must be signed at the time a permit issued, saying the pool will not be used until the final inspection has been completed.

Running required/permitted electric service for pools, requiring filters or heaters, must also be on a GFI plug. It is not only illegal to run and extension cord for your new pool, it is just plain stupid. Expect electrical service to a new pool to run a thousand dollars, or more.

Whoa, Nelly! Any pool over 24 inches in depth must have a barrier around it with an alarm. Yes, you must have the 24” and higher pool fenced in and the gate securely locked unless there is an adult outside.

Of course, if you have one of the bigger above ground pools, a fence may not be required but…remember when the standard for an above ground pool was 46 inches? Installers and homeowners would often set the pool several inches below ground level, then landscape up the side a bit. There are different restrictions on fence heights, openings, and latches required by town permits.

The new rules require an above ground pool to be at least 54” high and ladders or decking must be secured at all times. “When decks are involved, things can get even more complicated. State decks rules are open to interpretation, said Walworth Code Enforcement Officer Norm Druschel.

Again, a New York State approved alarm is required. The alarm is activated when someone enters the pool without the alarm first being deactivated. The alarm not only sounds off outside, but within the residence as well. Expect a good alarm to run about $200. “Not all alarms are created equal”, added Druschel. Some less expensive models may not even meet state code.

According to Druchel, he’s actually had pool supply companies that would loan alarms to new owners just so they would pass inspection, then have the customer brings them back. Again another stupid act on the part of a pool owner.

Don’t forget pool upkeep, chemicals, pool openings in Spring and closings in Fall. High temperatures may require extra chemicals. Then, there are the pool tools such as nets to fish out tree debris and the occasional creature. Serious in-ground pool owners have a good automatic cleaner that can cost anywhere from $700-$1000.

Okay, your pool is installed properly and has passed inspection. That $199 pool deal may actually have cost you between $1000 and $2000 dollars, but at least you can now keep the kids happy and cool those hot days in the Summer heat.
Oops, there is at least one more factor in the cost of a pool that must be considered. According to Times columnist/insurance agent Chuck Wells, a pool owner does not have to inform their insurance agent of a pool installation. They are automatically covered by their homeowner’s coverage in case of an accident. You may, however, want to increase your homeowner coverage with a pool installation.

Insurance rates can get very expensive if you run an in-home day care operation. Druschel recalled one local day care provider who paid to have a pool put in, then had to stop babysitting due to the spike in insurance premiums. Wells stated that your insurance carrier will increase your insurance premiums, or just outright cancel your insurance with a combination day care/pool situation.

Permit rules may differ from town to town, but most must follow and some exceed state requirements.
“We try to do the best we can. It’s not about collecting fees or trying to hassle people, it’s about safety,” added Druschel. He added that between 20-25 new pool permits are issued just in Walworth every year, with 3-5 of those being in-ground installations.

Check with your local municipality for all pool requirements before considering a pool.