Home Maintenance for the New Homeowner

There’s nothing like finally owning your own home. You have the freedom to change anything you want, landscape your own lawn, and own pets. Of course, there’s another side to the coin. No landlord means no one else is responsible for the maintenance and repairs. When the dishwasher breaks, it will be your responsibility to fix it. The same goes for the roof, air conditioner, and plumbing.

As a new homeowner, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. If you aren’t sure where to start, this guide will help you plan for the maintenance your home will need.

How Much to Budget for Home Maintenance

As a general rule, you should budget 1-3% of your home’s value for maintenance per year. For a $300,000 home, that’s $3,000 to $9,000. This is not the amount you will spend every year, but it’s an average of your maintenance costs over time. Some years you may spend very little; other years, you may need to replace your roof or repipe your home.

The age of your home is a big factor in how much you will spend to take care of it. A new home built within the last 10 years usually needs little upkeep. A home that is 20-30 years old may need major systems like the roof replaced. The greater the quality of construction, the less care the home will need as well. This extends from the home itself to components like the plumbing, roof, and appliances.

Plumbing

You may not give your plumbing much thought — until you have a problem. There are actually many ways you can help maintain your plumbing system. You can also fix common issues on your own without calling a plumber. It’s worthwhile to know how to maintain your plumbing system for several reasons. Not only can you conserve water, you can catch small problems before they become bigger and more expensive.

Here are some tips for keeping your plumbing in good, working order.
— Be careful about what you put down your drains. Even with a disposal, you should never pour oil, grease, or anything that can congeal in the pipes.
— Install screens over drains to catch hair and other debris.
— Do not use chemical drain cleaners. These products can do more harm than good, especially if you have an old plumbing system. It’s not uncommon for chemicals to corrode the plumbing.
— Check for leaks regularly. You may see signs of moisture, puddles, mold, or a musty smell around sinks or the water heater.
— Prepare outdoor spigots and hoses for winter. During the fall, disconnect the house from the spigot to avoid a burst pipe. Turn off the water valves for outdoor spigots and cover with an insulation cover.
— Have your drains cleaned regularly. To prevent clogs, have the drains cleaned professionally. This may involve hydrojetting that completely scours the interior of your pipes. Hydrojetting delivers long-lasting results to keep your drains flowing freely.

It’s also a good idea to know where your main water shutoff valve is located. Water from a broken pipe can spew dozens of gallons within minutes. In fact, water damage is the most common cause of homeowner’s insurance claims. Your main shutoff valve will be found where the water main enters your home. You should know where it is and how to close the valve in an emergency.

Roof

Your roof is your first line of defense against the elements. It’s also one of the biggest investments that can cost over $10,000 to replace. A bit of maintenance can go a long way toward extending the life of your roof. It can also help you avoid costly repairs.

Inspect your roof regularly from the ground. Look for curling, damaged, or missing shingles that need to be replaced. Check that the flashing is solid and appears in good condition. Do not allow snow, branches, or other debris to accumulate. This can make it harder for moisture to leave the roof and cause leaks and roof damage.

Your gutters also need care. The gutter system helps catch and direct water away from your home. Clean your gutters seasonally to prevent clogs. Clogged gutters can allow water to wick under the roof and cause wood rot and leaks. This can also lead to foundation damage.

HVAC System

Your HVAC system is one of the most important and costly systems of your home. Your heating, ventilation, and AC needs regular care to work efficiently and last as long as possible. On average, an AC system will last 10-15 years. A furnace may last 15-20 years while a heat pump lasts about 16 years. Ignoring the HVAC system until it develops problems will mean costly repairs and early failure.

Get in the habit of checking and changing your HVAC filters regularly. Air filters should be changed at least 3 months, or monthly during high usage. A visual inspection is important to check for dirty coils or leaks. The outside unit should be kept clear of all debris. Do not allow grass or leaves to accumulate near the outside unit or it will work harder and fail sooner.

Schedule your HVAC system to be serviced before the season to make sure it’s in proper condition. Maintenance should be performed in spring and fall.

Natural Stone

If your home has natural stone like marble, granite, or travertine, make sure you take extra care. Do not use common household cleaners on stone. Most types of stone are sensitive to acids like vinegar and citric acid as well as corrosive and abrasive cleaners. Use only stone-safe cleaning products for regular cleaning.

You should also seal and polish the stone as needed. Sealing the stone closes pores that can absorb germs and spills. You can seal stone yourself to help prevent stains and damage. Apply a stone sealer directly to the surface and buff into the stone right away. Only work in 3-foot sections and buff the sealer completely into the stone to prevent hazing.

Lawn Care

Whether you do it yourself or hire a pro, you may be surprised at how much time and money goes into a great lawn. Maintaining beautiful green space, gardens, and trees requires effort. You will need to watch for and treat evidence of pests like moles. You will also need to cut, fertilize, and reseed the lawn as needed.

Don’t overlook the trees, either. Tree trimming should be done annually to keep the trees growing in a pleasing shape. Trimming also removes dangerous, dead, or broken limbs that could hurt someone or fall on the house. If you have fruit trees, trimming can help the trees produce more fruit.

Appliances

Some appliances in your home require extra attention to last as long as possible and avoid damage to your home. Here are a few appliances you should be careful to maintain.

Garbage Disposal

If your home has a garbage disposal, don’t make the mistake of throwing everything into it. Run the disposal with cold, not hot water. Only grind small bits of food left on a plate, cooked vegetables, and ice cubes. Never put the following in a garbage disposal:
— Egg shells
— Grease, oil, butter
— Bones
— Fruit pits
— Stringy vegetables like celery
— Fruit and vegetable peels
— Onion skins and nut shells

If your garbage disposal gets clogged, use the end of a broomstick to try to dislodge it from the drain. You can then try to unlock the blades using an allen wrench on the bottom of the unit. Turn the nut at the base of the garbage disposal and press the reset button.

Dryer

Did you know dryers are a leading cause of home fires in the United States? 80% of 17,000 annual home fires are attributed to dryers, according to the National Fire Protection Association. It’s not enough to clean out the lint trap after every load. This is because these screens only catch about 25% of the lint produced; the rest goes into the vent. Once in the vent, humidity from the dryer makes the lint stick to the vent walls. Over time, this reduces airflow. Lint is also the perfect kindling to start a fire.

If you aren’t comfortable detaching the vent and cleaning it yourself with special tools, you can hire a professional.

Water Heater

Your water heater uses more energy than any other appliance. It makes sense to keep it in good condition to dramatically reduce energy costs. Keep your temperature set at 120 degrees F for best performance. Once a year, flush the water heater to remove sediment. This sediment builds up in the tank and causes corrosion. It also makes the water heater work harder and reduces its lifespan.

10 Hidden Costs of Your Home Remodeling Project

You’ve finally decided to remodel your bathroom or kitchen, prepared a budget, and decided what you want to do. You already have the loan and contractor lined up and the project is going according to plan until you get some bad news. The contractor has found the framing is rotting and replacing it will add $4,000 to your project.

 

Think this is uncommon? Think again. Any home remodeling project is likely to come with unpleasant surprises. There are many things that can add to the expected cost of home improvement. This is why it’s important to plan for the unexpected. Here are some of the most common hidden costs that can devastate your remodeling budget.

 

#1. Bringing Your Home Up to Code

Building codes are designed to protect public health and safety. These codes are updated occasionally to implement new safety, sustainability, and energy efficiency policies. Most homes more than 10-20 years old have at least some areas that are now out of code. This usually isn’t a problem as long as the violations aren’t posing a health threat or creating a nuisance. This changes when your project reaches a certain threshold like a remodel.

 

If your contractors discover something that is not code during your remodel, you will be required to bring it up to code. This can affect many areas of the remodel and add significant costs.

 

Common code violations that need to be fixed during a remodel include:

— Updated electrical system

— New plumbing

— New low-flow toilet

— Egress windows for basement bedrooms

— Venting the bathroom fan outside the home

 

Bringing the home up to code may involve permits and it will likely add time to the project in addition to money.

 

#2. Prior Incorrect Building Practices

Sometimes during a remodel, you discover whoever did previous work on the home didn’t do such a great job. Even though the home looks fine from the outside, your contractor may find botched electrical work, the wrong type of subfloor, or the wrong nails used for your deck. These issues can affect your new plans for the space and fixing them may be costly.

 

#3. Unplanned Structural Changes

Surprise structural changes are more common than you may think. Maybe a wall gets knocked out and you now want an open floor plan. Perhaps a beam that was assumed to be strong actually needs to be replaced. You should add 10-15% to your budget for unplanned structural changes to be sure. It’s also a good idea to discuss several options with your contractor before work begins — just in case there’s a surprise hiding in the walls.

 

#4. Pest Damage

Nothing strikes fear in a homeowner’s heart quite like finding evidence of termites. Termites cause an estimated $5 billion in home damage every year and infest about 600,000 homes annually in the United States. Even worse, most insurance policies do not cover this damage. Termites can hide in your home for a decade or longer before the damage is apparent. Once damage becomes advanced, it can harm the structural integrity of your home and may cause floors or ceilings to collapse.

 

Taking an area of your home down to the studs can reveal termite damage. If you’re lucky, the damage will still be localized to a fairly small area. All infested materials will need to be removed and replaced. This may involve replacing studs and support beams.

 

Termites aren’t the only pests that can interfere with a remodel, but they are the most damaging. Your contractor may also turn up surprises like carpenter ants, rodents, or even wasps or bees that have made a hive in a wall.

 

During your remodel, give thought to pest control measures. This is the best time to have your home treated for termites, even if no evidence is found.

 

#5. Changing Your Mind

This one may be surprising, but it’s actually one of the biggest reasons for increasing renovation costs. If you change the scope of the work or materials, the increase in cost will likely be more than you think. You may end up paying for more labor to undo some of what has been done or for materials that are no longer necessary. If you change your mind about custom cabinetry or something else that was made specifically for you, you will be eating the entire cost.

 

Before changing your mind about anything, remember that a lot of effort and time has already been spent by the contractor. This effort may have been done behind the scenes and may not be obvious to you, but it will still result in a higher cost.

 

#6. Boarding Animals

If you have pets, make plans for where they will go during the remodel. Many remodeling projects require that your pets are not in the house and sometimes not on the property at all. This step is important for the safety of your pets, who may get scared and run away or get hurt during the commotion. It can also reduce the risk of injuries to workers, who definitely don’t want to be bitten by a dog spooked by strangers in the home.

 

#7. Higher Food Budget

If your kitchen is being remodeled, you will likely find yourself eating out a lot more often. You can expect an expensive month of takeout food and dining out unless you have an alternate power line for appliances. You can try to reduce this expense by planning no-cook meals that are easy to prepare with a microwave or slow cooker outside the kitchen.  

 

#8. Storage

You will likely need to store belongings during your renovation. Not only does this create a safe, clear work area for contractors, it also prevents your belongings from getting damaged. To make room for contractors, you may choose to rent a portable storage unit outside your house. You can also pay month-to-month for a climate-controlled storage unit. If you go this route, you can expect to pay between $150 and $250 per month for a large storage room. You may also need to consider the cost of renting a truck and moving your belongings back and forth.

 

#9. Temporary Living Arrangements

Some contractors offer lower bids if you are willing to leave your home during work hours. This may seem like no big deal to stay out of the house between 8am and 4pm, but something may come up. What will you do if your child is sick and can’t go to school, but you can’t stay home? You may find it easier to rent a temporary apartment or hotel room during renovations. Of course, this can easily add $800 or more per month to renovations.

 

#10. Making Mistakes

Mistakes you make during your home renovation can come back to bite you. Want to avoid costly errors you will regret later? Here are some of the most common blunders homeowners make during a remodel.

— Not getting permits. If building permits are required, don’t let your contractor skip them. Virtually all home remodeling projects require a building permit. The city will inspect the work performed by each trade at rough-in and finish to make sure it was done correctly. Don’t hire a contractor who claims permits and inspections are not needed. This can lead to very steep fines. Your ceilings and walls may even need to be reopened.

— Hiring the first contractor. Before you undertake a major renovation, get quotes from several reputable contractors. Check for complaints with the Better Business Bureau. Make sure the contractor is licensed and insured. It’s a plus if the contractor belongs to a trade organization.

— Overimproving for the area. Make sure you know the value and features of other homes in your neighborhood if you want to recover any money from your renovation. If you improve your home beyond the value of your neighborhood, you will never get the money back. Your neighborhood’s median price level should give you an idea of how much to invest in renovations to see a good return on investment.

— Unrealistic budget. As you can see, there are many surprises that can come up during even a simple renovation. You don’t want to run out of money in the middle of a project! Add 10-20% to your budget in reserve for issues that come up during the job.

— Expecting a return on unseen improvements. Potential buyers love upgrades they can see, like crown molding and stone countertops. While upgrading your home’s electrical system or improving the insulation may be important, don’t expect to get much back.

How to Build a Beautiful and Durable Fire Pit

There’s nothing like a backyard fire pit for entertaining guests and relaxing with family. Creating your own custom fire pit isn’t as difficult as you may think. With just a handful of supplies and a weekend, you can create your own fire pit from scratch with better results than a kit. Here’s how to take your backyard to the next level and build a fire pit that will make the neighbors jealous.

 

Considerations Before Beginning

When selecting a spot for your fire pit, make sure it’s away from structures and low-hanging trees. The fire pit should be at least 25 feet from the house. You will also need to be careful when you dig. Call 811 to locate any utility lines or pipes before digging deeply.

 

Check with your city to find out which local building codes govern fire pits. In some areas, fire pits must be encircled with gravel or sand.

 

You will also need to consider the design of your fire pit and your materials. The sky is the limit, whether you want a square or circular pit or you want to use paver stones, firebrick, or stone. Concrete pavers can create a durable fire pit, but remember that these pavers aren’t fire-rated. There are anecdotal stories about concrete pavers exploding or popping in an intense fire.

 

Gather Your Supplies

Building a fire pit doesn’t require cement or mortar, but they will make the fire pit more stable. You can choose to buy a kit that includes a steel fire ring and concrete bricks to make the job even easier. The downside is the kits are usually on the small side, very expensive, and can’t be customized.

 

For the purpose of this guide, we’ll walk through building a circular fire pit that’s 5 feet in diameter and 2 feet tall. This version uses ready-mix concrete, paver stones, and firebrick. If you want a more basic fire pit without concrete, skip these instructions to the end.

 

You will need:

— Spray paint

— Gravel

— Ready-mix concrete

— Mortar

— Capstones

— Firebrick (9″ x 4″ x 2-1/2″)

— Paver stones (6″ x 12″ x 2-3/8″)

— 2×4 screed board

— Stake

— Trowel

— Wheelbarrow

— Shovel

— Hand tamper

 

Build a Foundation

Start by pounding a rebar stake into the center of the fire pit. Tie string to the stake to mark the perimeter. If you want a 5-foot diameter, measure 2-1/2 feet of string and tie to your can of spray paint. Hold the string taut as you walk around the stake and spray paint the circumference.

 

Next, dig out the area to 6 inches deep. Repeat the step with string to mark a 12″ inner circle. This will be the edge of the wall.

 

Create a foundation next. Mix the concrete with water to the correct consistency and lay the concrete between the two circles. The concrete should be level with the ground. There should be no concrete in the center of the fire pit. Build up your concrete until it’s 1-1/2 inches below the ground. Press rebar into the concrete and smooth the surface with your trowel. Allow it to dry for 24 hours.

 

Build the Walls

Once your foundation sets, you’re ready to build the fire pit walls. Mix mortar and shovel 2″ inches onto the base of concrete for the outer wall. Lay the stones on the mortar. Once the first few levels of stones for your outer wall are laid, begin laying firebrick to form your inner wall. Make sure you level every brick and fill in gaps with wet mortar. Stop every now and then to measure the distance between the inner and outer edges of the wall to make sure the shape stays consistent.

 

Keep raising the bricks on the inner circle and the stones on the outer wall, filling in gaps with mortar and stones as the walls get taller.

 

You will need to finish your fire pit with flat capstones. Add an inch of mortar to the top and lay the stones, ensuring an even and flat surface. Add mortar between the capstones to finish the project.

 

The only thing left is brushing the stones to remove loose debris. Spray down the stones with water to remove extra mortar then spray paint the inside of the firebricks with high-heat black stove paint. You can fill your fire pit with river rocks.

 

No-Concrete Stone Fire Pit

Want to skip the messy concrete and use stones or pavers? This project is even easier. You will need:

— Retaining wall stones or any type of landscaping stone you like

— Caulk gun

— Masonry adhesive

— Shovel

— Landscaping fabric

— Landscaping border

— Landscaping pins

— Paver Sand

— Rebar

— Mallet

— Level

— Fire pit liner

— Lava rock

 

Start by creating your foundation with the first ring of stones. To do this, you will need to measure and mark a circle and dig out the yard. Lay out the first ring of stones and use a spare piece of lumber and level to make sure the stones are level. You will need to make adjustments to dig out high points and fill in dips until all stones are level with the stone on the opposite side and either side.

 

If you have hollow retaining wall stones, it’s a good idea to fill them in with paver sand as a stabilizing agent. Next, apply the masonry adhesive to the top of the stones with an old paint brush. Build up the next layer of stones, staggering the joints for strength. Don’t fill in the second and third layers with sand as you will want to add rebar for greater stability. Reinforce your fire pit walls with some rebar pounded into the ground below.

 

The next step is adding stone caps to finish off the look of the fire pit. Add landscaping fabric around the firepit. Use the pins to hold the fabric flat and the flexible edging to define a circular area around the fire pit. Install a steel fire ring or fire pit liner for safety. This liner will protect the stone from falling apart or cracking. Once the liner is in place, fill the area between the rim and the wall with lava rock.

 

Seating Ideas for Your New Fire Pit

Your project isn’t really done once the fire pit is built. You still need to add seating for friends and family. After all, why build a fire pit if you can’t use it for entertaining? Here are some seating ideas to try.

 

Wooden Beach Chairs

Want something simple that’s still comfortable and classy? Try adding colorful wooden beach chairs with outdoor pillows around the fire pit. You can always change the colors based on the season for year-round use. Don’t forget to add a few side tables for drinks.

 

Large Outdoor Couches

Who says couches are only meant for the living room? Add extra comfort to your outdoor space with comfy sofas on either side of the pit. Wicker sofas and loveseats are the most affordable option for creating the look you want, but you can also build a sofa out of wood.

 

Gazebo Seating

Some fire pits are built under a gazebo, which offers protection from the elements. If you want to add a gazebo around your firepit for seating, make sure you put safety first. The gazebo must be large enough with venting on top for smoke. Choose a metal gazebo, not wood, and keep the fire low.

 

Wooden Benches

Give your fire pit a classic fire camp atmosphere with wooden bench seating. You don’t need to stick with picnic benches, though. Why not use curved wooden benches to create a semi-circle around the pit or decorative benches with a back for pillows?

 

Fire Pit Safety Tips

A fire pit can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors, but never forget that safety comes first. Most fire pit mistakes can be avoided as long as you know what to watch for. Here are the most important safety tips to keep in mind:

— Do not burn pressure-treated wood. This can release dangerous toxins. Use mesquite, pecan, hickory, oak, cedar, alder, pinion wood, and fruit woods. Only burn fuel that has been seasoned for 6+ months. Softwoods like birch or pine produce more sparks and crackles than seasoned hardwood like oak.

— Logs for a wood burning fire pit should be cut to a length less than 3/4 of the diameter of the pit.

— Do not use gasoline or lighter fluid to start a fire pit.

— Always check the forecast before lighting a fire pit. Don’t light an outdoor fire when conditions are windy. This can blow embers and spread the fire.

— Do not place a fire pit directly on grass or on a wooden deck.

— A fire pit should be placed on a non-flammable surface like concrete or patio pavers.

— Flammable materials should be at least 5 feet away from the pit before use.

— Piling rocks or dirt around the pit can prevent fire from escaping.

— A fire pit should be a minimum of 6 inches deep at the center and 2 feet across. This keeps flames and embers contained.

— Do not operate a fire pit under a building overhang or partially enclosed space.

— If you have one, use a screen whenever you are burning wood in the pit.

— Keep a garden hose or bucket of sand nearby to extinguish flames or wayward sparks.

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For many homeowners, a swimming pool is the ultimate way to relax, entertain friends, and beat the heat. Before you make plans to build a pool in your backyard, be sure to consider all of the factors involved. Swimming pools are expensive to install and costly to maintain. They can also affect your home value. This doesn’t mean a pool isn’t a great idea to improve your outdoor space — just that it requires careful consideration. Here’s what you should know about building an in-ground pool.

What Does a Pool Cost to Install?
The cost to build an in-ground pool can vary a great deal depending on the size and shape of the pool, the pool depth, and many other factors. On average, a 600-square-foot in-ground pool costs $25,000 to $50,000.

Size is the biggest factor that determines price. As a general rule, you can expect to pay $50 for every square foot. The depth is considered part of the pool’s size. Still, a deeper pool requires more labor and materials.

How you choose to line the pool can increase the cost. Vinyl is a more affordable liner than fiberglass, concrete (gunite), and tile. Expect to pay extra if you want a non-standard shape for the pool.

A standard pool installation will include the basics, including plumbing and pump installation. You will likely have other costs for the pool. These include:
Fencing. While this isn’t always necessary, failing to enclose the pool opens you up to liability. An unfenced pool can be a serious safety hazard. Many states also require an enclosure.
Diving board, which can cost $400 or more.
Slides.
Lighting. If you want to swim at night, you will probably want a lighting system.

A Pool Means Lots of Maintenance
At the start of every season, you will need to open the pool. This includes removing the cover, removing debris, filling the pool, and getting the pump running again. The pool will also need to be closed properly when you’re done using it for the year.

At least weekly, your pool will need to be skimmed and vacuumed to remove debris. The filters must be checked and cleaned regularly to avoid strain on the pump and keep the water clean. When filters reach the end of their life, you will need to replace them.

Pool equipment will also need to be maintained. This includes your pool pump, heater, vacuum, and filter system. It’s a good idea to have your pump serviced at least once a year to make sure it’s operating correctly. If the pump shuts down for even a day, your pool can be overrun by algae.

A Pool Can Increase Your Homeowner’s Insurance
It’s a simple fact that insurance companies do not like insuring homes with pools. This is because all types of pools can be dangerous and represent liability.

Most homeowner’s insurance policies include coverage for swimming pools, but you should still check. You may want to increase your coverage to be safe. Owning a pool raises your liability risk. In general, you should have at least $300,000 in protection if you have a pool.

Swimming Pools Don’t Boost Home Value
Many homeowners believe that installing a pool will add value to their home. After all, a pool can cost $50,000 or more, so it would make sense that it would add at least something to your home value. The truth is many homebuyers view pools as dangerous, expensive, and risky.

Many homeowners over-estimate the cost to maintain a pool, but the expense is still real. Others view pools as a lawsuit waiting to happen. Families with children may pass on a home they love because it has a pool. Sometimes buyers even make an offer contingent on removing an above-ground pool or filling in an in-ground pool.

While you may find a buyer who loves your pool, don’t expect to recover any money for the pool from the sale. The only exception to this rule is areas in which pools are standard. This is the case in some warm areas of California, Hawaii, Arizona, and Florida. In the right circumstances, it is possible for a pool to boost the value of your home by up to 7%. This is dependent on finding a buyer who wants a pool and living in a warm climate.

Annual Cost to Own a Pool
No one said owning a pool is cheap. Owning and running a pool means paying for higher utilities, maintenance items, repairs, and possibly professional cleaning, maintenance, and opening.

To begin with, the pump and heater will increase your utility costs. Expect to pay around $100 a month or so just for the pump and pool heater.

In general, you should budget at least $1,000 every year just for maintenance items like new pool filters and chemicals. Most people spend between $80 and $300 per month just on maintaining a pool.

Skimming, vacuuming, and cleaning the pool filters does not cost anything once you buy the equipment. Still, you may want to consider weekly or monthly pool cleaning service to avoid this time-consuming chore. Depending on your area, pool cleaning service can cost about $50 to $120 per month.

You may want to have your pool professionally opened and closed at the start and end of the season. You can expect to pay around $300 to open the pool and another $300 to close it.

Don’t forget to plan for routine and major repairs. When your pool needs to be resurfaced, expect a bill of about $2,500. This may be necessary every 10 years or so. Replacing a worn-out pool vacuum will cost about $600. Replacing the pool pump will cost about $600. A pool pump can last about a decade. Toward the end of its life, you will likely need to pay for a few repairs. There will also be problems along the way like leaks and damaged pool tiles.

What to Consider Before Adding a Pool
Building a pool is a big decision. While expensive, a pool can be a great way to spend time with friends and family. Your entire family can spend the summers building memories and having fun. The bottom line is a pool is a lifestyle, not an investment in your home.

Before deciding a pool is a good idea, here are some things to think about.
— Consider your budget. Create a budget and stick to it. Decide which features are most important to you and which you can live without. There are many ways to cut back on the cost of a pool, including the size and materials.
— Research the types of pools available. The biggest decision is whether you want an in-ground or above-ground pool If you choose in-ground, there are many materials to consider like vinyl, concrete, and fiberglass.
— Choose a pool shape. In-ground pools come in many different shapes. Think about how you will use the pool to choose a shape. Rectangular pools are best for swimming laps, but kidney shaped pools look beautiful with landscaping.
— Always work with a reputable company. Look for a pool installation company that offers a 5-year warranty on their work. Always work with a local company if possible and make sure they have a proven track record. Ask for references.
— Talk to your insurance company. Find out if your policy will cover a swimming pool. Even if your policy covers a pool, it’s still a good idea to give the insurance company a heads-up when you build one.
— Consider safety features. Find out what local safety codes require for a pool. In some areas, a pool must be in an enclosed area. There are many types of safety features for pools, including gates that lock and alarms that can be installed to alert you if something goes in the pool.
— Find out if you have the right building permits. Contact your city hall to find out what type of building permits you will need before beginning construction of a pool.
— Make sure your yard is suitable. It’s a good idea to have soil tests done to confirm your yard is suitable for a pool. Problems like rocky soil or a high water table can make it difficult to install a pool. These issues also increase the cost significantly.
— Determine where the pool will go. You will need to check with local building and zoning code to determine where your pool can be installed. You may face restrictions on how much of the lawn can be covered with decking and the slope direction. These restrictions help control water runoff. Don’t forget to check where water, cable, phone, gas, and electrical lines are located. If any utilities must be relocated, expect a higher price.

If you’re set on installing a pool, don’t be encouraged. Good planning and budgeting can help you make your dream a reality. Just be sure you approach your renovation project with open eyes as to the cost and maintenance involved.

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