It's time to get into the swim

Pools: A pool may not increase the value of your home as much as it does the number of your friends.

July 02, 2000|By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest | Nancy Jones-Bonbrest,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

When Chris and Adriana Guckert bought their home in Hampstead seven years ago they knew an in-ground pool was the first thing they wanted to add to the property.

Two years later they were in the swim and have never regretted their decision.

"We really wanted a pool. Chris and I both enjoy hanging out, laying in the sun and swimming," said Adriana Guckert. "From early May until the end of September that pool is in constant use."

But the Guckerts didn't stop there. It's one thing to build a pool. It's another to turn it into a perfect getaway.

They've added a fully equipped Tiki bar, an outdoor sound system, decking, lighting and landscaping. The pool is equipped with fiber-optic lighting that can change into seven shades of color.

And tomorrow the Guckerts' "Outback Bar" will be bustling with friends and family who will be getting the jump on the July 4 holiday.

"We like to entertain. I've always liked the beach and that atmosphere," said Chris Guckert. "You can come out here and it makes you feel like you are away from home."

"It's our own little island," she added.

It's estimated that more than 7 million homeowners nationwide own pools and their popularity is growing. In 1998, the last year statistics were available, sales of in-ground pools grew to 172,184, from 12,583 in 1994, according to the National Spa and Pool Institute.

The institute estimates there are 47,000 residential in-ground pools in the Baltimore metropolitan area and another 31,000 of the above-ground variety.

While home pools may be becoming more popular, the value of them remains in the eye of the beholder.

"Homes with pools do not sell faster or more quickly or for much higher than a home without a pool," said Cindy Ariosa, regional vice president of Coldwell Banker Grempler Realty Inc.

"Many times you are narrowing your number of perspective buyers when you do have a pool because the average buyer typically does not want a pool," Ariosa added. "But one market where pools may be an asset is in rural areas. In suburban areas or areas that are more populated, families rely on swim clubs because of the social aspect."

But Jack Cergol of the National Spa and Pool Institute in Alexandria, Va., said it is difficult to pinpoint the monetary value of adding a swimming pool to a property.

"It really depends on the area of the country you're talking about. You really don't put in a pool to add value to your house, you put in a pool to add value to your life," Cergol said.

"In places like the Northeast and upper Midwest, you put a pool in because you want to enjoy it six months out of the year. In places like Florida, Nevada and California you put in a pool because you need it and it obviously adds value to your property.

"But that's not to say a pool in Baltimore would not add value to a home. It depends on where it is, how much people use it and what they use it for," Cergol added.

For Robert and Tamela Savidge of Arnold, the main motivation for installing their in-ground pool was to keep tabs on their three children, ages 8, 10 and 13.

"We prefer our kids in our line of sight instead of disappearing to other neighborhoods. We try to make our home as comfortable as possible so our children can enjoy what we have and so we can keep track of them," said Robert Savidge. "We wanted to make our house the house to go to."

And the pool has done just that. With the lure of the pool, the Savidges have had a chance to get to know their children's friends as well as their parents.

"We're really happy with our pool. It gives us another facet to our home," said Robert Savidge.

The combination of entertainment and family recreation was the motivation behind Timothy and Nora Bye's pool that was put in late last summer. The Byes built a three-level, spa-and-pool combination complete with a waterfall, boulders and a gray bottom to give the effect of a natural setting.

"We have kids and we do a lot of entertaining," said Nora Bye. "We used to have a boat, but there are only so many people that can fit on a boat. With a pool you can have the entertainment, but still have the yard space to eat or play games."

Although Nora Bye admits a pool was not in their plans when they first purchased the house four years ago, they now have a greater appreciation for it.

"It's just beautiful .... it's still functional and it's very calming," she said.

Safety is a major concern within the pool industry. Today, there are various layers of protection that can be added to enhance a pool's safety.

These include fencing, automatic pool covers, door and gate alarms, plus pool alarms activated by motion.

In Maryland, a 4-foot-high, fully enclosed fence is required around swimming pools, but local jurisdictions may have other requirements.

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