Owning a rural property with its own inviting swimming pool or tennis court could make sense. As well as offering hours of pleasure and providing a good way to keep fit, sporting amenities could add value to your home too.
Experience has shown that a tennis court normally adds 50% more than its cost to the value of a country property, as long as there still is ample garden left following construction, says Nigel Steele from Jackson-Stops & Staff in Norwich.
‘Swimming pools are very much a personal choice,’ he believes, ‘and it is often said that once you have owned one, you won’t have another with our British climate and the amount of work needed to maintain them.’
While indoor pools can be used all year round, with the increase in fuel costs they might be viewed by some as a very expensive luxury.
‘As such, swimming pools tend to only add between half and two-thirds of their cost to the value of the property,’ Mr Steele adds.
Ed Cunningham from Savills’ country house department points out that if you had two identical houses in a village – one with a pool and tennis court, the other without – there would not be a huge differential value.
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And the value that pools and courts do add would not cover the cost of putting in the new facilities.
‘Yet, the house with the pool and tennis court is certainly more marketable as it helps finish off the concept of the idyllic family home in the countryside, making it far more appealing to the Londoner seeking a change in lifestyle,’ Mr Cunningham explains.
What would add real value, he adds, is ‘if you had something uniquely different. Last year, we sold a house with a truly amazing indoor swimming pool, surround sound, the works – and that certainly did add value.’
Swimming pools certainly can add value to a property, says Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove. However, the degree to which this is the case can be dependent on a number of factors such as location.
‘For example, if you live in one the sunniest parts of the UK then outside pools get more use, so could add more value than an indoor pool or no pool at all. Alternatively, if you are in a city, you might be more likely to have an indoor pool, which could certainly add value to your home,’ he says.
The irony is that although such sporting extras as tennis courts and pools might not always add value to country homes –‘they are more for the family to enjoy,’ says house finder Mark Parkinson from Middleton Advisors in the south of England – purchasers of substantial country properties would certainly expect to see at least a pool, if not both, on the brochure when buying a home.
‘The expectation is if you buy a good farmhouse with a few acres, you hope to be the owner of some kind of leisure amenity,’ Mr Parkinson comments, who believes the best value comes from introducing a ‘leisure block.’
Heating an outdoor pool is de rigueur with unpredictable English summers, and planners favour tennis courts with black fencing which is less noticeable in the countryside.
In addition, it is not good enough these days to plonk a pool outside the French windows. ‘The best ones are hidden round a corner behind a hedge and even have glass walls that concertina back on hot days,’ adds Mr Parkinson.
For those of you bent on improving your athletic prowess in advance of the London Olympics in 2012, here are some homes currently for sale with pools and tennis courts.
White Cottage £975,000, Flishinghurst, Cranbrook, Kent
Six-bedroom house for budding sporting stars with four reception rooms, a heated pool, tennis court, summerhouse, paddocks, stables, spring fed pond and barn. Savills 01580 720161 www.savills.co.uk
Prospect Cottage £595,000, St Briavels, Gloucestershire
In an Area of Natural Beauty above the River Wye, this stone four-storey house dating back to 1835 has two acres of gardens with a garden/gym room, stabling and a ‘Hydropool’ swim-spa. Roscoe Rodgers and Knight 01600 772929 www.r-r-k.co.uk
Hedgehog Hall, Earnley, West Sussex £849,950
A Grade-II listed home with character – original features include a thatched roof, old beams and an Inglenook fireplace. In addition, there is a self-contained two-bedroom two-reception room thatched cottage, heated pool with changing chalet and a full-size hard tennis court. Henry Adams 01243 672721 www.henryadams.co.uk
Brandon House, Virginia Water, Surrey £2.495 million
Refurbished farmhouse with five bedrooms, and a pool complex with a gym and double garage set in two-thirds of an acre. Close to Virginia Water’s shopping parade and station, with trains to London Waterloo in 42 minutes. Barton Wyatt 0134 484 3000 www.bartonwyatt.co.uk.