Country houses for sale

Swimming pools and property prices

The debate over whether a swimming pool will increase the value of your home or detract from it is not a new one, but getting it right is crucial in these cost-conscious times. A recent Country Life poll, conducted with 60 country estate agents and house-finders, revealed that it’s the condition of the pool, rather than whether one exists or not, that will sell a house.

Thirty-five per cent of agents believe a pool, particularly one in a state of bad repair or in the wrong location in relation to the house, adds no value at all; however, an equal number think a pool made from attractive materials and in the correct position can help sell a property and boost the price.

With regards to indoor versus outdoor pools, the picture is clearer: 60% of those questioned favour an indoor pool for adding value, as long as it doesn’t emit a cloying chlorine smell and it blends in with the house design. A further 10% think you’d be better off doing nothing, allowing the next owners to construct their own pool.

This certainly would save money, as building a pool and the subsequent running costs heating, chemicals and cleaning can be pricey. A basic ‘hole in the ground’ starts at about £20,000, and the finest indoor pool, with male and female changing rooms and a barbecue area, costs £2 million. Expect a well-designed, high-end outdoor pool to be about £100,000, with average running costs at £600 to £1,000 a year.

‘If done well, a pool adds a huge amount of value,’ believes Tom Hudson from Middleton Advisors. ‘It should be close to the house no one wants to venture far at 6am in the cold. You don’t need planning permission generally for a pool, although you might if your property is listed.’ A covered pool falls within the same restrictions as outbuildings and a pool cannot cover more than half the area of the garden. With safety for children and pets a big issue, automatic covers and folding or sliding doors that can be locked when not in use should reassure future buyers.

In the swim

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An outdoor pool should be placed at the back of the house, perhaps in a walled garden surrounded by plants. Modern infinity pools with wonderful views are equally appealing, says Philip Selway from The Buying Solution.

A new trend is to regard a pool as another entertaining space, according to Gideon Stone from architect/interior design company Janine Stone. ‘Having an area where people can socialise, swim and pamper themselves in the sauna or steam room is popular now.’

Most important is to determine how a pool will suit its users. ‘Some want to swim lengths and have space to do tumble turns, and children like to jump in and even dive,’ adds Mr Stone.

James Greenwood from Stacks Property Search advises making your pool something beautiful, so it becomes a feature of the property. ‘Get a good architect in to drive the design. Make sure it’s well hidden and try to avoid the natural line of entry into the house from the pool running through the front door.’

Mr Greenwood also cautions buyers from taking children to view a house with a pool, ‘as they’ll try to drive your buying decision based on the pool alone’. However, it can be better to buy a house with a pool rather than having the hassle of adding one later, and, if someone doesn’t want to keep it, it can be filled in easily, notes Anthony Coaker from Savills Cirencester