You think you’ve found the perfect new home for you and your family. It has everything you wanted, including a beautiful inground swimming pool in the backyard! What could go wrong?
Unfortunately, when it comes to buying a home with a preexisting inground pool, a lot can go wrong. The sad fact is you could potentially be inheriting other people’s problems when you purchase a house with a built-in pool in the backyard.
That’s not to say an inground pool is a deal-breaker, however before you close on your dream house, you should make sure you know what you are getting when it comes to the pool.
Just as it is necessary to get a professional home inspection done before buying a house, it’s equally important to get a professional swimming pool inspection done if that house has an inground pool already installed. You want to make sure the pool is structurally sound and that all the systems are functioning correctly.
Can My Home Inspector Conduct a Pool Inspection Too?
While some home inspectors will offer pool inspection as part of the home inspection, you should be careful. It’s important to be aware that not all home inspectors are qualified to conduct a full pool inspection. Don’t hesitate to ask if you’re unsure of your home inspector’s qualifications.
If your home inspector is not a certified pool inspector, you can hire a specially trained pool inspector who only inspects pools. While this will probably be a little more expensive, it may be worth it for additional peace of mind.
How Home Inspectors Can Get Certified to Inspect a Pool
A qualified home inspector should have taken a training course and successfully completed it. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors offers a free class for home inspectors to learn how to inspect home pools and spas properly.
The course is very comprehensive and teaches home inspectors what to look at when conducting a pool inspection. It also explains how the components work and how to tell if they are functioning properly. The course describes proper water chemistry, including what chemicals should and shouldn’t be present in the water and the appropriate amounts of each.
Along with the electrical components and chemistry, the course also teaches inspectors how to identify any safety issues that may be present in the pool and the area surrounding the pool.
After completion of the course, home inspectors take an exam and must receive a passing score before they can be certified. If your home inspector has completed the course successfully, they should have received an official Certificate of Completion that they should be able to show you upon request.
Checklist: What Your Pool Inspector Should Be Looking For
While we all hope a home inspector is honest about making sure to check everything in and around your pool, it doesn’t hurt to educate yourself about what a thorough inspection should involve. Following is a complete list of what your inspector should be checking when performing a proper pool inspection.
These are the areas a complete professional pool inspection needs to address:
- Pool Safety Features
- Physical Condition of Pool
- Condition of Equipment and Pool Operating Systems
- Additional Design and Convenience Features
- Equipment Infrastructure and Yard Conditions
Pool Safety Features
Pool safety features include things like perimeter fences around the pool area (with appropriate latching and locks), pool alarms, safety glass, and safety covers. When you consider buying a house with a preexisting inground pool, you should research required safety features for the area you’re considering buying your new home.
Required safety measures vary from town to town, so check with the local township for your location’s exact information. While the home inspector should be familiar with the local laws, it is still essential for you to educate yourself.
Never assume the previous owner followed required safety measures without checking them out yourself. Before closing on the house, make sure that if any necessary safety features are missing, the seller either remedies the problem or takes it off the final purchase price so you can fix it yourself.
Physical Condition of Pool
While some issues are easy to see, some structural deterioration is more subtle and harder to detect. Check the pool finish to ensure the interior appears uniform, smooth, and free of stains, streaks, or other types of discoloration. Some staining is typical and easy to remedy, but other types of staining are harder and more expensive to remove.
Likewise, older pool finishes may have some small cracks due to aging, which is normal, but it’s essential to make sure these are not signs of more serious underlying structural problems. It would be best if you also examined the tile along the waterline for cracks and chips. Also, check the grout between the tiles to make sure the tile is entirely surrounded and hasn’t deteriorated with use.
The pool deck also requires examining. Look at the color and condition of the decking material. Note the decking position to make sure it’s correctly pitched so that splash-out is moved away from the pool and directed towards proper drainage areas.
Check if the decking is even or if it is lifting in areas. Lifting can be a sign of more significant problems and may require a partial or full replacement of decking material, which can be very costly.
Condition of Equipment and Pool Operating Systems
You want to make sure the pool is operating as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Turn on and run all the systems that are involved with operating the pool. Listen to make sure things sound the way they are supposed to and check for possible mechanical issues that may cause operating systems to fail.
Pay close attention to the pump and water filtration systems as they are critical to pool operation and can be expensive to repair. Check that the lighting system is working and make sure you know whether the pool is heated. If the pool is heated, make sure you test the heater to make sure it’s working correctly.
Additional Design and Convenience Features
There’s no point in paying for convenience and luxury features in your pool if you can’t use them. While things like automatic pool covers, diving boards, decorative lighting/water features, and advanced sanitizing technology may not be crucial to your pool’s proper functioning, you should expect to get what you pay for.
Make sure you’re aware of any extra features that your pool is supposed to come with and make sure they’re working or ask them to be discounted off the price if they’re not.
Equipment Infrastructure and Yard Conditions
Besides the equipment that actually runs the pool, there is also equipment that helps run other equipment. Things like plumbing lines, electrical cables, and breakers are all necessary to run the pool equipment. You want to make sure there are no leaky lines or damaged wires. You also want to make sure breakers are correctly labeled.
In addition to equipment, you also want to consider the layout of the yard area. Will rainwater drain properly or end up overflowing into your pool? Do you have enough room to store safety equipment without cluttering the deck? Are surrounding surfaces slip-resistant, or are there slip and fall hazards?
These are also important considerations because not only do you want your new yard to be visually appealing, you also want to be able to enjoy everything safely with family and friends.
A home that already has a built-in pool certainly has its appeal, but it’s important to know what you’re getting before you close on your new home. Your new yard should be an oasis, a place where you can unwind and enjoy time with friends and family. You don’t want it to turn into a massive headache.
Having a professional pool inspector do an in-depth inspection of the pool and surrounding area will give you peace of mind. Knowing everything is working correctly or being aware of any issues your new pool may have will allow you to plan accordingly and get a fair purchase price for your new home.
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