Building a pool in the East Valley

With our hot summertime temps, it’s definitely pool season in Arizona. New home builders face a multitude of decisions, like whether or not to build a pool now or wait until after the house is built.

Well, we’ve done the digging and asked experts for their thoughts.

“There are many reasons to take advantage of putting in a pool when building a new home,” said Jeff Ast, president, Shasta Pools.

“Oftentimes the pool can be excavated with a normal track hoe and a dump truck right in the back yard. If you wait until after close of escrow, in some cases we have to use smaller equipment to excavate. This can add a large increase in excavation costs due to the additional time it takes to build.”

Nick Wright, vice president of operations for Shea Homes Arizona, agreed.

“Most buyers just want to move in and have everything complete with no stress or construction,” he said. “When the pool is built at the same time as your new home, equipment isn’t going to damage any landscaping. It all finishes up at the same time.”

That means saving money. 

“Homes are getting tighter with smaller side and back yards. If we have to use smaller equipment, it can add $3,000 to $6,000 to the cost of the pool,” Ast said. Fencing and block walls may also need to be removed, adding to the cost.

New homeowners also need to think about financing. With the average cost of a pool in Maricopa County at $42,000, a typical rule of thumb is that the pool cost should stay within 10 percent of the cost of the home for mortgage qualification, Ast said.

“First mortgage rates and terms traditionally are more favorable than secondary financing,” Wright added.

“It’s all about the monthly payment,” Ast said. “Typically, people are staying in their homes eight to nine years. That means they’re only paying for the pool for that time with their mortgage payment and might end up only paying for one-third of the total cost of the pool.”

Another consideration is that many Valley homebuilders work with their own “preferred” pool builder. These arrangements make it easier for insurance, permitting and schedule coordination but may limit options for homebuyers.

If building a pool at the same time as the new home, pool construction generally begins at the stucco phase, about 75 to 80 days after the start of the home. There are varying degrees of how much of the pool can be built, depending on the homebuilder. Some builders will allow the hole to be dug and then hold until close of escrow. Others will allow the pool builder to construct the foundation of the pool and then hold. Shea Homes, Wright said, allows the pool to be “swim ready,” which means the pool will be completed, filled with water and maintained until the homeowner gets their keys. 

“Picture jumping into a cool refreshing pool in between hauling boxes and furniture at moving day,” Ast said.

Even with all the advantages, only about 25 percent of homeowners end up building a pool at the same time as a new home, Ast added. There are a lot of reasons why: Some simply don’t want a pool, others may not have the additional money to spend. But its important for new homeowners to weigh the pros and cons and decide what makes sense for their needs.

(2) comments

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