Install a backyard pool or hot tub for owner enjoyment, not resale value

Ange Szabo extended the deck in her new home to accommodate a hot tub. She added privacy screens of cedar slats and a six-metre-high tree for seclusion.DENNIS OWEN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

After purchasing a three-bedroom bungalow in Canoe, BC, in July, 2021, health care operations manager Ange Szabo was sure to make room for a hot tub in her backyard when undertaking a full renovation of her new home.

“I extended the back deck, but I also had to reinforce it to be able to hold the weight of the hot tub once it was full,” Ms. Szabo explains. She moved to Canoe from Vernon, BC, where she lived in a condo building with a shared outdoor hot tub. She enjoyed regular dips in the hot tub and was determined to have one in her new home.

Ms. Szabo opted for a four-person hot tub with jets, paying about $12,000 in total for delivery, installation and a cover. “They were saying that hot tubs were six months out from the period of order,” says Ms. Szabo, who purchased her hot tub in January, 2022. “I lucked out that they actually had something in stock, and it was the last one.” She was soaking in her new hot tub by May, 2022.

The pool and hot tub industry saw a huge spike in demand over the pandemic as Canadians like Ms. Szabo yearned to create private refuges in their backyards to enjoy throughout the crisis and beyond. According to Statistics Canada data, in 2019, 306,969 permits were registered for residential inground swimming pools. By 2021, that number more than doubled to 679,453 permits registered.

Aman Syal, manager of programs and marketing for the Pool & Hot Tub Council of Canada, says the desire to create backyard escapes amid the pandemic fueled a high demand for pools and hot tubs in the past two years. “Everybody was working from home, and on the weekends, you were home,” she says. “[People] just wanted that feeling of being on a vacation but in your own residence.” Ms. Syal says she has seen some elaborate backyard pools installed over the pandemic, from infinity edge designs to pools with waterfall features.

However, those with less space may opt for a swim spa instead, which is about 4 to 6 meters long (12 to 19 feet) and offers the benefits of both a pool and hot tub. Or, in the case of Kate Zheng’s home in the Beaches neighborhood of Toronto, a hot tub can even be placed on the rooftop of a home lacking in yard space.

“Having a hot tub on your rooftop can be extremely expensive, though,” says Ms. Zheng. “You need to reinforce the roof to withstand the weight of the hot tub filled with water. Unless that is something you absolutely love to have, most people forego this plan once they find out how much cost and work is involved.”

Ms. Zheng, who also works as a realtor in the Toronto area, says that adding a backyard pool or semi-permanent hot tub to your property isn’t a guaranteed return on investment, unlike projects such as painting or a kitchen renovation.

“It’s more for the enjoyment of the owner rather than trying to make more money when reselling,” she explains. However, if the property is in a neighborhood where most homes have swimming pools, adding a backyard pool is a more worthwhile investment.

Aesthetics, design and the current condition of a pool or hot tub also contribute to its impact on a home’s resale value. “If your hot tub is old and needs replacement soon, or if your swimming pool is run-down, that is a big hesitation for people because it can be really costly to replace,” says Ms. Zheng.

Ms. Szabo got used to having a hot tub when she lived in a condo and decided her new home had to have one as well.DENNIS OWEN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

A pool should also make sense for the outdoor space available; for example, if a pool takes up most of a small backyard, that could be a deterrent. “But for a pool that fits in with the landscaping, and it’s a proportional size to your yard, or if it’s a hot tub built with a deck or gazebo with awnings, that adds value,” Ms. Zheng explains.

For Ms. Szabo’s backyard, she opted to install privacy screens made of cedar slats surrounding the hot tub. She also had a 6-meter-high tree planted in her yard to offer coverage from a neighbor’s second-floor window, adding to the feeling of seclusion.

The hot tub has been a worthwhile investment for Ms. Szabo. She uses her hot tub up to three times a day and at least once every morning for a 20-minute soak to prepare for her busy workday.

“I make myself an Americano and I play some beautiful morning music on my Alexa and sit in the tub,” she explains. “I really focus on being present, grounding myself and reflecting on what I need to do to be ready for my day. I really appreciate the warmth around me and the solitude.”

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