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Permits, Costs, and Meddling Neighbors

What to know before you start digging.

For the least amount of hassle, go small; according to a spokesperson from the Department of Buildings, you won’t need a special permit to install a private outdoor pool smaller than 400 square feet (as long as your plans follow zoning rules). If you decide to go all out, work with a licensed architect or pool designer who knows the ins and outs of the city’s byzantine building code, and can make sure your pool has all the must-haves, such as handholds, fencing, drainage, and the like. And though your pool’s private, be aware that your neighbors may want a say in your plans.

Allot anywhere from $100,000 for a basic model to $133,000 for a tricked-out number, says Ben Basch, president of American Pool Management. That’s not to mention costs for garden work, fencing, and other projects to prettify the surroundings—and get them up to code. An indoor pool, which demands complex structural engineering (unless you’re on the ground floor), will likely require a higher budget. Add to that maintenance. Pools can cost anywhere between $100 to $300 a month for standard upkeep, plus a few hundred dollars to heat, says John Dugan of Manhattan Pool & Leisure.

So Is a Pool Worth the Investment?
Probably not. Appraiser Jonathan Miller says city pools are a “highly subjective amenity. Some buyers are scared of them.” With every square foot at a premium, he says, “you’re essentially trading land”—or a basement den—for a pool. And aboveground pools in particular can be a deterrent for prospective buyers. “It’s almost always an eyesore that’s almost always removed.” Miller says that an apartment with a shared pool may be worth more than one without, but that it’s hard to pin the price on a pool alone. (A pool is often one of multiple amenities offered by fancier buildings.)


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