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North Hills Monthly

Pool and Hot Tub Buyers Looking for More Features, Less Maintenance

Apr 01, 2018 09:31AM ● By Hilary Daninhirsch

Westmoreland Pools

Whether you prefer to swim laps for exercise, float on an inflatable raft or soak up the bubbles in a hot tub, one thing is true: there are few things in life as soothing as a dip in warm waters.

With summer just around the corner, perhaps you’re considering whether a spa or a pool is a good investment and are wondering about available options.

The main reason for purchasing a pool or spa is relaxation with family and friends. “In Pittsburgh, most families with younger children tend to buy swimming pools to create family memories, teach their children how to swim, and to make a fun outdoor space for friends and family to enjoy all summer long,” said Kristin Poppa, business development officer at Valley Pool and Spa. “Not too many people will purchase a swimming pool for alone time.” 

The region’s market for in-ground pools has exploded in recent years, much of which is attributed to new construction, said Adam Spate, general manager at Westmoreland Pools and Spas.

Aboveground pools are popular as well, said Poppa, saying that sales have climbed every year since 2013.

A significant trend in pools is the semi in-ground style, which is exactly as it sounds: partially aboveground and partially in-ground. Matt Zanin, general manager of Alpine Pools, said that this style is optimal for the many sloping yards that are found in Pittsburgh.

Remember the olden days of plain, rectangular or kidney-shaped in-ground pools?  Those have gone by the wayside in favor of ‘free-form’ shapes. “The more natural a pool looks, the better,” said Spate, adding that ‘resort-style’ pools are highly sought after.

“Today’s pools have fountains, benches and waterfalls, almost as a basic feature,” Zanin noted, adding that some consumers are choosing tanning ledges, custom step configurations, and very shallow areas for young children.

Since families are the primary demographic when it comes to pool use, safety is paramount. Zanin said that one major trend that addresses safety is the automatic pool cover, which is controlled by a remote keypad with a personalized code.

“It helps with energy efficiency and chemical loss and keeps it extremely safe,” he explained. “It is gaining popularity with parents, as kids cannot access the water.”

Zanin adds that automation is becoming popular, with users able to control their pools from a phone app that allows them to adjust the temperature or control the LED lighting.

Like cars, hot tubs come out with new models every year, and people have varying reasons for wanting one. “Some look for the ‘bells and whistles’ that will create a relaxing oasis in their backyards while others look for therapeutic value in a hot tub,” said Poppa. “Spa manufacturers have noticed this trend over the last few years and have started creating spas that now have both.” 

Certain spas are now molded to fit body types and have jet placement trigger areas that help with muscle or joint issues.

While in-ground hot tubs have seen tremendous growth in the past couple of years, Zanin said that his business sells more aboveground spas, as the in-ground models are expensive to install.

Certain trends are true across the board for pools and spas. “The big trend in all aspects of our business is customers wanting lower maintenance and natural purification for the water,” said Zanin. “People are really getting away from traditional straight chlorine and going toward more saltwater. Newer systems are purified with minerals and fewer chemicals.”

One of the biggest questions that people have is whether an in-ground pool will add value to a home. “A pool is a selling point for most homes, so much, in fact, that most of the realty sites have pools as a searchable element,” said Spate. “Many homebuyers are searching for a home with a pool as a make-or-break part of their decision.”

Unlike portable spas, in-ground spas also add value to a home as it is considered to be an extension of the home (requiring a permit).

In aboveground pools, Spate said that the only real change is the use of vinyl components over steel. For in-ground pools, fiberglass pools continue to be popular, as they require no liner and are installed more quickly. He added that stainless steel shells are popular in hot tubs, though they have not yet caught on in this region.

One thing to keep in mind when budgeting for a pool is that often, it becomes the first step in transforming the entire backyard into a destination for outdoor living, said Spate. “Many of our customers add sound systems, landscape lighting, outdoor kitchens, fire effects, and outdoor furniture,” he explained.

“Waterproof Bluetooth speakers, in-pool lighting, automatic cleaners, solar heaters and more are just some of the items pool and spa owners can purchase for their outdoor oasis,” added Poppa.