In the long, hot days of summer, there’s nothing quite like your own backyard oasis. If this is the year you’ll take the pool plunge, do your homework first. Any kind of pool is a huge investment. Consider your budget, life situation and swimming habits before wading in.

In the long, hot days of summer, there’s nothing quite like your own backyard oasis. If this is the year you’ll take the pool plunge, do your homework first. Any kind of pool is a huge investment. Consider your budget, life situation and swimming habits before wading in.


In-ground


If you’re a serious swimmer, an avid diver or you have a specific vision of the pool of your dreams, an in-ground pool could be for you. With in-ground models, you can have a custom shape, varied depths, choice of construction materials and extras like slides and fountains. In-ground pools can be built to any depth, including a deep end for diving, whereas above-ground models are usually all one depth.


In-ground pools are expensive, though, usually costing much more than their above-ground cousins. But that can be part of the appeal for some customers, says Beth Osterhout of B & D Pool and Spa in upstate New York. “It can be a status thing — showing that you can afford this great, in-ground pool.” Because the nicest ones blend so beautifully into a landscape, people associate in-ground pools with better quality. That association, though, isn’t completely fair.


Above-ground


Though above-ground pools of the past looked “tacky,” Osterhout says, many contemporary above-grounds are actually quite sleek and attractive. Check some out before you write them off. Decking can be built to surround the pool completely, she says, and at that point “you can’t tell if it’s in-ground or not.”


Above-grounds now come in an array of sizes and styles. As for the depth, consider whether you need a deep end. “We didn’t like the deep end because my kids wanted to play volleyball,” says Osterhout. In fact, many families find that the deep end goes largely unused. Similarly, you may not need varied depths if you’re just going to swim laps.


If you’re not sure how long you’ll be in your home, an above-ground pool is much easier to remove if the time comes. (Many buyers with small children don’t want pools for safety reasons.) With in-ground models, removal can be very expensive.


Don’t assume, though, that your above-ground model will be “portable,” Osterhout cautions. “I’ve had to tell customers that it will be cheaper to buy a new pool than to transport and reassemble the one they had.”