The pandemic has made it virtually impossible this summer to find and buy an above ground pool. If you’re thinking of putting in an inground pool, good luck with that! Most work won’t start till mid August and by the time the contractors are finished, it’ll be autumn.
Since we usually summer at the beach, we’ve never had a reason to buy any kind of pool. We also had access to our community pool on those occasions when going to the beach was improbable. As we all know, unfortunately, due to the pandemic, most community pools and country clubs have closed their pools for the summer season.
According to several real estate statistics, sales of houses with pools are up 37%. Also, companies have sprouted that will rent you pool access, by the hour at prices ranging from $15 to $300 for that hour.
One such company, Swimply, has seen 2,000% growth this summer, according to its 20-something year-old co-founders from New York and New Jersey. Prices range anywhere from $15 to $300 per hour, depending on the type of pool, location and additional amenities offered — like restroom access. Some homeowners also have hot tubs by the pool. Swimply will also work with homeowners to provide portable restrooms if they want.
“We’ve seen demand skyrocket. We simply cannot keep up,” said Asher Weinberger, co-founder of Swimply. “There are people who are now desperate to get out of their homes. They’re working from home. There’s no school. There’s no camp. What are parents supposed to do with their kids?”
Which brings me to my own ‘kiddie’ pool story. I had a feeling pools were going to be hard to find this summer, so I started my search for one back in mid-May. I knew my grandchildren were going to be stuck inside their NYC apartments this summer, with no access to camp or community pools in their area, so I decided I would buy a pool for my grandkids to enjoy at my home this summer. My youngest granddaughter made certain to advise me that the pool couldn’t be higher than 3 feet. “So I can stand up in it, grandma!” was her only request.
So my journey began. Unbeknownst to me at the time, because of the global pandemic raging throughout The United States, most pool manufacturers were in lockdown. That meant that no one was building any more above ground pools. The only thing selling were last years’ models, if any store even had them in stock. It took me a few days and a lot of phone calls and unanswered emails BUT I did locate one left-over pool a guy was selling through WalMart. The prices were fluctuating worse than the ups and downs of the stock market. I got price ranges starting at $132 all the way up to $1,000 for the size (12ft round by 30 inches deep) and model (Intex) I wanted. The guy sold me a brand new pool, which was the only left-over pool he had in stock for $470 (with tax). When it was delivered, the box was pretty banged up and had gaping holes. Nonetheless, we opened it up and laid out the pieces. Everything looked good.
I patted myself on my back for my good fortune. My grandkids were excited. It was May 22, 2020. The start of the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
Since hubby and I never had a pool this size before, we read the directions and comments people left on the pool website. Hubby was lost. And I’m not much help. So, we called our loyal handy man to set up the pool for us. He kept putting us off and putting us off. Till we realized it was The Fourth Of July, another summer holiday weekend and the pool still wasn’t set up. Hubs and I started getting into shouting matches. “If you knew the pool couldn’t get set up, why didn’t you tell me? I could have returned it and got a refund. Or sold it for $600 on Craig’s List!” I frustratingly yelled at hubby. (the demand for a pool by now was super hot)
That’s when I had this lightbulb moment and realized if I could sell the pool on Craig’s List, maybe I could find someone to set it up? I scoured through our local area Craig’s List and found 4 people who set up pools for a living. I called/emailed all 4 of them. Only one replied. We set up an appointment. He came to my home, looked at the pool and gave me a ‘free’ estimate of $1,200. Yup! You read that right. He wanted $1,200 to set up a $400 ‘kiddie-sized’ pool. “That’s the going rate“, he said. “Didn’t you know that?” No, I said. This is our first experience of pooling.
When the guy realized he wasn’t going to get the job, he started lowering his price. I won’t bore you with the details but we settled on $550 to have him set up the pool the following Saturday. However, after he left, again hubs and I screamed and battled it out that this pool nonsense was starting to get expensive. I agreed BUT I kept thinking about my granddaughters being stuck inside sweltering NYC apartments all summer long, so being the fantastic grandmother that I am, I pushed forward.
The guy lowered his set-up price to $250 but when we calculated the cost of pool water, $325, again hubby and I were at a stalemate. I cancelled the set up with the guy but insisted on paying him for his time. He wanted $100. I wired him $70. I considered the $70 to be a Ramsey-like stupid tax.
Don’t ask me how he did it, but my husband got up early the very next day, with pool instructions in his hand and put that pool together. By himself. Alone. And without any help. That’s what anger can do to you sometimes: it propels you to ‘get ‘er done’…….and he did. Hubby found a spot on our property, behind our barn, that was level, required no digging, no leveling, no sand. He mowed the area down low. Checked for rocks and/or pebbles, laid down the bottom tarp I had purchased ($79) along with the pool, and voila’….the pool was up! It was July 10th.
Next came the water. Since we are in the middle of a drought right now, there is no way we can fill this pool with our well water. The pool needs 1,718 gallons of water and hubby estimated that we only had 840 gallons sitting in our well. The well water is for our use. NOT a pools’. I called the guy who gave us the $325 water estimate. Unbeknownst to us, his minimum water orders are 6,000 gallons. Hubby said we could put the excess water into our pond, since the drought had the pond down by 6 feet and all the turtles, fish, frogs, ducks and one beaver were suffering.
Before the guy could deliver the water, he had to check to see if his truck could fit through our driveway. It couldn’t. We were back to Square One. We had a pool. We had no water. Each passing day, the summer temperatures were rising. The weather was reaching the high 80s…..on the verge of nearing 90. I checked the weather report. The weekend of July 18 was showing six consecutive days of 94Fdegree+ temperatures. Time, literally was heating up. I started making a series of phone calls but could find no one who would come out and fill our kiddie pool with 1,718 gallons of water.
Hubby and I decided to give up. Take down the pool and either sell it or keep it till next year. If we started early in April, while the snows were melting off the nearby mountains, our well would be full and we could fill the pool a little each day till June.
Then I had another lightbulb moment. Why not call the local pool companies in our area and ask them for help or guidance? When I told them about my predicament, one kind gentlemen told me to give a certain individual a call and tell him to use his ‘small’ truck to help us out. When I called him, his minimum order was 3,000 gallons but his price was an astronomical $465. Guess what transpired when I informed my husband of the price? Yup. Another screaming match.
“Husband!” I yelled. “It’s going to be 96F degrees this weekend. Can you imagine sitting here, twiddling our thumbs, sweating it out, while all the time we have this perfectly good pool just sitting in our backyard? PAY THE FUCKING MONEY! Chuck it up to inexperience. Next year we’ll do better! Do it for the grandkids!! I’m 70 years old! What are you keeping the money for? Their inheritance?“
And with that, the kind gentleman was here the very next day, between the hours of noon and 2PM. He put 1,718 gallons of good, clean, drinking water into our pool and the remaining 1,282 gallons were dumped into our pond. His closing words to my husband were “Do you realize how lucky you are to have a pool? There ain’t no pools around. Everyone is suffering from the drought. Nobody has any water. Pools are a luxury.“
Hubby just nodded and kept his mouth shut. I wrote out the check.
The frogs are happy. The ducks are happy. The turtles are happy. The one sole beaver is happy. Grandma is happy. Grandkids are happy. My floatie ($17) just arrived in the mail delivery. Temps today are going to sear at 92F. Sunday, July 19, 2020 the temps are going to reach 98F. Perhaps even 100F.
Guess who’s jumping into the pool first?