Pool or Kitchen for resale

jane__nyAugust 5, 2014

South Florida, growing neighborhood, most houses have pools.

House needs a kitchen. Complicated because it involves moving walls. To do it well, it will be expensive because of structural work.

Nice property, landscaped, screened in patio. There is room to put in a pool.

We can go two ways. Put in an lower cost kitchen which will not involve removing walls. Almost not worth doing because the walls are angled which makes it impossible to gain more space.

Walls could be moved to square the kitchen which would allow larger appliances and counter space.

Pool or kitchen?

The house is in Florida. We are about 45 minutes to the beach. I know a pool is a selling point because we wanted a house with a pool. Wound up buying this house thinking we'd put one on but didn't realize what putting in a new kitchen would involve.

Want to do either for better resale, both price and quick sale. Which would be better return on the money? Can't afford to do both the right way. Its one or the other.

I'm hoping there are some Florida Realtors who will give their opinion.


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Pool. I'm in South Florida, but not a realtor. A pool is definitely a selling feature here. Something that a first-time buyer especially would not have the additional money to do. Lots of yoing folks nowadays are not cooks, not many down here don't enjoy a pool...at least at the beginning. My own son had one requirement when he bought in Ft Lauderdale...it HAD to have a pool for the kids. The roomy, but ugly, kitchen lasted them an additional 10 years before they finally got it done up nice.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 2:10AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

I'm in hot dry southern California. Almost everyone here has pools also. I rarely venture into ours, but we recently had a tropical storm blow through. It rained hot for 2 days, and we were living in the steam that is common for FL.

I vote pool. A pool is so nice in a humid climate!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 10:14AM
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Are you going to enjoy either of these upgrades, are you are just going to sell?

If you are just going to sell, I say forget about it and just sell it as is. Save the money you would have spent and consider it your "improved value" (ie, if you sell the house as is for 150k and you kept 20k of pool, you net 170k and a whole lot of savings in hassle factor v putting the house on the market for 180k after spending 35k in pool AND landscaping and a whole lotta hassle...)

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 4:55PM
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Sophie Wheeler

For resale? Neither. Both will cost more to do than they will add in value to the home. Especially the pool. It's a desirable upgrade, but the dollar hit you will take to do the project correctly won't even approach 50% of payback. Kitchens and baths sell houses, but large kitchen redos are also money losers.

The only projects that add most of their cost back to a home are those 15K or under. Neither of these projects remotely qualify for that.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cost vs. Value

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 9:23PM
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I'm also not a realtor, but think, since you already have a kitchen, add the pool. For resale a buyer may have the same mindset. A buyer can wait on the kitchen, but no pool doesn't tick off the must-have boxes.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 10:26PM
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Thanks everyone. We are planning to stay here. We retired and bought this house almost 2 years ago when the market was tanking.

When we bought we thought we'd put in a pool as we wanted one and couldn't imagine living in Fl without one.

After moving in, I realized how disfunctional the kitchen is. The walls are angled and the kitchen space is basically a trapezoid. The outside walls are angled leaving little workable space.

The appliances are old and will need replacing. Problem is we would be stuck having to replace with these small, apartment size appliances because there are no square walls.

The kitchen presently has a small refrigerator. Because the main walls are not square, there is no where to put a fridge except in exactly the same space. Thus, moving one long wall and making it straight, would provide a straight wall to put a fridge.

I could leave the kitchen as is and buy new, small appliances. Or I could move the wall.

The cost would be about the same as putting in a pool.

I am thinking resale and quick sale as the house will be left to our kids. But, hopefully we will be alive for the next 15 years and would like to enjoy living here.

We can't afford both. The pool would be used by us and our guests and adult children and grandchildren when they visit. But I don't want to spend 30k and have to live with this horrid kitchen.

My thoughts are to spend the money on the improvements which will add the most value to the resale of the house.

I tried to show a diagram of what a trapezoid looks like. The curved drawings are the doorways. There are no straight walls.


    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 11:02PM
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If you plan to use this more than 5 years, then do the kitchen! Esp if you are talking 15 years!

That isn't remodeling for "resale". That is remodeling for your life. Check out the kitchens forum and get real feedback. Note, they are really, really good at helping, but they need real dimensions.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 12:12AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

The kitchens forum is great but they are a little bit "high end" snobbish. You can get brand new dented appliances for really cheap.

I think your main expense would be in moving the wall. A contractor could give you that cost. No need for expensive counter tops.

Fiberglass pools are beautiful, less work, and cheaper, so look into that.

Maybe you can get both bangs for the same buck.

I would hate your kitchen! Very odd shape for sure.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 9:03AM
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How many days of a year do you use your kitchen vs your pool? To me, the answer is clear. I am fine without swimming, but would be miserable to live with a dysfunctional kitchen. In addition, we can always swim at our gym year around, but it is hard to find another kitchen to cook daily.

Even in our hot dry climate, we could only use pool between late May and early Sept. while weather is good.

Maintaining pool requires lots of work and expense, especially factoring in the cost of replacing motor, pump, filter, pool cleaner....etc. big and small equipments. Some cities require extras such as safety door, gates, fence.

When kids were young, for safety concerns we deliberately searched for house without pool. Even we have owned 3 houses with pool including the current one, I still think the best combination is to find a house in a small, excellent neighborhood that provides a public pool for homeowners. It is cheaper and easier to pay for homeowner association fee.

You don't have to do both immediately. Since you plan to stay in the house for next 15 years, you could always add a pool later.

This post was edited by azmom on Wed, Aug 6, 14 at 11:23

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 10:51AM
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And, the kitchens forum is not snobbish. There are many budget remodels posted. Just make your limitations clear.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 1:30PM
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I would absolutely not make your decision based on resale, especially if said sale will be by your heirs in a couple decades. You shouldn't sacrifice functionality and enjoyment in an attempt to boost their inheritance slightly.

Which one will improve your quality of life more?

I'd take your current kitchen layout, photos, and list of issues to the kitchen forum and see what they can make of it, including moving walls. Who knows, maybe they'll come up with some ideas that will be less costly than you're thinking, and it'll leave money for a pool down the road.

Or if you really want a pool, then downgrade your finishes in the kitchen to lower the cost, but make the functional changes that you need.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 2:34PM
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Thanks all.

I said we'd live her for 15 yrs but when hubby is 82 and I'm 65, who knows....

DH would love a pool. Me not so much. We always had a pool when we lived in NY and the heat in Florida is really bad. Spending a summer here made me feel that that it might be a wise investment.

When I talk about resale, I want to explain that when you reach a certain point in life, you begin to think about the investment you make in a property. We decided we couldn't live in a condo because we both like to garden and like privacy.

You do think about your children and also, what if something happens and you need money fast, such as nursing care or nursing home. You would want to sell the house quickly at the best price. Thus, my original question.

I knew the kitchen was strange, but having never seen anything like it before, I didn't really give it too much thought except to replace the cabinets and appliances. I didn't realize I would have to move a large wall to do much of anything different with it.

But in reading all the responses, I will go with my belief that the kitchen would serve me better and might add some value to the house.

Thanks again,


    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 7:59PM
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I have to agree on the kitchen. You can get a lot of ideas on the kitchens forum, but you do have to weed through a lot of folks who want kitchens for looks and not for function (ie spend $50K on a remodel and need to make sure the freezer fits a frozen pizza - makes no sense to me at all). But there are great folks who can give you great ideas (I got great feedback on my no-granite, cook's kitchen). And Ikea is a great option since you have one not too far away.
Pools are not good resale items. For all the people who want pools, there are people who don't want pools because they are work and money and risky (FL leads in child drownings). Having room to put a pool is best for resale. But if you and your hubby want the pool for yourselves, that is the only reason to put one in. I was warned time and time again by empty -nesters not to put in a pool - but my pool is for me, not my kids. My hubby and I are in there nearly every evening after dinner (or in the spa during winter).
My pool advice, should you change your mind. Fiberglass does not last in the sun - the boys and I got tons of fiberglass in our skin from our friends' pool that was about 5 years old under cage - looked beautiful, but that was not an option for us. Also, only pre-formed shapes so it depends on your yard if it would work. Must get a "salt" pool - so much easier than chlorine, so easy - our pool is much less work than we ever imagined compared to our neighbors. Unfortunately, since the passing of a key member, the Pools & Spas forum isn't as helpful as it was.
Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: My Blue Pool

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 2:17PM
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You are making the better choice. You will use and enjoy a new kitchen daily. Do go to the kitchen forum and get layout and functional help (there are a lot of folks -- myself included, who care about function first). A number of people have worked with IKEA cabinets and done very reasonable gut and replace kitchens. When you do a smart kitchen and improve function, you can maximize the return on your investment. In 15 years, the kitchen may again need new appliances, but a good layout will be forever. With IKEA boxes, you can totally change the look with new doors.

It may have changed since we last bought a house, but around here (Houston area - similar climate but twice as far from a beach) a house with a pool might sell for $10-20K more than a house without a pool. The cost of the average pool here used to be $35-50K and is probably $50K up now. We were selling a house without a pool and buying one with. Our realtor laughed about it and said that April through August, everyone had to have a pool. Lots wouldn't look at a house without one. September through March, people didn't care about pools -- they looked at the house and would add a pool if they wanted one.

My mom and dad both passed in the last year. Could be different for your kids, but honestly, I wouldn't worry about doing things too fast. You need some time to handle things and let emotions settle. It'll be okay. Enjoy your house and enjoy your times with them. That's what they want -- not a house that sells and is gone, along with you, week or month faster. It may be a little too fast either way.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 9:15PM
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I would go for the kitchen, since you use it everyday.

We used to have a pool in our old home. Though we loved having it, the cost and the daily maintenance kind of sucked. We didn't use it enough to justify the extra cost in electric bill for the pump, the weekly trips to the pool store to test the water, the skimming of the pool everyday, etc.

Now that we are looking for a new home, I don't want a pool. I'd rather have the yard space for the kids to run around and then just go to the community pool when we feel like it.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 11:32PM
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Thank you everyone!

I agree with a kitchen giving more satisfaction than a pool. We had a pool for 40 years in our previous house. I rarely used it except to cool off when I was gardening in the yard. Hubby used it every day as did the kids when they were young.

It has been so hot in Florida, never a break. It is impossible to work outdoors. July and August is horrible. A pool would feel good, but doesn't justify the expense as having a pool here means running it for 12 months.

Regarding the kitchen. I am interested in Ikea but have never used their products nor visited a store. The closest one is about 2 hrs away. I was also told the amount you save is spent hiring someone to put the cabinets together and install them.

I would post on the Kitchen Forum but my situation is so complicated, it would be difficult to explain or show. There are other walls which might have to be moved or removed.

I think I need an architect before proceeding and that cost will probably make a new kitchen unaffordable.

Thanks for all the great advice.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 11:57PM
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being the devil's advocate is normal for me so...
i vote for the pool, in florida a pool will be a much better resale factor than other parts of the country-even in south texas (houston) a pool is one of the first things buyers ask for
pools do require some upkeep (30 minutes a day tops), if you're not interested in doing that type work do not get a pool
however a pool does get you (me) outside when i normally would not be outdoors, it's far too easy to sit in the house and look out the window and 6 months of the year it's too hot to be outdoors without a pool...
swimming is great exercise for older folks --i love doing water aerobics, but i don't care for a treadmill or walking in 95 degree heat with 90 percent humidity and you've gotta keep those joints moving somehow

think out of the box for the kitchen, could you use refrigerator drawers instead of a normal sized frig? look at houzz for small kitchens and maybe you could come up with some inexpensive ideas....

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 1:34PM
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Jane, I had a dysfunctional, impossible-to-fix kitchen and asked for help from the Kitchen Forum. They were amazing; I have a beautiful new kitchen and it was inexpensive. If you can draw a to-scale plan of the kitchen and the surrounding areas and submit it, you will be amazed at the possibilities it generates.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 5:53PM
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Thanks everyone! okokok, you sound like my husband. 100 degrees today and I haven't been able to go outside for over a month. We live in the AC house and car. Horrible. The humidity is sickening.

Today, I tried to get some work in the garden and that lasted 15 minutes. Its almost midnight now, temps are 85.

So tempting to go for it but the kitchen is something we deal with all through the day (especially since we are spending so much time indoors).

powermuffin, I wouldn't know how to draw a kitchen to scale. I'm not very computer savvy nor mathematical!. How does one do that? I've had kitchen people in to give estimates, but they won't give me their drawings. I even went on Angies List to find someone who said they would give me the kitchen plans and they didn't.

I don't know how to begin this because it involves moving walls. How could I post on the Kitchens Forum?

Anyway, thanks all.

Still sweating in Florida...


    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 12:02AM
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Drawing something to scale just means measuring how long walls are and transferring that to smaller size on a piece of graph paper. So if a wall is 12' long, you draw a line that takes up 12 squares of graph paper. That's the scale: 1 square = 1'.

Draw out the floorplan on graph paper, then take a few photos to supplement it, and post them all in a thread on the Kitchens board.

If you go to HD or Lowe's, you can pay them $35 to come measure your kitchen, then they'll do a free cabinet layout and give you a printout of the drawings. I don't know if that's what you need at this point. You need a "current condition" drawing, not a new design, at least for starters.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 3:21PM
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Thanks for the info Weedy. I know how to measure to scale but I don't know how to manage it here because of the 'angled walls.'

The outside wall of my kitchen (exterior house) goes out gradually to about 5 fit. This is the outside of my house. An interior wall in the kitchen is angled 21/2 ft. So the kitchen appears as a trapezoid. I would have to measure the exterior walls of my house, draw that, then measure the angled interior wall and draw that. But, I would need to show how making the interior wall square, would impact the adjoining living, entry and dinning space. I can move the interior wall but I can't change the exterior, outside wall of the house. So I'm stuck with a weird layout.

I don't know how to explain it, and I don't know how to draw it on graft paper because the walls are not square.

Very strange situation I live with. I haven't seen anyone post walls like I have.


    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 1:03AM
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When the house was appraised, did the appraiser draw a floorplan? Ours did. If so, you could scan a copy of that and post it.

Photos plus your best try at a floorplan sketch would probably suffice.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 1:40PM
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I'm with weedy - your sketch doesn't need to be perfect, especially together with photos.

If you can get the following measurements, you can plot it on graph paper, one or two squares per foot. Use a pen or fine-point sharpie, so the lines are nice and dark, and include as many measurements as you can. Take a photo of the sketch, and post the photo.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 12:51PM
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I just purchased a home in SFl and we were looking for a pool. We did find a nice home with a small pool (enough to cool off in) but it also has a large modern kitchen. If I had to choose one, it would definitely be the kitchen where you spend the greatest amount of time. Later for the pool. Once you're done with the kitchen you could always check out prices of pools. I wouldn't get anything too elaborate or large. It may be more affordable than you think. We found pool maintenance really cheap compared to what we paid in the NE.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 10:25AM
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