Monday, January 10, 2011

Landed home owners lapping up pools to add value

MORE Singaporeans are diving into the lastest trend in home design - small-sized swimming pools - as a quick way to add value to their property.

Pool contractors told The Straits Times they have seen business as much as double in the past three years, thanks to new designs that allow home owners with smaller bungalows or even semi-detached properties to install water features.

The addition of a swimming pool can raise the value of a house by about 5per cent, depending on the type of property and location, said estate agent Wilson Tan of HSR Property Group.

Some of the more popular water features include lap pools, small irregularly shaped swimming pools, and outdoor jacuzzis.

Mr Johnny Koh, owner of O'Nizer Pool Specialists, a construction company that specialises in water features, has seen a 50per cent or so increase in business over the last two years.

On average, he gets about six projects a month now compared to four or so in 2008. In good months, however, he has up to 17 projects.

'People are no longer worried about the cost of installing a pool, as they can offset the investment with a higher rental or selling price,' he said.

He added that greater variety in terms of design has also attracted home owners who did not think their property could accommodate a pool.

Lap pools, which many home owners are keen on now, are long and narrow installations that allow one person to swim back and forth. They can be as small as 9m long by 2m wide.

In Singapore, a permit from the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is needed to build a residential pool. While BCA does not track the number of pools built, contractors say there has been a significant increase in the number of private home owners coming to them for such projects.

There are about 70,000 landed residences in Singapore, making up 27per cent of total private residential homes.

Depending on its size, the cost of a pool equipped with a pump and a filtration system starts from about $15,000. But more elaborate designs, such as the use of marble or jets for jacuzzi features, take prices higher. Pool owners must also be prepared to fork out $300 to $500 a month in maintenance fees.

Home owners who have leapt on the bandwagon say it is a good investment.

Financial adviser Akhtar Rajput, 51, had a 10m by 2m lap pool, jacuzzi and water curtain feature installed at his Serangoon Gardens home two years ago. While the waterworks set him back some $150,000 then, he estimates it has increased the value of his home by 10per cent. Mr Akhtar says he received an offer of $5.5million for his 3,800sqft property two months ago.

HSR's Mr Tan, 38, says having a small swimming pool in a landed property which costs about $3 million can increase the value by about $150,000.

Mr Chandran Pillay, senior vice-president at real estate company Century 21 Singapore, says his clients have paid up to $2,000 more a month to rent houses with pools. 'It's a good, cooling feature and improves the aesthetics of the house,' he said.

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