TWIN FALLS — Homebuilders are constructing more new — and typically larger homes — than years past. And with those big new homes are plenty of backyard pools.
It’s unusual to have an in-ground pool in Twin Falls, but an increased interest from homeowners has attracted pool builders from the Treasure Valley, according to a review of building permits by the Times-News.
New pools mean more trickle-down business for local businesses, too, who step in afterward to chemically maintain the pools during the warranty period.
Why the renewed interest in backyard pools? Area businesses say it’s a reflection of the good local economy building over the past five years.
“People are escaping to their backyards now,” Snake River Pool and Spa Business Development Director Greg Bloxham said.
His company got out of the swimming pool business for a few years while interest was low. But over the past two years, inquiries for new pools have doubled — more than any other part of the business, store manager Beau Burk said.
“The whole valley is expressing interest,” he said.
The company now does seasonal openings and closings for 150 pools across the region, Bloxham said.
Twin Falls County issued only two permits this year for new pools, but in 2016 there were four. It’s a small number, but still higher than the one application the county was accustomed to receiving six years ago.
In the city, six homes have received permits this year, and 16 pool permits have been issued since 2014.
TWIN FALLS — City staff can’t say for sure, but it appears to have been a fairly typical sum…
That’s only a small sample of the Magic Valley area.
“You would not believe how many pools are going in,” said Laura Baxter, owner of Magic Valley Pool Supply.
Most of her increased business is from commercial pools, as cities and commercial facilities repair and upgrade their facilities. But residential pools are now playing a bigger role in her work. Pool builders from outside the area have asked Baxter to perform chemical maintenance during the warranty period. And most of the time, the homeowners want her to stay on afterward.
Baxter has opted to continue chemical maintenance for some customers, but she doesn’t have the time and staffing to vacuum the pools also. There is a need for more of that service in the area, she said.
At Snake River Pool and Spa, Burk estimates pool-care customers have risen up to 70 percent this year. And winterizing pools takes a month’s work for three people, he said.
The business is also re-establishing itself as a pool builder, offering vinyl lined and fiberglass in-ground pools. Snake River Pool and Spa already has its spring schedule booked for installation, Bloxham said. He hopes to be pre-booked through 2018.
An in-ground pool can cost from $25,000 to $100,000 to install, depending on size and type, Burk said. Some pools can be heated to be operational year-round.
Swimming pools can add to a home’s value and make a staycation more appealing. But there’s a hidden danger involved: drowning. Residential pools can be more deadly than commercial pools when parents don’t realize the danger, Baxter said.
Which is why, as a local advocate for drowning prevention, Baxter makes education a high priority.
“I always mention my personal experience, just as a reminder that even people that are comfortable around water sometimes get busy,” she said.
Baxter’s 2-year-old daughter, Jordan Bashline, drowned in the Perrine Coulee in May 1992. The mother had been planting flowers outside her Alta Drive home and hadn’t thought about the canal.
When it’s right in your backyard, an unsecured pool can be equally dangerous for young children.
“There’s just a big need for people to look at the big picture,” she said. “The safety component is huge.”