Pool Preparations for Your HOA

By Hazel Siff
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Summer is just around the corner, which means it’s almost time for pool season. Maintaining the perfect oasis is about more than just warm weather and water. Creating a safe, positive environment for residents to escape, unwind, and make cherished memories requires an ongoing process of routine checks, equipment upgrades, and meticulous planning.

A community pool offers many benefits. “Pools increase property values and are great places for families with kids to enjoy,” says Janet Newcomb, president of Springhurst Townhomes Homeowners Association in Huntington Beach, Calif., and a past chair of the CAI Homeowner Leaders Council. “They also are great places for adults to exercise and for community members to socialize.”

Ben Basch, business development executive with Ground Support Services in Brooklyn, N.Y., emphasizes the importance of community involvement and collaboration with reliable pool professionals. The decision to manage pool operations in house is a tradeoff between cost and safety, he says. And while the DIY approach may save money, it often falls short in terms of safety standards, Basch adds. He suggests communities carefully weigh the financial benefits against the potential risks associated with insufficient expertise.

Fostering a lasting partnership with pool vendors is crucial, Basch says.

“There’s something to do every month. You can’t wing it,” he says. To avoid overwhelming tasks and ensure a smooth pool operation, Basch recommends starting early and breaking down the work into monthly increments. Procrastination can lead to last-minute decisions that jeopardize the safety and functionality of the pool. Timely approval of necessary measures is essential, especially before the pool opens for the season.


Clear communication and collaboration with a pool company can help streamline operations. Starting the vendor selection process early ensures communities have ample time to assess potential partners thoroughly.

“Communicate, communicate, communicate,” says Crystal Gill with Arriel Pool Services in Colleyville, Texas. “Communicate with your members, and communicate with your vendors. Communicate when there are pool closures and when they will tentatively reopen. When everyone is on the same page and everyone knows what to expect, the pool season runs more smoothly.”

From the board and management perspectives, Basch emphasizes the importance of specifying responsibilities and details in contracts with the pool company. Comprehensive contracts should clearly articulate expectations, responsibilities, and financial arrangements. This approach minimizes misunderstandings and establishes a foundation for a mutually beneficial relationship.

Debriefing sessions, conducted regularly with pool vendors after each season, offer an opportunity for open communication. These sessions provide insights into what went well, areas for improvement, and potential challenges. By addressing issues promptly, communities can continually refine and enhance pool operations for the next season.

Basch also stresses the importance of having a drowning prevention plan in place. This plan not only protects the community association in the event of a tragedy but also underscores a commitment to safety. Additionally, he recommends that communities provide ongoing education to support pool health and safety. Regular inspection of barriers and gates is crucial to prevent unauthorized access to the pool area. Especially in communities without on-site lifeguards, safety guidelines can mitigate risk and ensure that residents are well-informed about rules and regulations, Basch says.


Winter months can be particularly demanding for pool operations as heating costs and regular maintenance impact the budget simultaneously. Being proactive and staying informed about industry trends are critical elements to sustain safe, vibrant pools residents can enjoy, observers say.

Mike Traidman is a homeowner leader at Mira Vista at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, Calif., where the nearly Olympicsize pool is open year-round. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Mira Vista has not made any changes to pool operations, he says.

Maintaining pool facilities year-round can pose a significant challenge; Traidman cites the high maintenance nature of pumps, valves, and lights. Mira Vista relies on a resident volunteer to oversee pool operations; a new pool company handles the actual maintenance work. Because many residents have a private pool on their property, the community pool is mostly used for birthday parties and other events. Traidman says the pool policy is strict; glass, diving, loud noises, and horseplay are prohibited.

There is no special insurance for Mira Vista’s pool; it falls under the regular policy covering accidents. To control heating costs, the pool is closed from mid-February to March. Traidman emphasizes the substantial cost of heating the pool, amounting to $20,000 for eight months, and the monthly pool service cost of $775, totaling $9,300 annually.

Traidman advises boards and managers to prioritize proactive homeowner involvement, emphasizing the importance of working with a reliable pool company and ensuring effective oversight of operations. Additionally, he highlights the necessity of clear policies and the significance of having someone oversee the entire operation.

In the Coachella Valley, where pool season is a perpetual affair, Holly Smith, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, has prioritized making seasonal adjustments to operations. This requires ongoing preparation, especially regarding winterization and gathering essential items for proper reopening, says Smith, a manager with Desert Resort Management in Palm Desert, Calif.

Although she currently doesn’t manage any communities with a pool, based on her previous experience, Smith estimates pool operating costs peak during winter. Those expenses encompass heating expenses ranging from $800 to over $1,000 per month, coupled with monthly maintenance, increased chemical costs post-COVID, and potential repairs, she says.

Smith notes that California pools generally do not have an impact on insurance rates. “Since they are there usually from the start, the rates are not really affected unless of course your pool isn’t fenced,” she says.

According to Smith, essential components to include in a thorough pool policy include hours of operation, lifeguard notices, and regulations on diving, noise, pets, smoking, and age restrictions. Smith also recommends communities seek legal review to ensure compliance with governing documents and local ordinances.

Pool and spa policies are usually about the same, Smith says, with the only differences relating to age usage and safety considerations. Pool maintenance costs have stabilized since the COVID-19 pandemic, she explains, but challenges arise from increased supply expenses (chlorine has tripled in costs, for example) and a labor shortage, potentially leading to delays in critical repairs and pool shutdowns.

“We find that it’s taking longer to get things done, and parts are not as readily available either, creating delays in larger repairs like pumps and heaters and leading to more pool shutdowns,” she explains.

Despite occasional frustrations, preparing for the upcoming pool season involves more than just warm weather anticipation. It demands a continuous commitment to making routine checks, addressing maintenance and staffing needs, and prioritizing resident safety. “People truly value their pools,” Basch says. “They are willing to do the hard work, and it brings a lot of joy.”

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Hazel Siff

Hazel Siff is the associate editor of Community Manager newsletter.