Over the last twenty years, there has been a resurgence of interest in remodeling the backyard. All through the ’90s, it was all about the kitchen and bathroom. However, in the Covid-19 era, homeowners of a certain age and income are presented with limited options of where to spend their discretionary income.
Consequently, much of that money that would have normally been spent on lavish family vacations has largely been going into the backyard. There has been a frenzy of homeowners rushing to improve their outdoor living environment. That means the pool & patio industry has never been busier. Homeowners are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on elaborate pool designs tricked out with all of the latest features and technology. Not only that, but they are also adding on additional amenities like pavilions, outdoor kitchens, fire pits, and lush landscaping that make the backyard resemble a private resort.
One of my good friends, Aaron Rogers of Southern Poolscapes is an elite luxury pool builder down in the Gulf Coast. We were having a discussion about the unprecedented demand the industry has seen over the past couple of years. Like many other builders, he has been inundated with requests for a pool estimate by countless homeowners looking to beautify their backyard this year. It’s gotten so that he now has a backlog of people that are just looking to get on the list for 2023.
“We were really fortunate to receive so much interest when all of this Covid-19 stuff came down, we didn’t know how things were going to go and were preparing for the worst,” said Rogers, “but a couple of weeks into the quarantines our phone started ringing off the hook and it hasn’t stopped since.”
His story is similar to many others I’ve heard over the last couple of years, everywhere you look there is another pool being built. I asked Rogers if this resurgence of interest in remodeling the backyard is going to go away anytime soon to which he replied, “Honestly, I don’t know. Right now we have more business than we can handle. There are plenty of folks that want a pool but are being priced out right now simply because materials have gone up across the board,” said Rogers, “I don’t know that the interest will go away so much as that backyard remodeling projects are getting more and more expensive. That will definitely weed out a good percentage of people that want to do a pool but don’t think they can afford to.”
What Rogers told me certainly jibes with what I’m hearing from other builders. I do a lot of pool podcasts and frequently speak with different builders from around the nation. Chris Bowen of Bowen Pools down in Dallas, TX told me that he thinks the demand for pools may have crested. Aside from material delays and increasing prices, he said he feels that the next few years will see a return to the norm in terms of pricing.
This year skyrocketing lumber prices have impacted new construction projects. While these prices are beginning to come back down to normal levels, other materials are still going for a premium. Stone, pavers, tile, and many other components that go into the backyard have all gone up. Builders blame logistical delays for the cause of the price increases. Over 65 container ships currently sit in the harbor of 2 of America’s busiest ports. Florida recently invited idle cargo vessels to come to unload down there. While that might solve getting materials off the ships, that doesn’t quite solve the entire problem. That material still needs to find its way onto a truck and be driven to its point of destination.