Off the deep end: New swimming pool demand explodes in Dayton area during pandemic

Credit: Sarah Franks

Caption

Credit: Sarah Franks

Demand for backyard swimming pools by people in this region has doubled and sometimes tripled the amount of business for area builders since the beginning of the coronarvirus pandemic.

Chris Durbin, owner of Buckeye Pools in Centerville, said his company has seen at least a 300% increase in calls inquiring about building pools.

“When the shutdown was announced, I thought things would come to a screeching halt,” Durbin said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever been so wrong about something in my life.”

A Dayton Daily News examination of city and county records shows the number building permits requested to build pools by residents has doubled in some cities.

Huber Heights issued 41 swimming pool permits this year, compared to 18 for all of 2019.

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Springboro has issued permits for 10 pools so far in 2020; last year eight pools were permitted, according to city data. The city of Vandalia permitted 13 pools this year. Last year it permitted four.

“There’s been a definite uptick and also an uptick in the things that go along with pools, like fences and decks,” said Vandalia spokesman Rich Hopkins.

Before the pandemic started, Buckeye Pools was scheduled to build pools about eight to 10 months in advance. Now, with the increased demand, Durbin said the company is close to being booked about two years out. Durbin said he’s hearing from customers that most other pool companies are seeing a similar backlog.

Knickerbocker Pools said they have seen “crazy demand” this summer for in-ground pools.

“People couldn’t go hiking, they couldn’t go play and most community pools aren’t open,” said Nancy Knickerbocker, owner of Knickerbocker Pools and Spas. “The increase is totally related to the pandemic. No question.”

Above ground pools have been out of stock locally since June, she said. Most days the Knickerbocker offices are swamped with calls.

Fairborn granted permits for 11 pools in 2018, two in 2019 and 22 so far in 2020. The city has also permitted more fences and sheds this year, city data showed. Fairborn permitted 104 fences this year and 85 last year.

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Knickerbocker Pools is booked through next August to build pools.

“We can only build so many pools,” she said. “Some people are disappointed at how far in advance we’re booked, but we’re so grateful for the trust of our customers.”

Not only have inquiries about pools increased, but Durbin said he is seeing people wanting to open their backyard pools earlier in the season and predicted that they will try to keep their pools open until later in September or October.

Caption
Buckeye Pool Company employees work on a pool in Tipp City on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has helped Buckeye, which installs 45 to 50 pools a year. The company is already booked solid for all of 2021. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Buckeye Pool Company employees work on a pool in Tipp City on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has helped Buckeye, which installs 45 to 50 pools a year. The company is already booked solid for all of 2021. JIM NOELKER/STAFF
Caption
Buckeye Pool Company employees work on a pool in Tipp City on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has helped Buckeye, which installs 45 to 50 pools a year. The company is already booked solid for all of 2021. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Durbin estimated that 90% of the pools they’re building next year will not just be a pool renovation, but a renovation on the entire backyard.

“We’ve seen requests all across the board, but more people are saying, ‘hey, this backyard is going to be our entertaining space,‘” Durbin said. “They’re building the kitchens, the grills, the updated patios and really making it their entertaining spot.”

Durbin said he hopes that consumers are careful when seeking a swimming pool and don’t try to do something quickly that isn’t well-built.

“I hope people still do their due diligence,” Durbin said. “A swimming pool is a big investment and you want to make sure you have a qualified builder to do that, before you go out and spend thousands of dollars on your backyard.”

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