Friday, November 16, 2012
Head Above Water - Friday
‘This is the one with the swimming pool right?’ asks trainee F excitedly as we head across town, en-route to a valuation. I answer in the affirmative, as an old woman pushes the Pelican crossing button and the bloody lights change instantaneously. I’m half tempted to keep going but I spot a camera mounted on top of the pole and screech to a halt.
‘Must be cool having a pool.’ Enthuses F as the grey haired woman makes painfully slow progress across the road and an irrational hatred of the shuffling figure rises like reflux in my throat. I’d be happy enough to meet her beneficiaries when they squabble over her house sale. And in reality infirmity and a weak bladder waits for all of us if we can mange to keep negotiating busy roads for long enough.
‘Pools are a mixed blessing, and are certainly cool if you can’t afford to heat them.’ I tell F as I accelerate away, anxious eye on the car clock now. I hate being late.
‘But they must add value right?’ Quizzes F. He’s only along to hold tape measure and camera and to make me look intelligent. I’m already regretting it.
Like homes with a granny annexe, properties with pools are often asked for when you don’t have one. When you do, buyers fade faster than a British summer. Outdoor pools, especially when they’re too big for the plot and too close to the building can actually detract from a sale. Add in fears about young children falling in plus expensive maintenance and filling in, rather than jumping in, becomes a better option.
‘They don’t always add value.’ I tell F in order to pass the time, as jerking off isn’t an option with company - and a company car. The cheap velour seats don’t take spillages kindly, as the incontinent Granny wanting retirement flats and a catheter I had in the back a month ago proved
I explain the economics of installing and running a pool as we head into the suburbs. Chemicals, a pool man, filters that need changing and expensive filtration units that tend to blow when they get overworked by insects, squirrels, suicidal family pets and on one memorable occasion, a horse.
Owners are convinced a rectangular chlorine-laced waterhole is going to fetch them a premium on price. A bit like the delusional earth-huggers who install ranks of ugly solar panels on their roofs only to find the feed-in tariff has changed and the firm that fitted them has gone bust when the units fail. And don’t even start me on damp-proofing companies where each successive buyer needs a fresh treatment from a different outfit, as the guarantee is about as worthwhile as a politician’s election promise.
‘What about indoor pools then?’ Quizzes F, as I see the turning and move onto an un-adopted road that the buyers’ solicitor will make a time-wasting fuss about.
‘Better,’ I tell him tired of giving free advice now even before I start again in earnest. ‘At least you can use it all the year round and lock the door so the grandchildren don’t fall in when you’re watching Song Of Praise.’
F thinks about this as I pull up outside the subject property, one that looks to be on a smaller than average plot. I get a sinking feeling, even as F frowns and asks: ‘What is Songs Of Praise exactly?’
‘I hope I’m wrong.’ I tell F as I clamber out of the car, shooting pain down my leg like a hit from a Taser gun. ‘But I get the feeling it’ll be one of those gardens with more pool than lawn. Truth is, I think pools are like having a boat. The best two days of ownership are when you get it and when you sell it.’ He screws his facile face up and I brace myself.
‘So, how do you sell a pool without selling the rest of the property?’ F asks haltingly.
‘It was an analogy.’ I snap, noticing a curtain twitching at our arrival.
‘Like a crossword?’
I give him two.
His mother really should demand a refund on the school fees she splashed out.
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