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The surge in hidden swimming pools

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Hidden pools have started popping up in homes, and they are exactly what they seem: pools that simply disappear when not in use.

Think of the scene in “It’s a Wonderful Life” where George Bailey and Mary are dancing while the floor splits beneath them, revealing a pool underfoot.

That was more than 50 years ago, and the general system has been in use in commercial or municipal buildings for some time. These pools are just now being installed in homes.

An ipe deck is stopped partway down its full sunken depth to create a splash pool. Click a photo for a slideshow.

An ipe deck is stopped partway down its full sunken depth to create a splash pool. Click a photo for a slidesh …

Mechanisms differ: Some pools have a top that slides away to reveal the pool; others have a deck that folds up to expose the pool; while still others have a moving floor that sits on top of the pool, then slowly sinks as water rushes over top.

(Click here or on a photo for a slideshow.)

While these pools are rare--particularly in the U.S.--they are growing more common. A few brave souls have attempted to build their own, and a handful of mostly European companies have pulled off the trick.

Of course, such novel luxuries don’t come cheap. HiddenWaterPoolsCost.org estimates the hidden pool costs about 30 percent more than a traditional in-ground pool (which runs between $25,000 and $50,000 on average), but costs are highly dependent on the contractor, design and size of the pool.

You don’t necessarily have to be a millionaire to get a secret pool. You could also be a creative engineer with a serious DIY habit.

Last year Gil Klar, an electrical engineer by day, spent nearly three months and $10,000 building his own hidden pool. His is similar to the sliding floor of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” except that the pool cover is grassy lawn. See his homespun video below, via Storyful -- or click here for our slideshow with still photos:

If you just want to give another kind of super-secret pool a try, you can visit artist Alfredo Barsuglia’s “Social Pool,” located somewhere in California's Mojave Desert. To get the key, and the coordinates, you have to go to the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in West Hollywood. You’ll then have to drive about three hours away into the southern Mojave, then get out and walk to the pool. You have just 24 hours to enjoy it before the key is due back at the MAK Center.

And even the Social Pool has a cover hiding its true identity.

Click here or on a photo for a slideshow of hidden pools.

Ilyce Glink is an award-winning, nationally syndicated real estate columnist, blogger and radio talk show host, and managing editor of the Equifax Finance Blog. Follow her on Twitter @Glink.

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