Buying a swimming pool is a big investment and it’s not a one off cost: you’ll end up spending time and money on maintenance in the years to come. Not that this should put you off, as a pool can bring so much joy and outdoor family time. But just like you wouldn’t rush into a car or home purchase, we recommend taking your time and doing some thorough research before making a decision. To make the process easier, we’ve come up with a list of things we think you should consider before installing a pool:
Create a wish list
You might have an image in mind – a dream pool you’ve always wanted. But it pays to read up on the latest technology and gather some ideas on modern designs. Once you’ve got together some solid ideas, you’ll be in a better position to start researching styles, materials and a blueprint to make your dream a reality.
Create a look book
A lot of people find it difficult to express their ideas verbally, so gather photos from magazines or online and don’t be afraid to draw your own ideas and take them to a swimming pool builder.
Research the three major types of in ground pools
There are three major types of in ground swimming pools: concrete, fibreglass and vinyl. You’ll want to research which one is the best fit for your backyard. Then you’ll need to think about coping, cleaning systems, filtering systems and finishing touches. Doing your own research and understanding the basic jargon will allow you to better communicate with your builder.
Find a credible pool builder
You’re having a giant hole dug in your back yard, so you’ll want to hire someone credible. Talk to friends, local pool builders associations and don’t be afraid to interview someone before hiring them. A good pool builder will be able to show you examples of their work, provide references and be able to answer all your silly questions.
Think about different pool shapes
We’ve all seen the infamous guitar-shaped pool and dreamed up a crazy shape that we’d love… but to be practical, you’re probably going to go with a kidney or rectangular shape. Both are great options but you need to think about your lifestyle. Rectangles lend themselves better to games and swimming laps, while kidney shapes blend better into existing gardens and suit waterfalls and grottos.
Consider the climate you live in
In Australia, we are fortunate to experience longer summers than most other countries, but you might still want to consider an enclosed pool to extend the swimming season. For those who live in cooler or wetter climates, you may benefit from an enclosure or pool heater. Windy areas benefit from a pool cover to keep debris off. Pool covers are also good for hot climates where evaporation is a problem.
Know how you want to use your pool
What’s the main aim of your pool? Is it for the kids, entertainment or an investment into your home? Do you want to make a dramatic architectural statement or something classic and timeless? Perhaps you want a relaxing retreat? Swimming pools for children might include a wading area or a slide, while something more dramatic may include a water feature or more expensive coping.
Set a budget
You probably have a budget in mind, but it’s important to discuss this openly with your builder to understand what you can get for that budget and if it’s worth readjusting in any way – you may even be able to afford adding to your plans. Be clear and firm with your budget though, to ensure your builder sticks to it.
Consider long term costs
Owning a swimming pool is relatively affordable in terms of actual monetary costs, and if you take the steps to add energy-saving features to your pool, it will cost even less… However, there is still the investment of time in ensuring the pool is full and keeping it clean. Be prepared for this before purchase.
Talk to your local council
While your pool builder should be across any local building codes, it’s a good idea that you also speak to your local council so that you’re aware of them too – as they may affect your designs. This is also a good time to enquire about building permits, restrictions, noise policies and property tax concerns.
Yup! There had to be a boring bit and this is it. Owning a swimming pool can affect your homeowners insurance policy, so take the time to talk to your insurance company and ask them if anything will change with the installation of a pool.
Don’t skimp on extras
While sticking to your budget is important, don’t settle if there’s something you really want. Retrofitting a pool is incredibly difficult and expensive, so if you really want the slide or the waterfall or the granite, now is the time to spend the money. If this is going to bust your budget, as your pool builder where you can save on costs elsewhere to help balance out the blowout.
While people might tell you swimming pools aren’t environmentally friendly, we can assure you that the industry has worked hard to ensure that pools are becoming more green by the year. Today’s pool heaters can be run almost exclusively on solar energy and you can filter your pool using totally natural methods that don’t require a scratch of chemicals. Swimming pool covers also reduce the amount of water lost due to evaporation.
Look for energy efficient options
On the topic of green, it pays to be energy efficient. Enclosures, pool covers and pump and lighting timers all pay for themselves in energy cost savings. In cool climates, it can even pay to shut down your pool for the winter, rather than heat it.
Consider water features
Elegant waterfalls, spouting sconces, bubbling fountains – people love water features almost as much as the swimming pools themselves. If you’re considering anything as grand as a waterfall, or even as simple as a few jets, it’s best to do it during the initial construction. Retrofitting can be tricky (and sometimes impossible) and often costs twice as much than if you installed it in the first place.
Restyle your garden
If you want to keep your maintenance time to a minimum, you may want to take a tour of your garden and consider what you’ve got out there. Trees that regularly drop debris or trees with far reaching, shallow root systems can damage your pool, so consider replacing any high maintenance plants with bushy perennials.
Be smart with safety
Obviously, you’re required by law to adhere to any local safety codes, but you might want to think beyond that – especially if you have children. Consider alarms to alert you when someone or something enters the water, child-proof locks on the gates and security alarms on the windows to the backyard to be extra safe.
Budget for finishing touches
Coping, decking and borders can all give your pool that polished finish, but they absolutely cost. Discuss options and prices with your pool builder before committing to a particular option.
Put fun on the list
If pools were just made for swimming laps, they wouldn’t be half as fun – so go out and buy toys, games, floats and patio furniture to spruce up the fun of your pool area. After all, accessorising is half the fun!
Plan a pool party!