Top tips for building a pool / by andrea uren

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The most important part of building a pool is the preparation phase, when you’ll decide the overall look of your swimming pool and hire a pool contractor. A landscape desinger or luxury pool builder can walk you through the design process, but it helps to have a general idea of what you ultimately want. Before building a pool, ask yourself these 10 questions

1. Why do I want a swimming pool?
As with all good design, form follows function — so the answer to this question will establish the foundation for your pool design. For example, a pool meant for fitness swimming can look a lot different from one intended for backyard entertaining. You may simply want to enjoy the aesthetics or audible appeal of water in your garden , which will greatly influence the design. A combination pool/spa may be in order.

2. Who will use the pool?
To accommodate swimmers of all ages and allow for multiple activities, you might want to include shallow areas for toddlers, extra grab rails for the elderly, tanning ledges and seats.

3. Is my yard suitable for pool construction?
Many builders recommend that soil tests be conducted to confirm the site is suitable for pool construction. Sandy, expansive or rocky soil and other ground factors present unique building concerns and can significantly increase construction costs.
Sometimes a proposed site will not work because it is inaccessible by the heavy machinery needed to dig the hole for the pool. Ideally, for a new house the pool should be excavated before the build of the home begins.

4. Where will the pool be located?
Before you can answer this question, you’ll need to know the local building laws for your property. To control water runoff, there may be restrictions on how much of your yard can be covered with decking and in which direction it must slope. Pools are required to be fenced in, which might affect where your pool can be located. Gas, electrical, and telephone, may also influence the pool’s location, as there is often an additional expense to relocate these utilities.
Remember to consider how people will enter and exit the pool, where people will congregate and how to maximize sun exposure while minimizing wind exposure, which contributes to heat loss and evaporation.
Because homeowners typically spend more time looking at their pool than swimming in it, consider how the pool will be viewed from the rest of the yard and from within the home.

5. What shape and style will the pool be?
Choose a shape and style that complements the architecture of the home and existing landscape.
If you are set on a pool design that doesn’t match the home’s architecture, try to incorporate a transition area from the home to the pool. Through the use of walkways and plantings, as well as by changing materials, you can gently guide people from one aesthetic to another without causing a clash in styles. Landscaping makes a great transition, especially where there are elevation changes.

6. What special features do I want in my pool?
To maximize enjoyment of your pool, even when you’re not swimming, you can incorporate water features and lighting. Based on how you plan to use your pool, you may also want to consider underwater benches, shallow beach-style entries, ledges to sit on. If aquatic exercise interests you, consider installing underwater handrails and a variable-speed current system, which creates a flow of water that enables you to swim in place.

7. What other backyard amenities do I want?
When planning your ideal poolscape, list everything you’d like to include, even if your budget does not permit building it now. Some things to consider include a pool house, outdoor kitchen, firepit, outdoor shower.
It is much cheaper to accommodate future plans in your original design than to modify your poolscape later on. For example, if you know you’ll be adding a firepit or outdoor kitchen at a later date, it’s best to run the gas lines to those areas of the poolscape in the beginning, which eliminates the need to tear up the deck and surrounding landscape at a later date.

8. What materials do you want to use?
Although plaster had been the dominant pool surface for decades, aggregate and tile surfaces have become more fashionable. Elaborate tile mosaics and glass tile provide the artistic flexibility many luxury pool owners seek. Tiles can be colour matched to the exterior of your home.
You’ll want to look at the surrounding architecture and landscape for clues about what materials to use. Natural stone pavers and rock waterfalls can help a pool blend into a natural landscape, whereas glass tile and arcing jets of water might look lovely around a home in a contemporary setting.

9. How can you ensure that your pool will be easy to maintain?
No pool is maintenance-free, but you can greatly reduce maintenance by making sure your pool is engineered to be energy-efficient, with sound hydraulics and substantial filtration. Automatic sanitizers, such as saltwater chlorinators, ensure that the proper amount of sanitizing chemicals are in the water at all times, making it hard for algae to grow in your pool.

10. Who will build the pool?
The best way to locate pool builders who are committed to quality construction and good design is to ask for referrals from friends and colleagues who own pools you like. Building inspectors and landscape designer/contractors are other sources of referrals. We can also provide you with a local contact.