A pool can serve a variety of purposes for different people. For some, investing in a pool means creating a soothing oasis where you can relax after a long day. For others, it means improving fitness and health. Still others dream up extravagent pool builds that will become the focus of a fun-filled party patio. Regardless of your vision, adding or replacing a pool on your property can be just what you need to create a backyard you love to visit. It can also be a major investment of time and money, so careful planning before building is the best way to end up with the perfect pool that meets your needs, fits your budget, and adds value to your home.
Before you jump in the deep end, take the time to think about the following four questions. Having each of these essential details planned out will save you from any surprises or regrets down the road.
- Consider Your Goals for Building a Pool
Considering your goals can help organize your inspirations and ideas about your future oasis. When you fully understand your overall goal for building a pool, you’ll be able to base your next planning decisions, like the type, style, and features of your pool, on your reason for having one. Some of the most popular reasons people choose to add or replace a pool include:
- Family Fun – Whether it’s just your immediate family or a gathering place for friends, a pool with fun features can keep the family enjoying their time together. If you have kids, you may want to choose a single-depth pool for a more even play area. A pool slide and diving board may also be in order.
- Exercise and Health – Aquatic exercise for fitness or hydrotherapy after a workout can be an enjoyable way to improve health. If this is your goal, you might want a lap pool or a pool with jets that create a current you can swim against.
- Relaxation – Who doesn’t like to take a dip in the pool, float for a while, and relax with those poolside vibes? Consider a spa component like a hot tub or a spa pool combination called a spool.You may also want to incorporate a beach entry or tanning ledge into your pool’s design.
- Party Spot – Pools can create an instant party spot for kids or adults, making your place a popular location for fun memories. For adult parties, trendy pool lighting and a hot tub might be at the top of your design list.
Regardless of which reason you prioritize, an awareness of your vision for the pool will shape all of your other choices about it.
2. Consider the Style and Pool Features You Want
So you’ve decided why you want to invest in a pool. Now the fun part comes in: imagining all the details. Sure, not everything will fit into the space and budget you have available, but dream big and discuss your ideas with a professional pool builder who can offer you the best solutions for your resources.
Pool Size and Shape
How big a pool would you like? Do you need something massive to train a future Olympian, or is an intimate spool more your style? Is a classic rectangular pool the best fit, or do you want a freeform shape that blends with your surroundings? Do you want multiple areas or one big, luxurious expanse? Now’s the time to imagine the possibilities and add in a dash of practicality.
Style and Design
Your pool can make a grand design statement with unique and creative elements, or it can look like it’s always belonged there by matching your home’s style and architecture. Is sleek, smooth concrete or rough, natural rock your style?
You can choose elegant tiles with a unique mosaic design or a single, peaceful color. Shades of blue and aqua are traditional pool tones, but don’t let that stop your imagination. Today’s pools are as creative as the person designing and planning them—and thanks to technology, the best pool inspirations are just a click away.
The Perfect Location
Does your yard have a space with a good view of the sunset you’d love to enjoy from your pool? How about a cozy spot where you can keep an eye on the kids as they’re splashing and swimming in the water? Do you want to keep your pool more private and a bit secluded from curious neighbors? Practicalities and local municipal codes will have some say about where you can put your pool, but give your preferences some thought and talk to your pool builder about your favorite options.
The lighting in and around your pool can add ambiance and contribute to safety. Consider adding small LED lights on the pool floor to create a starry-night effect or lighting around the pool walls for nighttime dips. Embedded lighting in the pool deck can help light pathways to and from the house or cabana.
Do you want a pool that’s a showstopper? As part of your pool planning, consider additional features in and around your pool, such as:
- Landscaping. Adding in some new greenery can create a more lush, tropical atmosphere and can also add privacy.
- Wet Decks. Incorporating a wet deck area can provide additional space for sunbathing, small children, and poolside seating, or they can be added for purely stylistic reasons.
- Infinity Edges. Adding transparency to part of your pool’s structure can make for some stunning visuals.
- Custom Elements. Consider adding a waterfall, deck jets, or a waterslide. A bridge, a submerged walkway, or fire features such as a firepit or fire bowls can also create different atmospheres in different areas of your pool space and make the design truly unique.
3. Consider the Practical Details of Building and Owning a Pool
Of course, much of planning a pool comes down to the small details that determine how your plans accommodate your imagination. Some of these are details you have little or no control over, but most are choices you and your pool builder will need to take into consideration. They include:
Location and Terrain
The physical aspects of the property can affect pool installation and how much it costs. A conveniently flat, open yard may make for a more straightforward, simple installation, but a sloping yard may require a stone retaining wall on one side. Soil that’s too sandy, rocky, or has too high a clay content may require extra work and materials. Trees and their roots may need to be removed. Your pool’s location must also be able to accommodate the equipment and supply deliveries required to build your pool.
Water System, Filtration, and Heating
Your pool’s water system will probably be traditional chlorine, bromine, or salt water. All three provide clean, safe water, but bromine and saltwater systems are typically less drying and irritating to the skin and eyes.
Choosing a filtration system suitable for the pool’s location and maintenance needs is critical to keeping your pool safe from harmful algae and contaminants and in proper working order. Common types include sand filters and cartridge-style filters.
Your pool’s heating needs will depend on your climate, preferences, and how much of the year the pool will be used. In warmer climates, you may choose only natural or solar heat to warm your pool, such as a solar cover, or you may use a gas or propane heater for supplemental heating in the coldest parts of the year. In colder climates, natural gas or propane heaters are common, and heat pumps are an increasingly popular choice. Spas and spools are, of course, designed to be fully heated.
How much a pool project will cost is one of the most common questions when you’re getting started. Many factors affect costs, but as the saying goes, you usually get what you pay for. Less expensive choices will keep costs down but may result in a lower-quality pool or one that doesn’t include the features you really wanted.
Since a pool is a long-term investment, speak to your builder about your budget and the top priorities for your dream pool. Working with an experienced, trustworthy pool installer and knowing ahead of time what the budget is for your pool project will get you the best results for your money while ensuring you get the features that really matter to you.
At a minimum, your pool equipment will require electricity. In some cases, this may require an electrical panel upgrade. If you have a propane or natural gas pool heater, those connections must also be made. Your builder can help you understand how your pool placement and features affect what is required.
Unless you hire a pool maintenance company to do all the work for you, all the time, pool ownership isn’t a build-it-and-forget-it kind of project. Before installing a pool, think about how much maintenance you can handle and how often. Are you sometimes away for a couple of weeks when you would need someone else to perform pool maintenance for you? Are you comfortable doing regular cleanings, water testing, chemical balancing, and pool filter maintenance?
Zoning, Fencing, and Setbacks
Almost all municipalities have requirements for where you can install a pool, including setbacks (the distance from a structure to your property line) and how close to a stream or wetland you can build. Building permits are almost always required. Verifying these requirements ahead of time can save you a lot of grief later.
The pool itself is generally covered as part of your homeowner’s policy, but many insurance companies have special requirements to limit liability around the pool area. Discussing plans with your insurance agent can prevent unhappy surprises. In addition, your insurance company may require features like pool area fencing and safety lighting to help prevent tragic accidents. Note that safety covers, pool alarms, and other features can also improve safety around your pool.
Get Started with Your Dream Pool
Whether you’re replacing an old pool, enhancing your existing pool area, or starting from scratch with a new pool installation, working with an experienced pool builder can help you avoid mistakes and bring your dreams to life. At California Pools, our builders have a proven, award-winning process. If you’re ready to start dreaming up your backyard oasis, find a location near you to schedule a consultation and get started with your own swimming pool, custom-built to make your vision a reality.