Perfect Timing for the Plunge: Fall Pool Construction
By Melanie Saxton
Fall is the ideal time to plan for a swimming pool installation. Construction throughout the winter can ready your backyard for a springtime oasis. But because underground pools are permanent fixtures, it makes sense to know ahead of time precisely what style of pool fits your needs.
For many, owning a pool elevates the enjoyment of their living space and enhances the landscape of their backyard. Building a pool that precisely suits your lifestyle is the key. Points to ponder include: Will this be a fun family pool? A place to entertain? A relaxing retirement pastime? The bottom line comes down to use. What you want from your pool will influence the shape, size, layout and how the pool will be designed and excavated.
Types of Pools
• Do you want your pool to provide more than the ordinary amount of exercise? Then resistance swimming may be the key. Enjoy that “swimming upstream” feeling as you work your arms and legs against a powerful jet stream of water.
• Lap pools are ideal for manual exercise and are usually rectangular, long and narrow (say 10 feet by 40 feet), just the right size for back and forth lap swimming.
• Oval or round pools (curvilinear) are still popular today just as they were in the glamorous Old Hollywood days of the ’30s and ’40s.
• Free-form pools can be of any shape, kidney included, and are among the most popular pools in use today.
• Infinity pools, also called negative or vanishing edge pools, require custom craftsmanship. The design looks as though the edges extend into the horizon, and the engineering required in this type of pool is precise.
• Homeowners may want to build a combination spa and pool, called a “spool,” which can be somewhere around 12 feet by 14 feet and is ideal or smaller backyards.
• A perimeter overflow pool maintains a water level that is identical to that of the top of the decking, and resembles a large mirror lying in the backyard.
• Novelty or custom-shaped pools can be adapted to just about any shape. For instance, the State of Texas, guitars and footballs have all been memorialized in concrete and chlorine.
The combinations of size, depth and shape are endless, so don’t rush. Carefully consider the pluses of each type of pool. The investment can add value and beauty. But just as important, a pool should be utilitarian and focus on spatial relationships for various uses.
Here are some tips from pool owners who have successfully navigated the process.
What to Expect
The positives of an outdoor swimming pool don’t just happen by chance. “Research, approval, architectural layout plans, contractor bids, material choices and construction have be coordinated,” says homeowner Bill Towns, who did his homework and followed several basic steps as he planned for a pool installation:
1. Research and interview pool companies.
2. Hire the contractor who impresses with courtesy, references and
3. Arrange approvals and permits (this may include your HOA and your local municipality)
4. Mentally prepare for the temporary excavation in you backyard. Remember, the construction of your pool is a temporary event and will result in the beautiful pool of your dreams.
5. Watch the installation of walls and braces as the shape of your pool comes to life.
6. Watch the “big pour,” AKA the concrete bond beam and pool floor.
Plumbing and electrical installation are installed next, followed by the vinyl liner and coping, the pouring of the concrete deck, and finally the landscaping.
Pools are Permanent, So Plan Ahead
The permanence of your pool will strike home once the “big dig” commences. The structure will be plumbed and reinforced, the concrete pool shell applied, the tile and coping installed, the decking built, and the interior finish applied. As the transformation of your backyard becomes tangible, it also becomes very difficult to redesign. So getting it right from the outset is the goal to ensure your pool puts the “fun” in functionality.
Take it from a homeowner who, as an afterthought, wishes she had built a pool that accommodated water sports such as volleyball, water polo and other games. “To really meet the needs of our growing family, I wish we had built a pool with more room to play. Our pool is free-form and close to kidney shaped, but in hindsight I wish we had built something easier to partition off with a net, something more traditional and geometric,” says Linda Baker, a Fort Bend resident.
Making Your Pool A Reality
There’s no time like the present to tackle a pool installation. The cooler-weather work will yield a brand new backyard, meaning you can hit the water on the first warm spring day.
Generally, your pool will be complete in three months or less. But there are caveats. For instance, weather is the number one factor that can affect the completion of your pool. The pool site is another factor, as your contractor must move construction equipment to and from your neighborhood and up and down your street. Pool options may also extend the construction process, as automatic, solar or safety covers.
So consider the investment and jump right in! Thoughtful design and construction by the experts means your pool will have lasting value for many years to come.
Extras to Consider
• If children will use your pool, consider water depth and safety fences. Ditto for household pets.
• Although it’s better to plan ahead, you can add plastic slides and ladders to your pool at just about any time.
• Stone or concrete decking can further enhance the aesthetic of your backyard. Your concrete decking can be stamped, have a broom finish, or you may opt for pavers.
• Retaining walls can help with landscaping — and remember, landscaping professionals work with pools daily and know which plants and materials work best near chlorine and moisture.