Research Pool Contractors
Pool experts agree that the success of a pool project rests not with the salesman, sales brochure, or style you choose, but with the pool construction company you hire.
Ray Voight of Neenah, Wisconsin, built pools for decades and now specializes in pool service and repair. He suggests that you get references from firms you are considering, and then call those references. Visit their pools. Each company has its own standards. Be sure the one you choose has the highest. Make sure your builder can evaluate site and soil and that he or she knows zoning, building, and grading requirements.
Bob Reeves, president of the Blue Haven Pools franchise in Naples, Florida, says it’s vital to research the company that will build your pool. Check with the Better Business Bureau to be sure it is financially stable and has a good reputation.
Soil and Site Concerns
If you can get the approval for your pool, take the time to study possible locations because this project is permanent. Stake out layouts and live with each for a few days to see how they work.
Determine the main activity of your pool. A dive pool will be a different design than one for family fun. If children will be enjoying the pool, don’t hide it behind shrubbery. For safety’s sake, you’ll want to make sure the entire pool can be easily seen from your house.
Pick out a spot in a sunny part of your yard for the location. Avoid trees that will not only block the sun but drop leaves. Plan for easy access to your home for dressing and entertaining. Determine where the filter system and any pool supplies should be stored.
On the practical side, locate your pool away from low spots that could flood. High water tables will require special accommodations. Know where the lines for water, sewer, gas, and electric are located on your property. Flag any underground phone and electric lines before excavation begins. Finally, never locate a pool underneath overhead lines or over underground sewer lines and pipes.
The composition of your soil will probably only matter to your wallet. Crews can deal with just about anything. However, hard digging with jackhammers or the need to haul rocks will add to the bill.
Selecting a Pool Style
There are three types of inground pools: fiberglass, vinyl, and concrete. Each needs a pump, filter, drains, returns, plastic piping, and chemical feeder.
Fiberglass pools are noted for their relatively quick installation, non-abrasive finish that resists staining, and inert composition that inhibits algae formation. Fiberglass pools are manufactured in a variety of shapes. The one you choose will arrive preformed in one piece. Because it is delivered to your site and needs to be dropped into place with a crane, access must be available. Once the pool is in place and leveled, heating, filtration, and other systems are set up. The crew then backfills the site and fills the pool with water. If you choose fiberglass, you’ll want to compare the materials used, production methods, and warranties. Ask the company you are considering whether its crew is factory trained.
Vinyl-lined pools, known for their smooth, stain-resistant surface, usually come as packages. Design options may be limited, but they are typically less expensive than fiberglass and cement pools. Depending on the soil composition, once the excavation is complete, a wall system is constructed of wood, poured concrete, steel, or polymer. Ask pool companies how the wall materials will impact your pool’s longevity. Bottom material might be of packed sand that is free of stones or poured concrete. Once the vinyl liner is installed and systems are set up, the site is backfilled and the pool is filled. Liners may have to be replaced about every 10 years, depending on usage and location.
A concrete pool is the most popular choice for inground pools. Cement pools take several weeks to set up, but the design possibilities are endless. In fact, these works of art are created on site. After a site is excavated and forms are set, gunite, or dry gunned concrete, is spray applied. Through pneumatic pressure, cement and sand blown through a hose are mixed with water at the nozzle. Since the operator controls the mix, it’s critical that he or she be well trained. A crew follows behind as it is sprayed to shape it and smooth it to the desired form. The concrete must be worked within about 30 minutes. Stairs and swim-ins are shaped freehand.
The cost of a concrete pool will vary depending on region, landscaping, and design. A concrete pool requires an interior surface finish which, with the various colors and textures to choose from, is limited only by your imagination. Concrete finishes typically need resurfacing about every 13 years.
Don’t forget that some insurance companies — and many communities — will require a fence around your pool. In addition, there will be the cost involved in cleaning and maintenance. Be aware that new non-chemical treatments are appearing on the market and automated cleaning systems are now available. Check out and price out your options before construction.
Fiber optic lighting and special landscaping, decks and screen enclosures all add to the outdoor ambience you can create around a pool. Prioritize and plan for enhancements that will make your inground pool your own.
Credit: Renovate with Tommy Mac