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I want a pool - where do I start? PART ONE

I want to get a pool - where do I start? - PART ONE

Buying a pool can be confusing! There are so many options, colours and materials - what are the right choices?

We can help. In this post, we've laid out our process for how to successfully have a beautiful pool built on your property. The best part? Pools are fun! We're not picking closet organizers here, we're designing waterfalls, fire pits and more!

Step 1 - What to do before talking to builders?

There are three major issues that will need to be sorted out when it comes time to talk to builders:

  1. What spaces would you like in your project? (tanning areas, shaded areas, cooking, fire pits, putting greens, dog-runs, pools, spas, etc are some examples)
  2. How would you like these spaces to look? (formal, natural, modern, bright, relaxing, exciting, etc are all options here)
  3. How much are you comfortable spending on the project?

Where possible, sort your wants into two categories - Must-Haves and Nice-to-Haves. The budget doesn't always match the wish list, so it's good to know which items are most important.

Google nice pool projects for ideas, use Houzz and Facebook for inspiration. Collect magazines with ideas that you like. All of these things can be very helpful to a designer.

Step 2 - Design Consultation

The next step is the most important (and one of the most overlooked) - the design consultation. Your pool designer (who may charge a fee for some of this work) will look over your wish list, your Must-Haves and Nice-to-Haves, determine how your family will use the property, suggest things you may not have thought of, discuss the property and how the project will fit in with the existing structures and discuss your budget. This will help to firm up what is and isn't doable with the site, what would look best from a design perspective and what can and can't fit in the budget.

Your designer will then take measurements and attempt to turn your discussions into a drawing. The drawing is then adjusted until it's perfect.

Step 3 - Budget

One of the first questions that comes up in this process is: how much does it cost? There are a lot of factors that can effect the cost of the project, from slopes, soils, materials, size, plantings, etc. This section will attempt to help you with some budget numbers for our area (Moncton, NB) for various options.

  • Average size pool with heat pump, steps, salt system, lights, installation - $35-40,000
  • For a larger pool, add $2,500-$5,000 - for a smaller pool, deduct the same
  • For a fibreglass pool - add $10-20,000
  • Electrical hook-up - $1,500-2,000
  • Fencing - $4-5,000+
  • Permits - $100-500
  • Patio - a plain concrete walkway around the pool will cost $3,500-4,000 - A 1,500 sq. ft. natural stone or stamped concrete patio will cost $20-30,000+
  • Lawn repair - $3,000+
  • Automatic Pool Cover - $13,000+
  • Hot Tub - $8,000+
  • Spill over Hot Tub - $12,000+
  • Custom steps or tanning ledges - $2,500+
  • Landscape lighting - $3,000+
  • Plant beds - $10-15/sq ft
  • Pergola - $2,000+
  • Fire pits - $2,000+
  • Outdoor Kitchens - $8,000+
  • Pool House - $6,000+
  • Bathroom in Pool House - $4,000+
  • Putting Greens - $2,500+

As you can see, the budget for a project with a lot of options can rise quickly. This is why it is important to separate items in Must-Haves and Nice-To-Haves.

Step 4 - Rectangle or Freeform? Vinyl or Fibreglass?

These are very common questions. There are no right or wrong answers but we often find that one or the other fits better for a particular site, house and family as we progress through the design process.

Here are some thoughts:

Freeform or Rectangle?

  • People often choose freeform pools because they are more "natural" looking. With the right budget, we can install planting beds, custom rock waterfalls and other details that help to make the project more "natural". On the other hand, a slightly tighter budget often means fewer plantings and no rock work.
  • In some cases, the setting helps us; as in a property that is located in the woods with a lot of natural elements nearby. A neighbourhood lot often means that rather than beautiful forests as a backdrop, we have other houses in our view.
  • In our experience, the "natural" look that is being sought after is not achieved by choosing a curved pool shape but by combining natural surroundings, natural landscaping and a curved pool shape that fits the space available.
  • Rectangular pools are more versatile than their freeform counterparts. Rectangle pools are at home in a clean, simple project, as well as a more traditional or formal style and even more on modern or contemporary sites.
  • Rectangular pools are slightly easier to clean and care for and they are also more economical to install.
  • Rectangles also tend to fit better into smaller lots.

Vinyl or Fibreglass?

Most pool builders in our area build either vinyl OR fibreglass pools, creating an inherent bias in their recommendations. We install vinyl, fibreglass AND concrete, so we are positioned to recommend the best option for each client.

Vinyl pools are the most popular type of pool in this part of the country and have been for a long time. They are endlessly customizable, the least expensive to install and generally easy to care for. Vinyl liners last 8-12 years at a cost of approximately $5,000. We recommend vinyl pools for the majority of our customers.

Fibreglass pools do not have liners that need to be replaced and they are available in many shapes and colors. Fibreglass pools cost $10,000 - $20,000 more than their vinyl counterparts. If you have a dog that like to swim, or if there is a specific shape that appeals to you, or if you're planning to move soon and wish to bring the pool with you (which can be expensive), we would recommend a fibreglass pool.

Concrete pools are commonly used for commercial projects, or extremely high-end residential pools. Features like vanishing edges and perimeter overflows are more readily available with concrete pools.

Next time - we'll discuss the environmental impact of your pool and how to lessen it, the construction process and what to expect once the pool is finished. As always, let us know if you have any questions in the comments.




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