How to plan the design for your swimming pool project.
Planning a design concept for your swimming pool project can seem like a tough task and even a bit overwhelming to some. There are a lot of decisions that need careful consideration. You may already have an idea of what you want in your new pool and that's great. Walking through some basic planning steps will help confirm the functionality of your concept or revel some flaws in the design. I have five areas I go over with my customers when we are sorting out the options for a new design. Each area has a set of considerations to determine your needs and what features are right for you. Keep in mind most people do not end up building their original idea. If you don't have an initial concept that's ok. These steps will also help give you a direction and hopefully will get you started.
Accessing the Existing Space
Make it flow
Most people have some sort of backyard living area already. The first thing you need to think about is what you're going to do with that space. Are you going to work off of that existing 'foundation area' or are you thinking about removing it and starting over? If you do plan to keep it what are the things you like about it? It's design flavor, function, or maybe it's feel? Thinking about how you use the space will likely help answer these questions. Do you have large gatherings for church group or family cookouts, or is this an area you will want intimate and cozy? Perhaps you're looking for a little of both. The answer in these cases is to incorporate what I call 'dual spaces.' These are areas that serve one use during the day and another at night during dinner parties or cookouts. When done properly the space is able to serve more purposes with less space and investment. The last thing to look at are the things not so great about the area. Things that may not be conducive to the new pool space such as trees, AC units, or other auxiliary items can be moved and reworked into what the new space will become.
Next it's time to think about the swimming pool itself. If this is your first pool, you might not have thought about how you will use your pool and what style may be best for you. The first consideration is taste. What style speaks to you most. Typically, a free form pool and a square pool will speak to different people. What style and flavor speaks to you? One of the great things about a fiberglass pool is the fact that they have awesome seating and bench steps built right in. When you are considering the swimming pool style that's going to be best for you and your family, note the seating and step arrangements of each style in addition to just the shape. If a retractable cover is a feature that is important to you, give some consideration to a rectangle shaped pool over a free form. Though a retractable cover can be installed on a free form pool, the square pools are just a bit easier to incorporate the cover into the design.
Splashpads are a popular option
Just about any feature or system can be put on any swimming pool. Water features and falls, salt systems, heaters, fiber optic lights, automated controls, and even splash pads and decks are just a few of the toys you should consider putting on your pool. For most people a heater is a must. I STRONGLY recommend heat pumps over gas heaters. They will cost you a bit more initially, but will literally pay for themselves in a year or two over the cost of gas. Salt systems are also a near must in my book. The cost savings you may have heard about is true, but the real reason to have a salt pool is that you will NEVER have to put chlorine in your pool, the water feels amazing on your skin, and it makes your pool 90% maintenance free!! Next is a water feature or splash pad. You may not think you 'need' a water feature but the pool owners that have them couldn't imagine their pool without it. They offer a soothing soundscape to the space, look great (especially when lit up at night), and are an awesome toy to play in during the day. If you're going to invest in your personal vacation getaway, I highly recommend adding that extra WOW factor. You'll be glad you did.
Pool Location and Decking
This is where things can get a little tricky. If money is no object, by all means put the fiberglass swimming pool 80' away from the house and deck away! For most of us however, money is a consideration. This is the part where you look back to your foundation space and think again about how you intend on using it, how the swimming pool you selected is going to sit in or off of that space, how the seating is going to be oriented in the pool and effect the space, and lastly how we join and transition between spaces clean and deliberate. Don't fall into the 'apron trap.' Many people (and most pool guys) believe that a pool should have a four foot apron on all sides. Why? Why? Why? It looks lousy, isn't functional, and usually costs MORE than a custom designed space. Doesn't it make more sense to put the hardscape where you're going to use it? Bringing the pool closer to the home will offer a more welcoming and more usable space, allow you to enjoy the aesthetics of your new swimming pool and space, and in most cases will cost you less.
Barriers / Pool Fencing
Look into a retractable cover
as a horizontal barrier
In most areas a vertical barrier is required around your pool. To most people that means pool fence. But it doesn't have to. A vertical barrier can be a retaining wall that elevates the pool and connects to the house, the house or garage combined with a fence, or believe it or not in some cases thick hedges are an acceptable barrier. The key is that the barrier is at least 48" tall (in most municipalities), the gate must swing out, self close and latch, and if the house is part of the barrier, all doors on the enclosed area must be alarmed. Whatever you choose, be sure to think about the fence and how it will affect your new poolscape.
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