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Buying a Swimming Pool

BUYING A SWIMMING POOL

What type of swimming pool should you buy for your garden? In ground, above ground, salt water, chlorinated, fibreglass shell, concrete, free form, plunge pool, lap pool – these are just some of the choices you’ll need to consider. It’s a big decision, and for many people, one that they will be paying for, for a long time.

You may think a pool isn’t much of a financial risk because it increases the value of your property and you will get the money back when you sell - but this isn’t necessarily the case. Talk to a real estate agent in your local area before buying a pool to get some insights. Sometimes a pool is seen as a bonus (it helps you sell), but it’s not something a buyer will pay extra for, while other home buyers see a pool as a liability.

LEGAL REQUIREMENTS

These vary from place to place so check with your local council. You may need a permit to build/install the pool, and there may be safety requirements (fencing, gates, windows, safety flotation devices, pool edge requirements, pool surround requirements, etc).

COST CONSIDERATIONS

It is essential to obtain a written quote before building commences. The contract should cover such details as size, shape, depth, interior finish, filtration systems and payment schedules. Always make sure you fully understand what the quote is covering. Does it include full excavation costs? Sometimes this is difficult to calculate until the contractor starts digging – if they hit rock, it can be very costly to get sufficient depth, and they may need to increase the price, or partially build the sides above ground. Does it cover sewer connections, electrical wiring connections, removal or replacement of fences, tip fees, service diversions, etc?

Additional costs

You’ll also need to think about additional costs that may be incurred:

· Fencing – child-safe fencing and multiple barrier systems may be required.

· Landscaping – the pool company may do this as part of the agreed price or you may need to organise it yourself to get in a professional landscape designer.

· Water and electricity – the initial filling of the pool may lead to excess water rates; the pool will also require topping up now and then. Electricity to run the filter will be an ongoing cost.

· Chemicals – the amount required depends on the size of the pool, water temperature, the number of people using the pool, the amount of time it is used, and whether the pool is covered.

· Maintenance – a pool maintenance company can be used to routinely sanitise the water, clean the pool surfaces, and maintain the equipment.

· Insurance (especially if neighbours and friends use the pool)

· property taxes – in-ground pools, in particular, may increase the property value and hence you will incur higher property taxes.

· Heating – this varies greatly according to the pool size, climate, and heating system used.

· Pool covers – used to help retain heat in the pool, reduce the amount of debris falling into the pool (e.g. leaves), and may provide additional protection against children entering the pool when it is unattended.

Types Of Pools

There three main types of pool:

· Above ground vinyl liner

· Below ground fibreglass shell

· Below ground concrete shell

Pool Cost Advantages Disadvantages

Concrete Expensive - Tailor-made to your High expense; difficult

depending on requirements; to see what you’re getting

size, features, etc. wide range of finishes until it’s finished; long

(paint, tiles, pebblecrete installation period (average

etc.); a permanent 6 weeks); difficult to repair;

asset permanent feature which is

difficult to modify or remove.

Fibreglass Medium Short installation time; Limited options compared to

pre-shaped mould concrete; extra transport

means there are costs.

no discrepencies with

size, colour, etc.;

smooth interior finish.

Vinyl Variable Can be used above or Not as durable as concrete

below ground; or fibreglass; can be more

rapid installation time; easily ripped or torn.

smooth, soft interior

finish; resists algal

growth; liner can be

changed if needed;

easily transported so

is good for remote

areas.

Above or below ground?

Concrete below-ground pools can be custom built to your requirements, allowing almost any size and shape, and a huge choice of internal finishes and special features (see below). However, a below-ground pool is more costly to build, and if you or subsequent owners want to get rid of it, it can be more costly to remove. So if you’re worried about the financial outlay and losing your money when you move, or if you’re not sure that you will still want the pool after the kids leave home, an above-ground pool may be a better option.

An above-ground pool is also a better option on sloping sites where the cost of excavating and constructing a below-ground pool is too expensive. Landscaping, including decking and appropriate plants will help to integrate the above-ground pool in the landscape.

WHAT TYPE OF PUMP and FILTRATION SYSTEM?

Pumps provided with the pool are generally best selected to suit the volume of the water that the pump must circulate. This selection is usually made by the pool company. Higher quality pumps can be chosen for a higher fee.

There are three major filtration systems used in pools: sand, diatomaceous earth and cartridge. Sand filters are the most popular, being simple, reliable and very efficient. The dirt particles are trapped in a sand bed in the filter tank. Backwashing then flushes and removes the dirt out of the sand.

Diatomaceous earth (D.E.) filters can achieve a better result, removing tiny particles not normally removed by a sand filter. However, they are more expensive and are fairly complex in their operation.

Cartridge filters are a newer innovation, which are especially useful in situations where backwashing is difficult or illegal. A cartridge filter commonly has a capability better than sand, but not as good as diatomaceous earth. It is simple, consisting of one or several cartridges, which catch particles as water flows through them. When dirt build-up on the cartridge has begun to seriously affect water flow, it can be removed and washed (ie. hosed off); and then reused.

WHAT SHAPE IS BEST?

This is largely a matter of personal taste. Free-form pools are currently very popular, as the curving outlines have a pleasing, natural appearance, which can be easily integrated into the landscape. Length may be important if you want to swim laps but you need not have a full size pool. Lap pools are ideal for areas with limited space. They can be as little as 2m wide, and 15 or so metres long.

WHAT ABOUT SPECIAL FEATURES?

The more you include, generally the more it costs, though some things are relatively inexpensive. Extra features allow the pool to be used in extra ways, and increase its value.

Swim jets – also known as Bardoo Jets. These generally have two pumps that push a strong stream of water into the pool. The idea is that you swim against it but do not move. A secondary use is to create turbulence, waves (small) or a whirlpool effect.

Tether rings - these allow you to attach yourself to the side of the pool for swimming or deep water running.

Extra depth - this is very useful for deep water running, for safe diving or for practicing scuba-diving. Extra depth means extra cost, particularly if there is rock in the ground

Umbrella holders – these are frequently PVC pipes embedded into the pool surrounds into which umbrellas can be placed. These need to be designed into the construction of the pool.

Spa or spa jets – add more diversity to the use of the pool and can provide more enjoyment. Most pools can be made with attached spas which can be run on a separate pump to generate the bubbles and jet water.

Fountains – for aesthetics during parties, when the pool is not being used for swimming. Fountains in the pool can also be used as a landscape garden feature.

Waterfalls – are possible but you require a pump that will lift water up to the point from which it can then cascade down. Many pool companies now make pools with “caves” that have “waterfalls”, or are built with just a simple “waterfall”.

WHO DO YOU GET TO BUILD YOUR POOL OR SPA?

Many pool and spa installers and builders below to groups such as a Swimming Pool and Spa Association, or the Master Builders Association or its equivalent.

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