Important factors to consider when planning an in-ground pool

We all know an in-ground pool isn’t something you can plop down in the backyard and drag around like a tarp. Where the pool goes, it stays, which means its position needs to be right from the get-go. What figures into making that decision? Here’s a look at four factors experts would put on the list.

1 Laws and Codes pool blueprint

Before you get your heart set on the perfect spot, research local zoning laws and codes concerning pools. Some areas mandate that a pool may not be placed within, for example, 15 to 25 feet of a property line or other structure. In many localities, both in-ground and above-ground pools require complete barriers/fences to prevent unauthorized entry and protect children.

Stipulations may include fence type (vertical bars, lattice, chain link), height, gap under the fence, gap between vertical bars, gates and latch type. Some municipalities allow pools in backyards or side yards, but restrict “oversize” pools. Also check homeowner association covenants for guidelines and restrictions. Violating a development’s covenants can result in serious financial consequences, and no homeowner wants to demonstrate that through personal experience.

2 Drainage

When choosing a site, experienced contractors will advise a homeowner on the best drainage options for a property, and you can see for yourself where water flows after a rainstorm. Watch out for low spots that might be prone to flooding in the future, and be aware that areas with a high water table can be problematic for pool placement.

3 Sunshine

South-facing backyards bask in sunlight — If you’re so lucky as to have one. Whatever the yard’s orientation, consider which part of the space soaks up the most sunshine as you plan a pool. A sunny spot will let Mother Nature warm the water, plus avoiding trees reduces water-cluttering debris. Remember, though, that surrounding trees and shrubs, along with fences, can act as a windbreak to help slow water evaporation.

4 Utility Lines

What’s under the spot where you’d like the pool? Here’s hoping there are no water and gas pipes, septic or sewer lines, and electrical or telephone wires. Map out the existing utility lines and, with cost in mind, try to avoid moving them when possible.

Quick Tip

The Old ‘Rope Trick’

To help get a picture of how a pool will fit into a yard, outline its planned dimensions with rope or garden hoses. The outline also can be useful in visualizing foot-traffic patterns, and in determining whether the chosen pool will be the right size for your yard and recreational purposes.

5 Plan an easy out

Here’s a fifth pool-placement factor and a chance to make your life simpler — planning for ease of access. Ideally, an entry door near the pool will open onto a waterproof floor and lead quickly to a bathroom, so no one ever has to run dripping across carpet or grandma’s antique Persian rug. If the pool is situated well away from the home, plan on a path that leads across pavement or decking to minimize the yard debris carried into the water or house. Near or far, the pool needs to be well protected from unauthorized entry but convenient for swimmers. An easily accessible location can make all the difference in how often you go in, and also can affect how often little ones exit the water to use the bathroom, for example.

The big questions

An educated buyer is likely to end up as a happier pool owner, and when it comes to pools there’s a lot to know. And although a pool is, for most people, an investment in an improved lifestyle, there’s also a very real dollar amount attached. The very happiest pool owners are comfortable with what they’ve spent and with the ongoing costs. Before rolling forward with a pool project, before even talking to a contractor, a wise homeowner will do some research and give a little thought to the big questions, including:

What kind of in-ground pool do you want?

There a three basic types of in-ground pool, concrete/gunite (a reinforced form of concrete), vinyl liner and fiberglass. Concrete and vinyl liner pools are built on site, while fiberglass pools come preformed and are fitted into the ground. When contemplating pool planning ideas consider that costs, installation time, expected maintenance and durability vary widely for the three types.

Family playing in pool

Saltwater pools have become increasingly popular. It’s worth considering the pros and cons of of each type, and how they fit into your budget.

Will the pool be saltwater or fresh?

Saltwater pools have become increasingly popular in the past few years, but did you know that both salt and freshwater systems employ chlorine to sanitize water? A saltwater system simply makes its own through use of a chlorine generator that delivers a consistent, low level of the chemical. The two systems vary in up-front costs, routine care and long-term maintenance, and both have pros and cons that deserve thoughtful consideration.

How much can you spend?

Figuring up the final tally for a completed pool project shouldn’t make you feel like you just got a face full of cold water. It’s advisable to take a realistic look at the costs going in and budget accordingly. Beyond the pool structure and parts such as a filtration system, skimmer, ladders and a cover, expenses are likely to include:

  • A pool surround or fence
  • Decking
  • Landscaping
  • Lighting
  • Patio furniture and accessories

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