Have you been thinking of putting a swimming pool in your backyard? It looks like it could be a long summer. Stay at home orders may be lifting, but it could still be safer to stay put for now. And, I don’t know about you, but enough screen time!
The Editor at Large of BKYD Life, Todd, is a pool and landscape designer with over 20 years experience in the pool building industry. Let’s see what he recommends you keep in mind as you contemplate that cool place to splash and relax right in your own backyard.
5 Points to Consider
1. How much does it really cost to build a pool?
First things first, determine your budget. How much are you actually able and willing to invest in your backyard? Be honest with that number because an average pool in various parts of the Country can start at $35,000 and quickly go up from there.
Are you paying cash or getting a home equity loan? Don’t forget to add the cost of the loan into your final pool cost.
Next, decide what you want ~ rectangle, free form, diving pool or play pool? Then look back at your budget and make the decision as to which bells and whistles you really want and need. Some you might be able to add later. Some it will cost more to add later so you might want to put them in from the start.
Finding pictures that represent what you would like will help when you start talking to pool builders and designers. Always compare prices for the same pool (shape, depth, options, etc.). You can’t compare the price for a rectangular pool with laminar jets to a free form pool with an umbrella sleeve. Like the old saying goes you can’t compare apples to oranges, it just doesn’t work!
2. Does your backyard work for a pool?
Do you really have the room for a pool? You will need to check your municipal requirements for set backs (how far from or close to the property lines you can build). A pool company or pool designer should know these requirements, but why rely on someone else when it’s your backyard?
A swimming pool alone does not make for a great backyard. Talk to your local nursery and landscape professionals about plants and trees that do well around pools. Pool and decking are hard surfaces that need softening by plants and trees to make your backyard more esthetically pleasing. Decking can increase the heat in your backyard, so that pool that you built isn’t so refreshing now. I can’t emphasize enough that you need plants and trees in your backyard.
3. What is involved with maintaining a pool?
Of course there’s the obvious, you need to keep a pool clean from debris and make sure the water chemical levels are maintained. You can hire a pool maintenance company to help you.
If you aren’t willing to take on the expense of the proverbially pool boy, keep in mind a pool will still cost you. Your water bill will go up. Your electric bill will go up. You will need to buy chemicals for your pool. Did you put a gas water heater on your pool so you could enjoy it into the fall? Yep, it will make your gas bill go up. Your utilities will be impacted and that is part of the maintenance of a pool.
4. Are there safety concerns with a backyard pool?
As a homeowner, it is your job to keep everyone in your family and invited guests safe whether inside your house or in your backyard. If you live in Arizona, the Arizona Association of Realtors has created a PDF, click the link here, with the information you need to know about pool barrier laws to keep you and your loved ones safe. If you live in another state, check with your Association of Realtors or your municipality for guidelines.
When I was young, my grandparents had a pool and they made a rule that all the grandchildren had to learn to swim. So we did, we also had to ask an adult to come swimming with us if we wanted to go for a dip.
My husband and I followed their lead when we had children. They both started swim lessons when they were very young. You can find swim schools quite easily, but check with friends and family for recommendations. Personally, I like an indoor swim school so little ones can learn year-round. But, you might be able to find a private teacher that will come to your house once your pool is finished.
5. Where do I start?
So, do you still think you want a pool? You’re sure you can afford it and have the space? You aren’t daunted by the maintenance or safety concerns? I would suggest a little more research. Make sure you have your list for shape, finishes and features you really want. You should also know where you want the pool in your backyard. Start by asking friends and family if they have been through the process and get recommendations from them.
Next, do an online search of pool builders in your area and don’t forget the option of building it yourself. No, building it yourself doesn’t mean you get out there with a shovel and start digging. It means you work with a pool designer and they guide you through the process.
As stated before, make sure you are always comparing the costs for the same pool with each person you meet. Now a pool builder will do everything for you. They will create a design, get your permits and schedule each subcontractor when it is time. All that comes at a cost. You will pay the pool builder 20-30% over the cost of the pool for their time involved. You might decide that paying the extra cost is worth it.
For those of you willing to do some work, you can save some money. Working with a pool designer and then building the pool yourself can not only save you some money, it can also be very satisfying. If you feel confident that calling your municipality for your permit and inspections and scheduling subcontractors (the same subcontractors the pool builders use) is a task you can take on, then you can be more in control of the project and save some money. Don’t be fooled, it is a big job. Make sure you ask all the questions and really know how to proceed.
Well, if you made it this far you deserve a cool dip in the pool. Go make some phone calls, ask for recommendations from family and friends. And before you know it, you could be enjoying yourself poolside.
And tag us on social media with your great pool photos @bkyd_life on Instagram or @bkydlife on Facebook or Pinterest. We would love to see you enjoying your pool this summer.