Part 1: Common Mistakes to Avoid When Buying A Pool

by Pool Builders on 03-06-2011 in Articles

Could you be a Clark Griswold? Have you been working hard all year so that when the annual bonus comes you could purchase a swimming pool for the whole family to enjoy? Do you envision the perfect warm summer day as being with your wife and children in the backyard, swimming in the crystal clear water of your brand new in-ground pool? Even if your name isn't Griswold and you did receive your annual bonus, don't put yourself in a position where you could experience the same bad luck Clark did. In this two part series of articles we will look at some common mistakes people make when purchasing and owning a pool.

Questions

Acquiring a swimming pool is not a small endeavor. It's a big purchase that requires some research, thought and discussion. Ask yourself and your family why they want a pool, what will it be used for and - here is the big one - who will maintain it? It the pool is for family recreation, then the size, shape and features will be different than a pool meant for physical therapy. For recreation you may want a deep end, for therapy you will want a long shallow end for swimming or exercises. One mistake first time pool owners make is wanting a large pool with a large deep end and a diving board. Most games played in a pool require the players to be able to stand in the water, so the deep end and diving board are only used for a short while. They then become unused and even a hazard. A large pool may not be necessary either. If you have a large family or you plan to entertain a great deal, then a large pool will be the right choice. However, if you have a small to average size family and do not plan to entertain very much, then consider a smaller size. Allow enough room for your planned activities, but don't jump to getting the largest pool that will fit in your yard. For those non-pool days you may still want some room in the yard to toss a ball or knock a puck around.

Design

Now that you and the family have settled on a size and purpose for the pool, think about the design. Ask questions like what sort of access do you want? If you have small children, physically handicapped or elderly persons using the pool consider their needs. Perhaps a beach entry would be appropriate. What size of patio area do you envision? If you want to have a large patio area with lounge chairs then think about where the best place is and how much extra yard space it will take up. Remember to include room for safety fencing. Are there any add-ons you would like to consider? Some add-ons such as a slide, fountain or spa, take up deck space. Consider how it will all fit together. Where will the shed for pool equipment be? You will need space for equipment and chemicals (or salt) - where will it be stored? Will your pool be in the shade or sun and what are the implications of both? Having the pool in the sun will help keep the water warm, whereas positioning it in the shade will mean a lot of extra cleaning and maintenance. Are there any covenants in your neighborhood that restrict or prohibit pools? This is a common thing to forget about, and costly when restrictions are discovered after construction has already begun.

The Container

When you are making any large purchase it is always a good idea to go into the process with a bit of knowledge of the product. Do some research on different types of pool 'containers'. There are three basic types: concrete, fiberglass and vinyl liner. Concrete constructed pools are the most common, simply because they have been on the market the longest. They can be the most expensive type of pool, take the longest to build and require the most maintenance. Concrete is porous so it is prone to the development of algae and bacteria. Annual draining and cleaning is required, as well as re-plastering to repair cracks. The benefit of a concrete pool is they can be constructed in almost any shape. Fiberglass pool containers are in one piece and pre-formed. They can be installed fairly quickly in comparison to a concrete pool and are even movable is you want to undertake such a task. The fiberglass pool is desirable for three reasons: the maintenance is much less than other pool types, they do not require draining, and because the surface is non-porous algae and bacteria cannot stick.

All that is required for maintenance is vacuuming the bottom of the pool regularly and maintaining the water quality. There are some theories that concrete pools are more stable, however extreme weather changes and soil shifting does cause the concrete to crack. Fiberglass pool containers can flex up to two feet without any damage - a big benefit in areas where weather changes significantly with the seasons. Vinyl lined pools consist of a lining seemed together over steel walls and a concrete flooring. The upfront cost and installation time are much less than concrete or fiberglass, but the maintenance can be troublesome. The liner can scratch or cut quite easily, even through the use of regular pool toys. When the liner is damaged a patch repair is not viable, the whole liner must be replaced. Also, the surface is porous so algae and bacteria love to make their home on the vinyl. Also, if algae finds its way under the liner it can eat through and cause sever problems. Heating costs are usually higher because of the steel walls.

Cost

The container discussion above brings us very conveniently to the discussion of cost. Many first time pool buyers make the mistake of focusing too much on up front cost as opposed to considering the cost of ownership. A pool is a large purchase, much like a car. In purchasing a car you consider the annual maintenance that will be needed, fuel costs etc. The same should be looked at when purchasing a pool. How much time will be needed to clean the pool each week/month/year? What is the cost of chemicals or salt per year (depending on your choice of fresh or salt water pools)? What is the cost of a repair to the container or equipment? What is the best way to heat the pool and keep the water clean - a bigger heater or a pool cover?

These first four areas of consideration will have you well on your way to making the best choice in choosing a swimming pool for your family.

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