Backyard Oasis

Champion Window & Patios

Today’s pool designers can build your pool to look like it has always been part of the landscape and home’s design. Photo courtesy of Artistic Pools.

It??s hard to imagine yourself basking in the ??hotlanta?? sun in the middle of winter, but rest assured it won??t be long before you??ll be wishing for cooler temperatures and lower humidity. Perhaps you made up your mind last summer that this was the year you were going to install a new pool. If you plan to be frolicking in your new pool by summer??s end, you better get busy!

Getting started
It??s never too early to begin planning your pool. Mark Spiezio, owner of Atlas Pools says, the ideal time to start is mid-January. ??If you start then, you allow for design time and time to obtain building licenses, which usually take two to three weeks. You want to aim to break ground in late February or March.?? Spiezio also cautions against buying a pool in June and expecting to have a swimming party on the Fourth of July. ??It just doesn??t work that way. You??ll be setting yourself up for disappointment.??

There??s a lot to think about when designing a pool, but the best place to start is with a budget. It??s easy to get carried away considering the overabundance of styles and shapes a pool can have, so a budget is a great way to keep you focused on the main goal. Your budget is also a good starting point for your contractor. A good contractor will work to maximize your wants despite your budget, or be able to point out budget limitations.

Next, choose a contractor. To make sure your hefty investment is a success, interview at least three builders, obtain references, and check their certifications, licenses, insurance liabilities and warranties. If you??re not comfortable with any answers you receive, heed your gut feeling and interview someone else. The National Spa & Pool Institute (NSPI) recommends you determine if the builder is current on zoning, building and grading requirements as well. Additionally, NPSI suggests you ask the builder if he or she has CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software to give you a virtual picture of how your backyard will look before construction begins.

Once you have a budget and a contractor, you can begin designing your pool. Hopefully, the contractor you chose will have a consultation to help you determine some key design issues including the purpose of your pool, the type of pool, natural factors (such as size and shape of your yard), artistic elements and technical factors (such as easements and right-of-ways of other utility lines).

What are your needs?
You??ll want to consider the functionality of your pool. How will you use it? If you plan on diving much, it should be deep enough. If you have children, you should think about a shallow pool or at least one with a large shallow section. People who wish to entertain with their pool may want a spa attached or a swim-up bar with in-pool stools.

What kind of pool?
There are basically two different types of pools: aboveground and in-ground. Of the two, aboveground pools are the easiest and most affordable to install, taking only a few hours. Most aboveground pools support a vinyl liner on an oval frame made from either aluminum or steel. Despite their ease, they are less popular than in-ground pools. In-grounds offer consumers more options, allowing them to customize their pool to their budget and taste. In-ground pools can also be made from concrete, gunite, vinyl siding or fiberglass.

Natural factors
Natural factors you need to consider include the size and shape of your yard. Obviously, the size of your lot will have a big impact on the size and shape of your pool. The maximum sun angle is also an important natural factor. Another thing the contractor looks for during the design process is unsuitable soils (like soft or soggy soil or a sheet of granite) that may cause the pool to sink or make construction difficult. Occasionally, the contractor may find a trash pit from the original construction that has to be removed and filled.
Oftentimes these things won??t be found until after construction begins, so be sure to allow room in the budget for unforeseen problems.

Artistic factors
Perhaps the hardest part of the design process is the artistic concept since your imagination is the limit. However, you??ll want your pool to be an extension of your house and make sure it fits in well with its natural surroundings. The NSPI says that natural-looking pools that resemble a serene, rock-strewn pond or a lush, bamboo-laden lagoon are extremely popular. Other creative design elements include a sloped beach entry and the ??vanishing edge,?? an optical illusion where the pool??s edge actually seems to drop off into thin air. Some contractors feel that a pool should also be heard. No, we??re not talking about the motor pump??we mean water elements such as a waterfalls or streams that create splashing sounds.

Technical factors
Don??t forget to consider technical factors, like whether your home is on a sewer line or septic tank. The location of easements and rights-of-way (both above and below ground) for gas, water, phone and electric service are equally important to note. You??ll also need to think about your filtration system and maintenance at this point, as it could affect your bottom line and have a large impact on the design.

The entire look
Hopefully, when you prepared your budget, you thought about decking and landscaping your pool. It??s possible to spend more on the surroundings than the actual pool itself, especially when you think about the different kinds of decking and the amount of landscaping you can do. ??There??s more to a pool than a puddle in concrete,?? says Steve Morgan of Sunbelt Pools. Morgan suggests that ignoring the pool??s surroundings will leave you disappointed. Since the pool is more than likely the focal point of the yard, it??s important to make it just that??and be sure it fits in with the look and feel of what??s already there, whether that??s formal, informal or natural.

Once you have the design, the installation part is easy??all the decisions have already been made. Don??t forget to budget for annual maintenance, pool safety and pool accessories, which are all part of owning a pool.

There??s a pool for every taste, budget or lifestyle, but you??ll be happiest if you can make them all work in harmony.

Splash Downer?
According to Sheryl Bomar of Jenny Pruitt & Associates Realtors, installing a pool probably won??t add to your home??s value and is something to consider if you plan to re-sell. In fact, some buyers may even avoid homes with pools forcing sellers to give allowances to close in the pool. However, many people clearly want pools when moving to Atlanta and that quickly narrows down the playing field. According to First MLS, the main database service for real estate agents in Atlanta, approximately 6 percent of all the listings in Atlanta have pools. So, if you really want a pool, be sure you want it for your own enjoyment.

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