Custom Pool Designs: Creating Your Own Backyard Oasis
Article & Photos | Dennis McMillin of Sunshine Fun Custom Built Pools
You and your family have finally decided this is the year for a brand new custom swimming pool. You may have asked around and made a short list of pool professionals that you plan to meet with. You may have even seen a few of your friend’s pools and are thinking about features you like. This is a great start, but there are a few other important things to consider prior to meeting with your custom pool designer.
This may sound silly, but make sure that every member of your family wants a pool. Know going in that a new pool will magically transform your back yard space into a wonderful water wonderland, but this may create major changes for some family members. Most yard spaces are not on acreage lots and this may mean a lack of space now for the swing set, sand box, or even throwing the ball around. That said, pool features can be designed to accommodate almost every age and family member. The longevity of your new pool and the creation of an entirely new outdoor living space will make this trade-off worth every penny for your family.
Speaking of pool features, know that almost anything you can imagine is available – but for a price. The proliferation of television shows such as Pool Kings or Insane Pools have driven custom pool designers to find new and creative ways to meet the desires of their customers. Spas, sun shelfs, beach entries, waterfalls, and fire and light features are the basic add-ons but the only limit is your imagination and your budget. Having a basic understanding that any added features will require additional plumbing, pumps, and materials is a necessity. Your professional designer will be able to elaborate and educate you on the pros and cons of these water features and their associated costs.
Besides water features, you will want to consider energy-efficiency and the type of chemicals used to sanitize and filter your new pool. The most cutting-edge pool companies are designing their pools to reduce the monthly cost of ownership after the pool is built. Remember that as soon as your new pool is filled, it will need to be filtered and chemically balanced to remain clean and healthy. Recently, the use of variable speed pumps and chlorine alternatives such as UV and Ozone have become more common, but at an initial higher construction cost. However, the return on that investment is realized very quickly. The best designers are incorporating technology that attempts to lower monthly energy and chemistry expense to under $50. With designs that do not factor in the latest technology, monthly cost can easily double, triple, or even quadruple that amount. That doesn’t account for any third party pool cleaning services. The most efficient designs can also make debris management more user-friendly. The use of open channel drains and pre-filtration equipment can reduce or eliminate the need for outside pool cleaning services.
While water features and cost-efficiency are important considerations, you should also know what is most important to you about your custom pool builder. Is an all-inclusive design important? Is price your only consideration? Many first time pool buyers don’t realize that a pool design will require new electric sub-panels to be installed at the equipment site. If a spa is included in the design, natural gas lines will need to be run as well. Most pool buyers are interested in adding patio space to adjoin or surround the pool. The grade or slope of the yard is also an important consideration for the pool site. The pool design may require piers or footers for added ground stability. Will additional soil need to be removed or brought in? What about existing tree removal, irrigation re-route, fence removal for access, or landscape replacement? The best pool professionals take all of these factors and more into account. Unfortunately, some pool builders are only concerned with low prices and fast contracts only to have the pool buyer left with a partial design and many additional subcontractors to pay.
While price and budget are important, they should not be only factor in selecting your pool professional. In fact, the best pool builders will not be your least expensive pool builders. This is because it is simply impossible to employ the best suppliers and craftsman to deliver the highest workmanship, quality, and equipment with the lowest price. Budget builders come and go and leave their clients with no warranty or resource for repair, and by their nature of using lower quality materials and equipment, repairs are needed more frequently. It is a vicious circle that should make even the most budget-wary buyer skeptical of these companies. The fact is that the most successful pool companies make fair profits that allow them to retain the best staff, provide the best equipment, and thus establish longevity that allows them to provide the best warranties and after-the-sale service.
After carefully considering the things that are important to your family, make an appointment to meet with your custom pool builder. Set aside a few hours for your builder to analyze the pool site and listen to what you want. Make sure that the entire family is available to give their input. Your designer can explain the details associated with their equipment, construction process, and warranties. Having given consideration to these factors, your meeting will be much more effective and may even result in a design that you immediately fall in love with. After all, the whole purpose of creating this magical outdoor space is to share it with family and friends. Creating memories and fun in your own private oasis is the goal, and your local pool professional can make it happen today.