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Your Oasis is Calling: Advice and Trends to Consider when Planning a Pool Installation

Mar 16, 2015 12:41PM ● By Cate Reynolds

Photos from Aqua Pools & Spas

By Carol Sorgen

Warm weather is just around the corner and what can be more convenient and enjoyable than having a swimming pool right in your own backyard?

“We have such brutal summers here that it’s just too hot to sit outside without being in the water,” says Celeste Pyper of Easton-based professional pool installer Aqua Pools & Spas.

According to the pool resource website Swimmingpool.com, the first step in building a pool is to create a plan: Decide how you will use your pool, then consider the financial aspects of owning a pool; determine your yard size and conditions; and consult a pool design and building professional who can help with everything from zoning regulations and permits to custom design features. Waterfront property owners, for example, have special considerations with regards to critical area zoning that need to be accounted for when developing a plan with a professional.

The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (Apsp.org) offers these tips for hiring a pool contractor:

  1. Talk to friends, neighbors, or family members who have had similar work done. You may also want to speak with your local town building inspector.
  2. Once you’ve narrowed the field to a few builders, ask each professional to visit your home to assess the project and to provide a written, detailed estimate. Also ask the builder for references from recently completed jobs and call the homeowners.
  3. Obtain copies of the builder’s license, where applicable, as well as liability and worker’s compensation insurance. Check the term of the insurance. If the insurance term is due to expire during your project, get proof that the insurance has been continued.
  4. Check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure there are no outstanding complaints or suits against your chosen builder. If the builder has a pending issue, this alone should not disqualify him or her. Read any reports and questions. The report also can yield more tips on how to work with pool builders.
  5. Check that your chosen builder is a member of the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, which means he has been tested and certified and continues to take ongoing continuing education classes.

When it comes to the actual design of the pool, there are a number of options to choose from, says Pyper, including size, shape, style, and tile color, to name just a few.

“You can customize your pool to fit your home and your lifestyle,” says Pyper, “which gives you many design options and details.”

Among the decisions you’ll be making are the shape of the pool; pool technology; design enhancements; and decking.
Photo from Aqua Pools & Spas

When it comes to the design elements (perhaps the most enjoyable part of the process!), Pyper notes that features that are currently in demand include sun ledges, infinity edges, steps and benches, foamy bubbler jets, deck jets, waterfalls, attached spas, firebowls/water bowls, slides, LED lighting, in-pool tables and bars, and mosaics.

According to the 2014 Trends eBook published by the Master Pools Guild, an international network of custom pool builders, another increasingly popular design feature is the use of finishes such as pebble tec and glass tile, as opposed to the traditional gunite. Pebble tec is an aggregated material made of (not surprisingly) pebbles and seashells that creates a distinct look for the pool’s interior.

Also growing in popularity, according to the Guild, are knife-edge designs, where the water sits at the same level as the pool deck, flowing into a slot at the edge of the pool to create a mirror-like effect.

As for the actual water in the pool, many pool owners are choosing saltwater systems, says Pyper, rather than conventional chlorination. Saltwater pools do have chlorine but it is added through a regenerative process that is gentler on the hair and skin.

While the pool may be the backyard’s focal point, today it is often part of a complete entertainment environment, according to Hal Quayle, owner of design/build firm based in Severna Park.

From flagstone coping to travertine decking, pool houses to outdoor kitchens complete with pizza ovens, homeowners want to expand their home’s living space by moving the indoors out, says Quayle, who also advises you to start early—almost a season ahead—if you want your pool ready for the first hot days.

No matter what you choose, however, when it comes to the pool and its surrounding features, make sure that the pool itself can be seen from the house and from all points in the yard—especially if you have young children. Then it’s time to dive in and enjoy!