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16 Things to Consider

Think you might be ready to take the plunge? If you're planning to buy your first backyard swimming pool, you probably need a few tips to get started. Learn how to establish a budget, prioritize features, and always remember to put fun on the list.

  1. Create a wish list. You may have been dreaming of a swimming pool for years, and you may think you know exactly what you want. But it pays to read up on the latest technology and gather ideas. Once you’ve done a little homework, you’ll be ready to speak to NOLAscapes about what it is you want out of a swimming pool. We will be able to help you crystallize how you plan to use the swimming pool and we can suggest styles, materials, designs, and blueprints to make your dream a reality.

  2. Decide what kind of pool shape you want. Swimming pool design is critical to both the overall aesthetic you’re trying to achieve and what you can actually do in the swimming pool. Rectangular designs are perfect for people wanting a classic, timeless look. They’re also great for games and swimming laps. Kidney and free-form swimming pools can blend with the surrounding vegetation and appear more natural. They also lend themselves to waterfalls and grottos. Choosing the wrong shape may mean you have a swimming pool that doesn’t really suit your lifestyle as well as it could.

  3. Know how you want to use your pool. Stop and think about why you’re installing a swimming pool. Is it for your kids? For entertaining? Is it an investment? Do you want it to make a dramatic architectural statement? Or is a relaxing retreat for you and your spouse? Answering these questions will help tell you what kind of swimming pool you want. A swimming pool for kids might include a slide and a wading area. It probably doesn’t need high-end glass tile finishing or a vanishing edge. But if you want something that is as visually appealing as it is enjoyable to use, you might consider a built-in water feature, more expensive coping, and a negative edge. A client with a clear sense of purpose is a builder’s best friend.

  4. Establish a budget. You probably already know what you’re willing to spend on a new swimming pool, but it’s important to speak with us to gather more information and get a sense of what your project will cost. NOLAscapes will be able to listen to what you want and give you an estimate on what it will cost to make it happen. You may have to adjust your plans, or you may find you have the resources to add to your initial concept.

  5. Consider long-term costs. Owning a swimming pool is actually quite affordable. Upkeep, especially if you take a few energy-saving steps, can literally cost pennies a day. But it’s best to have an idea of what those costs are. Factor in how much water it will take to keep your swimming pool full, cleaning and water maintenance costs, and any accessories (pool covers, filters, toys, etc.) you’ll want to purchase.

  6. Local building codes. Most parishes require a 4-foot set back from property lines. For obvious liability issues a fence is required. We will also need a building permit and 3 inspections.

  7. Don’t forget about insurance. When establishing a budget don’t forget to think long term. Contact your insurance carrier and find out if owning a swimming pool affects your homeowner’s policy—no one likes to be surprised.

  8. Don’t skimp on the features you really want. Yes, we told you to stick to your budget (and that’s sound advice), but don’t settle if you can help it. Retrofitting a swimming pool is never as easy as the initial install. So, if you really want that slide or the cascading waterfall over the slab of granite, go for it. If it busts the budget, ask us where you might be able to save elsewhere. You never want the swimming pool that’s “almost perfect.”

  9. Be energy efficient. It’s easier than ever to save on a swimming pool’s energy costs. Enclosures, pool covers, and pump and lighting timers can all pay for themselves in energy savings in a short amount of time.

  10. Be green and eco-friendly. Some shy away from swimming pools for fear of their environmental impact, but the industry has worked hard in the last few years to make pool owner and steward of the environment not mutually exclusive terms. Today’s pool heaters can be heated almost entirely using solar energy. Many chemical water treatments can now be replaced by less harsh natural alternatives. Swimming pool covers also reduce the amount of water lost (and then replaced) due to evaporation.

  11. Don’t forget the Water Fatures. Elegant waterfalls, spouting sconces, bubbling fountains—people love water features almost as much as the swimming pools themselves. If you’re interested in adding a few jets to your swimming pool, though, it’s best to do it during the initial construction. Retrofitting can be tricky (and sometimes impossible, depending on your swimming pool and what you want done) without a major remodel. It also costs more than twice as much, typically, to install water features after the fact.

  12. Plant with purpose. This is especially important when thinking about your budget. You won’t want that swimming pool sitting in the yard by itself, so consider what you’d like to plant and where. Avoid planting messy trees or trees with far-reaching, shallow root systems (some oaks, birches, cypress) near your swimming pool, for instance. Instead go with bushy perennials that don’t grow as tall and can be moved if necessary.

  13. Keep safety in mind. Beyond any required fencing your local codes require, consider what other safety measures you’ll want to have in place. Swimming pools can be equipped with alarms to alert you when someone or something enters the water. Childproof locks on gates, and security alarms on windows to the backyard are also considerations.

  14. Think about finishing touches. Things like coping, decking, and borders can make a swimming pool stand out. The materials used for each vary-stone, concrete, and ceramic and glass tile — and each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

  15. Put fun on the list. As the swimming pool nears completion; it’s time to enjoy yourself by gathering all those extras that make pool ownership fun. Toys, games, floats, swimsuits, patio furniture, you name it. Accessorizing is half the fun.

  16. Plan your first pool party! Don’t forget to throw a big bash to celebrate your new swimming pool. Get the burgers on the grill, invite the kids’ friends (and a few of your own) over, and break in your swimming pool in style.

POOL PLANNING AND DESIGN »


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