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Planning the Perfect Pool

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The off-season is the ideal time to begin the process of putting in a pool. There are a lot of steps in between choosing the right pool design and actually lounging in it—like permits, safety considerations and selecting amenities. Professionals can help make it a smooth process and ensure that by this Memorial Day you'll be relaxing in your own backyard.

Before any holes are dug, a homeowner needs to talk to their family to find out what kind of pool works best for them and their swimming needs. Is the pool to entertain? Is it for exercise? Is it for the children to play in on hot summer days?

After hashing this out with family members, choose a builder and meet with the designer to tie up the loose ends you may not have considered. With advanced technology, designers can lay out your pool hopes and dreams in an actual landscape of your backyard so it is easier to envision the finished product.

"When Blue Haven meets with the customer, we do a design profile to see how they want to use the pool," says general manager Dominic DiCesare of Blue Haven Pools. "With that, we are able to guide them into what would work best for them and their family."

It is also important to figure out who will be maintaining your new backyard paradise. A lot goes into keeping a pool as pristine as the day it was built. Homeowners with a new pool will have to add chemicals, check pH levels, vacuum and empty the skimmer basket—just to name a few tasks.

DiCesare says for homeowners who want the least maintenance, they should consider choosing a quality built pool with an auto vacuum and a salt water system that has a plaster finish.

"Factor in the harshness of the last few winters and start as early as you can," says Steve Posner, owner and president of Country Barn Construction Inc.

He says it is never too early to start planning. "We are creating a new family destination for everyone to enjoy," he adds. "Think of it as bringing the vacation resort home."

Where to start
After meeting with a builder and designer and determining if a pool is something you can commit to, you must obtain a building permit to construct your pool.

"It's important to start now. ... townships in New Jersey have become much more involved," says Mike McCool, general manager at Swim-Mor Pools. "Because of that, permits have taken longer to achieve and there's different hoops you have to jump through."

McCool says now is a good time to get the ball rolling and start the process by getting the permit out of the way. Once the weather starts to break in late February or early March—good weather for construction—you are already a step ahead of everyone who is only just beginning to think about pool installations.

"[This helps ensure] you are swimming this spring versus starting [the planning] in the spring when the townships are definitely busy and things could be delayed," McCool says.

Keeping everyone safe
Safety considerations are a large part of the planning process when deciding to install a pool. Young children could fall in or your pool could become home to unwanted guests (wild animals), but there are a number of things you can do to ensure your pool is fun and safe.

For young children, consider taking them to swimming lessons before the pool is installed or while it is under construction. This way, you will be in a controlled setting with an instructor who can teach them how to swim and how to be safe while having fun. Once the pool is installed, they should be comfortable with water and know how to act around the pool.

Additionally, homeowners need to figure out what is necessary for their family and yard in terms of safety.

"Safety is always a concern," says Theodora Sergiou, vice president and chief operating officer of Nicholas Pools Inc. "All towns require a fence around the pool. You can use the house as a buffer and then have three sides fenced or you can surround the swimming pool completely with a fence and have a lock for extra security." 

For extra safety measures, a homeowner can even utilize a pool alarm. There are different types to choose from depending on your worries. Some pool alarms will sound in the house to let you know when someone has entered the pool; others will go off when water has been splashed out of the pool and onto the surrounding areas. Homeowners can even utilize an automatic pool cover so the pool can be closed when necessary, year-round.

"We believe the best alarm you can have is yourself," says Sergiou. "Always have a phone by the pool, never swim alone, have a safety device like a swim ring or hook nearby, and make sure people follow your safety rules when swimming in your pool."

Customizing your oasis
Pools have evolved into something that a homeowner can hand-pick down to every last detail.

"Besides color and style of liner, patio and accessories, one must choose between adding an overflowing spa or a spa step, swim out seat in the deep end or a waterfall," says Sergiou.

Additional add-ons you can choose when customizing your pool range anywhere from lights and heaters inside your pool to sun shelves and lounging areas. Some even go the extra mile and add water features like illuminated jets that shoot water or beautiful rock waterfalls.

Homeowners may even consider using full-service pool builders that also transform the surrounding landscape of your pool to really bring your backyard oasis to life. Something even as simple as a fire pit with benches can make your pool area more inviting.

"We look and design depending on customers' future lifestyle or entertaining needs," says Tom Lobrow, founder of Custom Pool Pros. "We believe the client should pick his or her style; we only suggest, but the client is in the driver's seat."

RESOURCES
Blue Haven Pools & Spas
Colmar, Pa.
(215) 996-0900
BlueHaven.com

Country Barn Construction Inc.
Malvern, Pa.
(610) 725-0180
CountryBarnConstruction.net

Custom Pool Pros
Freehold, N.J.
(732) 866-8667
CustomPoolPros.com

Nicholas Pools Inc.
Toms River, N.J.
(732) 505-0404
NicholasPools.com

Swim-Mor Pools
Mount Ephraim, N.J.
(856) 456-3332
SwimMor.com

Published (and copyrighted) in House & Home, Volume 16, Issue 6 (December, 2016).
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