The pool. For me, it conjures up visions of summer. Kids splashing around, jumping in and out of the water, laughing and playing; the smell of a BBQ wafting through the air; the backyard alive with friends and family, simply having fun.
You’ve always wanted a pool. It’s been dream for a while now and you have visions of soaking in it next summer, right? Well, swimming maybe the last thing on your mind as Winter is fast approaching, but now is the perfect time to make the decision and commence the process, so you WILL be swimming in your own backyard, even as early as Spring.
Cameron McCausland from Minke Pools, a Melbourne bespoke pool builder, gives us the run down on the process, where to start and what to look out for.
When is the best time to start planning for a pool?
When considering an investment in your property and lifestyle, such as the scale of a concrete swimming pool, there is a lot to consider. Concept and design development, budgets,finish selections, possible town planning and council requirements and the list goes on. I always advise that a pool is not just for a season or for christmas, its a life long investment, so the key is getting the design and build right so that you will have a finished product that will stand the test of time.
What is a realistic budget?
Depending on the complexity of a project and variables such as finish selections, ground conditions and access limitations a typical 8x 4 backyard concrete pool can range from $55,000 to $85,000. We find that generally our 8 x 4 fully tiled, low maintenance packages are around $70,000 inclusive.
Adding a spa can add an additional $25,000 to $30,000, so its not unusual to see a high quality backyard pool and spa package with great sanitation, lighting, solar and gas heating, automation, and low maintenance built in cleaning systems running well over $100,000. And that’s just on the pool.
Clients need to be aware of other costs such as running power, water and gas to new pool plant areas and also the costs associated to landscaping works around the pool. Paving, fencing, retaining walls and planting costs all add up, so the best starting point is to speak to some experience builders and start putting together a budget once the costs are understood.
Understanding the costs will enable the client to establish a realistic and achievable budget, and a design geared towards delivering maximum usability and effect.
How do I choose the right pool for my backyard?
Pools are predominantly a lifestyle item. Consider who’s going to use the pool; is it for swimming laps or somewhere to cool off and play games. The design should always reflect the clients needs and be functional.
No less important than a pools functionality is the need for a pool to look good and work with the house and landscape design. It should be integrated into the space to allow for maximum visual effect whilst still allowing for other key outdoor requirements such as entertaining areas and free space for the kids to play.
What do I need to consider when selecting a pool company?
- Ensure they are license builders
- Ensure they are members of SPASA (Swimming Pool and Spa Association)
- Ensure their portfolio of complete work is of a style and level of quality which reflects the vision you are looking for on your project.
- Do some homework. Speak to past clients and request to see some completed pools. Its as much about the process as the result so get a feel for how the build went, did they experience a lot of additional costs, did the project run to schedule, how were any issues managed during the build, would they recommend the builder to others? If a builder refuses to provide references be very concerned.
- Price is always a consideration and pool quotes can vary greatly. It is important that prices be compared and that differences are understood, as a decision based purely on a price point can often lead to a bumpy process and a compromised finished product.
How long does the construction process take?
An average build including a planning and documentation preparation period, and landscape construction windows, takes around 12- 16 weeks, but we regularly have jobs that run for over 12 months. We are often the first in and last out, as the concrete shell goes in prior to a new house being built, and then we finish the pool as the client moves in, in line with the home builders construction schedule.
What are the benefits of a concrete pool?
Concrete pools are fantastic as you are not limited in shape, size, internal finish or style. The pool can be fully customised to suit a clients space and needs with the design only limited by the clients imagination. We have never built 2 pools the same.
What options should I go with as mandatory?
One option that we have witnessed becoming a more mandatory inclusion on a pool package is the inclusion of an infloor cleaning and circulation system. I liken it to air-conditioning in cars; it use to be an option when buying a new car, now its mandatory. People expect to see infloor cleaning in high quality concrete pools these days and, as it’s an option which cannot be added after the build, it warrants careful consideration when putting together a new pool package. We try to include infloor cleaning in most of our pools as it makes for a better pool owner experience.
What is the most effective heating?
Solar heating is a must in Melbourne and I am continually amazed as to how good the systems are. Most of our clients are swimming from October to March and the minimal running costs of a solar heated pool make it a great choice compared to gas and electric heat pump systems.
How much is it going to cost me to run?
A salt water pool has relatively low chemical needs and a year supply of chemical may only be a few hundred dollars. Power consumption is the major cost of running a pool, but these costs can now be greatly reduced by the use of variable speed pool pumps which run at a lower hourly Kilowatt usage than traditional pumps whilst also increasing water turnover.
The best move to reduce pool power consumption running costs is to install a grid connected home solar power generation system. A pool needs to run on the longest filtration cycles during the day in summer, and this also when a home solar powered system generates the most electricity. It makes sense to use power generated onsite to offset the running costs of pool equipment. A number of our clients have set up grid connected systems and have experienced only minimal increases in power bills during peak usage periods.
What finishes are available?
Concrete pool finishes fall into 3 categories. They are generally either painted, rendered or fully tiled. I could run over the pros and cons of each for hours but a fully tiled pool is the premier pool finish. Tiles are hard wearing, nice under foot and not effected by pool chemicals. A well built fully tiled pool is considered a life long finish and that’s the finish we like to see on our pools.
Should I use a pool cover?
A pool cover is a good addition to the pool as long is it is well considered in the pool design. There is nothing more unsightly than a pool blanket rolled up at the end of a pool, so concealing covers in a clever way where they are easily accessed is key in their integration. As it can be a laborious process putting the cover on and taking it off again, we generally find that automated solid pool covers are the best solution. They can easily be opened and closed and they also provide another level of safety which can provide additional peace of mind to clients with young children.
What other advice do you have?
For a person considering a pool, owning a pool is a truly life changing investment. There is no more luxurious experience in my mind than being able to swim in your own backyard and for the kids, a lifetime of memories will come from summers spent with friends and family around the pool.
For the current pool owner, ensure you only experience good times by keeping safety as a paramount focus. Regularly check the condition of gates and barriers and always supervise kids in pools.
The short of it…
Pool design, Pool construction
Melbourne and surrounds