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What To Know Before Putting In A Pool

By Rachael Vrana

Thinking about investing in a swimming pool before summertime’s big heat descends? Before ‘taking the plunge’, here’s some foolproof pool pointers every prospective owner should know.

What’s the function & purpose of your pool?
Is it for cooling off in the summer, for entertaining friends and family or a splash pool for the little ones?One woman’s lagoon is another woman’s bird bath so be very clear about how you see yourself using your future backyard body of h2O – before you turn a sod.

Size matters…
It’s easy to have an inflated view of your own backyard.“Pace out and mark the ideal space for your pool in your backyard with tape or spray paint,” suggests Neil Veitch, Pool Category Manager at Clark Rubber.Make sure you have these dimensions with you when you start visiting pool builders to talk price.

…so does shape, depth and type
As well as size, have you considered the shape and depth of the pool you want? What material will you use? Have you considered fibreglass, poured-concrete, vinyl-lined or gunite?Make sure these qualities are a good match with the functionality and purpose of your ideal pool, Veitch says.

Know the lay of your land
Unfortunately your infinity pool-three-storey-waterfall vision may not lend itself to your flat-as-a-tack block.Before you set your heart on a particular design, it’s advisable to assess the slope of your backyard to determine if your space suits an above-ground, partial in-ground or in-ground pool.

What’s the theme & style of your outdoor room?
The days of the standard bright blue kidney-shaped pool are over.Now if you want some splash with your cash, lagoons, pebble finishes, stone, all-hues of green and blue and myriad texture variations are on offer.It means we can now seamlessly match the colour and style of our backyard pools to their outdoor settings so ask yourself, does my chosen design complement my entire backyard space?

What are the local rules & regulations?
Before you fire-up the excavator, pick up the phone.When building a new pool, or renovating an existing one, have a chat to your local council early in your pool planning. You must find out what you’ll need to do to comply with local building and safety regulations and state and national fencing and water legislation.

For example, if your pool will be more than 30cm deep, you must ensure your pool barrier meets the Australian Standard for Swimming Pool Fences. Approve barriers must be in place before the pool is filled. Approved barriers must be in place before the pool is filled. “Each council is different so make sure your pool is compliant with your local laws and safe,” Veitch says.

Can I DIY my pool?
According to Simon Gainey of Capital Fibreglass Pools, hypothetically you can go-it-alone. Some above-ground pools may be suitable for assembly by a handy homeowner-builder.But the Owner/Operator of the Canberra-based company stresses most DIY pools are not advisable.“Yes, you can install a pool yourself but we wouldn’t recommend it,” Gainey says.“You use a builder to build your house because he is a specialist at what he does the same goes for building a pool”.

5 things to ask your pool builder
When you’re ready to lay down some serious cash on a watery dream, here are five things to look for in your chosen builder:

1. Warranties – Do you know what you’re purchasing and what you are covered for?  “If it sounds too good to be true, it often is,” Gainey says.

2. Insurance – Ask your state body of the Swimming Pool and Spa Association of Australia (SPASA) if it is your responsibility or a builder’s. In South Australia, for example, state law requires that building insurance must be issued for all domestic building work (which includes pools and spas) worth more than $12,000 in total value.

“The purpose of this insurance is to ensure that you end up with a completed pool and/or spa holding a 5-year structural warranty, without it you are totally unprotected and exposed to risk,” states the SPASA SA.

3. Track history – Ask for testimonials, word of mouth anecdotes, do your research. “You are about to invest a large sum of money and should know who you are dealing with. Search your potential builder on the internet.  Fair trading is also a good reference if there’s been any legal action”.

4. Detailed quote – What’s included and what’s not? If it isn’t set out in writing in your quote at the start it could end up a hidden extra cost to you at the end of the job … you don’t want a nasty budget blowout when you should be busy blowing up your inflatable pool toys!

5. Professional credentials – Is your pool builder a member of SPASA, and can show proof of being licensed? “SPASA has a very strict code of ethics for their pool builders and to be a member of SPASA you need to be licensed, insured and have had a credit rating check,” Gainey says.

Finally, is everyone under your roof a competent swimmer? If not, try to start lessons ASAP; you can use your future home pool to practice growing skills in a safe and technically sound way.

“Attend lessons and use the home pool to practice what they learn at lessons,” advises Di Palmer of State Swim. “Without this, children will quickly learn to navigate their way around their own pools but can develop bad habits, finding themselves unable to get out of a dangerous situation later in life”.


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