There’s nothing like a cool dip on a hot summer day. Swimming pools offer an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. So why should building one be stressful? Here’s a primer on how to find a pool professional who won’t leave you high and dry.
Most swimming pools are now constructed out of concrete and finished with a material called gunite. Those constructed of fiberglass present a lesser alternative. The classic rectangular, aqua-blue swimming pool still exists, but the options today are as varied as your imagination. For example, the texture and color of the gunite finish can affect the hue of the water, and consequently the character of the pool. Grays create a deep blue quarry feel, while whites speckled with flakes of color create a sparkling effect, not unlike that of crushed sea shells in beach sand. Your pool should reflect how you intend to spend your time there. Take size and shape.
If you’re a swimmer, a pool lengthy enough for legitimate laps is a must. However, if there are going to be a lot of young children around, the depth of the pool becomes an issue. Do you like to float aimlessly into little nooks and/or pull half-gainers off the diving board? A popular contemporary design is the “natural look.” Natural pools, free-formed and employing rock or faux rock, blend into the natural surroundings. Another popular swimming pool is a “vanishing edge” pool where it appears that the edge of the pool drops off into the surrounding area. Also known as “negative edge” pools, they can be quite stunning overlooking a bluff across a body of water. For those Chicagoans resolute on not letting the bitter winter interrupt a good dip, indoor pools provide the ticket.
Swimming pools are certainly not cheap, but by being savvy about materials and design, your pool professional can help you get the most for your money. In-ground concrete and gunite pools range anywhere from $35,000 to $100,000. Cost is determined from the complexity of the design and quality of the materials. Although fiberglass swimming pools represent a less expensive alternative ($25,000 to $50,000), we hear in-ground concrete pools wear better and live longer, and are quite simply more attractive. Other costs to consider are the pool deck (which may consist of concrete pavers, poured concrete, tile, stone, or even sod), housing or camouflage of the mechanical equipment (not so easy on the eye), and fencing with a self-closing gate (often a code requirement.)
Pool contractors typically perform all the work themselves. This work includes site excavation, concrete work, irrigation and plumbing, mechanical and electrical, tile and stone work, and the gunite overlay. Because much of the most complicated work becomes encased in concrete and buried under a deck (we are talking water here), an incompetent installation can be a disaster—expensive and dirty to fix. In fact, a great source for the best in pool design, construction and maintenance are many of the area’s leading landscaping firms, who often coordinate with pool professionals. Your pool should complement its environment, so it’s always important to have your landscape architect, architect, general contractor and pool professional talking to each other.
It is essential that the company you choose to build your pool be a member of the National Spa and Pool Institute (NSPI). Members of this organization are kept well informed of not only the technical side of pool construction, but are kept up to date on current state and national requirements for pool construction and developments in safety. The NSPI has a comprehensive website that is targeted to both consumers and retailers. There is also the Masters Pool Guild, which is comprised of 90 reputable swimming pool building companies from all over the world. Their website is Another question to consider when searching for your pool builder is how long is the pool under warranty? If a sudden problem or emergency arises with your swimming pool, you want to make sure that someone will come and quickly fix the problem.
While swimming pools can be an incredible form of entertainment, they are also an enormous responsibility and potential safety hazard if used improperly. A dependable, respected swimming pool company can not only inform you of your aesthetic options, but can also inform you about safety options such as fences surrounding your pool area and different kinds of pool alarms.

  • There are many types of pool fences on the market that will detract from the overall appearance of your pool and backyard as little as possible.
  • Ask your pool builder about pool alarms. Alarms can alert you if someone or something unexpectedly enters the water.
  • The most important safety reminder that is not on the market is supervision. Be aware at all times who is around your pool and if children are swimming, become their lifeguard.
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