Planning for a swimming pool is one of the biggest investments you’ll make outdoors. If not planned for correctly, you’ll run the risk of creating a pool that sits disused or looks out of place in your backyard.

Before you dream about diving into your new pool next summer, here are some of the key issues you’ll need to consider.

Key considerations when planning for a swimming pool:

  • What type of pool can I afford?
  • Is the orientation and size of my outdoor space suitable?
  • Can I adequately fence the pool?
  • What materials should I choose?
  • Who should install my pool?
  • How long will the installation take?
  • What are the ongoing costs?

Type of pools

planning for a swimming pool
Raised pool designed by Wax Design Space with Andorra Liner Walling and a Coolum Random Ashlar feature wall

When planning for a swimming pool, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is what type of pool to build. You have four options: an above-ground or an in-ground vinyl, fibreglass or concrete pool.

Generally speaking, an above-ground is your most affordable option with no excavation required and with some models, no filtration equipment is needed. The downside to above-ground swimming pools is that they can be an unsightly object in your backyard. They also have a shorter life-span than in-ground pools.

In-ground pools come with the three options which will determine their costs and longevity. While this form of swimming pool is more expensive than above-ground models, when well-designed they’ll sit more cohesively in your outdoor space. This can mean your pool will become a feature, not an eyesore and may even add significant value to your property.

You can read more about the pros and cons of the different pools here.

Size and orientation of the pool

planning for a swimming pool
Courtyard and pool designed by Secret Gardens

The size of the pool you decide upon will not only influence your budget but also impact the overall success of your outdoor space. When planning for your pool, consider the scale of your garden.

If you have a small backyard, you don’t want to build a pool that’s too big for the space and leaves little room to move around or for planting. If you’re working with a larger outdoor space, getting the scale just right is about creating the perfect balance between pool, hardscape and garden.

This is where the services of a landscape design practice can be invaluable when planning for a swimming pool. They’ll help you determine the right position and orientation of your pool, as well as the best size for your property. They’ll also factor in the space requirements for pool storage and cover if needed.

Fencing the pool

Pool fence regulations can be confusing and may even put you off building a pool in the first place. Again, that’s where engaging a designer can be very helpful.

Often landscape designers look at the best layout and type of pool fence before they even consider the actual pool. This means your fence will sit more seamlessly into your outdoor space and with the architecture rather than interrupt the design or flow. Designed correctly, a pool fence can provide adequate safety while making access easy and looking visually pleasing.

Find our complete guide to pool fence regulations here.

Material selection

planning for a swimming pool
Tiled pool designed by Acre Studios with an Andorra Linear Walling feature stone

Choosing the right materials for your pool will come down to personal preference, the aesthetics of your architecture and your budget.

When planning for a swimming pool, you’ll need to choose materials and finishes for the pool interior, the surrounds and any feature wall cladding. As a starting point, consider the materials used in the architecture and interior. Can you carry on the same palette or pick up on colour tones to create visual cohesion?

You’ll also want to consider the balance between hard surfacing and soft landscape to avoid a backyard appearing more like a prison cell than an inviting outdoor space. Breaking up the paving or decking with plants will help soften and add texture to the outdoor space. Likewise, a combination of materials can create interest and visual relief.

When choosing materials consider how durable they are when exposed to chemicals. You’ll want to find a product that is suitable for external usage around wet areas and that won’t readily stain or discolour over time. It’s also worth looking for a material that won’t retain the heat or create too much glare on a warm summers day.

Choosing the right contractor

Choosing the right contractor is important for the overall quality of your pool, budget and timeline. You’ll also want to make sure your chosen contractor is complying with the council and building requirements. Here are our tips on choosing the right pool builder:

  • Consider your landscape designer or architects recommendations
  • Get referrals from friends
  • Ensure the contractors is qualified and insured
  • Consider quotes from at least three contractors
  • Ask to see previous projects and talk to clients
  • Don’t just choose based on price, look at the entire picture.

Construction time

The time between deciding to build a pool and for when you’re ready to dive in can seem forever and test your patience! The process of creating a pool will depend on the type of pool you’re installing, the availability of your chosen contractor and the design process. You’ll also need to factor in rainfall interruption and council approval times.

To design a pool and get appropriate approval can take anywhere from 3-8 weeks. The construction phase for an in-ground pool with fence installation is typically around 14-20 weeks.

Tip: if you want to be swimming in your pool by Christmas, you’ll need to speak to a landscape designer or pool builder around June.

Ongoing costs

planning for a swimming pool
Pool designed by Wyer & Co. in collaboration with Daniel Boddam Architecture & Interior Design

It’s worth considering the ongoing expenditures when planning for a swimming pool. If you’re looking to heat your pool, your monthly utility bill will increase. You’ll need to factor in the costs of chemicals which will depend on the size of your pool, frequency of use and the climate.

You’ll also need to budget for maintenance of the pool, its finish and equipment. A regular visit by a pool cleaner can cost around $55 or more. One-off maintenance callouts will be more expensive. One of the largest expenses relating to pools is the maintenance of the interior finish. While some finishes are designed to last a lifetime, others like a vinyl liner may need to be repaired or replaced within as little as 5 years. The lifespan of your pool equipment will vary depending on the brand and quality of the product. It’s worth confirming the maintenance requirements of the equipment with your pool contractor.

For more handy pool tips and advice, visit the pool section of our Learning Library.

Feature image: Architecture and pool by AM Architecture