Pools: A great way to soak up summer fun
By Michelle Coyne
Imagine lazy summer days cooling off in the pool, floating on a raft immersed in your favorite book and throwing pool parties. All of these are possible in time for the fast approaching summer season, but you have to start planning now.
Though they don’t improve the re-sale value of homes, having a pool will improve your quality of life – they offer a place to sit, relax and enjoy family time. If you’ve been thinking of installing a pool, you’re in luck; the Capital Region is one of the more popular areas for pool manufacturers in the region.
“We have one of the largest market areas in the Northeast for pools,” said Michael Burnett of Majestic pools in Hudson.
With such a well educated and technically advanced market, deciding on the perfect pool to suit your needs and style should be hassle free.
Above ground pools
For those looking for a big bang (or in this case, splash) for your buck, an above ground pool is ideal. Starting as low as $1,000, they are also ideal for homeowners who have land unsuitable for an inground pool (such as land with too much rock or granite). And, there is the added bonus of being able to disassemble the pool and take it with you if you decide to move.
Above ground pools can range anywhere from 24”to 52” deep and come oval, rectangular or circular shaped. Not sure which shape to choose? “All the shapes are great, but twenty four foot round pools seem to be popular in the area,” said Burnett. Comparatively, a round pool is a better value as well. Though other shapes may be more appealing to the eye, you can get a larger circular pool for less money.
These pools can be totally exposed or have a deck built around them to create an “inground” effect. If everything goes smoothly, they can be installed in about a day; at most a weekend.
The linings for these pool are vinyl and come in different colors and patterns. However, proper winterization is key otherwise the pool can suffer severe and costly damages and cracks in the liner.
“About four to six percent of above ground pools fail during the winter because of ice damage,” warned Brennan, and almost every above ground pool is not warrantied against such damage. So, to make sure your pool lasts, it’s important to take proper precautions every winter.
For homeowners looking for something a bit more permanent, an inground pool offers you an oasis right in your own backyard. And, unlike an above ground pool which comes in pre-manufactured sizes and depths; you have more choices with these pools and the ability to build longer, shapelier and deeper designs.
With a few choices in styles, it’s best to be prepared when you go shopping. Below are the four most popular inground pools:
• Fiberglass—These pools are typically the quickest to install because they come pre-manufactured as one piece. They have a non-abrasive vinyl finishing that resists staining and helps reduce the formation of algae. Fiberglass pools come in many shapes and sizes from rectangular to free-form styles (pools that you design yourself rather than choosing from traditional shapes) and can cost upwards of $15,000.
• Vinyl — These, too, are smooth and stain resistant surfaces, and offer many different pattern and color choices allowing you to customize the look. The average sized vinyl pool costs between $7,000–$15,000.
• Concrete – One of the most popular pools, concrete allow you to create any design you please. The entire structure is built by pouring concrete over a wood reinforcement. Every concrete pool has a finish; the most popular is tile. These pools range around $20,000 and take several weeks to set up.
• Gunite – Gaining in popularity and the most expensive, gunite is similar to concrete pools. Gunite is a mixture of sand and concrete that is sprayed over steel support rods, rather than wood, which makes the pool more durable and easier to build. These pools come in many design options or can be shaped into any design you prefer making them both appealing and durable. But the innovative technique puts these pools in the highest price bracket—they begin at $25,000 and increase depending on the size and shape.
Now that you know the four main types, here are some questions to ask yourself and a few things you might not have thought of:
• The all important question—how much? Be realistic about your budget. Remember that pricing varies greatly in different areas and with different contractors. Depending on where you buy the pool, the price may or may not include the cost of set up and installation. Also, the shape and size of the pool impacts the cost. Be sure to spend ample time shopping different pool dealers and asking questions.
• Setup – While above ground pools can usually be completed in a weekend, inground pools require a lot more time to excavate the land and get the pool set up. You can shop for a pool all year round and building can be started in early spring.
• Space – You have to realistically think about your backyard and pick the right size and shape that will suit the area. “Even a limited amount of space can be used to install a pool as long as it’s approved by the building department,” said Roger Zanin of Keil’s Pools in Stuyvesant Falls.
• Heating – Installing a heater in your pool will extend your pool season. “Many customers install heating to extend the season through October. There’s natural gas, propane, radiant and electric heating choices available, depending on what you’re looking for,” said Zanin. Electric is the most economical, but if you’re looking for speed, propane will heat the pool faster. Prices for these heating systems vary. A gas heater without installation usually ranges between $2,500-$3,000, an electric heat pump ranges between $4,500- $6,000.
• Maintenance – Remember to ask about the routine maintenance. How long are you willing to spend cleaning the pool? Some pools need more upkeep than others. Those with liners must be checked to ensure that there are no small rips throughout. Above ground pools need to be winterized to ensure that they don’t become damaged. Ask about filtration systems, chemicals and all the things you’ll need to keep your pool in tip top swimming shape.
Choosing the right contractor is extremely important. Aside from regular maintenance, the key to pool longevity begins with how well it was built, said Burnett. There are plenty of things to remember when choosing a contractor. Some points and tips include:
• Schedule an initial meeting. If they’re on time and give you a good vibe this is the first good sign.
• Ask for references! A contractor should be proud of his work and be willing to tell you about his pleased customers.
• Ask if they are licensed.
• What are their warranties?
• Will crews clean up the mess they make or are you responsible for this?
Just as in any major building project you would do on your home, choosing a pool requires just as much thought and attention. And, though it may seem overwhelming at first, you’ll soon be the envy of your neighbors as you lounge away in your personal haven.
While being a fun way to keep cool during the summer, having a pool also comes with a lot of responsibilities. Being the owner of a pool, means that you have to look out for your family’s, neighbor’s and friend’s safety. Below are some safety precautions you can take to keep everyone happily splashing around the pool.
• If you’re just building your pool, make sure to use non-slip materials on the surrounding surfaces, diving board and ladders.
• EVERYONE should learn how to swim. You and your family should take swimming lessons to become stronger swimmers.
• Install a fence or gate system, especially if you or the neighbors have younger children. As part of the residential code of New York State, all inground pools need to be surrounded by a 48 inch barrier. Above ground pools are exempt from the barrier code if the side walls reach 48 inches.
• No one should swim alone, this goes for adults too.
• Toys should not be in the pool. This entices younger children to want to jump in after them.
• Rope off the shallow section from the deep end as a reminder to the non-swimmers.
• Think about installing a phone line outside or keep a cell phone nearby to quickly call 911.
• LEARN CPR. Should anything happen you can perform this life saving task until help arrives.
• Keep equipment like poles, rafts, etc. close by the pool.
• Use pool covers when not in use.
• Keep all cleaning and maintenance supplies locked away from children and pets.
• Keep radios and electrical equipment away from pools to prevent electrical shock.
• Don’t mix alcohol and swimming.
• Invest in drain covers to minimize the likelihood of having hair caught in the drain.
• Invest in pool alarms that go off when there is movement in the pool when it should not be in use.