Building a pool: what you need to know

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17 December 2022

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5 min read

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ArchiPro sat down with Donna Richmond from Auckland Inground Pools, who discusses what to consider when planning a pool, the things to expect, and what not to do.

It's summertime, and with the temperatures rising it’s natural to daydream about having a pool in the backyard – it’s refreshing, great for entertaining, and provides a focal point for the outdoor area. But for some, it’s unfamiliar territory – they’re not sure where to start, who they need to consult, what logistics need to be organised, how much it’s going to cost.

To get answers to all of these questions, ArchiPro sat down with Donna Richmond, the Sales Manager of Auckland Inground Pools – a stalwart of the industry with years of experience. Donna discusses the ideal chronological stages of pool construction, the importance of prior research, and what ultimately makes a great pool.

Building a pool: what you need to know for the summer

ArchiPro: What’s the first thing someone should do once they make the decision to build a pool?

Donna Richmond: The first thing to do, if they haven't done so already, is to obtain a landscape design. Or, if you’re building a pool as part of a new home build or renovation, you should consult the architect on the pool as well – it’s important to have a plan in place at the very beginning of the process.

We are at the point now where we can only provide quotes where there is a plan in hand. Without a plan, it really is a guessing game what is required and makes the pricing process difficult to execute. But what does this plan involve?

You need to know the location of the pool, the size and shape of it, the height and where it sits in relation to ground level and floor levels of the house, that sort of thing. That way, when it comes to engaging the pool builder, engineer, or landscape architect, there’s no guesswork throughout the process – everyone is on the same page and reading from the same plan.

It’s also really important to do your research on which contractors to engage. My advice is don’t make your decision based on price alone, or who’s available earliest – that’s often a mistake. Ask your friends and family if they had any good experiences with a good pool building company – word of mouth is the best form of advertising for us, we’ve found.

You should ask yourself: Is the builder a member of the NZ Pool Industry Association or SPASA NZ or perhaps even with the Registered Master Landscapers? How much experience do they have in the industry and how long have they been trading? If you are working with a designer – who have they had experience with?

Building a pool: what you need to know for the summer

AP: What are the good things to keep in mind to ensure the best outcome?

DR: Engage the services of a reputable landscape designer or architect. They will choose the right location for your pool and outdoor living area to ensure you not only get the most use from it, but to also ensure compliance – for example with pool fencing requirements. They are likely to have seen their designs come to life with a few different pool builders – they can refer you to a builder.

Thinking about the future is essential - don’t get caught up in taking up valuable swimming and play space with a large wader or step area because the kids are small now – believe us when we say the kids will spend hours and hours in the pool, under your watchful eye, they will be confident swimmers in no time!

Don’t skimp on the pool surrounds or decking to save money. You need to consider how much time you will be spending around the pool, and how much space you will need for kids to run and pass each other without falling in, or where you would like to sit while you watch the kids at play.

Also, consider the autumn and winter months when you will be scooping leaves out of the pool – a skinny pool surround means a balancing act with a leaf scoop or pool broom and a high possibility of a very cold winter dip! Give consideration to any gardens within the immediate pool area – plant anything organic too close to the pool, ultimately this will end up in the pool, and wreak some havoc with your pool water balance.

Building a pool: what you need to know for the summer

AP: What are common mistakes or pitfalls you see people fall into when planning a pool?

DR: Failing to plan, and making changes or variations as the project unravels. Though the planning process elongates the project, it certainly makes the whole build process a lot smoother.

Variations to a project during the build process or someone changing their minds with structure or products can turn everything on its head. While these changes absolutely are possible, it can add immensely to the overall costs, and will most certainly add a lot of time to the ETA.

Building a pool: what you need to know for the summer

Any final bits of advice?

Simple is good. New Zealanders I find are an uncomplicated lot – and this mentality extends to inground concrete pools. A pool that functions well and complements the home and landscape creates a feature in itself. Think, do you really need the grottos, the multiple water features, flashing lights and the diving board?

Always get at least two quotes but be aware that you will never be comparing apples with apples. While a concrete pool shell is built to an engineered specification, every builder has their own touches, and it’s the finer details that make pool ownership easier.

A good well rated filtration set up, sanitisation system, pool plaster, tiles, robotic cleaners – all of these things make pool ownership easier, and can contribute to reduced ongoing pool maintenance time & costs and more time to enjoy.

Learn more about Auckland Inground Pools and its services.