How to design your own pool
If future plans for your backyard include an inground pool, you can start by making your own design. Whether you end up with just a sketch or a detailed plan, time is well spent and you’ll avoid many of those “should” moments. By giving professionals something tangible to start with, you’ll also save a great deal of time dealing with them … less back and forth, while the family debates what they really want.
I recommend starting with a trip to the bookstore magazine rack. There are several posts that highlight the latest trends and enough bright photos to get the family excited. However, from the beginning, be realistic about how much money and space you can put into the project. Focus on designs that suit your property, not just in size, but in style and grandeur. The Trevi Fountain is beautiful, but it wouldn’t look good in most subdivision backyards. If your home architecture is formal, stick to that. If it’s rustic, go with that. I have seen many people blow sixty thousand dollars into a beautiful pool that seems out of place. Lastly, remember that there is much more than just the container that holds the water. A large swimming pool is a collection of water effects, decks, furniture, landscaping, and sometimes architectural elements such as walls, benches, fireplaces, and even outdoor kitchens.
If you are the engineer type, you may want to purchase one of the available computer programs that draw groups. Some are simple and free. Some are full cad / cam programs that require a doctorate. Or maybe you just want to grab some graph paper and some colored pencils. Both methods work equally well. Your pool builder will just use it as a guide anyway to put the design in the format you are used to. As you review your site, a few things will come in handy: Assemble enough garden hose to approximate the perimeter of your future pool. Most pools have a perimeter of around 90 feet but obviously you might want more or less. Have a nice long tape measure on your belt and gather some outdoor furniture that looks like what you eventually want to set up poolside. It is much easier to see how much space you need to walk around a real chair than to imagine it on paper. Most importantly, you should drag any family member into the backyard who will ever use the pool. Now is the time to reach a consensus on what everyone wants; not after you and the pool builder have spent 50 hours on the design.
With the garden hose, design the perimeter of the virtual pool in the shape and location you have in mind. Now, you have many things to consider. The first and foremost thing is the proximity to the foundation of your house and any other structure. Some heavy equipment will be digging a very large hole and you don’t want to compromise the soil that supports your beautiful home! I recommend keeping the waterline at least two meters away from the foundation. Assuming you are making a gunite pool, the pool wall at the top is 12 “thick, so seven feet will provide a six-foot buffer zone. Next, consider where the rain that falls from the the roof of your house and runs off the surface. The location and elevation of the pool should be designed to prevent dirty runoff from fouling the pool water. Almost anything can be accomplished with underground drains, but as you might expect, complexity costs money. Next, consider the entry point (s) for the pool and the paths provided from various points in the backyard. When planning the deck, you may want to use an additional garden hose. The deck may be expensive but often makes the pool much more usable.of your outdoor furniture in likely places around your virtual pool and see what you need to walk around it all without feeling ab flattened.
Another important consideration is the location of the underground utilities. At no charge, your utility companies will go out and paint lines in your yard to mark gas lines, water lines, and any underground power lines. Sewer lines and septic systems can be more difficult to decipher, but now is the time to locate them. Having the pool digger knocking on your back door is not a good feeling. If you have overhead power or telephone lines in the pool area, you may also need to consider the height of the equipment needed to excavate the pool. Lastly, this team will need access to the pool site from the street; All that dirt needs to be removed and typical equipment needs at least six to eight feet of road. Yes, air conditioners can be moved and fences, but it all costs money and in some cases may require the cooperation of neighbors. (Start bringing them cookies now).
Lastly, consider the space needed for a nice landscape. Whether you do it with the pool or add it later, a landscape plan will eventually frame the project and create the necessary connection to the rest of the backyard. Simple or elegant, remember to include the water pipes and electrical lines needed for sprinklers and lighting. It is much cheaper to traverse the land than the new pool deck.
In a future article, I’ll discuss the various types of pool designs, as well as the various construction methods, with the pros and cons of each. If your pool project is something for the future, enjoy the luxury of planning it slowly and carefully. A swimming pool is an important investment from any point of view and it is permanent. You can’t go back and start over. When your plan is more or less complete, it’s time to call in a couple of pool builders and see what they think. Ask to see their portfolio and meet someone who already understands what you like. Most builders will be happy to take you on an afternoon tour to see their work in person. Take your time with this as you did with all the other steps in the planning process. One future summer afternoon, as you sit by the pool, sipping your iced tea, you will be so glad you did!