Swimming Pool Installation

Here, we'll walk you through the installation process for an in-ground swimming pool. Knowing the major steps will help you when talking to installation contractors, allowing you to spot potential problems before they become realities. We'll also give you some tips for finding the best pool installation professionals in your area, if you don't have the help of a designer.

When it comes to installing a large addition to your yard such as a swimming pool, a great deal of planning is involved. Your first step will most likely include working with a pool designer. This person may also have a crew of installation workers. However, they might not do or offer any installation work.

Depending on the designer or design firm you've worked with to design your pool, they may have some recommendations for an installation crew. In fact, they may work together with such a company; this arrangement is common. On the other hand, they might be a stand-alone design firm, and only be able to give you hints and tips for finding an installation crew. It all depends on how the individual designer works.

Installing your pool is, obviously, a critical part of the addition. A pool that's been designed by the best in the business can still face irritating and expensive setbacks and delays if it's not installed properly.

The Basics - Concrete, Vinyl or Fiberglass

You may have already decided on the material your pool will be constructed of, or your designer may have left it up to the construction crew. There are three main materials used in the construction of in-ground pools, and they all have their disadvantages and advantages.

Concrete pools are the most long-lasting, durable and versatile of all in-ground pools. However, they are also the most labor-intensive and time-consuming to install. Concrete pools have the advantage of being open to renovation. If you should decide in years to come that you would like to enlarge your pool or add on extras like a connected jacuzzi or kid's pool, a concrete pool can be drained and renovated. This advantage is unique to concrete pools. For an average size concrete pool, expect installation to take approximately three to twelve weeks, depending on size and shape.

Vinyl is your next option. Vinyl pools are much less expensive than concrete pools and can be installed much more quickly; most take one to three weeks from start to finish. Be sure to insist on thick vinyl for your pool; experts recommend approximately one inch of thickness. Even with extremely thick vinyl, be aware that the sides of your pool can still be punctured. If you have children or pets, claws and pool toys can cause costly repairs. Vinyl isn't as versatile as concrete, but vinyl pools are available several different shapes.

Fiberglass pools are also very popular, for several reasons. Fiberglass is very durable and smooth. It is better than concrete in this aspect; the non-porous surface of fiberglass does not allow the growth of algae or mildew. This means that your fiberglass pool will require the use of less anti-algae additives and stay cleaner with less maintenance. Once the pool is at your home, installation is extremely fast; most installation crews can have a fiberglass pool ready for use in as little as three to four days.

The disadvantages of fiberglass pools are related to inflexibility of design and the installation process itself. Fiberglass pools are rigid pieces of fiberglass which are manufactured off-site and then delivered to your home. While they can be custom-designed, pre-existing design options are a much more budget-friendly choice. Off-site construction means that a very large truck is required to deliver the finished pool to your home. Depending on where you live, this can pose some big problems. Certain areas have regulations regarding large truck-bed loads, and there may not be a direct route from the manufacturer to your home. This can lead to inflated delivery costs simply because the driver has to comply with local laws. Ask your designer or installer about these laws before you make the decision to purchase a fiberglass pool. In some areas, the cost difference can be thousands of dollars.

Environmental Price Factors

The cost and difficulty of installing your new swimming pool doesn't depend solely on its design and material. Other factors, such as the time of year, soil type and the slope of your yard can all factor into pricing.

Obviously, in cooler climates there are periods of the year when the ground is frozen, making installation impossible. However, many installation contractors offer deals for homeowners who install a pool in cooler (not frozen) months. Instead of paying a premium during the spring or summer (when most pools are installed), check pricing for a fall installation. You may be surprised at the deals available.

Different types of soil can impact installation time dramatically. Dense, hard clay soils, for instance, are much more difficult to dig in than loose sandy soil. This added digging time usually adds up to increased labor costs. You can't change the soil in your yard, but being aware of the conditions ahead of time can help avoid a high-priced surprise.

You should always install a pool in the flattest, most level portion of your yard. However, sometimes this isn't possible. If you're installing a pool on a hillside or a slope, special precautions will need to be taken during installation to prevent the pool from caving in on itself.

While most of these factors can't be changed, it makes good financial sense to talk them over with your pool installation contractor before finalizing a hiring decision or signing a contract. Be sure that your contractor is aware of any and all factors which may affect pricing, and insist on an estimate that takes all factors into account.

When you're drawing up your own estimate for pool installation costs, be sure to include everything the pool will require, not just the pool installation itself. Extras such as increased patio space, safety fencing and decorative tile are popular additions around a pool, and their costs should be included in your “mental estimate” of the pool's total cost.

Choose the Right Location for Maximum Enjoyment

Your new swimming pool is a big investment. In fact, it may be the single biggest improvement or addition you ever purchase. Ensuring proper placement is key to getting the most enjoyment out of your investment.

Placing your pool in a sunny spot might is the single most important thing you can do to maximize your family's enjoyment and use of the pool. Trees close to a pool not only block the sun's warming rays, but they drop tons of unwanted leaves into the water. Allowing your pool to absorb sunlight will cut down on heating costs, so take advantage of that natural heat.

A swimming pool is all about enjoying the water, not shivering because you're cold and wet. Wind can be a detriment to your pool enjoyment, but there are steps you can take to minimize the damage. Wind is bad for pools for two main reasons. One is simply that it makes people colder! Lying out poolside to get a tan isn't much fun if you're shivering the entire time. The other negative of wind is water evaporation.

Both of these negative aspects can be minimized by the careful planning and positioning of a windbreak. Windbreaks can either be high fences or banks of trees. You'll probably need to consult a landscape or fencing contractor for the installation of this particular pool element, but the extra time and money will be well-spent. Your pool installation contractor should be able to give you a good idea of the best location, height and width of your new windbreak. Be sure to check with local regulations about the size and height of fences before installing; some communities don't' allow fences above a certain height.

Zoning and Safety Laws

Your pool installation contractor should contact local utility companies before digging to determine where power, gas and water lines are located on your property. This is actually one of the very first steps of pool installation and design. It's also crucial to contact your local building officials to obtain the proper building permits and ensure your pool is in compliance with all local laws.

Green Filtration Options

Pools must be filtered to avoid the growth of unhealthy and unsightly fungus, mold and mildew. Filtration and aeration also keeps the water fresh and flowing. Talk with your installation contractor about different types of pool filters.

For years, the most popular pool filter used sand to screen out unwanted particles. These filters must be rinsed out periodically and can become clogged. In recent years, however, a more energy-efficient method has become popular. This method involves filtration cartridges, and is actually easier to maintain than sand.

Cartridge filtration systems come in different sizes; your contractor will recommend the appropriate size for your pool. Cartridge filters don't' require the same maintenance that sand filters required, however, no filtration method is maintenance-free. Ask your contractor for the filter which is the easiest to maintain, the most energy-efficient and does the most thorough job of keeping your pool clean.

Finding the Best Installation Contractors

For such a big job, it's only natural to insist on the best contractor and work crew available. Home improvement websites are a great way to find that stellar work crew with very little effort. These sites let you view different contractors in your area, checking things like licensing, insurance, and other important factors. You can even read reviews from former clients, giving you an inside look at how the individual operates while working. Once you've narrowed your list, start making calls. Describe your entire project to each prospective contractor, from start to finish. When making your final decision, go with the contractor with whom you get along with best, who understands fully your vision of how the pool will look when completed, and who can offer a reasonable but realistic estimate.

Posted by: Diane
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