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Swimming Pool Preparation

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  • Getting Your Feet Wet

    Pools and spas are fun, but there can be hassles building and installing them. So lets begin with an

    important piece of advice: before you play, do a little homework. Start by thinking of your new pool or spa

    for what it really is a major home improvement project that is going to require you to make decisions,

    hire professionals, may be do some of the work yourself and of course pay the bills

    No matter which type of pool or spa you choose, it will be only one element in the overall design of your

    outdoor living space. You may want to built a deck or patio around the pool for sunning and entertaining,

    install lighting, new landscaping, and perhaps add a shed or an outbuilding for storing equipment or

    changing in and out of swimwear. Hot tubs and spas require the same considerations, but usually on a

    smaller scale.

    However, your home paradise doesnt have to be done all at once. Some things, such as a large multi-level

    redwood deck or a flagstone patio enclosed by a garden wall, can be postponed. Just be sure to allot the

    necessary space for them. But it is a good idea to rough-in pool-related items such as heaters or fountains

    that you may want to add in the future. It is generally more expensive if you do a major renovation later.

    Chapter 8, Around the Pool Landscaping and Water Features, beginning on page 146, contains more

    useful information on that topic.

    Uses for Your Pool and Spa

    How you plan to use your pool and spa you will need. Throw the dimensions of your yard into the

    equation, and you should be able to come up with a rough plan that gives an idea of the size and shape of

    pool and spa that is right for you, as well as some idea about where to put them on your yard. Of course,

    there is a lot more to think about, including your budget, but start slowly. Before you begin working on the

    details, think of the big picture. Start the planning process by thinking about the things you and your

    family enjoys the most. Here are some ideas.

    A Recreation Center

    This is probably the most popular type of pool. Its where you and your family and friends hang out and

    have some good wet fun. If spending an afternoon splashing around on a float is your idea of a swim,

    perhaps an aboveground pool might be for you. Or you can opt for an in-ground pool that has a constant

    depth lets say about 4 feet. Both are good choices, especially if small children will be using the pool. The

    depth accommodates most pool games and is still deep enough to swim for exercise.

    A large pool with a deep and for diving and an attached in-ground spa offers something for everyone.

    If you decide to add a diving board, the pool will need a deep end. Recommendations vary but plan on a

    depth of about 9 to 11 feet in the diving area, which should extend out a minimum of approximately 12

    feet in front if the diving board.

    Other amenities to consider for a recreation center include slides and a nearby spa.

    An Exercise Center

    Lap pools are for those who want to exercise regularly by swimming. While a 4-foot depth is adequate, lap

    swimmers need space. An Olympic size pool is 25 meters long thats a little over 82 feet in length. Most

    yards dont have that kind of space, but if you can squeeze a pool that is about 45 feet long into your

    yard, you will be able to do some serious training.

    For those who dont want to swim laps but do plan on doing water aerobics, size isnt important. As long as

    the pool is about 4 feet deep, you will get a good workout.

    Of course, nothing says you cant have a pool that lets you do both: float away a hot afternoon, and train

    for the next Olympics.

    As you will see later, many pools come in a variety of shapes and sizes. If you have the space in your yard,

    it is possible to combine the long narrow shape of the typical lap pool with a large constant- depth area for

    pool games.

    A swim spa

    Another choice for exercise buffs is a swim spa. This is a small pool some models are only 10 to 14 feet

    long that produces a strong artificial current against which you can swim without moving forward. This

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  • A swim spa

    Another choice for exercise buffs is a swim spa. This is a small pool some models are only 10 to 14 feet

    long that produces a strong artificial current against which you can swim without moving forward. This

    action is sometimes called treadmill swimming. Both lap pools and swim spas are great choices for indoor

    exercise areas.

    Besides providing an exercise area, a swim spa is a compact alternative to a full-size in-ground pool. It will

    work well in a narrow yard, and unlike a full-size lap pool, it doesnt require an open stretch of ground.

    An indoor gym, above right, benefits from an accessible lap pool, especially in a private location.

    A swim spa, right, provides a current against which to swim for people who want a healthy workout.

    A Relaxation Center

    A good soak in a swimming pool can certainly relax you. But to relieve the tensions of the day or pamper

    sore muscles, nothing beats a session in a spa or hot tub. Many people who build a pool include either an

    in-ground or portable spa as part of the package. As with pools, there is a lot of choose from here.

    In-ground versions complement the design of the larger pool. Usually, they are built right next to the pool

    where they share pumps, filters, and heaters. Portable spas give you the option of placing the spa in some

    other part of the yard, such as on an existing deck or patio, where it is easier to reach from the house.

    Portable spas are self-contained units with pumps, filters, a heater, and sometimes lighting built right into

    the unit.

    Smart Tip

    Give the idea of the pool with a deep end serious thought. In my experience, most homeowners dont need

    deep pools. These models are more expensive to build and maintain, and there are obvious safety factors

    to consider. Also, it is tough to have a decent pool volleyball game when one team is in 4 feet of water

    while the other team is in 6 feet. D.S.

    A portable spa, above, comes with numerous jets to massage and relax muscles.

    A hot tub, below, offers a deeper soak as much as 4 ft. than other types of spas.

    Create a Plan

    If youve thought about installing a pool or spa, you probably have a general idea about where to place it

    in your yard. A pool of spa is going to be the focus of an outdoor living area, so it should be in a

    convenient spot. Like a deck or patio, it should have a connection to the house. You will gravitate to the

    area more readily if you can reach the new pool through a public room such as family room or kitchen.

    Also, it is usually easier to keep an eye on what is going on in the pool from these frequented parts of the

    house. Little used areas, such as bedroom in the middle of the day, do not make good entry points of the

    pool area, but might be ideal for gaining access to a private, enclosed spa or hot tub.

    Having a general idea of where to locate your pool or spa is a good start, but there are a number of other

    considerations to keep in mind. The best way to approach this stage of the planning is to draw a plot plan

    of your property on graph paper. This will give you a scaled-down overhead view that should show the

    location of all of the existing elements, such as the house, driveway, lawns, gardens, trees, decks and any

    other outdoor structures. If youll be adding other features, the plan will also help you to allot the proper

    space and location for them on your site.

    If you plan to do landscaping simultaneously with pool construction, you might want to include these plans

    as well, perhaps on a separate copy or on a tissue paper overlay with the pool and spa in place. At the

    very least, you will have begun the process of determining your future plans for the area surrounding the

    pool or spa. (See Chapter 8, Around the Pool- Landscaping and Water Features, page 146, for more

    information.)

    A pool attracts a crowd, so its wise to locate it where access to the house is easy.

    Smart Tip

    A complaint I hear from homeowners is that they wish they had put the pool closer to the house. A pool

    that is close makes entertaining and bringing food and drinks from the house and cleaning up after a

    party much easier. D.S.

    Survey Maps

    An alternative is to create a base map from a copy of your plot (or property survey) prepared by

    surveyors, which most homeowners receive when they purchase their house. You can also request one

    from your tax assessors office. Copies are usually available at no cost or for a nominal fee. A surveyors

    map save you time taking measurements. In addition to showing property lines, a footprint on the house,

    and other significant structures, the plat should show easements and the location of overhead and

    underground utility lines. Make enlarged copies of the plat so that you can draw on them, or use one copy

    as a base and add tissue layers to draw in the other components.

    A dramatic vanishing-edge, or infinity-edge, pool is designed to blend into the magnificent view beyond.

    Create a Base Map

    Working with an enlarged copy of a surveyors map of your property is a sm