Hey, I Want A Pool!

| January 15, 2013 | 0 Comments

Hey, I Want A Pool!

The extreme heat on the east coast this past summer might have you considering a swimming pool for next summer. Whether you are thinking of purchasing a home with an existing pool or if you are thinking of installing a new pool, this article may have some information and helpful tips for you.

What Else Should I Consider?

Once the decision is made to purchase a swimming pool you will have to make a few more decisions. Pool size, placement and proximity to your house are very important factors. Check with the township that you live in for their possible requirements. In some townships, for example, pools must be 25 feet from the property line and 15 feet from any building. Placing a pool in an area where it can be seen at all times is a good safety strategy. If you have small children or plan on having children, place the pool so that you can see it from a room that you will be in often. Once the children learn how to swim, it is still a good idea to have a view of the pool at all times for safety. Having the pool close to the house is good for this same reason. It is reassuring to me, as a mom, to be able to see the pool and hear voices that are around it. Another factor to consider when deciding on pool placement is shade from the house, trees, and other structures. Shade can make it “cool”. Some shade is good but too much can make it cold and uncomfortable.  Observe where the sun rises and falls and how much shade will be cast on the pool from structures or the landscape. The direction that the wind blows is also an important factor to consider. Depending on your climate and landscape, there may be a lot of wind or maybe none at all. If you experience wind often and are considering a swimming pool, realize that the wind will blow everything and anything into your pool especially during thunderstorms. Pine trees or trees that flower can be tough when the wind picks up. Having a lawn mower with a bag is a great idea because grass clippings can be hard to keep from blowing in the pool. If you have grass clippings on the ground, around the pool, wet feet will carry them into the water. Having cement all around the pool can help with the time you spend on maintenance.  If you are concerned about pool placement and all the factors mentioned, having an architect construct a preliminary design is a good idea. Some pool companies will offer this service for free. One last factor to consider, if you plan on purchasing a pool heater; locate your gas meter and how far it is from the pool, to see if you will be able to install a line easily. If you are buying an existing home with a pool, consider all of the above factors to evaluate if the pool has good placement on the lot and how easy it will be to take care of and enjoy.

Once you determine the size, placement and proximity from the house you will have to decide how much you can invest and what kind of pool you can afford. I recommend taking your time and doing some research not just on-line but talk to people who own pools and visit pool installation showrooms. There are positive and negative points about all types of pools. When shopping for a swimming pool, you should consider your needs, expectations, amount of money that you can spend and time you are willing to dedicate to pool care.

New Pools – Quality and Costs

 Here is a look at three types of swimming pools and their estimated average costs:

  1. 1. Shotcrete or concrete pools. These pools are considered very durable structures and are very attractive. Since they are monolithically constructed (no joints – just one smooth piece) – there is little chance of cracks or places for stubborn algae to reside. One very nice feature about these types of pools is they are actually “poured” like a cement patio their shape can be customized (free form design) to match your landscape or whatever shape you desire. These pools are the most expensive type of pool to purchase. The cost will vary drastically depending on what kind of climate you live in. To protect against the freeze/thaw effect, the thickness of the shell of a shotcrete pool needs to be greater in climates that have a winter where the temperature dips below freezing. For example, in Florida, a shotcrete pool shell may be 4 inches thick, in the northeast it may be 12 inches thick and in Canada it would be around 18 inches thick. In other words, a shotcrete pool will be less expensive in areas with a mild temperature year round. One of the big misconceptions about shotcrete pools is that they will crack. If they are properly designed for the geography and climate, have a quality finish and are maintained well, a shotcrete pool can last up to 30 years before they might need a new finish. Another misconception is that they are “rough” like a cement driveway.  They are actually finished much differently than a driveway and there are several finishes available. You can choose Pebbletec which is the most durable providing the longest warranty and estimated 25 to 30 year life, Diamond Bright which is the next most durable, and lastly, marcite.  Each of these categories offer a variety of “looks” and textures for your finish and choosing one is another aspect of how you can customize your shotcrete pool. The average price range of a shotcrete pool is small: $50,000 med: $75.000 large: $100.00 plus.
  2. Fiberglass drop-in pools. These pools resemble a large bathtub, have no joints and are very attractive as well. They can be installed in just a few days. They are easy to keep clean and can have very attractive features such as spas molded in, bar stools or a vanishing edge. Cracks and leaks can be a problem with fiberglass pools and should be fixed by a fiberglass pool specialist. Reducing water level or draining the pool can cause the drop-in to pop out of the ground.  Simple shipping accidents, improper packing or errors in installation can cause cracks to form. It is very important to install a fiberglass pool on professionally excavated and clean ground to avoid improper pressure which will cause cracking. There are only standard sizes and shapes and they are not very large. The average width is usually 14 to 16 feet. When choosing a fiberglass pool company, consider the length of the warranty they offer to protect you against problems such as bulges in the pool wall, pool movement and separation of pool and patio. They can last 25 to 30 years before they need a refinish. The average price range of a fiberglass pool is $40,000 to $50,000:
  3. In-ground liner pools. These pools are the second least expensive type of pool to obtain. A liner pool can serve the purpose very well and depending on the surroundings and the landscaping, they can be very attractive especially when accompanied by a deck. Liners will need to be replaced on an average of every 10 to 15 years. Years ago liner pools had a lot of creases but new technology that makes the liners fit better has reduced the amount of wrinkles. These types of pools can be affected by freeze/thaw over the years and develop shifting walls or warping walls. However, a positive factor is that liners and fiberglass are inert to corrosion. In addition, the walls are made thicker now as opposed to ten or so years ago. The average price range of an in-ground liner pools is $20,000.
  4. 4. Above-ground pools.  Are the least expensive choice.  These pools, although inexpensive can be more expensive to heat due to greater heat loss from above ground wall exposure. Most are transportable and can be resold. The average cost being $10,000.

Now that I have explained the different types of new pools and their structures, this will give you a little knowledge of what to look for if you are buying an existing home with an existing swimming pool.

Existing Pools – Tips to Avoid a Money Pit

If you are buying a home with an existing pool, here are a few things to do and consider for appraising the quality, amount of care and possible longevity of the pool:

If possible, find out how old the pool is. Consider hiring a reputable pool professional (preferably with 25 yrs experience or more servicing that type of pool) to inspect the existing pool and get a written report on the existing conditions, technical deficiencies, repair recommendations, and costs.

Here are some questions that you will want answered before you make your purchase:

  1. How well is the structure: For concrete pools:  Are there any visible signs of the structure bowing, warping or pushing from earth forces on the back side of the wall from many freeze/thaw cycles in the winter. Does the concrete pool have joints (bad) or is it monolithic (one piece)? You will have to contact the original builder to find this out. Are there any visual signs of structural cracks/damage where leakage could occur? How old is the interior finish of the pool (paint…will need repainted frequently), (Diamond Brite… good), (Pebble Tec….great)? For fiberglass pools and vinyl liner pools: Any visible signs of the structure delaminating, bowing, warping or pushing from forces of the earth.
  2. Plumbing and Piping: What is the condition of the mechanical equipment (pump, filter, heater, skimmer, etc and associated plumbing and valves)? Are there any known leaks existing in the plumbing (underground or above ground)? Underground leaks can be costly. Pressure testing can verify leaks underground. If the pool has a heater, whether gas or electric, you should determine if it is still efficient? If it is not, it could cost a lot of money to heat the pool.
  3. Leaks: Liner pools: Are there any known leaks in the liner? Was the liner replaced and how old is it? As time goes by the liner will become less elastic and more brittle.
  4. Drain: Concrete, Fiberglass, Liner? Does the pool have a bottom drain? Some pools do not have one and some have plugged it (due to leakage) and must rely on the skimmer for recirculating water at the waterline for filtration. Having a bottom drain is a good feature if it is not leaking.
  5. Electrical:  If the pool has underwater lighting, make sure is it grounded with a GFCI breaker or receptacle to prevent shock, if by chance the electricity would make contact with the water.
  6. Sump or French Drain: Especially for Fiberglass and Shotcrete pools, if they are in an area where ground water could collect, make sure that there is a sump or French drain installed to avoid the shell popping out of the ground.


Remember, when purchasing a swimming pool, just like a car, there are many accessories available that can increase the cost. If you have the extra money, some of these accessories can be very attractive and fun. Here is a list of cool (but not required) extras:

  1. Automatic Hydraulic Cover
  2. Automatic Chemical Monitoring Systems
  3. Saltwater Systems
  4. Decorative Limestone Coping
  5. Glass Tile Waterline
  6. Pebble Tec finish
  7. Diving Board
  8. Slide
  9. LED Colored Lighting
  10. LED Deck Jets
  11. Waterfall
  12. Spa
  13. Automatic Vacuum Cleaner
  14. Tanning Ledges
  15. Infinity Edge
  16. Tension Winter Covers

Always do your homework and hire a reputable and experienced builder and service professional when installing a new pool or repairing an existing pool.

If you are interested in a shotcrete/cement pool and you are from the Pittsburgh area, for an estimate or expert advice contact:

Randy  Kolson – 412-812-2549


In 2009, Aqua Pool Incorporated won the prestigious Golden Trowel Award from the International Masonary Institute.

For Fiberglass or Liner pool expert advice contact:

Ed Bakosh – 412-462-1150


Skyview Pools, a distributor of Fox Pool Corporation, offer in-ground liners of a rather new technology. They are the most expensive of liners but the highest quality. Their wall engineering, braces & support, are made of high quality galvanized metal.

Know what you want but know that you can’t afford it? Remember:

“The strongest of all warriors are these Time and Patience.”    Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoi

Thank you for reading,

Jodi Velazquez  – author


Order the Slick Move Guide:http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=slick+move+guide


Filed Under: Moving Tips

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