A pool is a wonderful addition to your home, but comes with responsibilities. For safety it will require fencing (and a self-closing safety-latched gate) to a standard that conforms to the NZ Fencing of Swimming Pools Act. Added to that, you’ll need to budget for heating and cleaning in order to keep the water in a state fit for use.
Planning for a new pool
If you’re installing a new pool, a little forethought and planning will help ensure years of low-maintenance enjoyment.
In urban properties pools are often positioned in close proximity to the house. Try to locate your pool so it’s in full sun and away from large trees, as otherwise they will shade it and shed litter.
The great thing about designing a pool is that you can tailor it to suit your swimming requirements. A typical family recreational pool may have a sloped floor with a depth ranging from 1.0 to 1.8 metres and a shape that compliments your site, be it free-form, classic, rectangular, kidney, or something completely different. If you want to make swimming a part of your daily workout but have limited room in your backyard, a narrow lap pool might be the best option. These have a typical depth of 1.4 to 1.5 metres throughout. If space will allow, a length of 20–25 metres will enable competitive swimmers to train effectively; or consider a smaller pool fitted with swim jets.
Steps need to provide easy access but not compromise the swimming area. An internal ledge around the entire periphery provides a resting spot for small children.
Around the pool
Allow space all around the pool for a deck or paved area. As well as being a space to relax, the poolside area needs to provide easy, safe access to the pool. It minimizes the amount of grass or dirt entering the water and catches overspills. As a rule of thumb, the total poolside area should be about equal to the pool area. Remember the safety fence will surround the poolside area. Some councils will allow the zone between house and pool to be unfenced, though self-locking doors will be required, along with a safety cover over the water.
Finish and construction
If you are looking at a customised design, then consider a concrete pool. Finishes range from traditional tile to rendered plaster coatings such as Quartzon or Hydrazzo. Fibreglass and vinyl liner pools provide a more cost-effective option but generally have a shorter lifespan. Ceramic composite pools provide durability in sites prone to ground movement or where there is risk of seismic activity. They also offer the most resistance to imbalances in water chemistry.
Healthy, sparkling water is a product of good filtration and attention to chemistry. A high water turnover and efficient filtration can significantly reduce chemical demand and cost. Though there is a huge range of sanitising systems available, most options use chlorine derived from liquid, tablets or salt. (A salt pool is a chlorine pool.) Some are fully automatic. Chlorine-free alternatives such as ozone and ionizers are worth exploring, but they often require a residual low-level sanitiser, such as chlorine, to keep the pool safe.
Some owners enjoy cleaning their pool manually. If that isn’t for you, ‘creepy-crawly’ type cleaners will do a reasonable job if set up correctly. They typically use a vacuum hose connected to the pool skimmer and travel randomly over the pool floor and sides. More efficient robotic variants map the bottom of the pool and trap leaves and debris on board. Some pools have a network of cleaning nozzles built into the floor and steps that pop up and push water across the pool floor, forcing debris towards a suction drain for automated removal.
Heating your pool by solar, heat pump or gas will significantly extend the swimming season and boost the temperature on colder or windy summer days. Evaporation at the surface significantly drops the water temperature and can be greatly reduced with a cover. Covers range from the Duo-Coat polyester/foam laminate type on a manual roller, to fully automatic slatted or vinyl covers that retract into a pit beside the pool. Some cover designs can be walked on, providing an extra level of safety; and of course covers of all types prevent dust, leaves and rain entering the pool (the latter dilutes pool chemicals).