Start planning in winter for a pool this summer

Property owners looking to install a new pool in time for summer should act in the colder months to avoid disappointment, as the entire process can take a minimum of six months to complete, writes Landart Landscapes co-founder and creative director Matt Leacy.

It’s best to start planning now if you want a pool ready in time for summer. Developing a concept – if done properly – usually takes between two to three months to complete, and then you’ve got to factor in getting the design approved to build, which can take up to three months. Once approved, the pool needs to be installed. After all is said and done, you can potentially be looking at a six-month process at best so it’s smart to get a wriggle on now if you’re aiming to make a summer splash.

Plan before purchasing

The first step is to get a professional in to assess the logistics and suitability of installing a pool in your specific property space. You don’t want to do things in reverse – buying a pool on a whim without first looking at things such as how it will connect and integrate with existing spaces and the overall outdoor aesthetic is very rarely a good idea.

Every year, we hear from people who have rushed their purchase for summer and have ended up having to spend extra time and money post pool installation refitting sewer lines, gardens, design elements and the like.

The pool should ideally complement the existing landscape and infrastructure – if you approach it the other way around, you’re likely going to have fork out extra cash in the long run making tweaks to either the pool or the backyard.

Find your A-team

Starting the process now will also give you time to speak to different experts and find a team that works for you. A pool is a huge long-term investment that will affect not only your property value, but also your day-to-day lifestyle. Given this, you need to be confident that your team is credible, trustworthy and capable of delivering a premium product both on brief and on time.

While budget will always be a relevant factor, I generally recommend working with companies that offer both landscape design and pool installation services, rather than just pool design companies. A company that offers both services will be able to deliver a holistic approach to your property and integrate your pool, landscape and home.

Pool companies, on the other hand, may deliver a pool that functions and looks great in isolation, but they won’t necessarily consider surrounding features and unified outdoor design.

Property prices are at a premium at the moment. If you break your property down into its value per square metre, you realise quickly how important every little bit is.

The location of the pool, in particular, is key as you don’t want to leave yourself with any dead zones that don’t add value. Your team needs to understand and plan for how the pool will maximise your property’s full potential and value.

It’s also important to ensure the team is properly qualified and credentialed. I would recommend making sure that the company has the correct licence and insurance for the type of build you are carrying out – a pool builder’s licence is different to a structural landscaper’s, so make sure that they have the appropriate one.

Have a budget and ideas in mind

It’s always good to come to the table with at least a rough budget in mind. That way, from the outset, your design team can conceptualise a plan that’s achievable. That said, a pool is a long-term investment that you want to stand the test of time, so try to be realistic.

You can only pay for what you can afford, but you don’t want to barter down too much on price because the quality of the pool will ultimately suffer. While you’ll likely save on upfront costs by being thrifty, you may end up spending more in the long run fixing up defects and retrofitting to make the pool flow and connect with the other spaces. Budget considerations should always be balanced against the need for a quality final product.

Collaboration between client and designer is also paramount to a successful project. It is really helpful when the client provides a clear brief. Good landscape design teams will be able to build off the brief you provide to create a design that fits within your budget.

We often generate 3D images and can also do virtual 3D tours so that clients can stand in the finished product and virtually walk around in the space and see, in detail, how their pool and landscape will look so that they can feel completely confident moving into the next stage.

Don’t forget you’ll need approval and the right fencing

All pools, in every Australian state, will need to be compliant with local building codes and registered with the local council, or pool owners risk facing fines.

A big part of whether or not a pool is deemed compliant comes down to the fencing around it. A pool needs to be fenced to certain heights to be approved. You’ve also got minimum requirements relating to the size and height of gaps, horizontal pales and security latches.

Safety and compliance should always be the primary concerns when it comes to a pool fence but, again, ample lead time will allow for other important factors like the design and aesthetic impact of the fence to be properly considered.

The fence effectively rezones the backyard, so it can have a massive impact on the look, feel and overall value of the property. As such, you want to ensure your design team has enough time to strategically and creatively marry design and compliance.

When clients are rushing around and leaving things to the last minute, pool compliance often becomes the sole concern and that very rarely yields the best long-term solution for the pool, fence and overall property.