When contemplating the ultimate holiday gift, it’s fair to say that a swimming pool is not the first thing that comes to mind for many people. But believe it or not, there is actually some pretty solid logic behind building the ultimate summer sanctuary during the time of year many of us spend as little time outside as possible.
Yule see why pool planning in the coldest months of the year can save you money, extend the time you have to use it in the spring and summer – and let’s face it, make up for all of those well-intentioned but ill-received gifts of Christmases past (like the musical reindeer neck tie).
Choosing a Pool that Your Family Will Go Chestnuts Over
The trick to picking the perfect pool layout is a little more involved than choosing between a rectangle and a kidney bean shape. Additionally, there are a few materials to choose from when deciding how to build your pool, as well as the decision of whether to install it in-ground or above-ground. And you thought your hardest decision this December would be where the family spent Christmas Eve! But fear not – there are several ways to help you come to a final decision on all of these items.
First things first: You’re going to need to obtain any necessary permits from your local government. These are going to vary from one community to the next, so finding out this information from your Building & Zoning dept. is going to be necessary before breaking any ground.
Before you can submit pool permits however, you want to figure out the specs of the pool. The first big question to ask yourself is whether you want your pool to be above-ground or in-ground. There are benefits to both depending on what you’re looking for (and how much you’re willing to spend!).
An above-ground pool is significantly less expensive, can be built in a weekend, and can be removed or transported to a new residence should you ever move to a new house. In-ground pools can last decades longer than above-ground versions and add value to your home. They also come with the option of a complete backyard makeover, such as adding a wood deck and any desired natural décor to complement your new pool.
If you go the in-ground route, you’ll next want to decide what kind of material to use to build it. There are three materials commonly used to build pools:
- Concrete: This is the most popular option because of its durability, long lifespan (50 yrs!), and ability to be created into just about any shape you can dream up. Sometimes referred to as gunite or shotcrete pools, they are a good option if you live in year-round warm weather (lucky you!). Of the three options listed here, concrete pools are the most expensive, and the most durable, but usually take around 12 weeks from beginning to end of the installation process, but they also typically last the longest.
- Vinyl: Vinyl-lined pools are installed with steel or polymer walls, usually in a modified rectangle shape. They are not as heavy-duty as concrete pools, with a softer surface and weaker walls. But vinyl pools do come with perks! For example, the installation process is much quicker (typically one to three weeks), and because of their smooth surface, they are easier to keep clean and stain-free than plaster-covered concrete pools. And, the steel or polymer walls don’t expand and contract with the seasons.
- Fiberglass: Like the vinyl variety, fiberglass pools are installed as molded shells into excavated holes, so they typically aren’t available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. They are the least durable of these three options as well as the least costly, and can be installed in a few days. Their bonus features include requiring fewer chemicals for routine maintenance because of the non-porous nature of fiberglass, and being an optimum choice for areas that are prone to earthquakes.
Now that you’ve decided what your pool should be made of, you can start thinking about the fun details you can add to your pool. Diving boards, dancing fountains, colored lights, bejeweled tanning ledges, you name it! There are seemingly endless possibilities for pool customization these days, so be sure to talk to your contractor about available options for jazzing it up.
If you have any questions or still feel overwhelmed with where to start (perhaps you’ve been hitting the eggnog a little too hard?), consult a few pool building contractors for advice. They can help you decide which options will work for your yard, budget and timeline.
Why Buying a Pool in the Winter Will Make Your Family Jolly
We know what you’re thinking; why in the heck should a new pool be a part of my family’s yuletide festivities rather than our spring break plans? In fact, there are plenty of reasons why this seemingly wacky idea may actually be pretty brilliant.
For starters, not everyone has this stroke of genius. Pool builders tend to have less business in the fall and winter than in the spring and summer, even in warm climates. Not only are you likely to be able to find one who doesn’t already have a heavy workload, but due to the simple laws of supply and demand, you may even be able to score a better deal than you would if you waited until the temperature warmed up.
Building a pool during the colder months of the year is actually more practical than waiting to build in the spring or summer. That’s because depending on the material you choose to build with, you could potentially be looking at a months-long process for it to be completed. Building in January will up your chances that your swimming hole will be good to go the minute the weather becomes tolerable again. Your yard is also going to need some time to recover – remember, the space where you’re going to install the pool as well as a pretty hefty area surrounding it is going to take a beating, and will likely consist of more dirt than grass for a while. If you’re already planning your first annual summer pool bash in your head, you’re ideally going to want to have your entire yard back in tiptop shape as soon as it warms up outside. Allowing grass, flower and shrub seeds time to settle in for a few months helps guarantee a yard that will be the envy of every neighbor come spring.
If you’re concerned that winter weather inhibits the feasibility of creating a summer oasis, rest easy: Dry conditions that are typical of fall and winter can actually make excavation an easier task than the one presented by the soggy soil that results from spring and summer showers. Additionally, pool-building experts say that cold temperatures aren’t usually an issue, as long as you get past sustained freezing temperatures. 35° and clear skies? Perfect pool building weather.
Plus, many individuals receive an annual bonus at the end of the year, while others have an idea of what kind of tax refund they can look forward to at the beginning of the year. Both of these once-a-year surpluses can be helpful in buying the best Christmas gift ever, whether you plan on paying cash or financing a pool.
Finally, it can be emotionally uplifting to have something to look forward to during the long, cold winter months when warmth from the sun seems like an elusive luxury. What better way to ward off wintertime blues than by counting down the days until you’re poolside in your own backyard?
Other Quick Tips for Making a Splash with Your Christmas Gift
No matter what, surprising your family with the announcement of a pool will make this holiday one of the most memorable ones your family has ever experienced. Here are a few tips for helping to make sure everything goes off without a hitch:
- Get creative with your presentation. Wrap up gifts your family can enjoy with their new pool, such as goggles, pool floats or even bathing suits, will mystify them before delighting them (and make you the all-time Christmas hero).
- Decide up front whether your pool will use salt chlorine or tablet chlorine treated water. You don’t want to wait until it’s time to fill the pool to do this research – that takes valuable time away from fun in the sun.
- Buy your pool supplies during the building process. You’ll be glad to have items like a pool skimmer net, thermometer and any necessary chemicals on hand before you desperately need them.
Gifting your family with a new pool for the holidays is not only the ultimate Christmas gift – it’s also an extremely practical time of year to charge ahead with creating a summer retreat in the comfort of your own home.
With some advanced planning and a whole lot of Christmas cheer, you can make this holiday season one of your family’s most memorable ever!
InTheSwim Staff Blogger