Design and enjoy a poolside paradise in your backyard with this expert advice
Millions of Australians have swimming pools in their backyards
Australia’s dedication to the laidback, outdoor lifestyle means it’s no surprise we have the highest number of swimming pools per capita in the world.
That love affair looks set to continue with 13,000 pools built each year, according to Swimart Pool & Spa Services, adding to the 1.2 million already installed across Australia.
Costs can start from about $30,000 for a basic inground pool built on a flat block with easy access and no sand or rock below the surface.
At the more aspirational end of the design spectrum is the indoor-outdoor pool, where you start your dip in the living room and end up outside.
Design it right
Often affordable design starts with a good architect or builder. They might be able to help you choose a good design which will save you money in the long run, especially if you use energy-efficient products.
Huge savings can be made on energy costs by using a multi-feed or multi-variable pump. These will recycle the water through a filtration system.
One of the most critical aspects of the construction process to consider is whether the builders will have site access, otherwise it can drag out the build and cause complications.
In 2012 the federal government passed tougher pool safety laws in the wake of new research showing that about 41% of infant drownings could be prevented with improved compliance.
Property owners now need to have their pools inspected and certified confirming they meet new safety barrier legislation. In addition, all parents and pool owners should follow the five rules set out by swim coach Laurie Lawrence as part of the Kids Alive program (kidsalive.com.au):
- Fence the pool
- Shut the gate
- Teach your kids to swim
- Learn how to resuscitate
TIP For a pool safety checklist, visit homepoolsafety.com.au.
An ongoing investment
Although financial and time commitments are involved, pool ownership still works out cheaper than investing in many other recreational activities when broken down into a weekly outlay, and can add long-term value to the property.
It is estimated that the minimum cost of maintaining an average-sized pool per week is between $10 and $20 if you do it yourself, but more if it is not regularly maintained.
Even so, this is dependant on the form of sanitising system that is in place. Either you can have manual dosing which involves adding chlorine yourself, or you can use salt chlorinators or different minerals, such as copper, silver or bromine.
The salt chlorinator system is the most popular choice in Australia as it requires less maintenance.
TIP If a pool is well maintained it only needs repainting or resurfacing every five to 10 years.
Do the maintenance
Many common problems can be prevented or fixed with some simple know-how.
Red burning eyes usually means the pH level is too high and there’s too much chlorine and the water's cloudy.
Toilet accidents courtesy of babies or pets don’t mean you have to drain the pool. You can simply remove the matter then super chlorinate the pool by adding a significant amount of sanitiser.
Leave the sanitiser for 48 hours before swimming again to give the chemicals a chance to kill the bugs.
Slimy water can occur when the pool is often in use. This is because the sanitising levels and circulation are too low and the pH could be too high.
Less effective chlorine may be the result of hot days. ‘oo much sun or UV light can deactivate chlorine’s effectiveness and its ability to kill organisms. That’s when you need a stabiliser like isocyanuric in the pool.
Keep it clean
‘There are certain things the average person can do to care for their pool,’ says Peter Allen, a franchise manager of Swimart (swimart.com.au)
‘Clean out the baskets and the skimmer regularly, check the pump is working, regularly maintain water balance and make sure the system’s not leaking.
‘If there are any problems then you should seek advice early because the longer you leave it, the bigger the expense will be to fix it later.’
In addition, pool owners need to maintain the surrounding garden.
‘Having no trees around the pool is less work but most of us like some privacy and shade so we’re prepared to put up with a bit more work to get it,' Peter adds.
Pool water pH needs to be tested for an ideal alkaline level between 7.2 and 7.8. Peter says DIY water testing is fine but a more thorough chemical check still needs to be done regularly at a pool shop using a photometer.
‘Clean-looking water isn’t necessarily safe water,’ he adds. ‘It might actually contain bacteria and other microbes.’
The right equipment
- Keep the pool area clean, safe and looking good this summer.
- Check out poolside dining and lounge furniture and accessories like umbrellas for shade.
- Add a spa to the setup or turn it into a water playground for the kids.
- Invest in a quality pump and cleaning equipment so the pool is always ready for action.
Relax and unwind by the pool this summer