Planning a dip in the pool

Anyone keento improve his or her sense of wellbeing after the weeks of rain we've had would do well to consider putting in a swimming pool.

It certainly focuses the mind on the idea of summer and with spring already under way there's no time to waste.

Improved technology and construction methods mean domestic pools are no longer beyond the reach of the average family.

Nor do they take six months to build. These days you can find a supplier, order a pool and have it delivered the same week, if not the same day, for a reasonable price.

But, although paying for it may be a bit easier than it used to be, making all the decisions around pool ownership remains a challenge.

The design and construction causes considerable disruption to the surrounding garden and in most families the pool has to satisfy a number of needs.

The other alternative is to site it well away from the house and create a new area of landscaping to accommodate it. If this is your choice, you need to think about whether it will be visible from the house (again, supervision of children is a consideration) and remember that the further away it is from the house, the more it will cost to connect to services such as power and water.

To compare the locations you're considering, take a tape measure, a string line and some pegs and mark the area out.

You'll quickly be able to tell whether your pool is going to destroy existing landscaping, where the sun will be, how sheltered the spot is and what impact there will be from existing trees.

If you don't want to spend hours sucking leaves out of the pool, taker a close look at what is nearby. A stand of eucalyptus alongside could drive you mad. If possible, leave your string line in place for a few days and walk around the area frequently.

This will give you an idea of how the pool fits into the environment and how much garden will be left over.

A great, big pool sounds fabulous, but it's no fun if there isn't any room to sit around the edge and relax. Before you so much as put a shovel in the earth, check with the local council about rules around swimming pools.

They have strict requirements so you will need to look at resource consent, building consent and at satisfying other requirements that are often challenging, sometimes difficult and occasionally prohibitive.

For example, anyone who builds a pool is required to fence it, even if it's tiny and so shallow you have to lie down to get wet.

The Fencing of Swimming Pools Act requires people with pools (including spa pools) to put fences around them to a height of 1.2m.

The fence can only enclose the immediate pool area but may include things used in association with the pool, such as changing sheds.

You can't fence the whole backyard and expect to comply with the Act, because children generally come and go freely in this area.

So find a pool company that's prepared to look at the regulations with you and work out how they can be met while still giving you the pool you want.

Make sure you have a clear understanding of what is involved and the time frame for the work to be done and with luck, you'll be in store for a long, wet summer.

He may want a lap pool, she a plunge pool, the teenagers a massive, in-ground resort-style pool, where they can entertain mates and play loud music, and the littlies a round plastic thing on the lawn with a blow-up water slide on the side.

For the average Kiwi family, it's likely an above-ground, kitset model will be the simplest and cheapest option.

It can be delivered for you to put together yourself, with a plumber and electrician for the tricky bits.

Some of these pools even incorporate a current so you can effectively combine a lap pool with a plunge pool and kill two birds with one stone.

Once the budget has been set and the type of pool decided upon, you need to consider where it's going to go.

The current trend is to put a pool close to the house and incorporate it into an outdoor living space.

That way, it becomes part of the area where you entertain and makes it easy to supervise children around the water.

- Hamilton News

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