Pool Design: 4 Elements to Consider Before Building

Updated: Jan 3, 2021

We wanted minimal hardscaping so we could enjoy the grass.

Dreaming about converting your backyard space into an inviting oasis by installing a pool?  It’s a great project, but one that demands careful planning and design.  Read here for my top 4 design elements to consider before seeking a contractor.

#1: Pool and Equipment Placement:  

This is the first element most people consider when planning for a pool.  Where should we put it?  The answer seems easy enough, but there are important things to keep in mind.  How do you want to use your backyard?  For us, we knew that we did not want the entire yard to be pool.  We wanted some grassy area to use for throwing a football, landscaping, and to have room for parties during the off-season.  

A pair of astroturf gates hides the pool pump.

Don’t forget to think about where the best place would be to locate the actual pool pump.  Sometimes there is an additional fee if you want it located further away from the pool than what is considered standard.  How will you hide the pump?  

Make sure you have a plan for this that would also include easy access for maintenance.  Think about all of these things before committing, because it’s an irreversible decision once the construction has started.

Finally, ask yourself where are the existing structures in your yard, and how do those relate to where you want to place your pool?  What do you want to keep, and what do you want to get rid of? For example, we had a large area of trees that if remained would create too much shade on the pool. If we removed them we would have more sun plus create a space for a changing room or storage area.  Careful pre-construction planning meant we could have it all.

#2 Upgrades: 

Not only do upgrades affect your budget, they are decisions that should be made before construction. Typical upgrades include water features, hot tub/spa, extra hardscape, and saltwater chlorinator, just to name a few.  

We knew we wanted a hot tub, but we wanted to be able to control the temperature in the hot tub, and we didn’t want to heat our entire pool.  This led us to the decision to purchase a separate hot tub and install it into our existing deck.  

Do you have noisy neighbors?  Maybe you just like the sound of a water feature. We chose our water feature upgrade to be able to create white noise when we were in our backyard to mask not only our noise, but the noise coming from two close-by neighbors.  This was an expensive upgrade, but well worth it.

How much money do you want to spend on chemicals for your pool?  It may be that going the saltwater chlorinator route is the best bet if you don’t want to spend a lot on monthly chemicals. Lastly, most contractors include a minimum amount of concrete decking around your pool.  Will this be enough for you, or are there areas where you’d like to add on?  Consider all of these things and more as you are making the decision to start this project.

#3 Storage Area/Changing Room:

A cute changing room underneath the stairs.

With a pool comes equipment.  You will have hoses, nets, brushes, a vacuum, and some chemicals that will need to be stored within easy access to the pool. Do you have room in your garage for this?  Consider adding a storage area before pool construction.

What about a changing area?  We found a space just below an existing exterior stairwell that we were able to convert into a changing area for towel storage and privacy.  It’s nice to be able to dry off and change out of a wet swimsuit after a quick swim without having to walk into the house dripping wet.  

#4 Landscaping and Fencing:  Finally, how do you want the finished area to look?  Do you want more grass than flower beds?  What types of plants will work best for the flower beds, and will they drop foliage into the pool?  These are questions that are very important to ask, pre-construction.  

We had to re-route our existing sprinkler lines for the new area.  We knew we were going to have to do this, so we worked that expense into the overall budget.  Are there trees nearby that will prove a nuisance once the pool is in place?  Consider removing them now, before you begin the construction process.  

Fencing is a must for insurance and safety purposes.  What type of fencing will suit your needs and local building code regulations?  Don’t forget to include this expense into your overall budget.   Spend some time on this phase of planning for your pool. You will be able to determine your budget and get more enjoyment out of the actual building process when you are ready to hire a contractor and dig that pool!

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