When I was a trainee journalist (and no, we were never called "cub" reporters) our chief of staff beat into us with his very sharp tongue the Five Ws, a formula for getting the complete story on a subject. For a report to be considered complete it had to answer a checklist of five questions: who, what, when, where and why. If we handed in a story that was missing one of them, we were verbally spanked and ridiculed in front of the entire reporting staff.
Certainly such treatment would not be condoned these days, but the fact I still remember and use the checklist several decades later is proof it worked. Now I'm going to recommend it (the checklist, not the ridicule) to anyone thinking of getting a pool.
A week ago, nobody in the country would have wanted a pool. But this past week has contained two or three 20-degrees plus days and that's enough to convince most of us there really will be a summer this year, and wouldn't it be cool to have a pool. Time for the five Ws, then.
Possibly the most important "who" question is "who is going to pay for it?". But, for this exercise, try to answer "who is going to use it?" first. If there's more than one person in your family, chances are you'll have a problem. He may want a lap pool, she a plunge pool, the kids a massive, resort-style pool where they can entertain mates and play loud music, and the littlies a round plastic paddling pool on the lawn with a seahorse design on it.
Whether you do it by argument, tears, threats or tossing a coin, make a firm decision on what sort of pool it will be. If you're a pretty average Kiwi, your best chance of affording a pool is to choose an above-ground, kitset model that can be delivered for you to put together, with a plumber and electrician for the tricky bits. Some of these pools even incorporate a current so you can effectively combine a lap and plunge pool, and kill two birds with one stone.
Thanks to improved technology and construction methods, you can find a supplier, order a pool and have it delivered the same week, if not the same day. Obviously, a custom-made, tile-lined model with a mosaic of your family crest on the bottom will take a little longer.
So where's it going to go? If you're lazy like me, you'll want it so close to the house you can roll off the sofa into the water without your feet ever touching the floor.
If you have the aforementioned teenagers with mates and whatever the 2012 equivalent of a ghetto blaster is, you may prefer it well away from the house and screened with plants or a noise-deflecting wall. If you have small children who'll use it, consider how they can be supervised if the pool is distant or screened from the house. Keep in mind that the further from the house, the more cost to connect to services such as power and water.
Narrow it to a couple of locations then grab a stringline and pegs and mark out the area. This will show you whether there'll be room in there to turn around at the end, and whether your pool will destroy your garden. You can also get an idea of sun, wind and the impact of existing trees, and see how much garden you've got left over.
And why would you have a pool?
Because you can. However, there is also a "why not?" to be asked here, and the answer is that pools come with strings attached - to the local council. There are strict requirements so you will need to look at resource consent, building consent and satisfying other requirements that are often challenging, sometimes difficult, and occasionally prohibitive. Fencing will be required, even if your property is totally surrounded by a 5m-high cyclone fence and the only visitors you ever have are people over 20 who hold marathon swimming records and lifesaving qualifications. If an ant can drown in it, you'll have to fence it, otherwise you'll be in hot water rather than cool.