Swimming pools are the ultimate summer accessory, but there's a lot you need to consider before splashing out on one
New Zealand is a nation obsessed by water, which isn't surprising as we're surrounded by the stuff. What is more surprising is that given the close proximity to beaches of pretty much everyone in the country, we are still so enamoured by swimming pools.
Having a cooling backyard pool to plunge into on a hot summer's days (let's hope we get some this year) is a quintessential Kiwi dream . . . all be it an expensive and time-consuming one. If you're planning on splashing out on a new pool this summer, here's some info to help you make the best decision.
Even the smallest pool will take up a lot of space on your property, especially when you take council regulations into account. Larry Ogden of Cascade Pools explains.
"There will be different council regulations on distance from site boundaries. Usually 3.0m from a rear boundary and 1.2m from side boundaries, but every council may have different District Plans, so it pays to check before you start
thinking about where the pool will be installed."
The rule of thumb is that a pool should allow for 5sqmper user, so for a family of four, the pool will probably be around 4.5m x 9m. Once the pool surrounds are taken into consideration, the land requirement for a pool is likely to be about 130sq m.
Swimming pools can be made from a range of different materials, and each has its own pros and cons.
The cheapest pools on the market are the above-ground, "Para Pool" variety. Made from vinyl and steel, above-ground pools are an excellent option for those on a tight budget.
Paramount Pools (the original "Para Pools" manufacturers) have a range of above-ground pools ranging in price from $5000 to $9500. You can choose to install the pool yourself, or they can install it for you. Vinyl pools can also be
installed in ground, but this more expensive.
Fibreglass pools the most common in-ground option. They are molded to shape then installed in the ground after a hole is dug and appropriate plumbing laid. Fibreglass is a more durable product that vinyl, but more expensive; between $30,000 and $50,000 for an average-sized pool.
Concrete pools allow for greater options when it comes to shape and size. These bespoke pools are the most expensive option, with pools costing upwards of $50,000. Concrete for these pools is poured after a frawework grid is built into the hole dug by the construction crew. These pools are very durable and can have a range of finishes,
including tiles and aggregates.
These are the rock stars of the pool world, and you'll be paying up to $120,000 for the completed pool and landscaping.
KEEP IT CLEAN
Sanitisers are essential for preventing the growth of dangerous bacteria, which could lead to infections. Bacteria are controlled through use of a sanitisation technique, coupled with a filter that removes the dead bacteria. Chlorine is the most widely used pool sanitiser, and is available in a number of forms.
Granular chlorine is cheap and easy to use; liquid chlorine is also cheap, and is less likely to cloud the pool granular chlorine. Both need to be applied manually.
Salt water chlorination uses a device to transform salt into chlorine, which then cleans your pool. Although these are expensive initially (around $1500), you will save money in the long term and the devices automatically balance the
pool's pH levels.
Concerns about the health consequences of chlorine (and the fact it turns your hair green) has lead to the development of alternative pool treatments, such as ozone technology. Ozone is a powerful steriliser that destroys bacteria.
Ozone generators for pools produce ozone in the water, and keep the water clean and safe; they also balance the pH level of the pool, and they cost around $2500.
Unless you're rich and famous, chances are you're not going to be able the afford services of a hot Latin pool boy to keep your water sparkling.
Upkeep of swimming pools can be time consuming, so before your make a decision to install one, it's good to know what you're letting yourself in for.
If you have a chlorine pool, every day when the pool is in use you will need to:
- Make sure the pH level is within the 7.2-7.8 range daily before use. Anything above this range will cause calcium to form on the pool tiles anything below will be very acidic. Sodium bicarbonate is great to maintaining the right pH
- level in your pool.
- Run the pool filter for at least ten hours a day.
- Check the chlorine level and add chlorine as needed.
- Skim the pool to remove leaves and other debris.
You will also need to vacuum the pool, check for algae, back wash the pool's filter
While water can be fun, it can also be a killer. Keeping your pool safe for friends and family to enjoy should always be your top priority. Here are some useful tips from Water Safety New Zealand.
- Every pool should have some safety signage, with the pool rules clearly displayed. The rules should include such things as ''no running around pool'', ''all children under 8 must be supervised'', and ''nonswimmers, don't go over your depth''.
- It is a legal requirement that all swimming pools in New Zealand be enclosed by a fence that is at least 1.2m high. There should be no gaps in this fence, and have gates that are self-latching.
- Young children should always be supervised by an adult. It just takes a few minutes for a small child to drown, so make sure you are vigilant and not distracted by anything.
- Hazardous pool chemicals like chlorine should always be stored in a safe place.
- See www.watersafety.org.nz for more safety information.