Last year our dream of a pool in our yard came true! I shared our pool journey with you but today I thought I’d share things to consider when installing a pool.
I grew up with a pool as a little girl and to this day I have such happy memories of my childhood: learning to dive, my dad throwing me from his shoulders, pretending I was a mermaid and many more. Hours were spent by the pool with family and friends. I had the same dream for our two sons.
They love the water and are amazing swimmers. I knew this dream pool would bring us so much happiness.
I outlined our pool journey last spring / summer, by will include all the links here as well:
We started doing our research a year before putting in the pool and decided to work with South Shore Gunite Pools who constructed the pool and the deck. They made our dream pool a reality. Here are the answers to all your questions.
Things to Consider Before Putting in a Pool
How Much Does a Pool Cost?
Pools are not cheap, unless, you’re talking about inflatable paddling pools. Many factors go into the determination of costs associated with a pool, as well – size, depth, if you run into issues like hitting ledge, amount of water, deck size, fencing, pool accessories and systems, landscaping, and pool houses. In-ground pools range from $35K and up in our area. We were quoted $35K from a fiberglass pool company who told us to double that to cover the cost of the deck and other installations (which they wouldn’t provide). We decided to go with South Shore Gunite Pools for a few reasons but one was that they would be installing the deck, plumbing, and all the electrical. I would recommend NOT just going with the cheapest company because sometimes you get what you pay for.
Many pool companies offer payment plans and you can also finance the pool through a bank loan.
What Are the Different Types of Pools?
There are three kinds of pools – fiberglass, liner, and gunite. The pool we had growing up was a vinyl lined pool. The liners of these pool can get torn. One year a raccoon somehow got under the cover and ripped away at the liner trying to get out. My mom watched the water level go down and down and down. We had no other issues with that pool but due to he raccoon I didn’t even look into the price of those pools. Fiberglass pools are becoming more and more popular and we have several friends who love theirs. They are quick to install and are durable with salt water. Gunite pools are customizable in size and color, take a bit longer to install, and if installed properly can lost up to a hundred years.
Why did we Choose Gunite?
I’ve always loved the look of gunite and since the pool was in our side yard we wanted to customize the shape. We wanted a free-form kidney style. We also liked all the color and decking options associated with this type of pool. We did a lot of research and South Shore Gunite Pools’ name kept popping up. They’ve been in business since 1975 and I liked Brett, the sales guy we met with, from the beginning. He had great advice and also mentioned some things we didn’t even think about when considering putting in a pool – like fencing off part of the yard for our dogs, removal of trees, and retaining walls.
People always talk about gunite cracking but that’s if the pool wasn’t installed properly. SSG Pools does EVERYTHING – pool construction, electrical, plumbing, and decking and they also have a life-time warranty on the pool. So if our pool does crack they will come back and install a new one. A pool is such a large investment that this gave us peace of mind.
How Big Should Your Pool Be?
This really depends on your space and your family. We decided to put in a 16′ x 36′ pool. You can see the plan above. We actually made the deck a bit bigger than planned due to moving the shed but I’ll share more about that later. Brett recommended going with that size because he said if we went any smaller when the boys had friends over there wouldn’t be enough room in the pool for people to enjoy it. He was right! Since we planned on using the pool with the kids, entertaining with friends, and swimming, we didn’t go for a very deep pool. Our pool is 6′ deep which means there is no diving. We just tell everyone before swimming – the pool isn’t deep enough for diving. Having a shallower deep ends also means the pool stays warmer.
Where Should The Pool Be Placed?
Every state and town is different so it’s best to go to your zoning board to find out your exact set backs. We have a small backyard but have a double lot so our pool is situated in our side yard. We were hoping to put our pool 30 feet from the street but our zoning is 30 feet from the property line, so the pool essentially starting in the middle of our yard. To balance the look we decided to move the shed and add additional decking in front of the bed. Previously that area was just lawn and I didn’t think Luke would want to cut a strip of grass. It’s important to find out what your town laws are in terms of placement from your house and the set backs from the property lines. In Massachusetts, diving boards are no longer allowed.
Do you need a fence?
This is another question that is dependent on the laws where you live. In Scituate we don’t need a fence surrounding the pool if the yard is already fenced in. We knew we needed to replace the gate and the side fencing because it was trellised. That is considered “climbable”. In Scituate the fence needs to be a 5 foot non-climbable fence. This was the type of fence we had before:
Armstrong replaced our fence for us. They did such a great job.
The gate was custom build. We knew we were going to have to replace those areas but we didn’t realize that we’d have to replace some of the back fence and gate on the other side of the yard. This was an additional expense we weren’t expecting. You can see the new fencing below. Previously the fence rails faced outwards which would make it “climbable”.
How long did the pool take?
South Shore Gunite sprayed the outline at the beginning of March and water was going in the pool Memorial Day weekend. Conor went swimming while they filled the pool 😉 So our pool took 8 weeks and that’s what the pool company quoted us. They got a later start than anticipated due to snow and storms in March.
What did we use for decking and what color is our pool interior?
I was so excited for the day to pick out the decking, tile, and pebble finish. I love talking about color BUT must admit it was hard to choose the interior color for the pool.
This is what we went with:
The larger paver is a sample of the aggregate decking it’s called Twilight and we like all the grays and blues in it. The tiles were muted blue as I wanted your eye to go to the pool and not the tile. The pebble finish is North Shore Caribbean, we went with this color because it looked so refreshing. I do love the really dark, midnight blues but that was going to add extra costs. This one was included with the pool package. You can see the color here:
It really is hard to decide based on the sample. I would look at photos on your computer to determine the color you like best for your pool.
I really love the look of pavers around a pool but we opted for aggregate decking as that was what was in our pool package and also we wouldn’t get the pool tile lifetime warranty if we selected something else.
Should you heat your pool?
We’re still trying to decide this. Our pool gets all day sun so we never felt like the water was freezing. Usually water temperature in the summer was 86 degrees. When they open the pool, this week, I expect the water to be very cold! Here in New England a heater allows you to use the pool earlier and later into the fall. Our pool was plumbed for heating but we haven’t yet decided if we need it. I’ll let you know what we decide to do.
What extras would we recommend?
We thought that the ozone and the UV filters were very important. Having them means we can keep our chlorine levels lower.
Also, putting the returns into the bottom of the pool meant that it would stay warmer. We didn’t opt for the robot vacuum but I think Luke wishes we did now, so that’s something to consider.
Is the pool a lot of maintenance?
Initially, you have to do lots of tests to maintain the chemical levels. You also have to brush the pool daily. After a few weeks, when the pool chemical levels are stable, it’s only testing and vacuuming once a week. We do empty the filters and skim daily. We paid the pool company to close the pool and open it. Pipes can burst if a pool isn’t winterized properly and a pool company will cover that issue if they close it. When a pool is winterized, you need to pump out excess water over the winter to prevent the tiles from cracking.
The Pool Cover
We have an elephant cover on the pool. The cover had to be made custom. The price of the pool cover was higher than we thought it would be – 4x higher. If you go for a rectangular shape which isn’t considered custom, those are a lot cheaper.
Since we were on a budget, we decided to do the landscaping ourselves. This meant our friend helping grade the soil, read about that here.
This saved us days and days of work.
We also did all the planting and built a retaining wall, see that here.
The retaining wall took us a weekend. It’s to prevent water from running down onto the pool deck and also gave us a nice level area to plant plants.
For planting we used ornamental grasses, limelight hydrangeas, and sedum.
We used crushed shells in the beds and I’m so glad we did because the dogs run up there and spread it around (even onto the deck), but it isn’t as noticeable as dark mulch and doesn’t stain.
We spent many weekends and days landscaping the yard. I don’t think we realized just how much time it would take. The total for landscaping including the cost of shells, retaining wall, and plants was $3500. A professional landscaper would have been a lot more. I’ve heard between $10 – 30K for landscaping. Honestly, it can be even higher than that.
Our Pool BY THE NUMBERS
Speaking of numbers I thought it would be fun to share what went into this pool by the numbers:
The pool is 16 x 36
The deep end is 6 ft deep
1 ton of rebar supports the pool structure
20,000 gallons of water to fill the pool
62 yards + of soil for grading and landscaping – 22 yards dug by hand
1 shed moved
1 50 ft retaining wall built
9 yards of crushed shells
Would we recommend putting in a pool?
If it’s right for your family and you have the space, yes, a million yeses yes!
We wanted to do this now, while the kids were still young, and can get the most out of it. This does mean that we won’t be able to redo the kitchen or bathrooms for some time but I think it’s worth it.
What Do we Still want to do in the space?
We still have a lot we want to do out here. You can see the reveal from August here.
The landscaping took us so long we couldn’t finish the other things we wanted to.
This year we’ll be:
Adding a pathway into the pool gate from the front yard.
Adding more crushed shells.
Replacing our pool dining set with a beautiful teak set. I can’t wait for you to see it! The weather hasn’t been nice enough to put it out yet.
Turning the She Shed into a pool house.
Adding durable Adirondacks and ottomans to the grassy area.
I hope this post was helpful if you’re considering putting in a pool. Did I answer all your questions or do you have more? Leave any comments or questions below or feel free to email or message me.
I’m eager for summer weather and lazy days by the pool.