If you’re a homeowner thinking of investing in a swimming pool to cool down in the Australian summer time, there are a few things to contemplate before diving in. While pools are great fun, the research and paperwork that comes along with them isn’t that much of a blast – but it’s necessary.
In theory, water features are a good investment, too. A 2012 survey by Swimart found that in terms of value, pools can add an average of $30,000 to the property price. However, swimming pools are also seen as a lifestyle feature, so they can really narrow your market.
Before you can finally take the plunge, it’s important to make sure all of these things are covered.
Design and appearance
The design and appearance of your pool goes hand in hand with its function. What will your pool be used for the most? Cooling off in the summer? Entertaining friends? Or are they for the kids to play around in during holidays?
Based on the pool’s function, you can start to determine size, shape, depth and type. What’s best suited for your needs? An above-ground pool? In-ground fibre-glass? A concrete pool? Before you can make these decisions, you need get to know the lay of your land and to make sure you have all the right dimensions with you when you start meeting with pool builders. Getting the help of a professional will also help you if you ever put your house up for sale.
The style of your pool and materials used to build it will also determine how much maintenance will be required in the future. For example, pools with smooth surfaces like fibre-glass pools are algae-resistant and are therefore fairly low-maintenance, according to Home Design Directory.
Rules and regulations
It’s important to have all the legals in order when you’re building a new pool. Do your research and find out what needs to be done to comply with state and national fencing and water legislation and also with local building and safety regulations. The Victorian Building Authority states that all pool or spa areas are required to have a barrier if the water feature contains water more than 30 cm deep.
Kidsafe Victoria provides some additional rules:
- All pools and spas built after 2010 require an isolation fence. This means the barrier has to be four-sided, and the pool should not be directly accessible from the house.
- The gates must be self-latching and self-closing.
- The safety barriers must be at least 1.2 metres high.
- Climbable objects such as chairs, pot plants or pool pumps must be moved away from the barriers.
- Leaving the gate propped open is illegal.
Once you’re clear on what the fencing regulations are, it’s good to keep in mind that the approved barriers have to be in place before the pool is filled.
Ask your pool builder the right questions
A swimming pool is a big investment, so it’s imperative that you and your builder are on the same page. Make sure you know exactly what you’re purchasing and what you’re covered for. The Swimming Pool and Spa Association of Australia strongly recommends using a registered building practitioner. In Victoria this would make domestic building insurance your builder’s responsibility for work over $16,000.
To avoid any surprises or hidden costs, make sure you get a detailed quote. Cover everything from what’s included to what’s not, and get it in writing too. This shouldn’t be a problem if your pool builder is a licenced builder with professional credentials.
Once you’ve got your builder, you can get your building permit. This needs to be issued by a registered surveyor. When you’re good to go, it’s best not to wait too long because work must start within 12 months of the date when the permit was issued.
Finally, a good thing to think about when you start your pool-building adventure is maintenance. Filters, pumps and chemicals will become regular expenses, as well as high water bills, says Home Design Directory.
Once all these rules and regulations are taken care of, you’ll be ready to take a swim in your brand new customised, permitted and fenced swimming pool.