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Swimming Pool Design and Pool Construction - Here's What it Takes

Updated on June 26, 2008

What could be better than an afternoon of fun in the sun while splashing in your very own swimming pool? And all the while you are having all this fun, you are working all the major muscle groups, building endurance and flexibility, and improving your cardiovascular fitness! (Can you say "Bonus!"?)

So what could be better? Well, how about a clear and concise explanation of the key points involved in a good swimming pool design and pool construction? ....So you can get on with it and go after that pool? Well, read on, and hopefully, I can help you get there.

It all starts with the Swimming Pool Design


The swimming pool design is one of the most important decisions you can make, as everything from the construction to the required level of maintenance is affected. And it's even more important when you consider the fact that of all the things associated with your pool, this is the one thing that cannot be changed.

First and foremost, the harsh reality is that your budget will probably drive your design. As almost every decision made, beginning with the shape of your pool, and ending with the size of your deck, will affect the price of your pool. So you need to first understand what you can afford, or what you are willing to spend.

After that, interestingly enough, your swimming pool design will actually affect what type of pool you can have, whether it is a fiberglass pool, a gunite pool or a vinyl pool. Here is why.

Simply elegant
Simply elegant

What's the difference?

Contrary to a gunite pool or vinyl pool, a fiberglass pool will limit your design choices. This is because fiberglass pools are pre-fab pools, In other words, they are constructed at the factory, and arrive at your pool construction site on the back of a flatbed truck, all ready to be dropped into the newly excavated hole in your backyard. So, the restriction here is that you can only have the shapes and sizes made by the factory.

For concrete pools (often called gunite pools or shotcrete pools) and vinyl pools, your design choices are much broader. These pools will be built with exactly the shape and dimensions of your choosing, and can be customized as much as you like. In other words, You can do anything from a traditional rectangle to a pool which looks like it's a collection of bubbles stuck together.

If you think about this, since this is not a dig and drop-in type of pool, you can see how this pool construction will be much more elaborate for a gunite or vinyl pool, when compared against the pool construction of a fiberglass pool. But this will also give you the chance to include split steps with side chairs in the shallow end, or a swim up bar in the deep end. You can even attach a hot tub or a baby pool directly onto your larger pool or have a pool mural painted into the plaster at the bottom of the pool. Whatever you can imagine, it can probably be constructed.

Once again, as you add customizations into your pool design, you can expect it to add to your bottom line. This is why you need to establish your budget up front. But this can't to be avoided, it's just the reality of pool construction.

Swimming Pool Features
Swimming Pool Features

By adding various features, you can give your pool more personality than you thought possible. Waterfalls, walls of water, and lilly pads can give it a tropical feel. And slides and water fountains can make it feel like a water park. Swim-up bars make it a place for the adults to hang out, and stretching a volleyball net across the pool make it exciting to sports enthusiasts. You can add elaborate tile to give it a resort look and heating and underwater lighting to give it a touch of comfort and mystique.

As you think about what you want, you will also want to take into consideration where in your yard you want to put the pool. Obviously, it will make things easier if the area is relatively level and not too rocky. And you should try to avoid areas which might have an underground water source or catch a lot of debris from trees.

Once your specific pool construction site is selected, you may that this helpt to drive the pool design. Depending on the space, it may become obvious that a smaller kidney shaped pool would fit best, or perhaps a small square. Or maybe you have plenty of room and decide to build a large figure eight. There aren't any wrong or right answers here, it is all up to you.

One concern I hear quite a bit is that people had hoped to use the pool for exercise, and a smaller pool will not let them do laps. But, there is no need to fret as there is an easy solution to this. There are some very inexpensive products on the market which allow you to "swim in place." It's a tether that you wear, which is attached to the side of the pool. This holds you stationary while you swim, so it's just like doing laps in an Olympic size pool. The only difference is that you don't need to flip and turn as you will never reach the opposite side of the pool! Here is an interesting review of some of the more popular stationary swimming equipment. You owe it to yourself to check it out!

Now, you may feel the once your design, namely the shape, is decided, your swimming pool construction can begin, but that's not quite true. There is one other factor to consider.

So what's next?

You've decided upon one dimension of the swimming pool, its shape, but there is a second dimension to consider, its depth. And not just how deep you want your pool, but where you want to put the deep end. Or if you even want a deep end at all!

Of course, if you chose to install a diving board or slide, then you must have a deep end. And I would recommend that you not stop at the minimum recommended depth as sometimes the minimum depth isn't quite deep enough, especially when big burly Uncle Bill takes a trip down the slide. You'll hear him roar if he bottoms out (literally) coming off the slide.

Taking a look at some basic pool designs, we can see the different ways to configure the swimming pool depth.

It would break down like this:

1. Level - This pool doesn't have a deep end, in other words, its depth is the same for the entire length of the pool. This might be an option if you only want the pool for laps or are building on a slab of bedrock or some other geographical anomaly which won't allow the pool construction to go deep.

2. Traditional - This pool is what you would normally think of when you hear "inground swimming pool." It has a shallow end, which typically includes the stairs into the pool, and opposite to this, a deep end, which may hold a slide or diving board.

3. Gaming - This swimming pool design is becoming increasingly popular, as it has shallow ends on both ends of the pool, and is deep in the center. (It's almost like a river bed which is shallow on the banks and deeper in the center.) In a traditional pool, if you string a volleyball net across the center of the pool, one team will be playing in shallow water while the other team is playing in deep water. With a gaming pool, the net spans the deep section, and both teams are playing in the same water depth. It is still possible to have a slide with this pool, but the pool builder must be careful to angle the slide correctly so that it dumps the slider into the deeper water and allows for any traveling they will do once they hit the water.

4. L-shaped - This type of pool is typically a larger sized pool, shaped like a capital "L," and provides a combination of options one and two listed above. One "leg" of the swimming pool can consist of a gentle slope providing an extended shallow area, while the other leg provides a large area of some depth giving an excellent diving area.

Your builder should have a portfolio of pools that he has built in the past, and browsing through these can help you select what you would like. One comment about the builder. You are going to need to apply a fair amount of thought to your pool design, and you will need to apply even more thought into which builder you should use. This swimming pool is going to cost tens of thousands of dollars and can result in a **very** pricey mistake if you go with a substandard builder. The Better Business Bureau has seen a 166% increase in consumer complaints in the last 6 years, against the pool industry, and you would be horrendous to have you become one of their statistics. Use the best resources you have available to help in finding an inground pool builder so your installation is done correctly. (Help on finding trustworthy pool builders can be found here.)

Lastly, everyone knows that it is an absolute necessity to keep chemicals in your pool to reduce bacteria and algae growth. There are a couple of choices in this arena, which you should discuss with your pool builder. Some are high maintenance but offer benefits of being less harsh to skin and suits, others are more traditional and less costly. A good discussion on the different pool treatments is available out on Bob Vila's site.

I hope you found these little tidbits helpful, and hopefully they gave you some good ideas for your swimming pool design. And let me be the first to say.. "Last one in the pool is a rotten egg!"


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    • adelaidepoolfenci profile image

      adelaidepoolfencing 16 months ago from Adelaide

      Adelaide Pool Fencing Guys is a family owned pool fencing company offering a wide range of glass pool fencing to Adelaide.

    • swimfan profile image

      swimfan 5 years ago from United States

      Nice, wide-ranging article on building a pool. Thanks.

    • profile image

      sathya 5 years ago

      what are the treatments are available in swimming pool in hotels,

    • RussellLHuey profile image

      RussellLHuey 6 years ago

      Informative hub!I love swimming in swimming pools.

    • profile image

      furniture assembly 6 years ago

      What a cool swimming Pool design for families and for fun

    • profile image

      Amy Appleton 7 years ago

      Yes! I love exotic/tropical pool areas. Karen and Kenny you are completely right!

    • profile image

      Karen Reader 8 years ago

      I agree with Kenny. Also tropical garden features are nice. Especially colorful ones that make your pool area look exotic.

    • profile image

      Kenny  8 years ago

      I think additional features on a swimming pool, like slides, waterfalls, etc. increase their value, both entertainment wise and aesthetically.

    • profile image

      pool screen repair 8 years ago

      It's a shame that insurance charges you so much for having a slide on your pool. It's stupid that they put a price on having fun. Nice pics!