Home improvement: the real cost of building a pool

Leigh Leigh
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Building a swimming pool, particularly if you do so DIY, is actually significantly cheaper than you might have thought. 

Summer is just around the corner and if you have the space in your garden, there is no better way to cool down than a dip in a swimming pool. It's a fabulous way to spend the holidays with the kids and a great way to wind down after a long, hot day at work. It's also an opportunity to host afternoon braai's and pool parties. 

You've probably been promising yourself for years that you'll look into building a swimming pool for the family but, with the expense of the festive season on top of other year-end expenses leaving you weak at the knees during the summer season, it's a thought that you keep putting off.

So the question is, how much does it really cost to build a swimming pool and can you afford it?

What type of pool do you want?

The first question to answer is what type of pool you want: size, shape and type.

Size obviously depends on the size of your garden and will affect the price. If you've got a large garden, you can opt for a bigger swimming pool, however this may hike your costs up. On the other hand, you don't want to go to all of the trouble of building a swimming pool and end up with a tiny pond too small to even play a game of Marco Polo in.

The shape is also dependent on your garden. In this pictured design by Minnova BNS, the shape of the pool is largely determined by the landscape. The result is a rather uniquely shaped swimming pool. If you're unsure or have a very uneven surface in the garden or lots of trees, chat to an expert about getting a quote as well as what shape they would recommend.

There are a variety of different types of pools, which influences the cost enormously. These include beach pools, concrete pools, above-ground pools, fibreglass pools or pre-moulded pools, vinyl liner pools and jacuzzis.

Technique and materials

If you're going for a standard in-ground swimming pool, fibreglass, vinyl liner and concrete are the three options to choose from.

Vinyl liner is the cheapest of the three and can be built to spec depending on what size and shape you need for your particular garden. The vinyl liner provides a smooth lining for the swimming pool. The only down side is that it costs to maintain it and the liner may have to be replaced after a few years.

Concrete pools cost more to install, but also provide the flexibility that vinyl liner pools do in terms of shape and size. While not as often as vinyl liner pools, the downside is that concrete pools will also need to be renovated. This may only be after a decade or so but it is important to consider.

Fibreglass or pre-moulded pools are one of the most popular because while the initial cost is quite high, you don't often have too spend much on maintaining it. It's also a quick process as the skeleton of the fibreglass pool is built in the factory and simply needs to be installed into the ground. The only downside is that you can't always get a pre-moulded or fibreglass pool according to your exact specs, however if you have enough space to play around with, this shouldn't be an issue.

Size, depth and topography

Once you've decided on what type of pool you want as well as the materials and techniques you will use, you can start to look at where exactly the pool will go, what it will look like and how deep it will be. These depend on if you've chosen a concrete, vinyl liner or fibreglass pool as well as the terrain of the area where your pool will go.

Trees and landmarks are important to consider when it comes to topography as you want the pool to fit into the garden perfectly. If you have opted for a fibreglass pool, which is pre-moulded, you may have to uproot a few trees and level the surface area. Get a quote from a gardener or a gardening service contractor if need be.

The depth of the pool is completely up to you but the common option is a pool that is shallow on one end and deep on the other. No matter what depth you choose, safety is the most important feature so ensure that you invest in a good pool net or cover to protect any children who may be wandering by. 

Depth also depends on your property. There may be pipes underneath the surface of the ground and other elements that stop the pool being too deep. You need to check just how deep you can go before you order any type of pool.

Landscaping and finishes

pool is a beautiful feature for a garden so the landscaping and finishes should be spot on. 

Choose the colour of your pool lining carefully. Many South Africans opt for black lining, allowing the pool to heat up naturally as the lining soaks up the sun. The majority go for a light blue or white, however, keeping the pool cool. 

What will surround the pool is also important. Beach pools, for example, provide a non-slip beach around the pool which is not only aesthetically pleasing but is functional, ensuring children and even adults don't slip when getting in or out of the swimming pool. The beach that surrounds the pool slopes down into the water, making it easily accessible compared to stairs. 

Wooden decks that feature a plunge pool are also incredibly popular—small, neat and trendy. 

No matter what your style is, it's important to look after the swimming pool and the landscape and finishes that surround it. This doesn't have to be expensive—it could just mean mowing the lawn neatly around the pool.

Fittings and accessories

Pool fittings and accessories can add style and protection to your pool so this is not an area to skimp in.

Fittings, such as pipes and connectors are incredibly important for the maintenance of your pool as well as the overall look and feel. You want your pool to look clean and clear at all times, so invest in good quality fittings so that your creepy-crawly works well and looks good doing it. 

If you've got some cash left over, invest in some lighting in the pool. This will allow the kids to swim at night and will give the garden a beautiful, soft edge in the evenings. 

Lilos, deck chairs, pool noodles and floating tables can add a lot of fun to the swimming season and make for great festive season gifts. Check out this range of pool products.

Repair and maintenance

The repair and maintenance of a pool is something to keep an eye on, especially if you eventually want to sell your house. 

For vinyl liner pools, ask a contractor for advice every three years as you may have to replace the lining as frequently as this. For concrete pools, it's important to examine any repairs needed every 10 years or so. A fibreglass pool should last a lifetime without repair but keep an eye out for cracks.

Maintenance is key when owning a pool so be sure to look after it. Treat the water with a proper, accredited pool cleaner and use a creepy-crawly to keep the bottom and the sides clean. Invest in a pool net and brush to fish out any stray leaves and scrub any surfaces that the creepy-crawly isn't getting to.

A swimming pool is a costly exercise and involves care, love and some maintenance but it is an investment that you won't regret. It's the Christmas gift that keeps on giving.

Keen to braai around your new pool? Design Your Perfect BBQ Area.

Which type of swimming pool would you go for?
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