Designing Your Backyard Swimming Pool: Part I of II

Splashing and whooping laughter are sounds which can be heard from the other side of your neighbor’s fence as they frolic in their swimming pool. Yes they have a beautiful pool and take full advantage during those hot humid dog days of summer.

After careful deliberation you have made the decision to invest in your own backyard oasis. Planning your swimming pool can be compared to planning to add an extension on your home. You are creating a very exciting extension to your functional, recreational living space. will feature a series of articles to aid the homeowner with planning and guiding them through the process of creating their own backyard oasis.

Needless to mention that adding a swimming pool is not a small project. There will be many moving parts and as the homeowner you must be on top of things. Using the free home improvement project software will help you accomplish that. With your project created you can start collecting images everywhere for inspiration and planning, store product specifications, manuals, warranties and more. Best of all, you can access anything in your project anywhere, anytime! It is like having your home renovation binder in your pocket at all times.

8 Things to Consider when planning your backyard swimming pool

​A well designed swimming pool can bring a lot of enjoyment to your family. There are a number of things that need to be considered before jumping into the design.

1. Above ground or INGROUND Swimming Pool?

Above ground or onground swimming pools are installed rather than built so they are more economical than in-ground pools to purchase.

The most basic above ground pools, requiring no filtration equipment called splasher pools, will run as little as a few hundred dollars to $1,000 for more substantial models.  Larger, more elaborate above ground pools with filtration equipment will cost between $1,000 and $8,000, excluding extras like decking, landscaping and accessories.

Inground swimming pools require custom design and extensive construction making them more expensive to build. In-ground pools with minimal patio surrounding and basic fencing start around $20,000. 

More elaborate designs will run between $40,000 to $100,000 plus. There are a variety of choices of pool design and building materials, patio materials, landscaping, lighting and extra features such as spas or fountains which will determine the cost.

2.Ongoing Expenditures

Along with the upfront construction costs, make sure you understand the long term operating costs associated with owning a swimming pool.​


The cost for pool chemicals averages between $50 and $100 per month depending on your climate, pool size and frequency of use. Above-ground pools of a similar size will cost the same as in-ground counterparts.

Opening and Closing A Pool

Hiring a professional to open and close your pool each season will run approximately $150-$300. Cleaning and storing your pool cover is usually additional.


The largest maintenance expense is a pool's interior finish. Vinyl liners last approximately 5-7 years, painted concrete needs a new coat approximately every five years, and a plaster finish may last 10-15 years. Many of the new cement-coated products such as Pebble Tec are meant to last a lifetime.


Equipment lifespans vary tremendously by brand and quality. Other elements such as proper water chemistry and location of equipment can affect lifespan. Because pumps are made to push water rather than draw water, pumps placed at pool level often last longer than those that sit higher and have to pump harder.


While utility bills do increase during a pool's open season, there are ways to mitigate or limit the additional costs.

Recommended Guidelines: "Energy Conservation Opportunities for Pools, Spas, and Water Features".

3.Site Conditions

Besides determining the best fit for your yard's dimensions, consider your yard's slope, soil type and accessibility for construction equipment.

Pools are easier to build or install when a yard is level; however, new technology makes it possible to install a pool in virtually any yard.

Severe conditions such as steeply sloping lots, rocky soil and limited access require special construction and installation considerations and typically add to the overall cost and duration of the project.

4.Determining the right Size of pool

Pool size is primarily a personal choice, although the size and condition of your backyard and your budget will also be determining factors.  Including a diving board in your swimming pool plan will also limit your options in regards to pool size and shape.

When determining the size of your swimming pool, consider the master plan for your backyard.  Do you want to maintain some green space or eliminate grass entirely? What other recreational spaces and features do you want to include in your yard: deck, patio, gardens, outdoor kitchen, water feature, firepit, or hot tub?

Be sure you and your contractor have the most up-to-date zoning and building restrictions for swimming pools and spas, and ask your contractor how the permit process is handled.

Zoning is primarily handled on a local level and typically covers such issues as fencing and barriers, pool depth requirements for diving boards, set-backs and proximity to utility lines. Other issues may also be covered.

5.Choosing a pool Contractor

  • Get referrals from friends and neighbors.
  • Talk to a least three builders.
  • Determine the number of years they have been in business under their current name and ownership.
  • Ensure contractor is bonded and insured.  Get proof.
  • Visit their work firsthand and talk with the homeowners about their experience with this contractor.
  • Talk with suppliers about the contractor's status.
  • Do they sub-contract work or use their own staff?
  • Do they have design experience or do you have to find a designer?
  • What are the payment terms? It is not customary to pay the full amount up front.
  • Get lien waivers for all work completed.

6.Construction Times

Anticipate a little dirt in your life during the construction of an in-ground swimming pool. Your contractor can estimate a completion date but remember Mother Nature doesn't always cooperate.​

An​ in-ground pool takes anywhere from three to twelve weeks depending on the complexity of the project. Above-ground pools can be installed in a matter of a few hours.

7.Don't Forget about Safety

Safety should be the number one concern for pool and spa owners. Proper enclosures and supervision are a must at all times to ensure the safety of children, pets and wildlife that may wander near the pool.

Many specialty safety products are available on the market, including water alarms, high-tech laser technologies, safety covers and personal safety accessories like life jackets and pool floats.

Diving boards add  a significant safety risk to a pool.  Many people are eliminating this risk by replacing the diving board with a fantastic waterfall in their pool design.


Insurance coverage for swimming pools is part of homeowners insurance. Some insurance companies raise premiums for owning a swimming pool and others do not. Speak with your insurance agent prior to purchasing or building your pool.


Now that we have scratched the surface of the practical considerations of building a backyard swimming pool, we are ready to dive into part II.  In the second swimming pool article, will feature ways in which you can truly transform your backyard into an oasis via harmonizing your pool with your outdoor living space. We will tie designing your pool in with some of our previous written articles such as:


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