When I was about seven, my parents put in an above-ground pool. It was only April, and the water was freezing, but I swam until my lips were blue. I loved it.
As soon as my dad got everything set up for the year, I swam every day. I would beg my parents to keep the pool open just another week, and not close up for the winter. As soon as I was old enough, my dad taught me how to check the chemicals, and it became one of my chores.
It was probably a huge expense for my parents to put in a pool, but I would recommend it to anyone who is considering adding one to their backyard… especially if they have a kid like me.
1. Find Out if It’s Legal
It’s always a good idea to check local zoning laws or, if applicable, ask your homeowner’s association. For example, some neighborhoods have pools, but the HOA doesn’t allow people to place one on their property.
Also, make sure to have the city come out and mark where the power lines in your yard are, so the installation crew doesn’t hit them if they do any digging.
2. Decide Where to Put It
Assuming everything checks out legally, you have to think about where you’re going to put the pool in the backyard. It’s important to consider the layout of the yard. Some yards have a slope that will have to be leveled.
Also, make sure that enough sunlight will hit the pool during the day to make the water warm enough to be pleasant. Try to work around any trees, or consider cutting them back if they give too much shade (they can also dump leaves in the pool, which isn’t fun to clean up).
Additionally, be careful when you are considering how to arrange the deck. If you’re planning a whole yard overhaul with a deck that runs from the house to pool, there may be certain zoning restrictions or laws. This kind of goes with the first point: you have to be aware of laws that dictate how close a pool can be to the house.
Your contractor should know this and abide by these laws, but it’s not a bad idea to do some of your own research ahead of time, when you’re deciding where to place the pool.
3. Size Matters
Pools come in various shapes and diameters — there are oval pools and round pools — and they vary in depth as well. Consider what would work best for your yard and your budget.
Obviously, bigger pools are going to cost more, and oval pools also tend to be more expensive. You also have to think in terms of how much water the pool will require: if it’s going to take longer to fill, you’ll need more chemicals to make sure the water is safe for the family.
The shape of the pool might also be determined by the shape of your yard. If the backyard is long and skinny, an oval pool might be your only option. If the yard is more squat, you may be limited to a round pool.
4. Consider It an Investment
Despite what you might think, pools generally don’t add value to your house when you go to sell it. What they do add value to is the time you spend in your backyard with your family.
Pools are not something you should install casually; they can mean a lot of upkeep for little return. But there’s nothing better than hanging out in the backyard, floating around on a pool noodle, and watching your kid cannonball off the porch in a fit of glee.
One of my favorite pictures from my older brother’s graduation is one of him and me in the pool: me in my dress and him in his graduation robes. Pools create memories, and that can make them worth any expense.