Planning for a swimming pool

Having a swimming pool is a quintessential Australian dream. With our warm climate and sunshine, having a pool is an absolute must-have for a homeowner.

There are a few things you need to consider when planning for a swimming pool.

Things to consider if building a pool with a new home

These notes serve as an introduction to the factors which you need to consider when planning a domestic swimming pool.

For a new house or for an existing property, the planning for a swimming pool commences with the building site.

It’s important the positioning of the pool is the best use of the available area and the pool doesn’t compromise the usefulness of the remainder of the property.

The owner must be aware of:

  • The size of the pool and the pool terrace,
  • The space this pool will occupy
  • Pool fence arrangement and the remaining area of the yard for other activities.

The positioning of the pool must consider access to direct sunlight, avoiding overshadowing by other buildings and trees. The pool needs to be positioned to ensure privacy to avoid overlooking by adjacent neighbours. Landscaping surrounding the pool and the yard must also be considered, particularly any larger trees which are prone to shed their leaves.

Designing a swimming pool to work with your home plan

When planning the swimming pool consideration must also be given to its relationship to the house.

In most cases, owners are seeking a seamless indoor/outdoor relationship so that when using the pool there is an easy transition between the pool area and the outdoor and indoor living spaces.

The pool location in relation to the internal living areas is also important to provide a pleasant outlook. In the cooler months when the pool is not being used it can provide a very attractive outlook from the internal living spaces, particularly for properties which are without a view or outlook.

Facilities which are used in conjunction with the pool (for example a bathroom or kitchen) should be considered.

It’s ideal if pool users can have access to these facilities without dripping water throughout the entire house. Generally, pools are adjacent to outdoor living spaces.

The continuity of the paving material is important for all the external spaces of the house to achieve an integrated aesthetic.

Choosing a swimming pool design

Swimming pools come in all shapes and sizes.

It is important the owner has a clear understanding of the appropriate size and shape of the pool for the area it is to occupy – look at our work on the Windi Woppa residence for example.

When selecting a pool design there may be a tendency for people to choose the largest possible pool and shoehorn this into one corner of the yard, often compromising the entire external area.

Pool shape is also important so it’s compatible with the house, the boundary angles and the area set aside for other activities. Sometimes an irregular shape pool is easier to position in some awkward spaces compared to more geometric shapes.

The pool size and shape are also influenced by the type of activity that is anticipated and the most likely users of the pool. More serious swimmers looking for exercise opportunities will require a lap pool with larger dimensions, whereas a pool for purely recreational purposes can vary in size and shape according to the area available. Other factors to also consider is if a spa to be included or if children will be swimming in the pool (in which case there should be a shallow end).

Swimming pools can be either fibreglass construction or in-situ concrete. Fibreglass pools come in a range of standard sizes and shapes placing some limitations on the design.

Concrete pools can be constructed in any size and any shape depending on the owner’s requirements. The appearance of fibreglass pools has improved in recent years with better integration with the pool terrace. In many cases, the casual observer will find it difficult to determine whether the pool is concrete or fibreglass.

As a general rule fibreglass pools are more economical than in-situ concrete pools.

The volume size of a pool will determine whether it requires BASIX energy efficiency assessment and compliance.

A swimming pool will require filtration equipment. This equipment requires regular inspection and can generate some noise when in operation.

A position for the pool equipment needs to be considered in the early stages of planning. Quite often this essential equipment is not considered until very late in the construction, resulting in poor outcomes.

The pool equipment needs to be in reasonably close proximity to the pool for optimum efficiency. If you are considering pool heating, the form of heating needs to be decided and provision made for the heating system.

If the pool is heated a pool blanket may be required so the heat in the water does not dissipate overnight.

If the pool filtration, heating and pool cover are not considered in the early design stages, awkward and unsightly solutions can result.

An essential part of pool design is the consideration of child safety including pool fences and supervision.

The pool fence, while performing an essential safety function, can be visually intrusive depending on the material selected. It’s always ideal if the internal areas of the house, kitchen and living spaces can have casual surveillance over the pool.

You need to consider the positioning of the fences and gates in relation to access from the house to the pool area and access from the house to the other areas of the yard.

Ideally, it shouldn’t be necessary to have to pass through the pool area to reach the other parts of the yard. The inconvenience of passing in and out of pool gates can be a continuing nuisance.

Careful landscaping is an essential part of the pool design. Effective landscaping can help conceal the pool fencing while greatly enhancing the setting of the pool and its surrounds.

The appropriate landscaping can help offset the large areas of paving that are often associated with pools and the pool terraces. Landscaping can also help integrate the pool design into the rear yard so that the entire space forms an integrated, attractive design.

The cost of a pool and its associated elements can vary significantly after accounting for the abovementioned factors.

Mark Lawler Architects have completed many home designs incorporating a pool, working with the Owner to manage their overall budget.

A pool can provide a great recreation facility for people of all ages during the long, hot Australian summers. If designed carefully a pool can also add an attractive outlook year round and increase the value of a property.

Take a look at our beautiful residential homes and see how Mark Lawler can design your dream home

If you’re interested in creating a seamless outdoor living space, contact Mark Lawler today. We can help you create an outdoor living area you will love.