If your No. 1 reason for getting a pool or spa is because your brother, neighbor or college buddy has one, maybe you should reconsider. Planning, building and maintaining a swimming pool or spa is not a whim or keeping-up-with-the-Joneses kind of purchase. It's a major addition to your house. It dramatically alters the landscape of your outdoor living space. It can be a lifestyle change, albeit a positive one: more entertaining, more fun with your family, more exercise.
And, of course, building or buying a pool or spa is a major investment that always costs more than anticipated. Are you ready to take the plunge?
01 of 07
Why Do I Want a Pool, Spa or Hot Tub?
Have a pow-wow with your family, partner, and all members of your household for a "Getting in Touch With My Swimming Pool Needs and Desires" session. Everyone should write down the reasons they do—or don't—want a swimming pool, spa or hot tub. Consider each person's opinion, even the youngest at the table.
02 of 07
What Will I Use It For?
Do you plan on swimming laps? Did your doctor recommend a pool or hot tub for thereapeutic reasons? Do you have visions of entertaining guests in and around your pool? Is it for your children and their friends? Determine who in your household will use the pool, and what it will be used for.
03 of 07
What Type of Pool Do I Want?
There's a sea of styles out there, some you probably have no idea about. All kinds of shapes, sizes and combinations. This is one of the fun aspects of the project, it's like going "pool shopping." Research books, magazine, the internet, and visit home and garden or pool and patio shows to see a few spas or hot tubs in action and gather brochures.
04 of 07
What Size and Shape?
If you have a sprawling estate—well, lucky you. Your biggest considerations are where on your vast property you want to place your swimming pool or spa, along with your horse barn, children's theme park, orchards and vegetable gardens.
For those of us with smaller lots, it may take some creativity, special design and compromise to make a swimming pool or spa work for your outdoor space.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
What's My Budget?
Oh yeah—that. Pool builders and suppliers always like to say, "There's a pool to fit every budget," which is a positive sales pitch, but a sales pitch nontheless. Financing a swimming pool project is like any other home addition, and the funds often come from the same sources: home equity accounts or lines of credit, savings, inheritance, home loans, family, etc. Don't expect to finance it after a trip to Vegas, Atlantic City or your closest casino.
As with any home addition, expect it to cost more than you anticipated or have calculated.
06 of 07
Maintenance: Me or a Pool Pro?
Ah, maintainance. Heaters, chlorine, bromine, pumps, pool vacuums, test kits—the list of chores is endless. Are you up for the time commitment and monthly costs of maintaining your pool? Can you afford to hire a monthly pool maintenance service to do the dirty work for you? Research local rates and get smart about all that's entailed in maintaining a swimming pool, spa or hot tub.
07 of 07