What to Know Before Building a Swimming Pool

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Diving Into a Pool or Spa Project

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?

    Diving board at the edge of swimming pool
    Paul Bradbury/Caiaimage/Getty Images

    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?

    Man about to dive into swimming pool
    Ojo Images/Iconica/Getty Images

    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?

    infinity pool
    Infinity swimmin pool. Getty Images

    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?

    hedge garden and pool
    Formal hedge garden with narrow lap pool. Fotosearch/Getty Images

    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?

    couple looking at computer
    Couple planning budget. Rob Lewin/Getty Images

    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?

    Guy cleaning pool. Getty Images

    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

    When or How Soon Do I Want It?

    woman blueprints
    A woman checks out landscape blueprints. Getty Images

    If you're planning a wedding/pool reception at your house for even six months after start time—don't. Be realistic about the time it will take to build or install your pool, and discuss with potential contractors which months will be optimal for construction.