Having an above ground pool in the back yard is a dream for many. It’s like enjoying a vacation at home all summer long. But, to make it a thoroughly enjoyable experience, there are pre-purchase things to understand.
Are you permitted to have a swimming pool?
No, I’m not talking about getting permission from your spouse. Some communities or Home-Owners’ Associations (HOA’s) prohibit homeowners or members from having an above ground pool. Additionally, some prohibit any pool at all, plus hot tubs, gazebos, swing sets, and many other fun things. Check with your HOA contact to make sure you can proceed. Fortunately, most places are not as Draconian, which means full fun speed ahead! Maybe.
Your next step is to see if you have the space for your dream pool. There are a lot of variables that come into play here, the primary one being zoning regulations. In short, many if not most communities put stipulations on how far your pool must be from property lines. In some cases, the pool may be built just a couple of feet from your property’s edge. But, in more extreme situations, it may be much farther. I’ve seen many locations requiring up to twenty feet on side yards and even farther from a back yard border. So, your usable yard space may not be as much as you might think. Fortunately, a quick phone call to your local zoning office will provide the answers you need. Knowing this information in advance will help you select the pool size and shape you ultimately purchase.
Also, make sure you have no underground utility lines, septic systems, or easements where you want the pool. And if you have overhead power lines cutting across your yard, pools cannot be built in line drop zones. Again, proper clearances may be obtained from your zoning office.
Choosing the right location in your yard.
Firstly, make it convenient. Too far from the house—you may get more exercise getting to the pool than you get from swimming. Plus, the farther from the house, the longer the electric run will be for the filtration system. Common sense says the longer the run, the greater the expense. Too close—the filter’s motor noise may be annoying, especially if your bedroom or living room is just feet away. Tip: locate the filter on the side away from the house and the pool will serve as a noise buffer.
Secondly, pick a location that drains well. Don’t even think about putting the pool in a drainage swale or location that holds water. It could wash out. Ideally, your location will have a slight grade, but not so steep as to require a retaining wall. Manufacturers void warranties if you pile dirt too high on a wall. A good rule of thumb is to place no more than six inches of backfill around the pool. Unfortunately, I’ve seen pools backfilled to the top of the wall. This holds wet soil against the wall which causes rust. Furthermore, above ground pools utilize water pressure inside the pool to stand. If you drain the pool, now all the pressure is pressing in and that can bring down the pool wall. Retaining walls hold the hillside away, but if you can avoid them by selecting a flatter location, problem solved.
A unique solution for yards with a substantial slope.
If you can’t avoid the need for a retaining wall, consider Eastgate Pools & Spas’ Sensation hybrid pool. The wall is approximately two inches thick, with aluminum sheeting over a closed cell structural foam core. The foam has an R-10 insulating value to help hold heat in on clear, crisp nights. Best of all, the pool wall serves as a retaining wall, too. The pool can go on top of the ground, entirely in-ground, or anywhere in between. Plus, it looks great!
Professional installers use heavy equipment to level the site, such as a Bobcat or other front loader. They need enough clear and unimpeded access to get it into your yard. Always find out what the minimum clearance is that would be required. Also, dirt is almost never hauled away, but is simply piled around the pool or nearby. You will need some for backfilling, but most will stay. The greater the slope, the more dirt you will have, and it can exceed expectations. People often search for fill dirt, so a brief notice in your local community paper will usually solve the problem. Some people try to sell it, but “Free to a Good Home-Come and Get It” usually works better.
It is always prudent to inquire about the need for building permits before buying. Most pool retailers sell to customers in dozens if not hundreds of locations. That’s a lot of different zoning rules and regulations! As such, you’ll want to investigate the permit questions yourself before going to the pool store. Also, regulations may change from year to year in some zoning districts, so make sure your information is current.
Consider building the pool yourself.
Installation lead times may be longer than you’d like, and you might consider building the pool yourself. Go for it! If you can dedicate a couple days to the project, it’s a great way to save money and swim quicker. Follow the directions and you’ll do a fine job of building your own pool. A couple suggestions:
Firstly, don’t build up a low spot, especially if it is where the frame will rest. That spot may settle. Excavate everything level to the lowest point the pool will set. Secondly, make sure the shape stays true to specs and don’t turn a round pool into an oval. Double and triple check your measurements Thirdly, wipe down the inside of the wall before putting the liner in. It is not uncommon for dirt or sand to collect on the wall. By wiping it down, it helps protect your liner when water pressure presses it against the wall. And finally, keep an eye on the weather. Don’t try putting that wall up when winds are strong. Be patient.
Okay…so you’ve done your due-diligence and the project is a go! Now, it’s time to find your pool. If you’re in the Greater Cincinnati area, stop in or give Eastgate Pools a call. We’d appreciate the opportunity to show you our great selection of above ground pools and Sensation hybrid pools. For a sneak peek, click here to connect to our above ground web pages.