So the process goes swimmingly.

BY HADLEY MENDELSOHN AND SAMANTHA WEISS-HILLSAPR 20, 2020

Summer days are simply better with a swimming pool in your very own backyard. But before you toe-dip, swan dive, or cannonball into the deep end, you’ll need to do a little planning. To prep you and your backyard for the best pool imaginable, we tapped three experts to share all the nitty-gritty details from step 1 (choosing a liner!) to opening day (pool floats).

“Whether your pool is 10′ x 10′ or 25′ x 100′, the ingredients to building a pool are really the same,” says interior design Jenn Feldman. Some of the things they say you do need to consider before going all in are size, depth, position and location in your yard, and how much sun exposure it gets—not to mention whether or not a pool is a good investment for your property, and if “you can fit a Bobcat back in the yard for things like digging, pouring, and tiling.”

Aqua, Blue, White, Turquoise, Line, Teal, Turquoise,

Process: What Goes Into Getting a Pool

Ahead, discover all the non-negotiable steps you’ll need to take to install a pool. From start to finish, the process can take up to six months—so plan accordingly.

1) Assemble a team. You can’t install a pool on your own, so a team who can help you get the job done well is essential. Marmol Radziner, founder of the eponymous Los Angeles-based design-build firm, says, “You can either hire a pool contractor that can do the design and construction, or you can hire an architect that can help design and permit the pool and then hire a pool contractor to build the pool.”

2) Ask yourself what you’ll use the pool for. Is it for laps and exercise? Entertaining the kids and family? Increasing resale value? Just aesthetics? All of these things will dictate your pool design, so consider them before you first meet with your team.

3) Make sure you look over regional codes and restrictions. For example, in California, “You have to have your pool minimum 5 feet from your property lines,” says Feldman, while in other states (or even specific counties) the distance is further. So there are a lot of things to really check before you set the pool’s location; and this is especially true for historic or flipped homes. It’ll all effect the final design: “A handful of inches or a foot makes a big difference.”

4) Use your space wisely. Don’t let a smaller or oddly-shaped yard stop you. Feldman tells HB there are plenty of ways to use space strategically—one of which is to tweak your landscape design.”Certain trees or plants, like bamboo, can be so deeply rooted that they can make it more difficult to build a pool. So if you opt for something that grows more linear, like ficus trees, you’ll be able to build a larger pool while still creating that vertical allure with greenery,” she explains. Moral of the story? Tightening up your greenery can be worth it to make a pool fit.

5) Start planning several months in advance of opening day. Right now, as a result of COVID-19, construction has been paused in many states—but it’s a great time to get a head start on the planning process because that phase can take a good month or two. “I’ve never seen [a pool] come together in anything under a four-to-six-month timeline, but that also encompasses some other hardscape elements to a renovation, whether it’s footed paths to a garden area or an entertaining area,” says Feldman. But it might not take that long—as Gentzler says, “There is a huge range depending on the approvals, complexity, and amount of prefabrication, but I would estimate about a month to three months.” It’ll all depend on the scope of the project. Bottom line: Plan early just in case!

The Best Time to Install a Pool

  • Spring is a great time to break ground on a pool if you want it to be ready for summer, though of you live somewhere rainy, flooding may be an obstacle.
  • Fall is another great season for the actual installation process, as the weather is steadier.
  • “The only constraint on timing is that, in the north, you don’t want to dig in the winter. The ground is frozen and it makes it very challenging,” architect RD Gentzler tells HB.