Blue Haven Pools – USA: Tips & Ideas for Buyers/Owners

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Planning your new pool


Part 2 of 2: What happens when you change your mind?

Before work begins, making changes to your original pool plan is usually fairly simple.  For example, early on, pool builders should be able to add equipment options, modify the shape of your spa, or include a pool mosaic in a wall.

However, whether you are thinking of adding a foot to the width of your pool or changing the height of your rock waterfall, it is critical to review this with your designer as far as possible in advance of the start of construction.  Once construction begins, the time and cost to modify your plan often becomes higher!

Budget increases depend on a variety of factors, such as the construction phase your pool is in, if different equipment or special materials must be ordered, or if additional or specialized labor is needed.

In some cases, changing plans is simple.  For example, switching your tile selection—unless you want a custom or out-of-stock design—should not create a delay. 

Decking is another example.  Increasing the total amount of deck can usually be accommodated right up until the day the deck crew arrives. 

However, if it is two days before the scheduled deck installation, and you want another 100 square feet—and it is imported Italian travertine—chances are high it will blow your budget and construction timeline. 

Do keep in mind that what may seem like a relatively small plan change can throw progress and budget way off course. 

For example, your pool has been dug, steeled, and plumbed.  Gunite application is set for tomorrow.  However, after looking at the pool’s width for several days now, you decide on the swimout shelf that you originally passed on.

Changing your mind now will cost more money than if you added the swimout to begin with.  It will also create serious delays. 

That’s because the steel will have to be removed from that area of the pool, the forms will have to be ripped out and redone, the excavator will have to return to dig the swim out.  After all of this, the area will have to be re-steeled (and in some cases also re-plumbed for an extra return line).

All of these reasons illustrate the importance of making sure that you understand and are happy with your pool construction plan.

If you must make a change after the fact, be sure to discuss the possible ramifications—both for cost and delays—with your builder before making a final decision. 

Above all, be sure to obtain any modifications in writing.  Your builder should have a written addendum, and it should note any extra cost and any additional time.

Careful planning will help your project remain on budget and schedule while ensuring that you get a backyard resort that you want and will enjoy for years to come.

Planning your new pool


Part 1 of 2: Elements of the construction plan

With so many decisions to make when buying a pool—including choices about design, materials, features, equipment, location in your yard, decking, and other additions such as fireplaces, outdoor kitchens, or landscaping—there may be times when you want to change your mind about an earlier selection.

Before any dirt is turned in your backyard, your pool designer will develop a construction plan and give you a copy to review.  Typically, a plan will outline elements such as, but not limited to:

>  Backyard measurements

>  Pool position in the yard

>  Footprint of the house

>  Property lines, fences, and other barriers (e.g., overhead power lines)

>  Underground utility lines (e.g., electric, phone)

>  Pool dimensions (e.g., width, length, perimeter)

>  Pool depths

>  Pool capacity (number of gallons)

>  Access points into the yard

>  Pool equipment location

>  Pool plumbing (e.g., drains, return lines, skimmer(s))

>  Location of gas meter and/or electric meter for home

>  Pool structure (e.g., steps, benches, raised bond beam)

>  Coping type for the perimeter (e.g., brick, flagstone, safety-grip)

>  Tile type for the waterline

>  Deck for the pool (e.g., type, color, footage)

>  Equipment options (e.g., filter, pump, heater, remote control, sanitizer)

>  Pool cleaner type and line location

>  Any accessories, such as a slide, diving board, or water features

Pool lighting and locations

>  Type and color of interior finish

Spa—shape and configuration

>  Spa options (e.g., light, blower, remote control, number of jets)

>  Areas to be landscaped

>  Areas for other backyard amenities (e.g., fire pit, island barbeque)

Ideally, any changes that you may want are best made now.  This is the best time to be sure the plan shows exactly what you want!  If something gives you hesitation, ask your designer about it.


Part 2 of 2: What happens when you change your mind?

3 reasons why private residential pools beat public ones


Considering a new pool in your backyard but also think you and your family may instead make do using one at your gym, club, park, school, or community center?

Having a liquid fitness & entertainment center in your own backyard offers a number of distinct advantages over a public pool.  Here are three:

>>  Convenience for Regular Exercise

Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise because it thoroughly works muscles while being gentle on joints.  However, like any kind of workout, consistency is everything.

The convenience of a home swimming pool encourages regular usage.  With today’s busy lifestyle, having an aquatic fitness center right outside your door can make it easier to stick to a regular routine.

In addition, you won’t have to worry about other swimmers potentially distracting you or even getting in your way like you would at a public facility.

>> Avoidance of Public Pool Health Hazards

A small body of water used by dozens—even hundreds—of people can pose contamination risks.  Compared to a private residential pool, a public facility with heavy bather usage has increased chances for someone introducing a virus or bacteria into to the environment.  

Worse, compared to swimming in a pool in your own home or one owned by your friend, a pool in a public setting can be more conducive to irresponsible attitudes.  The unfortunate reality at public pools is that the odds are higher that some swimmers will exhibit poor behavior, such as ignoring pool-hygiene etiquette. 

And although many public pools are expertly managed, errors in water-chemistry can occur, resulting in contamination.  Even the Center for Disease Control has warned about the risks of public pools.   

>> Positive Family Time and Keeping the Kids at Home

Owning a residential pool is a great way for the family to spend time together in a fun, healthy atmosphere.  As a focal point for socializing, a pool can be terrific for fostering relationships and can encourage your children to spend more time at home.

A backyard resort can even help entice other people’s children to your home.  When your kids have their friends over, you can get to know them better. 

Of course, there are other great advantages of a backyard pool, from raising your property value, to the ability to relax in a quiet, private environment. Best of all, with today’s advanced technology, pools are easier to maintain and more affordable to operate than ever before.

For more information about building your own backyard oasis, contact the Blue Haven Pools design & construction office in your area.

15 great ways to update your aging pool, deck & equipment


Bring new life to your dated backyard resort today—and save time and money tomorrow.  A pool modernization and style makeover can deliver a variety of benefits, including:

- enhanced beauty & enjoyment

- reduction of water & energy consumption

- greater operating ease and time savings related to maintenance

- prevention of more labor- & cost-intensive repairs in the future.

When planning your pool and backyard makeover, consider these smart options for your renovation:

Note: Some options & materials listed here may not be available in all areas of the U.S. or may not be appropriate for your particular pool or backyard. Your local pool builder will advise which choices are best suited for your pool, backyard conditions, family needs, and region.

>  Surround your pool perimeter with gleaming new ceramic tile.

>  Enjoy a new custom deck in brick, stamped concrete, decorative pavers, Sundek®, spray deck, Kool Deck®, or custom stone masonry. 

>  Create a new focal point in an otherwise boring pool shape by adding a fountain, rock waterfall, lighted laminar jet, or cascading water feature.

>  Convert a chlorinated pool into one that’s purified with a gentle saltwater system or with an ozone generator with virtually no chlorine!

>  Replace a cracked, mottled interior with a slip- and stain-resistant quartz or pebble finish with long-lasting color.

>  Maximize family fun and fitness with a pool slide, diving board, diving rock, or adjustable exercise swim jet.

>  Give new dimension to your pool by adding a spa or elevating the one that you have. 

>  Warm your pool & spa faster and with lower energy costs with the latest generation of ultra-efficient heating systems. 

>  Improve safety, reduce water loss from evaporation, and help preserve temperature for less cost by adding a solar or automatic pool cover.

>  Make your pool’s deep end more usable by reducing its depth.

>  Slash energy use in half (and meet newerFloridaandCaliforniaenergy standards) with a new variable-speed pump.

>  Replace loose, cracked and crumbling coping with options like flagstone, concrete, bull-nose brick, and safety-grip brick.

>  Automate your backyard retreat with an easy handheld remote system that controls pool & spa functions with the touch of a button.

>  Illuminate your entire swimming environment with the latest in long-lasting, energy-efficient LED lighting that changes colors.

>  Protect your family from tropical insects by enclosing your pool with a screen room designed for Florida/Gulf Coast environments.

Your pool builder will be able to provide more specific information on the above options.  Based on your particular pool, backyard, and family needs, your builder may also have additional ideas for your consideration.


Beach Entry Swimming Pools

Part 2 of 2:  Is a beach entry right for your pool?

When considering a beach entry for your backyard resort, there are several factors to consider and discuss with your pool builder.

One is the size of your pool.  That’s because this special design element will gobble up a significant amount of length in order to reach the pool bottom.  Certain factors—such as the shape of your pool and the width of the beach entry—can influence the final amount of length that is required.

Another consideration is your pool’s desired functionality.  For example, if sunbathing is a key reason for wanting a beach entry, a better—and more affordable—alternative exists: A tanning ledge (also called a Baja Bench or Baja Step) requires much less space and is much better option for a smaller pool.

Your pool decking is another factor.  When constructing a beach entry, certain kinds of material do not work well for the deck—which must merge directly into the pool.  For example, decorative pavers make it difficult to achieve a smooth transition from deck to beach entry.

Of course, your budget should also be taken into account.  A beach entry will increase construction costs. Depending on the area of the country where you live and variables such as the size, style, and material used in your pool and deck, a beach entry may run $3,000 to $7,000.

Think about style as well.  If you want the overall look of your new pool to be sleek and modern, then the natural appearance of a beach entry makes little sense.

The best advice is to discuss a beach entry with your pool builder.  Bring it up in the context of all the other design and function goals you have for your pool, as well as your budget.

Beach Entry Swimming Pools

Part 1 of 2:  Overview & Benefits

Also called a zero entry, a beach entry mimics the natural access found at the beach. (See beach entry photo gallery here.)

Positioned at the shallow end, the entry point is constructed to be virtually even with the deck. Sloping from the deck—like a ramp—into the pool water, the entry becomes progressively deeper with each step you take, providing a gentle transition into deeper water.

Typically, a beach entry replaces the regular steps into a pool.  In some cases, accent boulders are placed on the sides of the entry or within in it—partially submerged—to visually distinguish the area and create a visual cue that the area is sloped.

The surface material covering the entry may be coordinated to match the pool deck.  Flagstone is a popular choice for this approach.

Beach Entry Benefits

>> Since there are no stairs to negotiate, this feature can be a smart choice for individuals with mobility challenges.

>> Young children love the shallow “splash & play area” that it provides.

>> Performing double duty as a partially submersed area for sunbathers, it helps keep them cool while they take in the rays.

>> Cautious or temperature-sensitive swimmers enjoy a bit of added comfort since they can enter the water much more gradually than they could with regular pool steps.

>> A beach entry perfectly supports a design concept for a “lagoon-like” appearance—such as a free-form shape with a flagstone deck and tropical landscaping.

Next: Part 2 of 2 – Is a beach entry right for your pool?

Building a New Pool: Layout & Excavation

Part 2 of 2: What to expect with the excavation

A giant hole is about to be created next to your house.  It will be quite an undertaking and have a striking impact on your backyard.

Most pool digs are completed in a single day, but some can take two.  To help prepare for the “drama” and watch it unfold, here are some points to know:


  • Depending on access to your yard, the hole will be dug by an excavator such as a backhoe or bulldozer.   In yards with tight entries—in which large earth-moving equipment cannot pass—your builder must use smaller machines like a bobcat.  Unfortunately, this may result in a two- or three-day dig schedule and higher excavation costs.   


  • During excavation, a tremendous amount of earth will be piled up in your yard. Crews will remove it—usually the same day as excavation. Typically, a portion of the soil will be intentionally left behind so it is available to serve as “backfill” to help prepare the area for deck installation. 


  • The soil that is removed is taken to special collection yards designed for excavation material—not to the city dump.  Therefore, your builder’s crews will not be able to comply with any requests to remove trash or other debris when they haul off the excavation soil.


  • The excavated hole will be a bit wider in all directions than the actual pool design.  This “over-dig” is no mistake.  The extra space will be filled up with reinforcing steel and a thick concrete shell.


  • Once the hole is dug, keep your distance—and be sure to keep your children and pets safely away.  The sides of the hole have an inherent tendency to crumble.  Stepping near the hole can hasten dirt to shift and fall away along the perimeter.


  • When excavation is complete, forms made of flexible wood or fiberboard will be installed.  These forms will serve as guides for concrete (gunite or shotcrete) application, and they will be precisely positioned at a predetermined grade to allow for adequate drainage.  To maintain the integrity of your pool shape, it is critical that these forms are accurate.  Therefore, do not move or adjust the forms in any way.


Be sure to also follow any other instructions your pool builder gives you.  Doing so will help ensure your excavation goes smoothly and construction for your new backyard resort stays on schedule and budget.

Building a new pool: Layout & Excavation

Part 1 of 2: What to expect with the layout

Before your swimming pool builder shows up with heavy machinery to dig your new backyard resort, specific steps will be taken to ensure your pool plan is properly executed.

For starters, your builder will create a construction plan.  The plan will indicate elements such as the pool location, placement of steps, benches, lights, and any other features.  It will also note the position of pool equipment and access areas for machinery to enter your backyard.

In some areas of the country, this plan will note easements and elevations, as well as gas and electric for the pool.  Based on local building conditions, logistics, and regulations, additional information may be plotted.

In accordance with your plan, the shape of your new pool will be physically laid out in your yard.  Most builders create this layout with special marking paint on the ground and/or with flexible wood forms, stakes, and string lines.  This layout may also indicate the area for your pool decking (unless you are providing your own deck).

Before any digging starts, most pool builders will ask you to review the pool layout, the pool location within your yard, the pool decking, and the location of the pool equipment.

This layout will serve as a guide for the excavation crew to follow.  Keep in mind, once excavation begins, it can be difficult and expensive to make changes. Before crews start digging, be sure you are happy with all of the elements of your pool plan!

Note: In some cases where warranted, pool builders may erect a temporary construction fence around the pool site.

Tip for gardeners and DIY folks:

A tremendous amount of dirt will be excavated.  If you would like soil for   gardening, landscaping, or other projects, a pool builder can usually set some aside for you.

However, to arrange this, you must notify your pool builder in advance of excavation day—usually in writing.

Specify how much dirt you would like, and indicate the area in your backyard—away from the pool site—where you would like the dirt to be placed.

Next – Part 2 of 2: What to expect during excavation

Pool photos provide inspiration for your backyard resort—and help you prepare for your pool designer

Part 2 of 2:

Being open to modifying your choices when meeting with pool designers

While it’s wise to view pool photos (see part 1 of this article) and collect examples of your preferences ahead of time, it’s also helpful to remain flexible about your final choices.

That’s because in the beginning, what you believe you want…in the end, may not be after you consider what’s best for your pool, backyard, family, or budget. 

Here are some examples of why you want to be flexible with your dream list.

Example 1:  

You enjoy the look of natural flagstone coping for your pool’s perimeter.  

When you meet with your designer, he explains that while flagstone is attractive, you may want to consider safety-grip coping instead because it’s better suited for your small children.

Example 2: 

You are considering a winding, free-form shape with an attached spa positioned outside the pool perimeter.

After assessing your home’s plot plan and local code requirements, your designer explains how your yard limits the usable area for a pool—there is not enough room for your original concept.  The yard dictates a more space-efficient, straight-edge shape with a spa enclosed within the pool interior.

Geographic Factors

It is also important to remember that some of the options and materials that you see in pool photos may not be appropriate and/or well-priced for your climate or area of the country.

For example, you may fancy the clean, modern look of a poured cantilever deck.  However, your designer informs you that this construction approach is not advisable in areas with expansive soil conditions, and he suggests other materials.

Let’s say you are thinking of an infinity pool (“vanishing edge”).  However, your designer explains how your small, flat, fenced-in backyard will significantly limit the aesthetic appeal of this pricey feature. 

Instead, he recommends another attractive option:  an elevated wall with sleek cascade water features—which costs much less than an infinity pool would.

Or, perhaps a natural stone grotto with a swim-up bar is on your dream list.  When your designer explains it will add thousands to your price tag, you may reconsider, and opt for a custom rock waterfall and accent boulders that create a similar, dramatic tropical look—but without adding quite as much to your budget.

Examples like these help illustrate why a pragmatic approach works best when developing your wish list / photo collection. 

Hone in on your preferences in advance, but understand that after you have more information, ultimately, some will not fit your outdoor space and individual needs.

Keep an open mind, and carefully consider recommendations from your pool designer. Remember, a good designer will be able to provide great alternative options for a beautiful backyard resort!

Pool photos provide inspiration for your backyard resort—and help you prepare for your pool designer

Part 1 of 2: Seeking ideas for your new swimming pool design or remodel? Before meeting with prospective pool designers, it’s smart to review a variety of pool photos to learn which features & design elements you find most appealing. One source for color pool & spa photos is pool-company brochures.  Larger builders typically offer them for free, and the best ones provide plenty of attractive images. Another source is the internet, which boasts numerous pool-construction websites.  Print out pages with photos with what you like, and keep a file of them ready to show to your designer.  (Or bookmark pages so that later you can show them in person or email the links.) Some websites show not only pools, spas, and decking, but also options like fire pits, outdoor kitchens, fencing, and other backyard enhancements. Some builders even provide supplemental websites dedicated to photos of pools in the overall backyard setting. One Blue Haven Pools site with these kinds of photos also includes captions that provide a handy reference list of the design features and materials in each project. Prepare in advance A little research pays off.  Photos illustrate a wide range of styles and special options.  By studying images ahead of time, you can narrow down your favorite ones. Doing so will help with pool planning.  One of the first questions that your designer will ask is your choice of shape.  Having a pre-assembled collection of photos with your picks can save you time with this aspect of planning. Along with shape, there are other elements about which you will want to have some thoughts, such as the position of the pool in your yard, the color for the interior surface, and the amount of deck. Because you have reviewed pool photos, you will be better prepared to meet with pool designers and obtain estimates. For example, you will be ready to say you are considering a tanning ledge, dolphin mosaic, or cascade water feature.  You will be ready to explain your preference for a spa that’s level with the pool—or one that’s elevated above it.  And if waterfalls are on your agenda, you will be ready to share visual examples of the specific style you want. In addition to having a sense of what you like, you will have a better handle on what you do NOT like.  That means you can spend more time with your designer focused on what should go on your pool plan—and quickly rule out options that don’t interest you.

Next - Part 2: Why you must be willing to modify your preferences based on advice from your pool designer!

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