May 22, 2013

Pool Persuasion

Whether for laps, games or a place to sit, today’s swimming pools often resemble backyard resorts.


Swimming pools today offer a multitude of options. The traditional shallow-deep-end pool is going the way of the shag carpet. Instead, the preference is for pools designed for exercise, games or just cooling off and lounging. And for some pool owners, esthetics come first. “People are installing lap pools, or pools that are shallower, so that exercise is more feasible, rather than a diving-type pool,” says Ed Trasolini, president of Vancouver-based Trasolini Pools.

A popular design is the games pool. Shallow on either end with a deep middle, this design is ideal for installing a net in the middle and/or basketball hoops at either end. “A lot of the pools we put in now also have benches to take advantage of sitting in the pool, watching the kids play or just enjoying the view,” says Marco Rizzo, co-owner of Burnaby’s Aloha Pools. “It’s pretty common to have the entire length of a pool be a bench where people can hang out.”

The traditional shallow-deep-end pool is going the way of the shag carpet.

Homeowners with a view of the mountains or ocean (or both), might opt for an infinity, or negative-edge, pool. In this design, water seems to drop suddenly over the edge into the horizon, allowing an unobstructed view. And in the perimeter-overflow design, the surface of the water is level with the deck, giving the impression of a reflective pool. Both designs have become increasingly popular over the last decade. “Pools have generally gone from just being a place in your yard to fool around in to becoming real water features,” Rizzo says.

Extras like fountains, waterfalls and sculpted rock formations can be added or installed to help customize these backyard resorts. Light features can add another dimension – laminar water streams, for instance, are clear, uniform arcs of water, sometimes coloured by a LED light source projected from the deck and into the pool. Of course, if you have money to burn, there’s no end to what builders like Trasolini and Aloha can do. One West Vancouver homeowner recently commissioned Aloha to add a swim-up bar as part of a pool design, Rizzo says.

For those thinking about buying a pool, the good news is that options are more plentiful today than, say, 30 years ago. The bad news is that prices have changed more than a little. In 1979, for instance, a 32-foot-by-16-foot pool with a deep end of seven feet might have cost less than $10,000. Today, that same pool would cost between $85,000 and $100,000. “You couldn’t excavate the hole nowadays for what you paid for a whole pool in 1979,” Rizzo says.

 Pool safety

Automatic safety covers are designed to prevent people from falling into the pool. If someone were to fall they could get back up and step out of the pool area. “It’s like stepping onto a big water bed,” Trasolini Pools’ Ed Trasolini said. Laser alarms shoot a beam around the pool’s perimeter, usually 1½ to two feet high. If anyone gets within two or three or four feet around the pool it sets off the alarm. For kids, there’s a wrist alarm that will go off as soon as the wearer gets wet.

Fencing is a requirement in all municipalities. The height requirement ranges from 42 to 48 inches. It needs to be non-climbable with self-closing and self-latching gates.

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