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Affordable Swimming Pool Packages

Affordable swimming pool packages
When a home owner comes to the table with plans for their dream swimming pool they are sure to include every last feature they have ever dreamed that an amazing swimming pool package could or should have. When you only build one pool that you intend to have forever, more or less, then you want to be sure to include all of the bells and whistles lest you live to regret your decision. The problem with this line of thinking is that peripheral add-on items and optional upgrades will add up in cost so quickly that it will soon cost more than the pool itself. This is something most home owners are not prepared to hear and definitely something they did not budget properly for.

Being flexible with your design is important if you want to build an economical swimming pool. When you sit at your computer looking up cool things that pools could have you will end up falling in love with designs or ideas that were bad from the beginning. When you meet with a builder try to be less rigid with what you want, and be more open to the benefits of their experience. Let them guide your decisions based on what is cost effective up front and what is a technical challenge and should be viewed as a risk versus reward balance equation. Also with a modern day pool you should be designing with efficiency in mind. Do you care if your monthly electricity operating cost is $25 versus $175 because both of these numbers are realistic and you will not necessarily be able to tell one from the other by looking at a new pool installation bid on paper unless you are well informed as a consumer. Even side by side comparisons might not make this exactly clear to you. Comparing a single speed pump to a variable speed pump is an easy cost comparison to make. Comparing which deck support system you will use for your pool while considering a 50+ year service life is just one of a hundred technical considerations that you can not make without the benefit of experience.

When you are planning to have a new pool installed you should be well researched and have a good idea what you are looking for, but you should not be married to any of the ideas you have at this stage. A flexible consumer with an ear for taking good advice ends up with a different pool that is efficient and meets their expectations.

A rigid customer who does not listen to good, experienced advice ends up with exactly the pool they wanted. It does not meet their expectations and costs significantly more to operate than the pool they could have had. The next time you try your pool budget breakdown give it a try with a fresh start and an open mind to what you must have and what you can live without.

What can't you live without for your new pool?

A leak free plumbing system, a pool surface that is waterproof and a pool structure that is stable and will last a very long time. Add to that list a variable speed pump to reduce filtration expenses drastically. I can guarantee that I will eat up your entire budget and then some doing these fundamental things properly when building a pool for you. The worst part is that some less scrupulous and definitively less skilled builder will offer you a more attractive purchase price that includes some of the peripheral items and features you wanted and they will find a way to get the cost down. You can get the water feature you wanted now, but your pool system is about 15% as capable as the more efficient (and expensive) system that I would design for you. Quality, longevity, efficiency and then functional usage. That is the order I want to prioritize when I am building a swimming pool but half of the pool builders out there do not care. They don't want to take the time to walk through your dream pool wants and needs with you and weigh this versus cost and length of service life. This kind of stuff takes forever. If you come to the table with a list, many builders just give you a price. No passion at all in the process for these guys. Certainly little chance they will genuinely have your best long term interests at heart when advising you about the build.

New Pool Upgrade Options You Can Live Without

Affordable swimming pool packages
The amount of lighting options, automation options, pool shapes and sizes, types and sizes of heaters, automatic covers, UV lights, salt water...this excludes structural elements like tanning ledges, attached hot tubs...when you start adding up the optional extras on a new swimming pool installation you can easily double or triple an original estimate. There are also some sneaky items that pool owners often miss the mark on by a long shot when estimating prices at home. Like a concrete pool installation where the new pool owner wants a plaster pool with a heater, nothing too fancy. Let's say $65,000 (made up price, new installation prices vary wildly by geographic area).

Now consider this pool owner wants to consider upgrading from plaster to tile. Plus the tile they like is glass tile mosaics. Cheaply made glass tiles are a liability in pools and used all too commonly so the pool owner was advised to buy a high quality lab tested domestically manufactured product. It all sounds good, the original pool package is $65,000. The upgrade to full tile is around $80,000 more. This brings the package price total to $145,000. What, what? Yeah, domestic glass tile is expensive as can be. You could easily spend $25,000 to $50,000 just on hard cost of tiles, no installation materials, labor costs or anything else. Pool steps in a vinyl liner pool are another one of these surprisingly expensive additional elements, as are stamped concrete or expensive natural stone decking choices, composite lumber, automatic covers, plumbing fittings larger than 2" in size, or changing from one type of pool to another. In addition to simply looking at the hard costs it is also important to remember that some things might sound like a good idea at the design stage but are you really going to get value for your money for these upgrades? Here are a list of items I would like pool owners to cut to help get an affordable pool installation package that will serve them well for years to come.

Water features and deck jets - Water features and deck jets in particular are popular on almost every modern day swimming pool installation. Deck jets specifically are one of the more affordable ways to incorporate a water feature into your pool, and the same can be said for small raised wall sheer descent waterfalls. Water features require additional plumbing. That is additional cost and additional potential for leaks in the future. Most water features are going to need zone valves and require time to install and calibrate the plumbing function. Most waterfalls and water features even require separate pumps and filters as well which really makes the cost add up for these. All of this is more time and money and the truth is that 99.9% of the time you do not have the water features running. This means the water sits stagnant in the lines and water feature with no filtration or chemicals to prevent bacteria from growing like crazy. Then you turn on the waterfall once a month or once a year and dump that awful, stagnant water into the pool. I can not stress to you how foul this water gets in these lines. Definitely enough to make you lose your lunch if you got a big whiff of it without steeling yourself first. Water features are hard to winterize and hard to contain the water effectively in the spillway. You will lose water from them even if only from evaporation and the chemical and thermal losses from breaking and free falling water is atrocious. Water features also dump minerals into the water, are the cause of staining and scaling inside the pool, as well as water features causing your pH to rise significantly. Running a waterfall overnight is actually a treatment process for if you ever want to raise pH while affecting no other chemicals including total alkalinity. This is rare if you know anything about the interconnected relationship between total alkalinity and pH. In total, water features cost a ton, add little in the way of day to day value, and substantially harm the chemical balance and mineral content of your pool water.

Slides and diving boards - If you want a slide or a diving board in your pool because that is what you picture and dream about, then I definitely want you to have that. If you are just going through the motions here and, obviously, pools have slides and diving boards I need you to go back to the drawing board with this one, these two, and really think about this. Slides and diving boards are dangerous and cost a lot of money. Interestingly a properly installed diving board can statistically reduce the risk of a spinal injury in your pool, a pool big enough and deep enough for any safe diving platform is a lot of extra money. There is a lot of extra "pool" that you need to buy in order to have enough depth for diving, but also length for diving. The proximity of the long slope in the pool to the diving platform is a specific concern. You can have a diving board for your pool but you need to pay for more pool volume 24/7/365. More money to filter the water every day, more money to heat it, more in chemicals and more money to build it. Plus the cost of the diving board itself which is in the $3000 to $5000 but that only represents a small portion of the total money a diving board costs you. The day to day operating costs of an extra long, extra deep pool is the real cost of a diving board, not to mention additional costs to home insurance policies if you have a diving board in some areas. I can make a case for a diving platform, and probably so can you, but a pool slide is an entirely different story to me. The main reason is that everyone loves a diving board on a pool. The only people that use pool slides are little kids. The novelty wears off of pool slides very quickly as your family ages. There are always exceptions to the rule, but for the vast majority of potential pool owners saving yourself $5000+ on a pool slide is good advice.

Stamped concrete pool decks - The cost per square foot of stamped concrete in some geographic areas is enough to send twins to dental school at a prominent institution. I definitely agree that in the magazines the concrete looks absolutely amazing. It is so stark and boldly colored with interesting textures and patterns available. In reality stamped concrete is a high maintenance item versus the traditional pool deck which is a broomed concrete finish and essentially lasts forever without any subsequent treatment or maintenance. Stamped concrete rarely looks as good in person as it does in the magazines. There will be places where the mat texture has a repeating pattern or flaw, as well as places where the mat was not dropped with surgical precision and you will have areas where the pattern does not line up. Colored concrete is difficult to control and you can end up with color variations, uneveness, a different shade than you were expecting or just the wrong color completely. If the color is applied in the surface finish and not integral in the concrete mix then any chips or pieces that break or spall in the future will show starkly the contrast between the internal gray concrete and the colored surface layer. Stamped concrete is very slippery, especially when wet, and this alone to me means it is not suitable for a pool deck surface. Even with surface treatments with sealer and silica sand the surface is still much more slippery than broomed concrete or a natural stone interlock deck. While mentioning sealer, stamped concrete requires regular sealer treatments and concrete sealer and water are two things that do not go well. There is a higher than normal chance for sealer failure, hazing of the sealer, premature wearing, uneven wearing and yellowing of the sealer around a pool than in other areas around the home. It is also definitely worth considering that darker and bolder stamped concrete colors can get extremely hot in the sun. Burnt feet on the pool deck and burnt butts if you want to sit on the edge of your pool, now doesn't that sound like fun? Yeah, not so much. I would do an integral colored broomed concrete pool deck at most, and there would be an understanding that integral colors are hard to control and any future concrete batches can be expected to not be a perfect match. If you are okay with accepting the color as it turns out then you can select from a few earth tone pigments for an integral colored pool deck. Don't go too dark though.

Salt water & other bolt-on upgrades - When your pool builder explains that they are leaning away from salt pools and that they are seeing a lot of damage to pools and unmet expectations in the field from swimming pool owners, you should probably listen. Salt chlorine pools actually can be a viable option and something you can add now, or in the future, but only once you are an informed shopper on this subject matter. I wrote this article to help people shopping for a pool to get informed about salt water pools and I would strongly suggest any pool owner considering salt water to start there. For now just realize that a new pool installation is massively expensive and you will end up spending money in places that you had no idea about before you started shopping. If you can add an item at a future point without penalty as opposed to right now, then you should definitely consider doing this. You will be hemorrhaging money during a new pool installation and stemming the flow would be a good idea. If you still want salt, or UV, or something like a pool heater, or a waterfall then you can add them at a future point. Even things like a pool heater and a pool waterfall can be something you add in the future with a little foresight during the construction phase. You would be far better to spend the money that you have now on a more robust structure, plumbing and filtration system which are all things that you can not readily upgrade in the future. Save the bolt on upgrades for future birthday and anniversary presents. So what should you be spending your money on for your new pool? How about things that you can not upgrade later like your plumbing system.

So what should you get on your new pool?

A robust plumbing system is a great investment. A pool built with 1.5" plumbing is very poorly designed and limited in potential. Yes pools have been largely made with 1.5" pipe for the past 50 years but this does not make it more efficient by saying it that way. 6 feet per second of water velocity in a 1.5" pipe represents about 35 GPM of flow. This is the maximum number for efficient flow in 1.5" PVC pipes. You can move more water than this, up to 80 GPM or more with enough power from your pump through a 1.5" pipe but there is a substantial efficiency decrease starting above 35 GPM. As water moves faster it creates turbulence and friction which are both energy losses from opposition to flow. So a pool system that is well designed would not exceed this value. 35 GPM is only 2100 GPH or just over 50,000 gallons per day. In order to achieve a 98% water turnover in a pool you need to turnover the water volume of the pool four times through the filtration system every day. This means the maximum pool volume size for efficient flow based on a 24 hour running schedule is only 12,600 gallons which is about 12x24' with a six foot deep end. A very small pool. When you start to crunch the flow numbers the answer becomes obvious that pools built with 1.5" plumbing are not built with efficiency in mind and even pools built with 2" pipe leave a lot of room for efficiency improvements on the table.

Efficient flow design would easily have 2.5", 3" or 4" plumbing which is not something you would normally see on a residential pool. But if you want to move a lot of water through your filter with a low RPM variable speed pump without exceeding a line velocity of 6 feet per second, this is how it is done. You also will need a high flow design filter with a low resistance to flow capable of 120 to 150 GPM of flow. This means no sand filters, period. A cartridge filter is triple the money of a sand filter, and totally worth it when designing with efficiency in mind. Upgrading to two inch pipe, fittings and equipment port sizes is a small cost upgrade compared to anything larger than 2" in size, especially if you want line size valving for pipes larger than 2" in size. Even a modest 16x32' pool could easily benefit from 3" and 4" plumbing systems from a design efficiency perspective, but the cost of installation is similar to things like a variable speed pool pump. It will cost more up front but you hope to recoup these additional costs over the service life of the pool as well as having a better product for your troubles. That is a win-win unless you do not have any money left in the budget for bigger pipes because you spent the entire budget on deck jets and fake rocks that have stereo speakers hidden in them. When you are building a pool you should be investing in long term systems that will reward you with long service life as well as direct financial return on investment like with variable speed pumps. Forget the flashy bells and whistles and invest in a pool system that will last and cost as little as possible to operate day after day, year after year.

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If you need to order swimming pool equipment, parts or chemicals online then you should choose to buy from a specialist that deals exclusively with pool and spa products. InTheSwim.com would be my recommendation to pool owners looking to shop online for pool and spa supplies.

- Swimming Pool Steve

Basecrete flexible bondcoat

I can not stress enough the importance of using a waterproofing solution for concrete swimming pools. When it comes to the technical process of waterproofing concrete pools Basecrete is the most effective product that I know of. I strongly endorse the use of Basecrete products to all concrete pool owners.

- Swimming Pool Steve

LightStream swimming pool financing

Pool installations can be very expensive especially when you start to add optional extras. Building a pool is a once in a lifetime event for most people and it is important to get the pool you want. Swimming pool financing can help you get the pool you want and make sure you have the money you need to do it right the first time.

- Swimming Pool Steve

Pool Supplies Canada

When it comes to ordering pool and spa supplies online in Canada www.PoolSuppliesCanada.ca is by far the best option. They carry everything from chemicals to replacement pumps to entire pool kits, with free shipping options and more "in stock" items than any other Canadian online retailer.

- Swimming Pool Steve