Of Pools and Pitches

Private Property South Africa
Shaun Wewege

I remember begging my parents to install a swimming pool in our back garden. During hot summer months my brother and I would go out into the garden and plot where the best place to fit a pool would be. We never got our swimming pool, though it was probably due to the fact that during cricket season we would walk around the same patch of garden trying to convince my father that we could fit a cricket pitch.

Having recently entered the homeowners market I have had a chance to look into installing pools, Jacuzzis or bar areas. Having your own patch of land gives you a chance to turn it into a home and perhaps realise a childhood dream. Below are a few points to ponder should you wish to install a swimming pool (I was going to write about installing a cricket pitch but my significant other just frowned at my suggestion. I can only imagine the look on her face when I tell her about the home brewery I plan to start).

Above ground pools, as the name suggests, are installed above ground level, negating the need for digging and speeding up the installation process. These pools are constructed from pre-fabricated kits and require only access to water, electricity and a level surface, making these popular for the budget conscious and DIY inept. However, they don’t last as long as in-ground pools and are generally less aesthetically pleasing. If you are looking for a cost-effective, easy to install and practical pool, above ground pools are worth looking into.

In-ground pools are often customised, built into the ground and can have a long lifespan if the contractors are knowledgeable and if correct maintenance procedures are carried out.

There are a few options with in-ground pools:

• Vinyl-lined pools are cheaper to install though they may only last up to ten years.

• These pools are constructed with metal, wood or plastic walls that are supported by a frame and lined with vinyl.

• Fibreglass pools use a shell that is sunk into the ground. It’s the quickest to install of the in-ground pools though your size and shape may be a little more limited as the shells are pre-cast.

• Poured concrete pools give homeowners much choice in terms of size and shape though the installation is difficult and takes a long time. In a nutshell, concrete is poured into frames that have been placed inside the pool cavity.

• Gunite pools use a steel-reinforced framework that is covered with heavy coating of gunite (sand and cement mix) and smoothed out. At a later stage the shell will be coated with plaster, producing a smooth finish.

Each of the above pool has pros and cons and suppliers tend to specialise in one type of installation. The key is to get multiple quotes and check the credentials of each supplier. A good starting point is to see if your chosen supplier is listed on the National Spa and Pool Institute (NSPI) website - http://www.nspi.co.za. The NSPI is a consumer watchdog and member companies have various processes to follow before being accredited. Companies have to be registered and older than two years, ensuring that anyone using a listed company has less risk of choosing a fly-by-night contractor.

For a list of pool contractors visit http://www.poolbuilders.co.za/. The contractors listed on this site are paying advertisers but you can cross reference their credentials with the NSPI.

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