I’m thinking about creating my new backyard retreat with a swimming pool, but I don’t quite know where to start.
Our advice is not to waste time “thinking” unless the pool can fit.
Intended Use and Garden Design
A swimming pool can transform your backyard and lifestyle, but your intended use coupled with your overall garden design goals may prevent you from fitting a swimming pool.
We suggest you first read the following notes on ‘Intended Use and Garden Design’ then request the Endless Free Pool Planning Guide to make sure a pool will fit.
The intended use of your swimming pool will dictate the ‘type’ and ‘size’ of the swimming pool that you eventually choose.
You may not be able to install a swimming pool in your backyard space because your ‘intended use’ is not achievable.
Intended Use: Swimming Laps & Diving
Requirements: Long Pool, Deep End.
‘Type’ Selection: A deep end may dictate an ‘in ground’ swimming pool’, however easements will not allow this.
‘Size’ Selection: Swimming laps require a longer pool, however there is not enough length available in your backyard.
Do you want a visually appealing and functional backyard? Do you want to make the most out of the available space and add value to your home? Are these your goals?
You may not be able to install a swimming pool in your backyard space because your ‘Garden Design’ is not achievable.
Design Feature: Space for family dog and children’s play area.
Requirements: Trampoline, swings and slide plus lawn area.
Pool Selection: None, not enough room for a swimming pool with this design feature.
Each pool installation typically requires some form of excavation works, whether it be a minor site preparation for an above ground pool or digging a hole for an in ground pool.
Machinery involved includes an excavator (digger) and a bobcat. The bobcat is used to load the excavated soil into a kerbside tip truck which transports the soil to the closest tip.
Do you have enough access for this machinery to enter your backyard?
Access can be provided through:
• Your garage – existing doorway or create one
• Neighbours property – removing the boundary fence
• The gap between a boundary fence and the side of your house
• Side street access – drop your fence
• Back lane, parkland, golf course – gain permission
The smallest bobcat can fit through a doorway measuring 900mm wide.
A mini excavator is 1800 mm high.
Location and Orientation - Council & Building Regulations
You cannot place a pool just anywhere in your backyard. There are rules and regulations that must be adhered to before selecting the placement of your pool.
Placement will be governed by ‘Building Regulations’ and ‘Town Planning’.
We suggest you first read the following notes regarding ‘ Regulations’ then request the Endless Free Pool Planning Guide to make sure a pool will fit .
Regulations – Building Permit
A building permit is written approval from a registered building surveyor. It shows that your approved plans and specifications comply with building regulations, and allows building work such as the installation of a swimming pool to start.
Building permits relate specifically to the carrying out of building construction and take into account building regulations such as but not limited to…
An easement is a specified party’s right to use a defined part of another person’s land without owning it. An easement can be stated and visible on the title plan or it can be implied. Easements may be provided over a lot to enable access for maintenance and repair or to provide water, sewerage and electricity services.
To find out if any easements exist on your property, obtain a Certificate of Title from Landata.
There are some instances where easements are not registered on the Certificate of Title so instead, you can contact your Power and Water boards or Dial Before You Dig.
2. Buildings & the Angle of Repose
The angle of repose is the maximum slope or angle at which soil remains stable without falling or sliding. Each individual pool has its own angle of repose.
3. Safety Barriers / Pool Fencing
Swimming pools and spas with a depth of more than 30cm (including inflatable or relocatable pools and spas) must have safety barriers that meet the Australian Standard. All pools and spas built since 2010 require a four-sided safety barrier or fence, with no direct access from the house to the pool or spa surround.
Details can be found on the Victorian Building Authority website.
Examples of Building Regulations*:
i. You cannot install over an easement such as storm water drainage as they are permanent and run with the land. There is an allowable distance from an easement. This distance may vary depending on the depth of the easement excavation; however allow at least 400mm until requirements are known.
2. Buildings & the Angle of Repose
i. Excavation is not allowed within the angle of repose if it will affect the support of an existing building (house, garage, shed). As a guide only, you could calculate the distance required from a building as the depth of the pool. In some situations the excavation can be less than the angle of repose; however this generally involves underpinning or some other form of foundation works to protect buildings from being undermined.
ii. Soil conditions will dictate the excavation location. Filled and slopping land may need retaining walls to be built.
3. Safety Barriers
i. Where a boundary fence acts as a safety barrier to the pool, it should not be less than 1800mm.
ii. Permit restrictions usually include a 900mm drop exclusion zone from a boundary fencing as long as the fence has a height of 1800mm. Exemptions may apply in some circumstances, if a taller fence or barrier is installed.
iii. All doors and sliding doors are not permitted to open directly into the pool enclosure and windows are to protected accordance with AS1926-2012.
*Regulations can change at any time refer to the’ Victoria Building Authority’ for current regulations
Regulations – Town Planning Permits
Planning permits are legal documents giving permission for a land use or development, and may be required by your local council. If a planning permit is required, it must be obtained before a building permit can be issued, however, both applications can be made at the same time.
Whether you need a planning permit for your pool installation depends on your property’s:
1. Zoning – All properties have zone regulations.
2.Overlays – Some properties have overlay regulations**.
**If your property has particular characteristics, such as waterways, heritage character, and locally significant vegetation or other constraints or features, overlays will apply to the property.
To understand what this means if you are proposing installing a pool on your property, it is recommended you contact your local council’s Town Planning Office or Landata.
Examples of Town Planning Regulations:
1. Residential Zone – Minimum street setbacks may apply to the installation of a swimming pool into the front yard
2. Building Envelope Overlay – A building envelope specifies the outline of where buildings / pools can be located and can also determine the setbacks to the property boundaries and the maximum area of a building footprint
3. The Heritage Overlay- This overlay determines the assessment of suitable development that can take place on or adjoining these sites to ensure the cultural heritage or Indigenous cultural values of a place or area are not compromised.
When having a pool delivered, access for crane lift into the excavation needs to be considered.
Obstacles can include:
- Overheard Wires
Is there adequate crane access for a standard pool delivery?
Small or Supersonic pools (under 7m long and 3.5m wide) require a truck mounted crane for transportation. This mounted crane can lift the pool into the backyard as long as the reach is manageable. The reach capability of this crane depends on the weight of the pool. If the reach of the pool is excessive then a mobile crane needs to be used to lift the pool into position.
Large pools (over 7m long and 3.5m wide) must be transported to site by a pool trailer and then placed into the position by a mobile crane if access is poor.
The following video shows mobile crane lift for an 8 x 4m swimming pool.
Don’t waste time “thinking” unless the pool fits your budget and you’ve created a plan.
Types of Swimming Pools
What Types of Swimming Pools Can I Purchase?
When looking to purchase a swimming pool, one of the first things you must consider is what type of swimming pool would best suit your family and your overall plan.
The ‘type’ of pool selected will change the final costings
Swimming pools can be installed in various ways:
- Above ground
- Partially In- ground
Swimming pools can be configured differently:
- Plunge Pools and Swimming Spas
- Swimming Pools.
Swimming pools can be constructed using different materials:
Read further for the pros and cons of each type to discover which options will suit your site and meet your needs best?
Installation & Delivery
Once the “type” of swimming pool is selected, installation and delivery can be determined
Today swimming pools can be placed in virtually any garden but the overall cost of the installation and delivery will be determined by your site conditions.
Owner Builders – DYI
Installing a swimming pool yourself can be a cheaper alternative than having a pool builder supply and install one for you, but you must apply to become an owner builder.
View here for details on how to become an Owner Builder
Registered Pool Builders
Most builders will quote initially for the ‘mandatory items’ required for installation and delivery of your selected ‘type’ of pool and will assume that your site has the following conditions
- Easy access
- Non – reactive soil
- Level land.
- No restrictions to the orientation and location of your pool
These mandatory items typically include:
- Engineering plans
- Building permit
- Warranty insurance
- Delivery of your pool to site ( A pool trailer is quoted for larger pools, whilst a crane truck is quoted for smaller pools
- Installation – 1 day allowance – labour & hire of bobcat / excavator
- Installation – plumbing of shell and connection to filtration equipment
- Temporary fencing (4 weeks hire)
A final quotation will be provided once the builder has been given more details about your site.
1. When the site has poor access. Typically extra costs will be for…
- Extra days labour & hire of bobcat & excavator
- Mobile crane lift
2. When the soil is reactive. Typically extra costs will be for…
- Unknown contingencies such as but not limited to removal of asbestos, removal of rock
- Excavation or removal of any sub-surface materials or obstructions requiring equipment such as pneumatic or blasting equipment and / or explosives for ripping, cutting or blasting
- Formwork and back-filling below ground level
- Shoring up of wet or unstable soil or reinstatement of any cave-in of the swimming pool excavation.
3. When the land is sloping. Typically extra costs will be for…
- Retaining wall construction and associated drawings & plans
4. When the location and orientation of the pool has restrictions.
Typically extra costs, if applicable, will be for…
- Town planning application fees
- Developer fees
- Survey of property
- Shoring or retaining walls or other means of stabilisation to ensure stability of overburden excavation and/or to protect adjacent buildings.
- Piering or other structural requirements below existing ground level
- Underpinning of buildings and associated drawings & plans
A typical pool is costed with a standard equipment package*
*This package includes a skimmer, a filtration pump and a cartridge filter.
Summary of ‘How a Pool Works’
Water is drawn from both the pool and the skimmer and is transferred to a pump. Once it reaches the pump, the pool water passes through an initial sieve called the “strainer pot basket”.
This basket will remove most debris from the water prior to sending it along to the pump housing. Water is then passed through the pump’s motor to another sieve called a filter. This filter removes any remaining debris and contaminants. The pool water is then returned back to the pool.
This process of circulating the water is called the filtration cycle and takes around 6 – 10 hours a day in order to turn over the total water volume of the pool.
If the equipment, such as a gas heater has been fitted; the water would also pass through this piece of equipment to heat the water, before returning back to the pool.
To gain a better understanding of how a pool works view the following video
The cost of a pool will increase if the standard equipment is upgraded.
- The standard filtration pump is upgraded in order to turn the water over faster
- The standard filtration pump is upgraded to an energy saving model
- The standard filter is upgraded to a bigger filter.
- The standard filter is upgraded from a ‘cartridge’ filter to a ‘sand’ filter.
(A sand filter requires extra installation with further additional costs costs)
The cost of a pool will also increase if extra equipment is selected.
- Swimming on the spot
- Automatic Control Systems
- Automatic Sanitisation
- Water Feature(s)
- Pool Cleaners
(Optional equipment may require extra installation with further additional costs)
Complete Pool Project Costs
There is no easy answer to the total cost of a swimming pool installation as every pool project varies significantly; such variations are the goods and services wanted by individual homeowners as well as the individual site conditions
Prices can start from a little $15,000 when a ‘DIY’ swimming pool kit is purchased.
Pools to be built and installed with the same equipment package by a pool builder typically start from*
Vinyl-liner: $15,000 +
Acrylic: $20,000 +
Fibreglass: $28,000 +
Concrete: $35,000 +
*These costings typically would include only standard equipment, delivery and installation with easy access and no location restrictions. These costings typically wouldn’t include any fencing or landscaping.
The average cost of a small swimming pool including installation is over $35,000 in Australia
Quality swimming pools vary in costs from $35,000 to over $100,000
Your Final Costings
The total cost of your swimming pool project will be made up of many items.
These items can be classified into six costing groups and may or may not be applicable to your project.
- Costs related to standard equipment, delivery and installation.
- Costs related to upgraded and optional equipment and its installation.
- Costs related to town planning, developer or neighbour permissions
- Costs associated with poor or restrictive access, reactive soil or sloping land.
- Costs relating to landscaping items or service connections.
- Costs related to miscellaneous items that are exclusions in the building contract.
Don’t waste time “thinking” unless the pool will suit your lifestyle.
What are the Benefits to Owning a Pool?
There are many benefits to owning a swimming pool. We conducted a survey of our customers to find why homeowners want their own swimming pool.
Below is a list of the most popular reasons:
- I can exercise in own backyard – swimming
- I can control the cleanliness, as opposed to public pools.
- I gained fitness from low impact exercise, and I did not have to swim.
- I felt more relaxed; it has been good for my mental health.
- Family fun & entertainment.
- Children’s play & amusement
- Better sleep and… longer sleeps for the kids after a day in the pool!
- Great place to cool off and escape the heat.
- Great way to bribe the grand-kids to visit.
- I know where my teenagers are and what they are doing.
- Privacy while sun-baking in the yard
The video below shows that besides learning water safety skills, research has also proven that there are many other benefits to children who begin swimming at a young age.
Radio National PODCAST talks on all things swimming.