Mak­ing A Splash

Think­ing about get­ting a pool? Th­ese are the ques­tions to ask first

Expatriate Lifestyle - - Contents - Photo by istockphoto

BWords by Karin Chan

lessed with sun­shine and trop­i­cal weather year-round, Malaysia is a great coun­try to have a swim­ming pool at home. Un­less it’s rain­ing, it’s al­ways warm enough for a swim. Or in­vite friends over, fire up the bar­be­cue and throw a pool party! No more shar­ing a pool with strangers and wor­ry­ing about clos­ing hours. And, it can be the cen­tre­piece of your beau­ti­ful land­scaped gar­den. Build­ing a pool in your home is not a sim­ple un­der­tak­ing, how­ever. Even the most af­ford­able types of pool in­cur a fairly hefty cost, and that’s just one fac­tor among many to take into ac­count. Then you have to see if your yard has the space, fig­ure out how of­ten you’ll be us­ing the pool and how you’re go­ing to main­tain it…and if you change your mind, it’s a rather ex­pen­sive re­gret.

It’s bet­ter to ask all the ques­tions you need to and make sure you’re sat­is­fied with the an­swers be­fore you start dig­ging (or in­stalling). Ac­cord­ing to Tim D’cruz of Pool Fabri­ca­tors, th­ese are the ques­tions prospec­tive pool own­ers need to be ask­ing.

Do I need plan­ning per­mis­sion from the lo­cal coun­cil?

Your con­trac­tor should be able to tell you if you need to get plan­ning per­mis­sion and what the per­mit­ted bound­ary set­backs will be, as well as any fees re­quired for the per­mit. Make sure to get an ex­pe­ri­enced con­trac­tor that is fa­mil­iar with lo­cal build­ing reg­u­la­tions.

What de­sign would suit my com­pound and space?

Space is lim­ited in the city, so large pools are quite rare. The shape of the pool can also al­ter the over­all aes­thetic of your prop­erty. It’s im­por­tant to think about what you want to use the pool for – a small pool is fine for the oc­ca­sional soak to cool off and as a water fea­ture, but won’t be suit­able if you want to do laps.

What sort of fin­ish does my pool need?

Com­mon pool fin­ishes in­clude tiles, fi­bre­glass or vinyl lin­ers. There are both prac­ti­cal and aes­thetic con­sid­er­a­tions to take into ac­count; a mo­saic tile fin­ish may look stun­ning, but if the water in the pool is not man­aged prop­erly and be­comes too acidic, it can eat into the ce­ment and over time the edges may get rough.

A vinyl liner might be less slip­pery and need less main­te­nance, but not look as good; how­ever, it is eas­ier to fix a leak­age prob­lem with a liner in­stead of a con­crete pool.

Should I have a salt­wa­ter or chlo­rine pool?

Though chlo­rine kills con­tam­i­nates in the water, many peo­ple don’t like the smell of chlo­ri­nated pools and chlo­rine can also dis­colour hair (es­pe­cially dyed hair). It’s rel­a­tively cheap to main­tain but the ph of the pool will need con­stant watch­ing, so it takes more ef­fort.

A salt­wa­ter pool doesn’t have that chem­i­cal smell and is less dry­ing on the skin be­cause of the lower chlo­rine lev­els, but you have to buy a salt water gen­er­a­tor, which is a higher ini­tial cost – es­pe­cially when you fac­tor in the power re­quired to run the gen­er­a­tor for hours each day.

Even though a salt­wa­ter pool is lower-main­te­nance as you only need to clean it once a year, salt can also be cor­ro­sive, which might be dam­ag­ing to the lights and pool liner over time.

Is it bet­ter for my pool to have a con­crete or plas­tic struc­ture?

Ac­cord­ing to Tim, the most pop­u­lar types of pools in Malaysia are con­crete water-re­tain­ing struc­tures with a tile fin­ish, but if you’re go­ing for a pool dug into the ground – as op­posed to an above-ground pool – con­trac­tors will cus­tomise the pool to your pref­er­ence. How­ever, this in­curs a large cost and de­pend­ing on the size of the pool, it can cost any­where from RM50,000 to RM100,000 and be­yond.

The most pop­u­lar types of pools in Malaysia are con­crete wa­ter­re­tain­ing struc­tures with a tile fin­ish”

A cheaper op­tion is the above-ground pool, which can be eas­ily set up in your gar­den and comes in many dif­fer­ent shapes and sizes. It’s much cheaper – you can get one for RM10,000 – and it’s portable. How­ever, it doesn’t look nearly as good and you will need to in­stall fenc­ing for safety, if you have chil­dren or an­i­mals.

How can I make sure my pool is safe?

A good con­trac­tor will have this cov­ered: they can in­stall hand rails and non-slip deck tiles, as well as proper fenc­ing around the pool (tall enough to pre­vent climb­ing over it). It might be worth­while to buy a safety cover too – be­sides keep­ing the pool leaf-free, it also pre­vents chil­dren fall­ing into the pool and be­ing un­able to get out when no one is watch­ing.

You can in­stall a pool alarm, which goes in-ground or above-ground and will alert you when some­one en­ters or falls into the pool. Com­mon pool eti­quette also ap­plies: don’t run near the pool, su­per­vise chil­dren and an­i­mals, never push oth­ers into the pool and don’t go for a swim dur­ing a thun­der­storm.

How of­ten must I per­form main­te­nance on the pool?

Monthly main­te­nance fees de­pend on the type of pool and whether you want to do it your­self or hire pro­fes­sion­als. Reg­u­lar up­keep is im­por­tant, par­tic­u­larly if you have many trees and shrubs around the pool – the pool should be cleaned daily to get leaves and branches out of the water. The al­ter­na­tive is to get a ro­botic pool cleaner.

Th­ese days, fil­tra­tion sys­tems are sim­ple and easy to han­dle. A pool ser­vice should only take about an hour to do, once you get the hang of it. It’s also good to cover the pool when not in use to min­imise evap­o­ra­tion rates.

Pool test­ing kits en­sure your pool stays the right ph level. The four pri­mary tests to do are for ph (7.2-7.8), chlo­rine (1.0-2.0ppm), to­tal al­ka­lin­ity (80-120ppm) and cal­cium hard­ness (200-400ppm).

When you’re away for the holidays, you should shut off the pool sys­tem and add ABATE lar­vi­cide to the water to pre­vent mos­quito breed­ing. Don’t leave your pool empty; with the con­stant tem­per­a­ture changes, tiles may pop out of place due to heat ex­pan­sion and cracks will ap­pear.

What are the war­ranties of the pool equip­ment and struc­ture?

Make sure you know your war­ranty lim­its and keep your con­trac­tor’s num­ber on hand in case of faults. If some­thing goes wrong, this in­for­ma­tion could save you a lot of time and money.

Am I get­ting a rep­utable pool builder?

Client ref­er­ences are a good way to de­ter­mine if you’re get­ting an ex­pe­ri­enced and ded­i­cated pool builder, or if you’re get­ting one who’s likely to do a shoddy job. Build­ing a pool is ex­pen­sive as it is, so try not to risk sav­ing a few bucks by go­ing for price over qual­ity.

Make sure you get clear in­for­ma­tion for the pay­ment sched­ules, how long it should take to build and com­plete the pool, and a quo­ta­tion for the pool based on size, struc­ture and fin­ish.

How can I en­hance the look of my pool?

You can land­scape around your pool – trans­form it into an oa­sis with boul­ders and plants; have palms or frangi­pani trees around the pool or even in­stall a wa­ter­fall at one end. Build a wooden or con­crete deck and get some out­door pool fur­ni­ture to lounge on, and dine al fresco when­ever you want. Light­ing can en­hance your out­door space, so it’s worth putting some thought into it. EL

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