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