Think Before You Sink -- 5 Questions To Answer Before Pool Shopping

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If you're thinking about installing an in-ground swimming pool, you're no doubt wrestling with some big decisions. From size and shape to budget and location, making the right choices about any investment the size of a pool is a big job. How can the average homeowner know where to start? Here is a handy guide to the 5 biggest questions to answer thoroughly before talking to contractors about your new pool.

Why Do You Want a Pool? While this question may seem like a simple one, it can be very important and very complicated. Considering why you really want a pool can help you not only decide things like the budget and size, but it can also ensure that everyone in your family is on the same page. It also helps avoid rash decisions made in the (literal) heat of summer or dead of winter. 

What is Most Important? How you will use the pool is a key component to choosing the right one. Will the kids be using it most, or will it be for Mom and Dad's outdoor entertaining? Is the goal exercise, diving, or simply splashing around in the shallow end? How much of the yard do you want to take up? How important is it that it fits in with your existing yard landscaping? Do you want a beautiful focal point, a nighttime light show, or a gathering place for your kids' friends? Write down your priorities -- numbering them in order -- as a family before you begin talking about money and contractors.

What Do You Want from a Contractor? When searching for a quality contractor, you should know what you feel are the most important results you want from your pool installer. Is it a low price? Or is it high quality work? Is it creativity and artistry in a custom pool? Or is it sticking to a time schedule? By focusing on what you need from your installation service, you can ask better questions and ensure that he or she understands your situation. 

What Do You Already Know? Educating yourself about swimming pool basics is a vital part of making the best choice when you actually sign a contract. Do you know the differences between fiberglass, vinyl and concrete pools? Do you understand how infinity pools work, how a faux grotto is built and what electricity or water requirements come with a pool? Can you make an informed choice between saltwater and freshwater or between traditional filtration and natural swimming pool options? By learning more before you begin talking with contractors, you can create a better budget, avoid wasting time and save money.

What is Your Budget? After learning about pools in general and determining what you want from your new pool, it's time to build a realistic budget. Trying to build a custom pool when your budget only allows a more traditional choice is frustrating and expensive. On the other hand, settling for a basic pool when you could have a more stylish and personalized custom option is likely to leave you unfulfilled. By working through the financial aspects -- including arranging financing if necessary -- early on, you can make sure the pool fits your reality. 

By answering these valuable questions as a family or homeowner, you can make the best choices among all the pool options. And then, you can sit back and relax in the water -- knowing you made the right calls.