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Matt Gohlke / Pools

It’s winter, but plan now for pool season

Wouldn’t it be great if we could accurately predict what the weather would be for North Texas for the next few months?

According to the 2013 Old Farmer’s Almanac, we have some interesting weather coming for the Texas-Oklahoma region: “The snowiest periods will be in early to mid-February and early March. April and May will be wetter than normal, with temperatures below normal in the north and above normal in the south. Summer will be cooler and a bit rainier than normal, with temperatures below normal in the north and above normal in the south.”

With area lake levels currently lower than usual, I hope the forecast of “wetter than normal” is accurate. In addition, cooler temperatures for this summer would also be nice.

Whether this forecast is accurate or not, we can rest assured that it will be hot here very soon. We will soon enter the time of year when many people begin making summer plans and consider purchasing a swimming pool.

I often get asked for the best method to begin approaching the purchase of a swimming pool. Like any investment of this size, it is critical that you take your time in making decisions. Following are some tips to help get you started:

•  Look at as many pools as you can. Visit your friends’ swimming pools, visit pool stores, or go to an outdoor furniture store for motivation and to get ideas. Outdoor furniture stores usually have displays that will make it easier to visualize your future backyard. The Internet has endless photographs of pools and other backyard features. As you see things that you like, make a list of them.

•  Discuss the project with your family. It is important for the pool to meet your particular needs. Consider where the pool can be placed in the yard, and some other items and features you may want: a traditional look or a tropical one; a game pool or diving pool; a spa attached to the pool; decorative water features; or a patio area for a table and lounge chairs.

•  Get a copy of your plot plan (also called a survey plan). This is a legal drawing of your property and is usually with your mortgage papers. It typically shows where the house is located on your property, which will help determine how much backyard space is available. Often, easements and building setbacks will limit the available space.

•  Make some drawings of your ideas. This is optional, but many people find it enjoyable to make some of their own drawings before hiring a designer. It is best to draw a scaled drawing, which makes the features relative in size to each other. A scale ruler and graph paper can be purchased at most office supply or art stores.

You can take the space that is shown on the plot plan and transfer it to graph paper using either 1/4 or 1/8 scale. On the drawing, include any fences, the back of the house, existing patios, trees and anything that you want to keep. After you have some ideas of what you want and where you want it, it is time to call on pool construction companies to continue the planning process.

There are clearly many factors to consider when selecting the proper swimming pool for your situation — but proper planning and preparation will help ensure that you get what fits your needs, yard and budget.

MATT GOHLKE, certified building professional, is the owner of Gohlke Pools and a member of the National Spa & Pool Institute, Aquatech and the Better Business Bureau. His firm has received national awards, certifications and recognitions in the swimming pool industry. He may be reached at 940-387-7521.