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Matt Gohlke: Now is the time to plan outdoor home projects

Before we know it, warm weather will arrive and pool owners will be enjoying their pool. Believe it or not, now is the time to start planning that backyard project.

Two very common questions that pool builders hear are “What is the best time of year to build a swimming pool?” and “How do I begin the planning process for a swimming pool?” The following are the answers to these very common questions:

What is the best time of year to build a swimming pool?

The best time to do any outdoor home improvement project, including swimming pools, is during the off season. There are several reasons that now is the best time to begin backyard projects:

Landscaping — The best time to install landscaping is during the late winter or early spring. Summer is actually not a good time of the year to install landscaping as it is too hot for the actively growing plants, making them more susceptible to damage. If you install a pool and landscaping before the growing season, by the time summer arrives you have a wonderful looking backyard — not one that looks like a construction site.

Well-rested work crews — Like anyone else, excessive work can lead to tired and stressed-out workers and sometimes attention to detail is not where it needs to be. Therefore, it can be advantageous to build a pool or make other outdoor home improvements before the busy season and heat arrive to ensure that the workers are well-rested and less stressed.

It takes time — Due to the length of time that it takes to obtain financing for outdoor home improvement projects, it often takes longer than you would expect to begin these projects. In addition, with line locations and building permits, the planning for projects can often take several weeks. Add to this the actual time that it takes to build the project and warm weather is here. There is nothing more frustrating than having a project under construction and wishing you were already using it. We will soon approach the end of this window, so now is the time to get started on that outdoor home improvement project that you desire.

How do I begin the planning process for a swimming pool?

Like any large investment, it is critical that you take your time in making decisions. The following are some tips to help get you started on the proper path when purchasing a swimming pool:

Look at as many pools as you can — It is a good idea to visit your friends’ swimming pools and get their opinion on things they would do different, but the best way to do this is on the internet. Houzz and Pinterest are both excellent sources for pool ideas. As you see things you like, make a list of them.

Discuss the project with your family — It is important that the pool meets your particular needs. Such items as the following should be considered: Pool placement in the yard, traditional look or tropical look; game pool or diving pool, decorative water features; and pool only or pool with spa and patio area for table and lounge chairs.

Get a copy of your plot plan (also called survey plan) — This is a legal drawing of your property and it 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 you have available. Often times, easements and building setbacks will limit the backyard space that is available.

Make some drawings of your ideas — This is optional, but many people find it helpful to make some of their own drawings before hiring a designer. It is best to draw a scaled drawing, which makes the features relative 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 shown on the plot plan and transfer it to your graph paper using either 1/4-inch or 1/8-inch scale. On the drawing, include the fence, the back of the house, existing patios, trees and anything 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 many factors to consider when selecting the proper swimming pool for your situation, but proper planning and preparation will assure that you get what fits your needs, yard and budget.