Singapore is blessed with some amazing public swimming pools for a refreshing low-cost day out with the kids. But if you live in a house with yard space, the temptation to take the plunge and install a backyard swimming pool so that you can actually, well, take a plunge, can be as strong as chlorine. The luxury of being able to walk outside and take a swim whenever you want is great, but the idea of supplying kids with the ultimate toy is greatest.
Imagine: no need to buy this, that and the other anymore. And once you’ve maxed out on tried-and-tested old school activities, the kids can simply take themselves outside for the awesome trifecta of exercise, fun and bedtime-worthy exhaustion.
So if temptation wins out, here are some things to consider when installing a pool.
First things, first: do you need a permit? Your contractor can obtain one on your behalf if necessary from the Building and Construction Authority (BCA). However, most pools installed in rental properties in Singapore these days are 1.2m and are classed as temporary – so it is not necessary to obtain a permit. It makes sense however to make sure your pool is not abutting your neighbour’s fence (disturbing their privacy) to avoid complaints. Your contractor will be able to advise specifically on assessing your proposed location.
If you own the home in which you want to install a pool you will likely want to take this investment more seriously as you have the opportunity to design and build a custom pool in various hard wearing and attractive materials. Whether it be a concrete lap pool with waterfall feature, or an Italian tiled horizon look, a custom pool will be more expensive and add value to your property. If you are renting, your options will be more fixed and these pools are designed to be removed when you leave the premises.
The foundations of a vinyl pool are made out of concrete, galavnised steel, structural foam or pressure-treated wood and the vinyl refers to the 20mm-30mm thick liner that acts as a membrane. This is the one to consider if you’re renting, as they are suitable for aboveground installation. That means, no digging is required which reduces the cost and makes it easier to reinstate the property when you vacate. Even if you’re after a permanent pool, a vinyl version is worth considering if you’re budget-conscious as it’s cheaper than poured concrete and provides more flexibility than fiberglass. A major plus if you have small children, is that the non-slip and algae-resistant quality makes it a safe and healthy option too. Installation takes about a week. Tears can be a bit costly to repair so it’s important to treat the liner gently and make sure it’s well fitted.
A single fiberglass shell is also a consideration if you’re renting as these can be installed aboveground. There is less flexibility though and most come in fairly standard shapes so just make sure the dimensions of the pool fit the dimensions of your available space as they can’t be customized. They’re more hardy than vinyl, so if your kids like a bit of rough and tumble they might be worth the extra expense. Installation time varies and can take up to a month.
If you’re a homeowner and want complete control over the aesthetics of your pool, then poured concrete is a good choice. For an investment like this you will probably want to engage designers and landscapers as this option involves the surrounding area where the pool is to be situated as well, and how the pool integrates and functions within the entire property. The inside surface can be painted or tiled. Installation can take roughly 2 to 4 months because the concrete needs to set and tile-work be laid.
It used to be a given that our swimmers would last one season before the chlorine had faded and eaten our lycra so much that they were hanging by a thread. Chlorine is no longer the only option available, as it was back in the 80’s but it does have its benefits, or namely one: it kills bacteria and algae. A chlorinated pool will keep the swimming environment sanitary but it relies on additional chemicals to be added to it to maintain the correct pH balance that can cause skin irritation, not to mention sting the eyes.
This option is more enjoyable to swim in as the water is softer on account of the salt content. It still requires chlorine but this is achieved with a special generator that uses electrolysis to separate the sodium from the natural chlorine that is inherent in its molecules, and then adds it back to the water. It’s still important to regularly check the pH balance though.
Your yard space will determine what options you have available for placement of the pool. Obviously if you have a more compact area, you will need to go for a small pool and won’t have as many choices when it comes to where it will be positioned. If you have a large space available you can decide to locate the pool away from foliage so that the pool doesn’t get quite so dirty with leaves and debris or perhaps you want to be nearer trees or an awning so that these objects can cast shade over the pool at certain times of the day. Additionally, you will need to think about how level the ground is and select the flattest part unless you want to do some leveling.
If you have small children you might want to consider having a shallower pool and one that is of even depth all the way across. If you have bigger kids that are probably prone to jumping in, you might want to go deeper to avoid the risk of spinal injuries when diving.
This will also be determined by your yard space. If you still want some area for non-water play and outdoor dining, go for something that doesn’t use all the available space. At the very least, you will need room to navigate around the pool safely.
Aboveground pools will probably need some sort of decking around them to make them more convenient. Being able to sit or stand on or near the edge isn’t possible without some sort of built up area at pool surface level. Companies that supply this type of rental pool will often have a decking service available too for an additional charge. If you’re renting, this type of decking is designed to be dismantled by the same people too. You can even build out a big enough area to house the filtration equipment, allow for outdoor tables and chairs and even a pergola.
A lot of pool installation companies also provide regular maintenance services including pool cleaning with scrubbing, water testing, chemical management and inspection of mechanical equipment (for around $160 per month). While you probably don’t want to get the kids involved in the chemical side of things, bigger kids could benefit from the extra responsibility of having leaf skimming, vacuuming and filter basket emptying added to their list of weekly chores.
It is not a legal requirement in Singapore to have a pool safety fence like it is in Australia and some other countries. But if you have little ones, you may want to look into having one installed anyway or some other safe way to barricade the pool area from the rest of the home. It’s also a good idea to keep a CPR instructional sign positioned somewhere near the pool in case of accidents. Lastly, you might want to set some ground rules for everyone using the pool, like no running around the pool area and no diving if the pool is shallow.
Things like pool lights, pool ladders, and pool cleaning equipment are all items you might need for your pool too. Discuss with the contractor to incorporate these things into your quotation if they’re needed.
The big question. This can vary considerably given variances in materials, dimensions, maintenance options, peripheral items, decking and hire period (if renting). Make sure you get quotations from at least 3 suppliers before you decide how to proceed. We spoke to the very knowledgeable Mr. Teo from ID Home Plus & Services and received a general quote. As a rough guide for a vinyl 10 x 20 foot pool the installation cost is from $12k, and a 12 x 24 foot pool is from $15k. For a fiberglass 10 x 20 foot pool is from $15k and a 12 x 24 foot pool is from $18k. And if you want a custom built concrete pool prices will vary depending on your exact requirements (but needless to say it is the most expensive option and prices start around $60k). Removal costs in the region of $1000.
A few local suppliers in addition to ID Home Plus & Services to try are:
- Perfect Pool Services will install your splash pad, provide servicing 2 times per week, and are equipped to remove the pool if you need when you move on. Drop them a line on p. 9686 5999.
- Aaron Leong of Saquaries Co Pte Ltd is a man in the know when it comes to everything pool related.
- If a temporary pool is what you seek, try People Pools Services – they claim it takes as little as 10 days to install, and 3 days to dismantle.
- Mr. Ong offers very competitive pricing and excellent after sales service – p. 9642 1030.
When you’ve settled on an estimate, take the plunge and soak up the pleasure of year round swimming on your doorstep in our endless summer!
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