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I know i am late but for future people reading through this should also consider automatic pool covers if you are looking for all year round safety. The safety covers mentioned above are more for winterization or covering your pool during a time you dont want to use it. They take time to install and are not an in season friendly option.
automatic safety covers like coverpools are a key switch operated safety cover that covers and uncovers the pool in a matter of seconds. When installed by a professionaly trained installed they can easily hold the weight of multiple adults and children.
Start by doing some research for your local area.
What type of pools work best for your ground condition; Gunite, Fiberglass, Vinyl Liner, Above Ground, etc?
If it is gunite, what style do you want; Freeform, Geometric, Lagoon, Modern?
Do you want a spa? Do you want a waterfall? Do you want to heat your pool?
What materials catch your eye?
Create a portfolio of pictures of pools that you like, this will help the designer really understand waht you are looking for.
Check out the companies that you call.
How long have then been in business?
Are they members of BBB? Rating?
Do they have an office or do they work out of their house/truck?
DO they have insurance?!?
In the Houston Metro Area our customers expierience an annual cost of about 1,500-2,000, this includes electrical, gas, and chemicals.
These numbers represent an average sized pool, average spa usage, and properly maintained pool chemistry.
There are so many variables that will affect the overall costs of maintenance, chemicals, etc. For starters, where you live makes a difference in how many months of the year that the pool will be operational and energy costs will vary from region to region.
Another factor to consider is if you will rely on a pool services company to open and close your pool annually or if you will be doing some of these services on your own. The cost to open and close a pool is determined by the size of the pool. In addition, many companies (including ours) offer discounts on pool chemicals if purchased in February, March, or April. This can save customers a lot of money.
In general, figure your annual costs could range from $500 to $4,000 depending on what services, i.e., openings/closings, weekly maintenance, repair, chemicals, etc. that will be used compared to how much you plan on doing yourself.
Your pool builder should be able to give you a fairly accurate assessment when you get to the final design stage.
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