To Pool or Not to Pool?

To Pool or not to Pool, that is a common question!

Frequently we get asked do I need a pool? Or will I get my money back? Or do I need a pool if I am selling for x price? These questions are all great, but there are no hard and fast rules, you need to be looking at the bigger picture and working back from there!

We have built many pools over the last few years and there are a few considerations:

Rebeka’s Plungie Pool being craned into place

Do you want an above ground or in built pool?

There are a few considerations to whether you want to build an above ground or below ground pool, and the first is aesthetic. Another might be ease of construction to build above ground if there are some existing structures which might be difficult. Considerations here can also be the shape and style of pool. Whilst is it not too difficult to build a custom pool above ground, it is expensive and can be quite an engineering process.

Rebeka recently lifted a Plungie Pool into her backyard as she had a tight space to work with, difficult access and the pre-built and finished form had already solved a number of issues for her, however the original plan was to build a custom shape.

We love this simple, yet effective design BuildHer Celina used in her Brighton home. Photography by Ben Hosking

Types of pools: concrete, fibreglass, precast

Increasingly we are seeing new types of pools, like the addition of the precast pools provided by Plungie and others. We will quickly run through some of the pro’s and cons for each of these:

  • Inground or above ground custom concrete pool: This is your traditional type of pool, the same as we build on our Rathmines project and in the Alpha house. The benefits are that this type of pool is completely customisable in shape, stairs, inclusions and how you want it to look and feel. The downside is they are the most expensive option ranging from $40-100k
  • Fibreglass shells: This is a great way to get a big pool with less expense. Because they are lightweight, they can be lifted into place easily and the shapes have been finessed over time. The pros are in the budget category, the limitations are around the shapes and sizes available and access to site as you will need to lift them in. These can start at around $25k
  • Precast Concrete: This is our newest player in the pool market, and they have made a splash. They have the look and feel of the custom concrete pools, come prefinished for ease and are a fraction of the cost, starting at around $25k, they have simplified the permit process and made it easy enough for a builder to build a pool.


The type of pool that you choose will have ramifications on the budget as you can see above, but make sure you think of all the many items that will need to be worked through including heating, filtration, maintenance, permits, surrounding landscaping, rectification of existing fences, new fences and surrounding hardscaping, decks and drainage.

If you are new to building, think about getting the pool company to quote all of the hardscaping, decks and connections to the pool. This way they will ensure compliance and give you a true and correct costing and indication of the entire works, and not just the smaller pool portion.

BuildHer Yolanda opted for a custom in-ground pool to compliment the angular aesthetics of her Northcote house. Photography by Spacecraft

Construction and Pools:

You will need to carefully consider how you will build your pool and if it is a new build at what stage of the job.  You will need to be careful that you don’t undermine any existing structures on the site and think about how you will move the excavated soil in and out if it is an in-ground pool.

One of the reasons Rebeka went for a plungie pool was that access was tight in her home (through a brick circle) and she could crane a Plungie pool into place without doing extensive earth works or messy implications to the existing garden.

We incorporated a water feature into our Mitchell Street property. Photography by Dylan James

The Design

You will want to think about how the pool integrates with your garden (sight lines, garden, access, connected path and decks, how will it all work together.)  Too often we see missed opportunities when the pools are poorly located or feel like an afterthought!

Some other considerations in the design are how the fencing will work, this is regulated, so there are strict rules on what you can and can’t do as they need to be of height and non-climbable.   And also where the equipment will sit (depending on salt water, chlorine, gas boosted, solar heated, automatic cleaning… all the many features and sizes will play a part.)

 There are so many decisions, which is why research will be you friend when you start to narrow down what you are looking at!

And this is before you get to the fun stuff… the materials and finishes. Generally, the inside of a concrete pool will be pebblecrete or tiles.  Tiles will add more cost to the building of the pool, but it might be the look and feel you are after. Waterline tiles are another solution that normally see the top 30-40cm of the pool tiled. But there are so many options!

We recommend starting with understanding what you are trying to achieve (how will it be used), knowing your budget and then finding inspiration images to help you navigate your way to clarity BEFORE you start asking for quotes!

Good luck and happy swimming! 

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