As the weather starts to warm up, many of us think about installing pools and spas to help us cope with the heat. Here’s a few design tips to help you make the most out of your purchase.


Of paramount importance is safety. When we think about water safety, it’s vital that we don’t overlook the risks associated with accidental drowning. While the long term trend for accidental drowning has been in decline, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 42% of all drowning related deaths in children aged 1-14 years occurred in a swimming pool.

As the category name suggests, accidental drownings are entirely preventable, so we must be vigilant to ensure that we pay the same attention to safety design around the pool as to the pool itself. Also be aware that spas are subject to the same safety requirements as pools under the National Construction Code (NCC), and even if you don’t have children, your pool or spa must still comply with these requirements.

Safety design around pools does not mean you have to compromise aesthetics. There are a wide variety of pool barriers available on the market, ranging from economical metal tubular fencing to more expensive frameless glass screens. All pool fencing and gates must comply with Australian Standard AS1926.1, so speak to your architect, builder or pool installer regarding the available options.

If you carefully integrate the location of the pool with the design of your home and landscaping, it’s also possible to use structures such as boundary walls and retaining garden beds as pool barriers. Just remember that the barrier must be designed so that it can’t be climbed over, and can’t be located near other objects such as rocks or garden ornaments that might be used as a foothold. Have a look at the WA Building Commission website for more detailed information.

We should also pay attention to water and energy efficiency with our pools and spas. Water is becoming an increasingly scarce resource in many parts of WA, and that’s why it is mandatory for all pools to have a cover. Without one, a 40sqm pool in Perth will lose over 10,000 litres of water per month due to evaporation! (2) Again, there are a number of design options available that can be custom sized to follow the contours of your pool, and some can even be motorized and retractable so they are completely out of sight when the pool is being used.

Pools can also use a lot of energy, mainly due to pumps. For example, a pool with pumps for a water feature and massage jets, operated for six hours could use as much as 30 units of electricity a day, which at today’s prices would be around $7.50 per day (3). That adds up to a lot of money, so it’s important when purchasing a pool to ensure that the pump and system design is as energy efficient as possible, and then to operate your pool so as to minimize your running costs. For example, if you are a SmartPower customer with Synergy, running pool pumps in off-peak periods can dramatically reduce your electricity bill.

With skilful design, pools can be used to help cool your home during the hot dry months of the year. By positioning large bodies of water adjacent to windows and openings that receive good cross ventilation, wind passing over the surface of the water will cool down as it enters the window, providing an evaporative cooling effect. This helps to reduce the need for air conditioning, and allows lots of fresh air into your home. Lap pools and shallow ponds are ideal shapes for this kind of design integration.

And for the more adventurous and affluent amongst us, integrating a pool into the roof of your home can also help to keep you more comfortable throughout the year, as well as being a bold design statement. Because like heavyweight construction materials such as clay brick and concrete, water can store a large amount of heat energy over an extended period, and then release this energy at a later time.

So when it’s hot outside, a roof pool acts as a buffer against heat gain, helping to keep the interior of your home cooler during the day. As the temperature drops at night, if the pool has an insulated cover, the heat stored in the water from during the day can then transfer back into your home to make it warmer at night. This kind of passive heating and cooling strategy works best when there is a significant difference between day and night-time temperatures.

As you can see, there are many considerations and options if you’re thinking about installing a pool or spa this summer. However, with careful design and planning, and by working closely with your architect, builder and pool installer, you can achieve amazing results that will maximize the enjoyment and benefit of your investment.

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