Dreaming of poolside parties for the coming summer? Before you start planning where to place your loungers, read our essential guide to putting in a pool.

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• Think small. Peter Shedlock of Peter Shedlock Pools says that most people struggle with the considerable upkeep of larger, complicated pool systems (yes, even when they have installed an automatic pool cleaner). Instead of landing up with a white elephant that no one uses, opt for a small, simple pool that will be easy, less expensive and less time-consuming to maintain.

• Make sure your pool contractor is a registered member of the National Spa and Pool Institute of South Africa. They might not be the cheapest option, but they’ll be the most thorough, and are required to adhere to minimum standards.

Peter Shedlock Pools

• Consider the pool’s location. The ideal spot receives sufficient sun to warm up the pool, says Jason Sanders of BLUPOOL, but is shielded from wind – swimming in a breeze isn’t all that pleasant. Make sure, too, that there are no trees nearby that will drop their leaves into the water, forcing you to spend all summer skimming the water with a pool net. You’ll also want a site that makes it easy for you to keep an eye on kids and pets. Jason says it’s also important to think about the location of the pump, because this affects maintenance: the further your pool is from the pump, the harder it needs to work to circulate water. The pump should be the same height as the water level – if it’s lower, you’ll need valves to shut off the water when servicing the pump; if it’s higher, the strain on the pump may ultimately cause damage.

• Think about the weir. Make sure that it, and the return jets, are strategically placed to ensure optimal circulation. This makes for even distribution of the chemicals and prevents ‘dead spots’, helping to reduce the overall cost of maintenance.

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• Get the timing right. According to John Grogan of The Parks Pools, winter is the best time for construction: there’s less chance of rain, so the work can proceed without interruption, and pool companies generally offer better prices because they’re less busy. Your garden will also have time to recover from the construction.

• Do your research. Grogan says a survey of your chosen site is worth the expense, because it’s important to find out if there are any obstacles like thick rock, or even electrical cables or waterpipes. It’s also a good idea to ask an engineer to inspect the steel work before the pool’s shell is constructed, and sign off the pool before the shell has been cast.

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