With apologies to Ira Gershwin, it’s summertime and the living is easy-if you own a swimming pool. Suddenly your social calendar is full, so long as you’re hosting.
“We are definitely pool people,” Sandy Maresca of Owings, says. “We use it almost every day.” Each morning, Maresca and her husband, Mario, enjoy coffee poolside and the couple’s two children swim daily. The Marescas even hosted a wedding reception for Sandy’s brother. “[Our pool] is an important part of our lifestyle. It wouldn’t be a home without one,” she says.
The Marescas’ pool is the second one Merillat Pools in Dunkirk has built for them. Merillat built the pool at their previous home, and when the family moved they contacted the company to work its magic again.
Second-generation pool builder Kevin Merillat designs his pools using a 10-year master plan, so his customers can envision how their pool will look on its first opening day and its tenth. He uses CAD software to generate a three-dimensional model, complete with water-shooting deck jets, landscaping with built-in planters, lighting, water features and other elements such as pergolas and fire pits. His computer models even show the exterior of the house and lot features, so a homeowner can see exactly how their pool will fit in their yard.
Gone is the era of fiberglass sliding boards-those are creatures of the landfills now. Mike Wise, of Wise Pools in Waldorf, says his customers are requesting diving rocks instead. “Years ago, everyone wanted to have a diving board with an 8-foot end. Now the trends have changed,” he says.
Many pools Wise builds now are only 5 to 6 feet deep. The trend is towards pools for socializing and less for aquatic recreation. Customers want loveseats, swim-up bars, sun decks and tanning shelves. They want natural looking pools with stone edges that blend with the environment. They want extensions of their indoor entertaining areas.
Other popular trends are sheer dissent waterfalls, which literally look like a wall of water pouring into the pool, and vanishing-edge pools that fool the eye because the edge of the pool seems to disappear on the horizon.
“The house and the landscape are going to lend [themselves] to what type of pool will work in that setting,” Merillat says.
Thomas Cobbs, manager of Leisure World Pool & Spas, which specializes in vinyl liner pools, in Lexington Park, says another big trend he sees is computerization. Customers are opting for computerized controls that allow them to control the pumps, lights and heaters from their desktop computer from inside their home or remotely through their Blackberries or PDAs.
Another factor that will determine the type of pool is the lot itself; lot size plays a factor as does the placement of the septic system and the septic reserve, the area allocated for future septic systems. There are also building restriction setbacks from the property line to consider. The water table level can also dictate the type of pool, making a less expensive pool with a vinyl liner impractical. “Many in Charles County have a big issue with underground water due to the high water table,” Wise says. “If they’re not done properly, you can have problems down the road. It’s not that [a pool] can’t be done-just that you have to take extra precautions.”
“The process [of building a pool] is interesting. You don’t realize how many stages there are. You don’t realize how big the hole is going to be.” Maresca says. “We have pictures of my husband standing in it,” during the construction phase to show exactly how deep the hole was.
One thing the companies agreed on is that homeowners underestimate the amount of time and money it takes to build a pool. Wise said his vinyl pools run about $25 to $28k and a basic concrete pool starts around $35k, without any fencing or landscaping. He said it can also be a challenge to compare building quotes, because it’s hard for the consumer to make an apples-to-apples comparison. Most pools require fencing and the house must have special alarms on doors that lead directly to the pool area. There are also expenses like heaters, lighting, pool covers and chemicals that homeowners don’t always anticipate.
It takes about six to eight weeks from the time building and health department permits (required for homes with septic systems) are issued until completion. Time is also needed for the necessary building and electrical inspections. Although pool companies saw a slowdown in construction business the last few years, things seem to have turned the corner. All three companies have witnessed an uptick in business recently and building permit offices are busier.
Merillat Pools, Wise Pool & Spa and Leisure World all open pools in the spring and close them in the fall. The companies offer regular maintenance, sell chemicals and analyze pool water for customers who prefer DIY maintenance. But who wants to handle that themselves, when they could be relaxing poolside. It’s summertime and the living should be easy.
Area Pool Companies
Leisure World Pools
21550 Great Mills Rd., Lexington Park, 301-863-7727
9170 Southern Maryland Blvd., Dunkirk, 301-855-8055
McConnell Pool Service Inc.
10560 McConnell Pl., White Plains, 301-934-1630
1925 Norfolk Dr., Owings, 301-855-6512
The Pool Company
30320 Triangle Dr., #4, Charlotte Hall, 301-645-7686
Wise Pool & Spa
11840 Pika Dr., Waldorf, 301-932-4547
Please note: this list is limited to our research. It is great place to begin your search. We apologize for anyone we may have missed.