Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions asked by prospective pool owners.

What’s the most important component in a backyard pool? Information!

A pool is an important investment, so it’s understandable that you will want to make sure everything is just perfect. Not to worry, simply contact a Betz representative who will be pleased to answer all the questions you have about your unique project. With over 80 years in the business, there’s a good chance we have handled a project similar to yours before. In the meantime, here are some of our most common inquiries.

What is the most important information to get from the start?

First, check the building codes in your city. By-laws are continually changing and regulations often differ from town to town. Things such as how far the pool can be from the lot line, or how high the fence must be, and in some cities like Toronto, the details of the 4-side fence requirement. Another thing to check is easements on your property. Look at your lot survey and see if there are any utility or municipal services easements which could prevent you from encroaching on that area. When we apply for your permit we don’t want any surprises that could require changes to your design.

What kind of permit do I need for a pool?

Basically, all jurisdictions require a fencing enclosure permit. It’s not a permit to build a pool as such, and there are no pool inspections, but generally there is a pre-inspection of the site and a final inspection to ensure all the requirements are met, that the fences are pool legal and that all access doors and gates have proper closures.

What should I know about tree protection by-laws?

Most townships have tree by-laws that have restrictions on where you can dig, put a patio or do anything within a certain circumference of a tree. Even trees on a neighbour’s property could apply, depending on the circumference of the trunk. Permits are almost always required for the removal of a tree. Another important thing to be aware of is local conservation. If you are anywhere near a ravine, valley, creek or greenspace, there is good chance that you will need to get a permit. These permits can be costly and take a long time to approve, so it’s important to check this out thoroughly before you proceed.

What if my backyard is sloping?

The grading of your property will impact the cost of your project. Is your backyard flat, or sloping? The area for a pool must be flat, so if yours is sloping you’ll probably need to create tiered areas with retaining walls and maybe stairs to make it work. The good news is that retaining walls can sometimes be built to comfortable seating height, which not only adds architectural interest, but can also free up deck space by reducing the need for furniture. Be aware that retaining walls over a certain height may require a permit and some may even require an Engineer’s stamp, both of which will impact cost.

Is drainage an issue for a backyard pool?

Many new subdivisions have engineered drainage plans with swales between the properties. In such cases, you are not allowed to alter the slope or grades in any way that would affect the positive drainage of your property. Basically, you can’t re-direct run-off to a place it wasn’t draining before. Also, some municipalities have limits on the percentage of the backyard that can be covered by hardscapes (patios, walkways, cabanas, etc., not including your pool). This is to ensure most of the run-off will soak into the soil and be filtered by the natural aquifer rather than flowing back into the sewer system. As you can see, it’s good to learn all the facts about backyard grading for your area.

Are there any other permits I might need?

Depending on the extent of your project, you may require other permits. If you’re building a structure (cabana, change room or garden shed) you will need a permit if it’s over a certain size, usually around 10 sq. m. (108 sq. ft.). Any time you put a washroom in a cabana you need a permit. The same thing for wooden decks, they require a permit for footings and framing plus a final inspection for railings. Also, a permit is required to install a basement walkout, as proper drainage is critical.

What are the factors that influence the cost of a swimming pool?

Cost varies based on the type of construction (concrete or vinyl liner), size and shape of the pool, property access and demolition requirements, and to an even greater extent, poolscape features such as decks, water features, landscaping and structures.

How does backyard access affect costs?

Access to the backyard can have a huge impact on costs. Clearance of six feet plus is considered normal, but as you get down to five, four, or even three feet, the options for excavation and moving materials back and forth become quite limited. In very tight openings conveyor belts can sometimes be used, but in extreme cases suction excavation may be the only option. This could result in the excavation alone being the most costly component of your pool. In addition to cost, restricted access will hamper your ability to bring in bulky objects like mature shrubs and trees.

What are the differences between a concrete and vinyl liner pool?

Concrete is the premium pool construction method which uses steel-reinforced concrete and specialty interior finishes to create the most durable pool shell available. It allows for the ultimate in design customization. A vinyl liner pool is constructed using galvanized steel walls, supported with bracing and set on a concrete base with a removable vinyl liner interior. A variety of standard shapes and sizes are available. Betz is now able to offer some degree of customization. As for cost, concrete is the most expensive but will last the longest. Vinyl is more affordable, but will require liner replacement after eight to fifteen years.

How do I decide what size to make things in my backyard?

It’s tempting to prepared for every scenario, but when deciding on size it’s best to follow the 80% usage rule. For example, if the majority usage of your spa will be with two or three people, it’s probably best to build one to accommodate four or five instead of six to eight. The additional time and energy it will take to warm up the larger volume of water each time will not justify the benefit of occasionally accommodating a larger group. The same thing will apply for patio space, seating and dining areas, cabanas, etc.

What’s the most common mistake in planning a pool?

A very common mistake is “I’m going to have a lot of people over so I’m going to need a big pool.” That’s a misconception because when you have a lot of people over you don’t need a big pool so much as you need a big space around the pool to accommodate the people. Nowadays we’re not just building swimming yards, we’re building lifestyle backyards. We want to eat by the pool, we want to be near the pool while the kids are swimming. We want couches and seating areas, to able to cook by the pool, to have areas for shade and areas for sun, areas to enjoy fire features and enough space left over for privacy plantings. When you take all of this into account you’ll need a smaller pool and more patio space for people. The trend today is to find more ways to enjoy the backyard with more enjoyable things to do.

What are the misconceptions about the cost of a pool?

Often people ask, “How much is a pool?” That’s like asking, “How much is a car?” It depends on so many things, like the level of quality, what features are included and what is extra. With a pool, there’s the price of the pool itself, but then you need to ask, “Are the permits included, is the gas and electrical hooked up, is the fence included, what about the retaining walls?” It’s not surprising people think they can build a lot with a small budget. Most are just not aware of the costs, like dealing with regulations, rising costs of materials and labour, the cost to fix your lawn after major construction, the cost to rough in features that you may want to install later. These are all variables that are impossible to know until your project has been fully planned and costed. When you get a quote from Betz we spell everything out in detail, making it very clear exactly what’s included and what’s extra. Beware of contractors who toss around ballpark numbers before all the details are discussed.

How do you match your wish list with your budget?

Start by putting your list on paper, ink and paper is cheap. Think about the flow and functionality of your backyard and list the features you’d love to have. Then look at the range of materials that could be used, there’s always a choice of good, better and best. Then get this priced out and see how it fits with your budget. If it doesn’t, start parring back to eliminate things it would be nice to have, but you know you could live without. Maybe you could live without the hot tub, but really want the built-in barbecue, or the fire feature, or the loggia roof shelter. In the end, it’s a balancing act between the things that would be nice and the things that are must have. Remember, you can always rough in the electrical and plumbing lines for things to be added later.

What factors should I consider in choosing a pool builder?

A swimming pool is a significant investment so you will want to choose your builder with care. Two strong indicators of expertise and reliability are length of time in business and number of pools built. An established company is in a much better position to stand behind its workmanship over the long term. In addition, it’s important to find out how satisfied their customers are. Look for reviews on credible ‘independent’ websites and be aware of ones that seem overly effusive, they may be planted. In the end, nothing beats a personal reference. Talk to neighbours and friends and try to find someone who’s had an especially good experience.

How long will it take to complete the pool installation?

The time it takes to complete a pool project varies based on the complexity of the design and the scale of the construction. Bad weather can also have an impact. Your Betz project manager will give you a good idea of the timeline, but from start to finish it could range from three to four weeks to a couple of months. Major backyard projects including full landscaping and structures could range from two to three months or more.

What are the maintenance requirements and service options for a pool?

Like any worthwhile addition to your home, a swimming pool will benefit from proper maintenance. The basic requirements are checking the skimmer basket every day or so for leaves (especially in the fall) and testing and balancing the water (recommended weekly). Basic automated equipment, such as a pool cleaner and chlorinator will help cut down on maintenance chores. Of course, you can always choose to have Betz’s trained pool service specialists open and close your pool for the season, as well as perform weekly cleaning and chlorination duties.

What can I do to control my pool’s operating costs?

The main costs are for energy consumption and chemicals. Both can be managed effectively to reduce costs and impact on the environment. Here are some things you can do:

  1. Keep a close eye on water balance. This will save on chemicals, extend the life of your pool and equipment plus add to overall enjoyment with clear sparkling pool water.
  2. Have your pool heater inspected annually, a properly maintained heater will use less energy. Regular maintenance is also important to insure your pump and filter run efficiently. Also, switching to a variable speed pump can pay for itself quickly in savings.
  3. Change the sand in sand filters every five to seven years. The resulting improvement in efficiency will reduce chemical use and greatly enhance overall water quality.
  4. Finally, use common sense in heating your pool. Less energy is required to re-heat a pool for a weekend than to maintain a constant temperature all week. In addition, don’t allow others to tamper with the controls.
Will owning a pool have an impact on my home insurance?

A pool is considered a dwelling extension and depending on its scale and features, may increase the cost of your home insurance. This is something to discuss with your insurance agent.

How will a pool installation affect the value of my home?

With today’s time pressures, gas prices and the rising cost of recreational property, more and more people are opting to vacation at home. The consensus among realtors is that having a Betz pool can add significant value to your home. Need more proof? Look at the real estate listings in your area where Betz is mentioned by name.