Cost-Effective Pool Building Tips to Transform Your Backyard into a Paradise

Texas summers are well-known for their broiling “fry an egg on the sidewalk” temperatures. As the summer mercury continues to climb higher each year, it’s a near necessity then to own a swimming pool. Imagine a refreshing oasis right in your backyard. A place where you can unwind, entertain, and cool off. But, as you know, installing a pool is not cheap. Still, with some smart planning and the right cost-effective pool building tips you can have your pool and swim in it too. 

A new swimming pool can bring joy to you, your family, and friends. It makes for a fine centerpiece to a perfectly manicured backyard, and a pool is perfect for those who love to entertain. At Carnahan Landscaping & Pools, we’ve been helping homeowners in The Woodlands and surrounding communities make this dream come true for over 40 years. In that time we’ve picked more than a few cost-effective pool building tips to help you say yes to the new swimming pool of your dreams.

Avoiding Hidden Pitfalls for Cost-Effective Pool Building

Building a swimming pool is a big project for your home and upgrade for your quality of life. It’s best to be informed about the quiet, hidden pitfalls of building a swimming pool. While building your cost-effective pool building plan, keep an eye out for these hidden line items that can surprise you.

  • – Land Survey & Local Regulation Setbacks
  • – Retaining Walls & Fencing
  • – Hidden Patio Costs
  • – Dirt Disposal
  • – Pool Drainage
  • – Landscaping Replacement
  • – Gas Connections

Covering the details of these hidden costs warrants an article in its own right. If you want to learn more about these hidden costs, send us a message, or call and speak with one of our pool experts

For your cost-effective planning needs, start with a survey. Before your heart is set on a pool design, it’s important to determine what designs are possible and account for any local regulations. One of the most expensive hidden costs of building a swimming pool is delaying an active construction due to an unforeseen setback that could have been avoided with a little planning upfront. 

Also, nail down the specifics with your pool builder. Often pool build projections will include a phrase like “price includes patio,” but provides no specifics about what shape or size of the patio to be included. This specificity extends to supplemental aspects like electric/gas work, dirt hauling, drainage systems, safety features, etc. 

And one final hidden cost of pool building is landscaping. Unfortunately, cost-effective pool building doesn’t happen in a vacuum and turning your yard into an active construction site WILL play havoc on your existing landscaping. Of course, Carnahan Landscaping & Pools, means we can directly address those issues for our pool build clients. But, many pool builds can leave you with a wonderful pool in the middle of a ripped-up,  muddy mess of a backyard in need of plenty of TLC.

Keep mind of these hidden costs and include them in your cost-effective pool building plan.

Navigating Pool Building Regulations, Permits, Ordinances, and Restrictions

Not all cost-effective pool building pitfalls are about the pool itself. Before breaking ground on your new pool, it’s crucial to understand all the regulations, permits, ordinances, and restrictions that affect the building and operation of your dream backyard pool.

And, as we would like to provide a comprehensive list of everything you will need to account for, we can’t. Your situation is specific to your property, which can mean different county, city, and neighborhood restrictions. 

For the unsuspecting homeowner, these easy-to-miss issues may not rear their head until construction starts. They can lead to costly construction delays or worse, having to completely scrap a pool mid-build.

For a cost-effective pool building plan, you need to find and pin down these regulatory issues before construction breaks ground. Here is a quick list of places to check concerning your planned pool construction.

Residential Swimming Pool Regulations

  • – Texas State Residential Swimming Pool Regulations
  • – County Swimming Pool Regulations
  • – Municipal Swimming Pool Ordinances & Permits
  • – Neighborhood Homeowners Association Pool Restrictions

Our best advice is to work with an established local pool builder in your area. 

For example, Carnahan Landscaping & Pools has 40 years of experience, building and maintaining swimming pools in Cypress, Katy, Magnolia, Spring, Tomball, The Woodlands, and the surrounding area. We’ve gone through the process hundreds of times and pretty much seen it all. We’re here to help you through what is likely your first pool design and build by providing perspective that can only come with deep experience. 

Any reputable pool builder will do the same.

Cost-Effective Pool Building Needs and Setting a Budget

Before diving into pool designs and materials, clearly define your pool needs and how much you’re willing to invest. Start by envisioning how you plan to use your pool. Are you looking for a serene retreat, a fun family hangout, or a centerpiece for entertaining? 

Cost-Effective Pool Building Tips to Transform Your Backyard into a Paradise 3

Your intended use will guide your design and feature choices. It’s helpful to create a list of cost-effective pool building features, accessibility options, and appointments to include in your build. Take your list and divide it into three sections: must-haves, nice-to-haves, and unnecessary items. Maybe you want an ultra modern pool look with clean zero-edge lines and subdued appointments. Or, perhaps you have young children and pets, where a zero-entry pool can improve safety.

Next, consider your budget. According to a recent Forbes article, the average homeowner should expect a standard in-ground swimming pool to cost $35,000. That price can easily double with added luxury features and customizations. Depending on your financial situation, that may be a shocking number. Not to worry, Carnahan Pools & Landscaping offers financing options to bring cost-effective pool building a possibility for many homeowners. 

Financing & Cost-Effective Pool Building

With an average cost of $35,000, even cost-effective pool building is not an inexpensive home improvement project. If you have been following along, you should have your list of must-haves, nice-to-haves, and unnecessary pool features and amenities. Include these items as part of the conversation with your pool builder. 

The more your pool building partner knows about your specific needs and wants, the more help they can be in tailoring a cost estimate for your dream pool. And, financing is available to help transform a smart, cost-effective pool build plan into a reality.

Financing for a pool build can be especially important in ensuring those must-have items are included. After all, what is the point of building a home swimming pool if it doesn’t have the features you want and need? Whether it’s something that’s a necessity such as fencing to meet regulations, or a safety feature like zero-entry that makes a pool better for pets, young children, and seniors, pool financing can help make sure you don’t have to cut something essential from your pool just to afford it. If you have questions about financing, or how to get started, send us a message.

Post-Construction Pool Budgeting

Remember, the cost of pool building doesn’t end with construction. As part of your cost-effective pool building plan, factor in maintenance, utilities, and potential upgrades over time. Ask your friends, family, and pool builder how much you should expect to pay for these items.

Be specific about how each of your pool design choices can escalate or de-escalate those maintenance costs. Like Carnahan Landscaping & Pools, many pool builders offer regular pool maintenance packages. We have a wealth of experience to tell you about the equipment and materials that require lower maintenance and what you can do to protect your investment once it’s built. 

Setting a realistic budget from the outset, with a cushion for unforeseen expenses, will ensure a smoother process and help avoid financial strain down the line.

Choosing the Right Pool Design and Builder

The foundation of a cost-effective pool project is selecting a design that aligns with both your aesthetic preferences and budget constraints. In the suburban areas North of Houston, homeowners have a myriad of pool design possibilities. Whether you’re drawn to the elegance of classic geometric shapes or the natural allure of freeform designs, it’s essential to work with a well-reviewed, experienced builder that can translate your vision into reality without unnecessary costs.

When it comes to choosing the perfect design for your cost-effective pool build, your starting place should be size and shape. Ready for this? A larger pool costs more than a smaller pool. Not only because it requires more material to build, a large pool requires more and more-rugged equipment. Larger pools need more returns, more skimmer buckets, more lights, more exits, a bigger pump, etc.

As far as shape, geometric shapes with right angles are much easier and cost-effective to construct than freeform organic shapes. For the absolute cheapest design, nothing beats the classic rectangular pool. And don’t worry, you can take some of the budget you would spend on a non-traditional shape and put it towards materials and extras that can make sure your pool is styled anything but ordinary.

One tip that we find often helps homeowners plan for a new swimming pool is to grab rope and a tape measure and outline the pool’s footprint in your yard. Then do a few laps around the perimeter. This can help to give you a clear idea of how much space you have available and what shape will work best with your existing yard layout.

When it comes to choosing a pool builder we recommend Carnahan Landscaping & Pools, but we’re a little biased. Like any contractor, you get what you pay for. It’s been many a homeowner who lamented the decision to splurge on design and pool amenities and go for the lowest bid on labor. There’s no substitute for quality of workmanship, and it is the definitive difference maker between a cost-effective pool build that looks great and an expensive, unhappy mistake. 

Our advice is to go with a well-established contractor. Check reviews, ask friends and family about their experience, and review the portfolio of your shortlist of cost-effective pool builders. Write down any questions you have and give us a call, getting each pool builder’s answer for your most important pool-building aspects before making a decision.

See Photos of Completed Carnahan Pool Builds

Incorporating Cost-Effective Pool Building Design Features

Choosing an economical pool shape is only one way to keep your dream pool within budget. Another key strategy is to focus on incorporating those must-have design features that offer the biggest bang for your buck. 

Construction materials play a major role in determining the look, price, and life expectancy of your new swimming pool. At the far low end are fiberglass pool shells and vinyl pools. While they are cheaper than common concrete they can be more limited in what features you can incorporate and what you can do to maintain, and especially repair your pool once it’s installed.

Prefabricated fiberglass shells are the most limiting in design size, shape, finishing options, and additional features. The tradeoff being they’re typically less expensive to install and provide a durable, algae-resistant surface. 

Consider how important the tactile feel of a pool is to you. One touch and people will know the pool is fiberglass. Another consideration is the flexibility of fiberglass. Movement of the pool shell can lead to plumbing issues, and any repair that requires digging under your pool to investigate and correct the issues will not be cheap.

Vinyl pool shells often come with a few more aesthetic options, but the many of the same restraints of a fiberglass pool shell. Your pool will look like thousands of others, and you may have yard space limitations that just won’t allow for extended construction like removing landscaping or tearing out a patio. One specific issue with vinyl pools is sun glare/heat damage that can warp the pool in spaces. Which is why we often don’t recommend this option in the oppressive summer heat and direct sun of Texas.

As a cost-effective pool building material, concrete is often the best option. Concrete can be poured and shaped to meet any custom pool design need. You’re not limited to a prefabricated design, and concrete pools can be coped and finished with tile or other surface options to create the specific look and feel you want for your pool. And perhaps most importantly, you can repair or update the look of a concrete pool much easier than other options.

Here is a short list of other great features to consider including in your design that won’t bust your pool budget.

6 Cost-Effective Pool Design Feature Options

  • – Tanning/Pet Ledge
  • – Programmable Color LED Lights
  • – Bubbler, Cascade, or Waterfall
  • – Seating Area or In-Pool Seats
  • – Partial-Cover Shade Structure
  • – Complementary Features Like Pathing, Potted Landscaping, Fire Pits, and More

This is one of the areas where a combined landscape/pool contractor can make a big difference. At Carnahan Landscaping & Pools, we take a holistic look at your entire outdoor space to create a pool environment that fits with your existing home and landscape, or vice versa.

Maximize Energy-Efficient Features for Cost-Effective Pool Building

Pool operating costs are often overlooked by homeowners when budgeting for their new pool build. It can be easy to hyperfocus on the large dollars attached to the construction costs of a pool without thinking about the monthly ongoing costs once the build is finished.

If you’re looking for cost-effective pool building tips, think about what energy-saving features you might incorporate into your design that can consistently save you money months and years down the line. 

Most energy-efficient features actually cost more upfront in price but provide significant savings dividends in the long run, easily paying for themselves. LED lights, especially solar-powered LEDs, are an easy way to cut down on the electrical costs of owning a pool. They’re cost-effective lighting that looks great and will save you money annually. And, solar lights will continue to work even when the power goes out.

A pool is a large investment and you want to ensure you get the best bang for your buck. One cost-effective pool building consideration is a pool heater. While most home pools don’t need a pool heater in our neck of the words, having one can provide you an extra month or two of pool use each year. Investing in an energy-efficient solar pool heater can help you attain those extra weeks of pool fun without a hefty heating bill each month. 

Investing in a pool cover is another way to save money. In addition to helping keep your pool cooler when it’s not in use, it reduces evaporation and the frequency you need to add gallons of water back into your pool. A pool cover also prevents leaves, trash, debris, and even animals from dirtying your pool’s water, which makes your cleaning system and pool pump work harder.

Which is important because the biggest operating cost of an installed home pool is cleaning the water. 

Energy-Efficient Pool Cleaning and Pump Choice

The rule of thumb is to run your pool’s pump for eight hours daily. This schedule ensures particulate is filtered out of the pool and the circulation process continues to agitate the pool water so your chlorine is well-dispersed throughout the pool.

However, you can more accurately estimate how long you need to run your pump by taking the estimated gallon volume of your pool design and dividing it by your pump’s GPH (Gallons Per Hour). The result is exactly how many hours you need to run your pool’s pump to clean all the water.

Pool Volume / Pump GPH = Hours Needed to Cycle Your Pool’s Water

Your pool builder should be able to help estimate this information for you and provide pump recommendations. One easy way to save money in the long run is with a variable speed pump instead of a fixed speed pump. Variable pumps are often quieter and waste less energy by adjusting to your pool’s needs. 

You may be asking, “OK, but they’re more expensive than single speed pumps. Is it worth it?” The easiest answer is that single speed pumps are considered so energy wasteful they’re banned from new pool constructions in multiple states.

These cost-effective pool building features can give homeowners some sticker shock, but when you consider the additional pool use opportunities and monthly energy savings, you can quickly see how they more than pay for themselves once your home swimming pool build is complete.

Implementing Essential Safety Measures Affordably

In most cases, pool safety is non-negotiable. If you’ve done your due diligence and followed our cost-effective pool building tip to research what state, county, local, and HOA restrictions will impact your pool, you discovered that many include specific safety features. At the state level, there are four primary safety regulations to which Texas homeowners must adhere: fencing, gating, doors/windows, and alarms.

To briefly explain, your pool needs to be encompassed by a fence with a minimum four feet in height. Your backyard fence should suffice so long as it is not easily climbable from outside your yard. That means no chain link fencing and wooden fences MUST have the rails on the side facing your pool.

Presumably your backyard fence has a gate, which must follow the same restrictions as your fence. In addition, it should open AWAY from the pool, be self-closing/latching and be able to be locked.

Now, your home can account as a barrier to the pool (part of the fence). Doors that face the pool area need to be fixed with keyless deadbolts or bar-and-pin locks. And, windows that access the pool area must be permanently sealed. Both doors and windows need to be installed with alarms, and the bypass must be out of the reach of children. 

You may be wondering why all the red tape? The end of the last paragraph is why. These regulations focus on keeping children from easily accessing home swimming pools without parental supervision. It makes sense in context, Texas accounts for more than 25% of all daily drownings in the US, in significant part because of the multitude of home pools across the state.

The information presented here is not meant to be legal counsel. For legal advice regarding pool safety requirements and any legal aspects of your future pool, please consult an attorney. 

These regulations are not very expensive for most homeowners, but it is worth a check on your home’s situation before breaking ground on a new pool build. It can be a costly surprise to find out you need to tear down and build a new fence or replace multiple windows in your home to accommodate a pool. Depending on your specific situation, it may be more cost effective to build a bespoke barrier around your pool area that meets regulations.

Other cost-effective safety features include a safety pool cover that can hold the weight of a person without collapsing into the pool. Solar and battery-powered door/window alarms are available that will save you plenty of money in electrical wiring costs.

Additional safety features to consider are aggregate coping and pathing around your pool to reduce fall risks and a pool alarm. Standard pool alarms detect infrared, sound, motion, or some combination of the three.

You may also be able to submit your pool’s new safety features to your homeowners insurance provider for a discount on your premiums.

Cost-Effective Pool Maintenance Tips

Regular maintenance is essential for extending the lifespan of your pool and keeping operating costs low. Simple steps, like regular cleaning, maintaining proper chemical levels, and timely equipment checks, can prevent issues that lead to bigger expenses. 

Draining/refilling your pool, replacing expensive equipment, and performing extensive repairs is exactly what you want to avoid through cost-effective pool maintenance. Here are the major items on our pool maintenance service checklist that we touch during each client visit.

Home Pool Maintenance Checklist

  • – Inspect the pool area for damage
  • – Brush the pool area
  • – Empty skimmer and pump baskets
  • – Skim, remove leaves, and vacuum pool
  • – Test water chemistry
    • – Adjust chem‎icals as needed
    • – Add sanitizer as needed
    • – Adjust water level as needed
  • – Inspect pool pump, filter, skimmer, and jets operation
    • – B‎ackwash/clean filter as needed
    • – Lube O-ring as needed

If you don’t feel confident about pool maintenance, you’re not alone. Dealing with a mixture of water, electricity, machinery, and chemicals can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. You can ask someone with experience owning a pool to help you learn the basics, or stick with the professionals. 

Carnahan Landscaping & Pools provides maintenance services that take the guesswork out of pool care. We ensure your pool remains working in pristine condition year-round. 

Learn More About Carnahan’s Pool Maintenance

Cost-Effective Pool Building Example

Imagine you have lived in your Katy home for five years, experienced five sweltering summers. During the COVID-19 shutdown, you realized how important it was to have access to a natural environment, a personal oasis to share with your family. 

You want to turn your outdoor space into a relaxing refuge. Only one problem, you have to work within a tight backyard space. With pen and paper, you scratch out a list of the pool features that are going to make the project worthwhile. 

  • – Integrated Spa Jets
  • – Tanning Ledge
  • – Partial Shade Structure
  • – Patio/Deck Lounge Area
  • – Ambient Lighting 

You do a little research and choose a short list of experienced local pool builders to contact about your dream pool. Through your talks, it’s clear you will also need to budget alarms for the window and door that access the backyard. Each pool builder offers slightly different answers that together give you a good idea of where potential issues might arise and what a ballpark estimate might be. 

After checking with your HOA about potential issues, thanks to a tip from one pool builder, it seems like every part of your dream pool build is doable. With some more questions and estimates you’ve chosen the right pool builder for you. 

Together, the two of you match estimate to budget, adjusting the finer points of your features and design preferences. On your pool builder’s recommendation, you decide to go with solar ambient lighting. They cost more per unit, but save money in electrician and operating costs.

Other recommendations include new patio concrete pour. It’s relatively inexpensive as they will be pouring for the pool anyways. The new arbor will be extended partially over the pool as a shade structure. And, adding a living wall, vertical greenery to help block the hottest of the afternoon sun from the lounge area. 

A few 3D landscape design proposals later and permits later, and things are decided. You and your family wait excitedly for the completion of your new pool and outdoor hideaway, knowing this summer is going to be one to remember.

Nothing speaks louder than success stories. Carnahan Landscaping & Pools takes pride in the numerous pool projects we’ve completed across North Houston, transforming backyards into personal retreats. We invite you to see our portfolio, online reviews, or contact us directly to hear first-hand what we can do for you.

The Top Cost-Effective Pool Building Tip

Building a swimming pool is an exciting journey that enhances your home and life. And, it can be easier and less expensive than you might suspect. That’s why the best tip for cost-effective pool building is having a plan. Spending a little time to plan your dream pool by focusing on the critical make-or-break aspects will help the pool builder you choose develop a wonderful pool design that will make you and your wallet happy.  

By focusing on cost-effective design, construction techniques, and maintenance, Carnahan Landscaping & Pools ensures your new pool will bring joy for years to come without straining your finances. Our dedicated team is ready to guide you through every step of the process, from initial design to the final touches, making your dream pool a reality.

Give us a call today to get started!

Drought-Tolerant Landscaping: 10 Key Tips

It’s no secret that at times, Houston sees little rainfall, which is why the best landscapers in Houston have some tricks of the trade to help keep your property in good condition even during a drought. As one of Houston’s leading landscaping and pool contractors, Carnahan Landscaping & Pools wanted to share some of the things we’ve learned over the years with you here.

Below you’ll find some important and inventive tips for landscaping during the dry season.

1. Cover Your Soil

One good way to protect your landscape during a drought is by covering your soil and important areas of your garden to help it retain moisture. Doing so increases its drought tolerance and ensures that when you water, all of that moisture doesn’t evaporate too quickly. You can add mulch or other ground covers such as wood chips, etc.

2. Reduce Greenspace

Although all of that grass looks gorgeous when it’s healthy and thriving, it can quickly become a nuisance to maintain in areas that experience less rainfall. That’s why reducing your landscape and replacing square footage with hardscaping features might be ideal for your property. You can create a rock garden or plant hardier items, such as wildflowers that thrive in drier environments to give your yard a great look and reduce maintenance and watering needs.

3. Employ Drip Irrigation

In areas prone to drought, a little water goes a long way. That’s why many choose to install drip irrigation if they want to garden year-round. This type of irrigation, unlike a sprinkler system, is designed to target water directly to the roots of plants. It can increase the watering efficiency in your yard. There are multiple options to choose from when it comes to drip irrigation such as drip tape, poly tubing, and soaker hoses.

4. Group Plants that Require Similar Maintenance Together

Another way to capitalize on water usage during a drought and also make lawn and landscaping maintenance much easier is to install softscape and garden features, such as plants, shrubs, etc., that have the same watering/maintenance requirements together. Not only does it make it easier to maintain a steady watering schedule but it also can help prevent evaporation.

5. Plant Succulents

Planting succulents can be a wonderful way to keep your landscape thriving during a drought and even provide some beautiful colors and flowers as well. There are many varieties and in addition to being great at storing water, some also make the good ground cover. For example, stonecrop is a hardy succulent with different types of varieties that thrive all over the country.

landscapers Houston
Drought-Tolerant Landscaping: 10 Key Tips 6

6. Native Landscaping

 One great way to maintain a thriving landscape, in addition to being more eco-friendly, is by planting shrubs, trees, and flowers that are native to your local landscape. This is because these plants have adapted to your location over hundreds of years and are genetically pre-disposed to deal with drought scenarios.

7. Capitalize on Rainfall by Installing a Rain Barrel

To cut your water bill down during the dry season and also keep your landscape looking great isn’t always easy, but installing a rain barrel can be a big help. There are a variety of rain barrels out there designed to work with your home’s gutter system to collect and store rainwater. You can then use it as a reserve for drier times. Many rain barrels are also designed to hook up easily to a hose, making them eco-friendly as well as efficient.

8. Install a Patio, Gazebo, or Another Outdoor Living Space

Piggybacking off of point two, installing an outdoor living space like a custom patio or gazebo can be a great way to minimize the size of your lawn while also keeping your property’s usable square footage intact. A deck is also a great idea if you don’t have one and they can be perfect for container gardens, which are easier to maintain and often require less watering.

9. Plant on Your Parking Strip

If you have a sidewalk in front of your home, you likely also have a parking strip that sits between the curb and sidewalk. By planting drought-resistant plants here you can increase tolerance to dry seasons and minimize erosion on your property. However, it’s important to ensure that your local laws and ordinances allow you to do so.

10. Porous Hardscaping

Another way to make certain your landscape is getting all the water possible when it rains is by having hardscaping features that are porous. This enables as much rainwater as possible to drain into your soil. It will also help prevent flooding in flood-prone areas. There are a variety of hardscaping materials that are porous and look great such as interlocking concrete pavers, permeable cement, and asphalt.

Let us be your landscapers in Houston, contact us today!

To learn more about maintaining your landscape during the drought season or implementing a personalized landscape maintenance plan, Carnahan Landscaping & Pools would love to hear from you. We offer everything from landscape design services to upgrades, and much more.

Whether you want to add water features to your yard, install a new garden, or put down a patio, contact our team online today or call (281) 376-6868 for a quote!