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  • Writer's pictureKiersten

Building the Pool: 3D Space Planning and Pool Design

We're under contract with a pool builder!! Man it feels good to say that. After years of planning and dreaming, we're just so excited to be moving forward with this project. As much as I'm excited, I'm also trying to be cautious about my excitement levels because based on the amount of research I've done, there are SO MANY possible curveballs we could get thrown as we get going - we've already had a couple. I'm just praying that no matter what happens or exactly how this ends up, we get a backyard pool we can love for years to come.

We already told you about the prep work we'd been doing to get to this point in our first pool blog post, and shared my not-so-fancy drawing of generally what we wanted to do: rectangle pool with concrete surround for a small lounging area near the house. For a quick reminder, we started here sketching things out in early 2021.

hank holding pool sketch

Then I digitized it and tried to make things look a little more to scale in 2D. In doing so, we decided to flip around the direction of the pool, putting the shallow end on the other side. Long term if we were to ever build a larger patio or pool house, it'd have to be on the south side (bottom right) of this drawing.

flat 2d backyard pool drawing

3D Pool Backyard Renderings

As we got started working out the details of our contract, our pool builder brought my drawing and the plan to life with a 3D graphic visualization of our house, deck and pool space. At first glance, we were blown away! Literally obsessed with what this does for helping to see the potential! She took what started out as a simple sketch and made it a true vision of what this may become. Doing this, we have been able to see things a bit better and have made some changes to the plan. We're going with a dark liner (will share more on that in another post) and thought we wanted do a darker concrete border so this helped us see what that could look like too!

3d backyard pool rendering
First draft

Concrete Patio Space

I'm very much drawn to the look of backyard pools that have LESS concrete around them, still leaving as much yard as possible. Though in all my research, there are definitely more cons than pros to not having an adequate size pool deck for traffic flow, and creating different entertainment zones. Knowing we will likely add on over the years, I wanted to make sure we got the pool position right but not get too carried away with much else. We're starting with the basics to see how we truly live with it. These 3D visualizations really helped with this. At the first draft, I worried that we may not have quite enough space between the edge of the pool and the house once we put lounge furniture in the space. One wrong move and I can see this gal falling in (or really, assume it's me doing the falling in.)

3d backyard pool rendering
A little too tight

Kind of like playing SIMs for all you kids of the 90s/00s, our pool builder added some more people to the party so we could see how much walking space there would be and decided to add a little more concrete coming off the bottom step of the deck so that if loungers are there, there's plenty of space to walk by and not fall into the pool.

3d backyard pool rendering
That's better

We played with the idea of losing the planter space behind the loungers by the house, but I really like the idea of having a little greenery separating the patio from the house as part of trying to avoid this looking like too much concrete. So we compromised with our final plan and added back in 2ft plant beds for a little planting room.

3d backyard pool rendering
No plant bed behind chairs along house

We're adding another foot or so behind the diving board too. I imagine lines of kids (and probably adults) taking turns to dive but keep telling myself this is not a public pool and we don't need to have gobs of concrete back there. Kids can form a line around the side. But adding just a little more will help make walking around a bit easier.

3d backyard pool rendering
Diving board waiting area, a little tight

Ladder and Hand Rail Placement

These visuals also helped us figure out where to put the deep end ladder and think about traffic flow in and out of the pool. In the very first picture above she had the deep end ladder on the far side with the auto-cover flush-mount extension towards the house. We decided to flip those, encouraging the traffic flow of people getting in and out from diving board closer to the house. Aesthetically it looks better further away but practically I can see it being easier getting kids in and out closer to the house.

3d backyard pool rendering
Ladder moved to the house side

Same with the shallow end. Aesthetically we started without a handrail in the shallow end, but decided to be as accessible to all ages as possible, it will be beneficial to have a handrail in the shallow end. Due to the auto cover, we need to use outside mount railings only but think this will be beneficial to all our family and friends - young and old!

3d backyard pool rendering
Handrail added to shallow entry

Easements and Positioning

Remember how I told you I thought our backyard was clear of easements, AKA land mines? Well, turns out I should have asked more questions. We actually have a water pipe and easement running through the side of our property. We saw this on the plot map, but it wasn't labeled the same as other utilities. Plus I figured everything else was wide open there had to be room for some sort of pool. We learned about the water line when pulling the permit for the fence and confirmed we were too close with our plans when our pool builder started reaching out for permitting. As you can see in this layered image, our "best case" drawing is overtop the easement - not the pipe itself luckily, but the "do not build on" area. We're learning our city is pretty picky compared to others. Our fence will be on top of this area, but the city is allowing us to build as long as we don't have any posts on top of the pipe itself and sign a hold harmless agreement saying if they ever have to come in and take it down for any reason. Harder to do that with a pool and concrete!

2d backyard pool rendering and water easement
Damn easements

Luckily it doesn't appear like it's going to stop the whole project (FINGERS AND TOES CROSSED), but we are going to have to scoot everything over to get out of the easement area. For now, we killed the side walkway and had to round the top right corner. Because of that, we rounded the others too. We'll figure something else out later for walkway. It's likely that we will build on to this footprint with some landscaping but if not, the rounded corners will be easier for mowing actually.

3d backyard pool rendering
Cement inline with deck, rounded corners

Moving the whole pool over, we are going to end up with more of a patio over on the side along the shallow end. Our builder threw some conversation chairs in the pic below to show the space. I like the idea of having a little space for a fire pit or more seating, so it's not the worst thing to have to move things over! We are just going to be a little more limited on add-on potential long term where I wanted to.

3d backyard pool rendering
I dig the idea of space for a fire pit or more seating!

Construction Timing

We're on the schedule to be built yet this year but everything is pending weather. I'm not sure if we'll be swimming while it's still summer but that will be icing on the cake if so!

We're still waiting to hear back from the city on our new plan and drawings. Fingers crossed we've done what they need us to! Would appreciate it if you add our project to your prayer list for keeping things moving and relatively painless!




we're kiersten and zach

Follow along with us each week as we work to make the very 2000s home we bought during the middle of a pandemic more “us.” We’ll share everything from quick fixes to more permanent changes, along with projects you can do in your own home. Zach will also share all his lawn and garden advice as he starts over on the yard.


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