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How to make the most out of your swimming pools
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The ultimate summer entertainment zone, a place to relax and cool down, your exercise hub or a beautiful garden ‘centrepiece’. Whatever you want from your swimming pool, there is lots to consider when designing and maintaining your dream water feature.

Tim and Keri McKittrick have owned Tim’s Pools for over 20 years and know everything there is to know about the ideal pool, from maintenance and design, to safety and functionality. They explained what is needed to keep your pool clean, what maintenance costs to expect, and shared their advice on the dos and don’ts of designs.


There is no point having a swimming pool unless it is safe enough to swim in. This requires weekly cleaning as well as a “water chemistry” test to make sure the pH is at the correct balance.

“There is a test strip they put in the water,” explained Mr. McKittrick. “The pH needs to be between 7.2 and 7.8 parts per million. Alkalinity needs to be between 80 and 120 parts per million. If it’s on the low or high end of those, the chlorine will not work. It will not kill off the phosphates, it will not kill off the algae, it will not sanitise the water.”

The amount of chemicals needed will depend on the weather and the time of year. Large amounts of rain or extreme heat, for example, can impact the balance. In cases of heavy rainfall, he said it may be necessary to add “an extra scoop of shock”. This is chlorine in granule form, which dissolves quicker and is more concentrated. It’s commonly used post-hurricane, when swimming pools can take on a more swamp-like appearance.

Before chemicals are added, pools need to be thoroughly cleaned. This involves checking the pump, vacuuming the pool, cleaning out the skimmer and pump baskets and brushing the sides, bottom and steps to prevent algae from sticking.

While the costs will vary depending on the weather, size, design, and location of the pool, Mr. McKittrick advised budgeting for around $5,000 per year for basic maintenance, for an average sized swimming pool of 32 x 16 feet. If it is next to vegetation, it may require extra cleaning. If it hasn’t been designed with ease of cleaning in mind, that could add to the costs:

“Architects can make very pretty pools, but you really need to think about it,” said Mrs. McKittrick, who recalled a pool with an “underwater cave feature”. The only way the pool cleaner could clean this area was to actually dive in.”

Another cost to bear in mind is cleaning and maintaining the filters and, (if you have them), the salt cells. To make your pool energy efficient, they recommended installing a variable speed pump.


While a salt water pool still requires some chemicals, the McKittricks recommended them over chlorine pools if you don’t like the smell of chlorine or the affect it may have on your skin. They emphasised however that it’s not chemical free, just less chemicals, and maintenance costs are about the same:

“It’s less chlorine and a different type of chlorine,” said Mr. McKittrick, who explained that you need to buy a “salt generator”, which connects to the plumbing system. The titanium plates in this generator change the chemistry of regular table salt into chlorine, but, he added, “it’s not the same chlorine you have in a commercially produced chlorine tablet. It’s softer and doesn’t make your skin smell when you come out.”


Above-ground pools are a cost-effective option if you don’t have the budget for a permanent swimming pool, or you are renting your property, but the McKittricks warned that these still need to be regularly maintained, and they recommended budgeting at least $4,000 per year for total upkeep, including issues like replacing lost water in the hotter months. Unfortunately, they also don’t tend to last as long, because the pump and filter are both out in the open.


When designing and installing a pool, safety must be a priority, especially if you have young children, and there are strict regulations regarding swimming pool design in the Bermuda Residential Building Code 2014. These include slip resistant surfaces on steps and ladders, handrails, two entries if there is a deep and shallow end and anti-entrapment grates on pool drainage outlets less than 12 inches across.

Every pool must have a permanent barrier, usually a fence, the top of which must be at least 48 inches above finished ground level. There are very specific rules for the different types of fencing such as spacing limits between slats or the mesh size restrictions for chain link fences. For example, the gap at the bottom of the fencing must be no more than 2 inches and fence gates must open outwards, away from the pool. Any house doors with direct access to the pool must be equipped with an alarm.

A diving board is a fun feature to have on your pool, but again, for safety reasons there are strict rules about the depth the pool must be, relative to the height of the diving board.


While there is much to consider in terms of safety and maintenance, at the end of the day, a swimming pool should be fun to use: “Some people love to have waterfalls and infinity edges,” said Mrs McKittrick who particularly loves pools with “a lounging platform”, especially if it has a place for an umbrella:

“They have a really wide shelf in the shallow end and you can put your lounge chairs on it. In extreme heat, it makes it more of a place to hang out.”

If money was no object, not only would she have a lounging platform, but also “a natural, outdoor, stone pool that fits in with the landscape.” She also loves waterfalls and would make sure she had outside facilities for entertaining friends. “A little bar and a BBQ. It becomes your entertaining

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