Swimming pools are big business in the UAE and, done well, can add value to your home and provide endless hours of enjoyment for the entire family all year round.
For those considering splashing out on one, there are plenty of choices and a lot to consider before diving in. The first thing you should think about is the area you have to play with and what you envisage the end result to be.
When it comes to design, the options are numerous: above-ground or in-ground, infinity or overflow or skimmer, rectangular or an alternative shape (and there are many of them), fibreglass or concrete. Then there are the embellishments and materials to decide on – these will go a long way to giving your pool its personality and help you on your way to having your own resort at home.
Do you prefer fibre optics or LED lights? Have you thought about water jets, rock works and the possibility of using computerised glass? What type of ceramic tile design and colour palette tickles your fancy? Do you desire a Jacuzzi as part of your design and what overall feel are you looking to create?
United Technology and Trading Company has been designing and building swimming pools in the UAE for almost four decades. The company, which is based in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, has constructed thousands of residential and commercial projects – and consulted on quite a few – and it has been responsible for high-end aquatic projects at some of the UAE’s biggest hotels and resorts, including Emirates Palace, Burj Al Arab and Atlantis, The Palm, to name just a few.
According to UTTC’s executive director Beena Pagarani, most people who want to put a pool in know exactly what they want but, she warns, sometimes they can be surprised by the actual cost.
“Sometimes people estimate what they think a pool will cost, but they might be surprised when they actually find out,” Pagarani says, adding that the additional costs are usually a result of the authority approval process and the consultancy fees involved in putting in a pool.
For even the most modest of pools, which can be as small as five metres by three metres, Pagarani says the cost can be between Dh60,000 and Dh80,000, while on the higher end of the scale, and for the most elaborate of residential offerings, the bill can rise exponentially.
From her experience in the business, Pagarani says anything is possible when it comes to pool design. “At the moment the most popular design is the overflow pool, but the infinity pool is also growing in popularity,” she notes.
As the name suggests, an overflow pool is a style in which the water flows over the edges and into a hidden slot or catch basin where it is then recycled back into the pool. This function is similar to an infinity-edge pool, but with a perimeter overflow at the deck level. An infinity pool has its overflow basin lower than the pool structure, thus creating a knife-edge effect.
At UTTC, the company takes pride in giving its pools a “personal touch” which, Pagarani says, can be most easily done using different tiling options and including extras in the design, such as massage jets, chairs and underwater sound systems. “For the most part, clients know exactly what they want – if it’s a residential pool the design is usually kept simple, if it’s for the high spenders, things such as underwater sound systems and gold tiles are pretty popular.”
Aside from the aesthetics of what is sure to become your landscape centrepiece – and one that will be enjoyed for years to come – it is also important you know that while owning a pool can be quite lovely, the upkeep is just as important as the look.
Water balance, temperature and climate conditions need to be managed and regular cleaning is a must. Because of the hot desert climate in which we live, pools in the UAE are susceptible to evaporation – which means that your pool will need refilling more frequently. Water-balance issues are another key consideration. During the winter months, covering your pool can preserve the clarity of the water, something you will be thankful for by the time the weather warms up. And during the summer, the same pool cover can help to reduce your evaporation loss.
“It is important to engage a pool maintenance person to look after your pool twice or three times a week, to assist with cleaning and chemical balance,” Pagarani says, adding that it’s something that should be considered when determining the final budget associated with the end result.
Heating and cooling is something you’ll need to discuss with your pool professional, too, as during the height of summer you will want to chill the water, while during the cooler months warming it up using a heating device will make your pool more enjoyable.
Pagarani’s advice: “If you are living in a villa, you will need to find out what load your villa can take, when it comes to heating and cooling systems.”
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, safety is a key consideration. After all, what good is a magnificent pool if it isn’t safe for the kids or doesn’t meet building standards?
Safety regulations vary from emirate to emirate: in Dubai, for example, the law stipulates that all applications for swimming pool construction must be submitted to the public health and safety department. In addition, a protective fence with a lockable device or door and with a minimum height of 120 centimetres is mandatory around swimming pools in the emirate. The fence should be installed in such a way that climbing and sliding becomes impossible for kids. Installation of a warning system can be an added protection.
Pagarani says the restrictions in Abu Dhabi are much less stringent, although the consultants are quite particular about the base standards. In Abu Dhabi, she says there are no real rules for pool construction, aside from consultation and obvious building factors. But wherever you live, it’s always best to consult with an expert to make sure your pool meets basic safety regulations.
So, now that you have thought about what type of pool and look you want, you may be asking when’s the best time to put in a pool?
According to Pagarani, it doesn’t really matter – no time is any better than any other, you just have to bear in mind that the pool construction can take around 12 weeks, while getting the necessary approvals involved in constructing your pool can take another six to eight weeks, or more.
“When you first start thinking about a pool you should consider where you are living and what agencies you need to get approvals from, and what the water table [water level under the ground] in your area is like,” Pagarani says. “And, of course, how much you want to spend.”
So, with all of this in mind, if you are ready to put yourself in the lap of luxury, it’s time to engage the design experts who are sure to provide you with that stroke of genius you are looking for.
For more information on United Technology and Trading Company services, visit www.poolsuae.com. For further information on the necessary government approvals and requirements for putting in a pool, visit the relevant government department in your emirate.
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