Everyone knows that having a backyard swimming pool automatically makes your house the hottest spot in the neighbourhood to cool off during the summer.

Many people nowadays are opting to invest in a pool for their homes instead of that faraway summer cottage, said Josée Grandmaison from in-ground pool installers Pool Builders.

“Instead of buying a cottage that you can only use once a week, most people are buying pools that they can use every day,” she said.

“It’s a great way to keep their kids close by during the summer, and a place that becomes entertainment central for friends and family.”

But before you dig up that first patch of dirt for your pool, there are a few things you need to do first.

While many above-ground pools have do-it-yourself kits, in-ground pools are obviously not a project that Dad can do himself over the long weekend.

Besides hiring contractors, you will also need an electrician to connect all of the electrical components of the pool such as the pump, salt generator, lights and electronic gas heaters.

As well, you will be required to obtain a building permit before starting work on your pool, and provide information to your local municipal office about location, size, specific dimensions from lot lines, the house, and the pool equipment used.

Pools must also be enclosed with a high fence and a locked gate, so homeowners need to be aware of local requirements for fencing before diving into pool construction.

While costs for an in-ground pool are steep, with the average price tag for the actual pool and installation ranging from $27,000 to $30,000, a good quality pool usually has a lifespan of at least 25 years.

Recently, the trend for pools has been those with different shapes and contours that people can landscape around. People are also opting for saltwater pools these days, as opposed to chlorine ones.

“Saltwater pools are a lot less harsh on your skin and hair, and you can even open your eyes underwater,” said Grandmaison.

She said a good way to give your pool a facelift during those 25 years is to replace the vinyl on the interior of the pool, which is the part of the pool that can become dated. Vinyls come in all sorts of designs and colours, so you can keep your pool trendy as the years go by.

The government’s new home renovation tax credit is helping as well to make your dream pool a reality in 2009, which applies to eligible expenditures of more than $1,000.

So, now’s the time to make a splash — and maybe make your neighbours a little jealous, too.

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