The trend toward smaller backyards packed with popular outdoor amenities is creating new sales opportunities for pool builders.
Jason Branco, owner of Aqua Med Pools in North Dighton, Massachusetts, says most of his clients are working with smaller backyard spaces. He adds that with the popularity of more functional outdoor setups, most homeowners have an idea of how they would like to lay out their small backyards based on what they have researched online.
“Not only do my clients want to have multiple features and entertainment areas in their outdoor living spaces, but they also are attracted to the lower price point of smaller pools—which gives more of their budget to other features like spas and exercise options, as well as patio areas and firepits,” he says.
As a result, Branco now offers multiple smaller pool options to fit into these outdoor living spaces.
Smaller pools make backyards feel bigger
Branco installs fiberglass pools, which he started offering a few years ago, to stand out from his competitors who primarily offer vinyl liner pools. At least 50% of the pools Branco installs for his clients are smaller models. These pools are 9.5-feet wide by 19.5-feet long, have a constant depth of 4.5 feet and hold approximately 4,300 gallons of water. Consumers are attracted to the consistent standing depth because it makes the pool ideal for socializing, playing games and lounging in the water.
“These pools also have elongated benches on their left and right sides, which extend out from the steps, making them ready for all kinds of entertaining for kids and adults,” says Branco. “The seating areas can even be outfitted with therapy jets for a spa-like effect.”
Smaller pools can accommodate automatic covers, which attracts clients looking for an easy open and close. Automatic covers also help ensure no one will enter the pool without knowing the code to unlock it. This makes the pool safer and lowers the need for maintenance, as the cover will keep debris out of the pool when it is not in use.
In terms of placement, most builders recommend during the design stage that the pool be placed at the farthest edge of the property, to help make the backyard look as big as possible. This also allows the design to accommodate spas, firepits and seating areas, which makes the configuration more functional—especially in the winter months when the pool might be closed.
Smaller pools leave room for spas or hot tubs
Incorporating a smaller pool into designs gives the builder the opportunity to suggest including a spa in the backyard. This can be very attractive to homeowners looking to enjoy their outdoor living space year-round.
For areas with colder winters, pools are usually closed, while spas or hot tubs can remain open. Most builders agree that when they design the outdoor living space, it makes the most sense to put the spa or hot tub closer to the house, so the clients do not have to go too far from their back door.
Branco says he has also been installing many fiberglass spas because they match the look of the pool and are built into and flush with the patio, giving the space a more finished look.
Smaller pools with jets are helpful for exercise
Some active consumers are looking to get more fitness benefits from their pools. As a result, they have been asking builders about including lap pools in their backyards. Much of this demand is coming from those who are between 50 and 70 years old.
However, many of these clients are also empty nesters with smaller backyards. Due to this constraint, it is rarely possible to install a true lap pool, as it would take up too much space and become costly to heat and maintain. As an alternative, builders are offering to install swim jet systems on smaller pools, to provide the same exercise benefits of lap pools at a fraction of the space and cost.
Branco says requests for exercise swim jets have increased in the last few years, and they are an ideal option for clients looking to add an exercise feature to their smaller pools. Many older, active adults are being told they should swim for rehabilitation or to vary their exercise routines, and swimming is not as stressful on the body.
The jet system also includes a built-in light-emitting diode (LED) light, giving the pool an added selling feature.
It is important for builders to know exercise jets must have dedicated pumps, separate from the rest of the pool equipment. In most pump applications, there can be at least one 45-degree angle from the pool pump to the pump house. But, in the case of the jet system, the pump will need to be less than 25 feet from the pool’s edge, so the pressure to the jets is not compromised.
Smaller pools are easier on the wallet
Savvy builders are informing their clients of the cost and energy benefits of these compact pools, in addition to their lower price point. Their smaller heating systems, along with their simpler and smaller filters and pumps, make these models more energy efficient and cost-effective long term.
These pools are also easier to landscape around, which will help reduce the expense of hiring a landscaper.
Smaller pools help builders maximize installation schedules
Fiberglass pools are quickly becoming the pool of choice, especially for busy pool builders or service professionals who want to start installing pools. With smaller fiberglass pools readily available to builders, it is easy for them to take on more with just a small crew and an excavator. The quick installation of these smaller pools will have clients ready to swim faster and allow builders to add more jobs to their schedules.
Annie Brock is the director of business development for Thursday Pools, which manufactures fiberglass pools.