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To infinity and beyond

Pools: Cool pools for your Santa Clarita Valley summer

Posted: July 30, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 30, 2011 1:55 a.m.
A pool and spa with infinity edges. A pool and spa with infinity edges.
A pool and spa with infinity edges.

If you have circled your wagons, financially-speaking, and major home-improvement projects have been put on hold, you’ll be surprised to learn that some of your neighbors have been putting in pools.

According to Chris Bennett, who, with his wife Tiffany Bennett, owns the local franchise of California Pools, “We find most of our clients right now are people who have been in their homes a long time, 10 years or more, and are looking to upgrade their homes instead of moving to new homes.”

Good investment
Adding a pool makes your home more enjoyable for your family and it’s also a pretty good investment. “They say that you will get 50 percent of the cost of a pool as increased value in your home. And, generally, your home will sell more quickly than a home without a pool,” Bennett said.

He said the basic pool package for a backyard will run $40,000 to $45,000, and it goes up from there. But he added, “There’s nothing ‘standard’ about pools anymore. You can get a custom design to create an oasis.” This might include “a couple grand extra for a remote system” that controls the heat, lighting and water features.

And you can get just about anything you want in your custom design, including infinity edges, waterfalls, fountains, rock features, beach entries and Baja steps.

The California Pools website explains it all and presents some beautiful photo galleries to illustrate each feature.
Here, with added comments from Chris Bennett, is what you need to know.

Infinity-edge pools
On infinity-edge pools, one side of the pool has a “negative edge,” meaning that it is even with the water level in the pool. Water spills over this edge into a catch basin below, where it is then pumped back into the pool.

The effect can be breathtaking, as your pool seems to float above the landscaping and view of the yard.

Bennett said that you don’t want to put a pool with an infinity edge in just any backyard. “You need a unique lot to accept it,” he explained.

The lot must be large and have a descending slope to give the “vanishing” effect. He said that the infinity edge has special plumbing and engineering and will add about $15,000 to the cost of the pool.
Water features
California Pools feels your swimming pool should be more than just functional. It should add interest and beauty to your backyard. Incorporating a water feature, such as a waterfall or fountain, into your pool’s design can help accomplish this.

Water features come in many different styles. It’s common to see a raised spa that pours over some type of spillway into the pool below. You might also consider a bubbling  fountain rising from a step or shallow pool, water spouts arching water across the pool’s surface, or a dramatic waterfall constructed of rock and surrounded by lush landscaping elements. Any of these unique water features will help transform your swimming pool into an elegant backyard resort.

Bennett said, depending on what you want, your water features could add anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000 to the cost of your pool. “Using natural boulders is an option, and you can go the next step, to a rock grotto,” he said.

Even sound comes into play here. He said that a natural rock waterfall gives more of a babbling brook sound, while a grotto might give more of a rushing water sound — which you might want to drown out traffic noise if you live near a freeway. “The size of the water feature dictates the loudness,” he added.

Rock features
And, speaking of rock features, California Pools notes that the use of natural or man-made rock can have a dramatic effect on your swimming pool design. From simple pebble work in a wall or deck to dramatic boulders flanking a pool or defining a waterfall, the use of rocks helps to create the kind of serene and breathtaking atmosphere you’d find in nature. Possibilities for incorporating rock into your swimming pool design are endless.

“A lot of pools now are almost all natural rock,” Bennett said. “The typical look of pools these days is flagstone or rock veneer.”

Baja step
Historically, swimming pool entries were basically all the same: three or four small steps leading down into the shallow end of the pool. But today, many homeowners are enjoying a more natural design, such as a “beach entry.” Much like a beach that gradually descends into the ocean waves, a beach entry pool features a deck that gently slopes beneath the surface of the water and becomes increasingly deep as you move forward.

Some pool owners are also incorporating a “Baja step” into their pool. This is simply a large rounded step, generally only a few inches to a foot or so deep, that allows swimmers and loungers alike to dabble in the water without becoming entirely immersed.

“The reef step, or Baja step, is good for kids,” Bennett said. “We typically do them a little deeper, with 18 inches of water above them.” In this way the adults can put a chair on the step and be partially immersed, and toddlers can play beside them. And you can have an umbrella sleeve installed in the step so you can have shade where you lounge in the water. “Your kids can play and be protected from the sun,” he added.

Bennett said the size of the Baja step varies according to what people want, but that these are relatively inexpensive options, in the scheme of things, adding only about $500 more to the cost of the pool.

“Every backyard is different,” Bennett said, and you can get a custom design that will suit your individual needs, whether for exercise, for children or for aesthetics. He said, typically, a pool installation takes seven to nine weeks. And when asked what time of year is the best time to put in a pool, he said “anytime is a good time.” But he added that if you have one put in during October, November or December, you have time to get your new landscaping in and get the plants matured before summer comes, so you can relax and enjoy it all when the heat is on.

The local California Pools office is at 25876 The Old Road, #261, Stevenson Ranch, CA 91381. Call (661) 702-8500 or (661) 244-1877 for information or visit


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