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How To Choose an Above Ground or Semi-Inground Swimming Pool

By William - Updated On: 08/29/23

Above ground or semi-inground swimming pools are an affordable option for homeowners that would like a swimming pool, but do not want the expense or long term commitment for a permanent in-ground pool.

But with so many options out there, narrowing down the choices can seem overwhelming. 

We'll cover the most basic considerations that should help you narrow things down quite a bit and ensure that you get the best pool for you and your family.  

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First things first.... Do you need a permit to build a swimming pool?

Some cities and townships require a permit to build a pool. If you live in one of these areas, start with contacting your local code enforcement for a list of requirements. These can include plumbing requirements for wastewater, and electrical permits that dictate a dedicated pool GFCI outlet be installed, along with proper pool bonding.

If you do need a permit, and you find out you need additional documentation other than just pool size, contact our team at 866-532-8194, and one of our sales consultants will assist you in obtaining the necessary documents that we can provide.

If you do not need a permit, please feel free to do a little happy dance and continue reading. 

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One of the first questions you need to ask, is where will your new pool be going? This will help find answers to other questions such as what size pool can I get, what shape, etc..

The easiest way to do this, is to determine how much space you have available for a pool.

Check local code requirements to determine if there are any restrictions on how close you can place your pool to property lines, fences, your house, or other standing structures.

You will also need to check for any overhead power lines, and make sure you clear those by at least ten feet, or however far your local code requires.

If you do not have local code enforcement rules to follow, a common practice is to stay five feet away from any standing structures, including fencing and from the property lines. You can mark these areas with spray-painted dotted lines or small construction flags (available at most hardware stores).

You will also want to check for underground power lines, plumbing, cable lines, etc.. You can do this by calling 811 from any phone. Utility operators will come out and mark any lines in your yard for free. More info on this can be found here. 

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With any and all areas that will cause interference in your pool install marked, we now know where the pool can go. Measure the area in either a square or rectangle and decide if you would prefer a round or an oval pool. More on shape here. 

Keep in mind, some yards won't allow for a very large round pool, or simply aren't long or wide enough for an oval pool.

BONUS TIP: There are also elevation changes to consider. If you have a slope on the back half of your yard, to simplify installation, you may want to keep the pool up on the hill if the slope goes downwards, or keep from cutting into the hill if it goes upwards. Typically, an above ground pool install is done so in the flattest area possible to minimize digging, and prep time. However, a semi-inground pool may be the ticket to solving this issue altogether since they can be built into a sloping yard. 

With all this considered, you now know what size and shape pool will fit. Now that you know how much space you can use, decide how much you want to use, and what size and shape pool works best.

If you have a large elevation change, or just want to recess the pool into the ground more than 18", be sure to shop for semi in-ground pools. These are typically just stronger above ground pools, sometimes using special backfill procedures.

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Now you're all set! You have your size picked out, you know the shape you want, and you start searching... and now there are many different models to choose from and at many different prices.

The good news is that the most expensive pool is not always the best for your yard, much less your budget. There are a lot of good-looking and long-lasting pools available at reasonable prices.

Here's what you need to know: Material, wall height, and brand are just a few things that can affect the price.

Some pools have larger bracing, and resin pools are typically more expensive.

A good thing to consider first is how long you want to have the pool for. If you're thinking 5-10 years or so, pretty much anything out there will work. If you're planning for a longer time frame, consider some of the pools with longer warranties.

The warranties are prorated in the pool industry and aren't necessarily an indication of exactly how long the pools will last, but they will give you an idea on to the quality of the pool. A longer warranty typically means the pool should last longer if properly taken care of.

The look is also very important to most people. Who wants something this big in their yard that they think is ugly? So pick one that fits your budget, and has the look you want. Above Ground Pools have come a long way in this department- with some being down-right stunning. (Semi-Inground Pools are no exception to this either.)

BONUS TIP: Most above ground pools install basically the same way, so from one model to the other, if you can build one, you can build them all. Thankfully, there isn't much to consider here for normal installations. 

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We hope this has been helpful! Make sure to check out the follow up article on this topic here!


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