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The pool debate

On the one hand rising temperatures mean they will have a longer ‘season’ in more temperate areas of Australia.

On the other hand, water restrictions are making continued use of them increasingly problematic.

Pool owners now have to consult their local authority over what they can and can’t do. In some areas, it is illegal to fill pools without a permit; in others, permission has to be sought to empty them. Put that alongside maintenance costs and safety requirements and it is not surprising that some homeowners are having second thoughts about whether it is worth the trouble.

On balance it is a question of lifestyle. For growing families there is no better way of keeping the kids amused than a pool on a summer’s evening after a baking day.

Weary wage-earners enjoy its cooling and calming effect, and friends and neighbours will eagerly accept invitations to summer barbecues if a pool is part of the attraction.

On the downside, very young children and weak swimmers need constant supervision; hassles about maintenance produce stress, and pool parties can have the dangerous combination of alcohol, glass and deep water.

Real estate agents have mixed feelings about pools. In larger, more expensive properties they are expected and not to have one can be a drawback. However, in more modest dwellings, where the pool takes up most of the back garden, it can be a disadvantage.

For those who might want to get rid of their pool, the obvious solution is to fill it in. Replacing it with lawn or other plantings will still require some water but a paved courtyard is a water-saving possibility.

Whatever your feelings, consult an HIA builder or landscape designer for options. If you can’t bear the thought of doing without a pool, an HIA member can offer suggestions for minimising water loss and maintenance costs.

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