Making a big splash

  With year round warm weather, few places in the world call out for a swimming pool as much as the Cayman Islands. Of course, there is always the ocean, but being able to take a quick dip in your own back yard is priceless during high summer.
   However, building a pool involves quite a bit more than merely digging a big hole in the ground.
Construction methods
   There are two main choices when it comes to pool construction. The more traditional is to have a concrete pool. Although the pool can take long to construct, the designer has total freedom when coming up with a design as there are no real restrictions to the shape of the pool. This makes concrete pools ideal for yards that have odd shapes or for someone with very specific ideas on what they want from their pool.
   Fibreglass pools are quicker to construct, as the pool itself is pre-constructed and lowered into the hole dug for it. However, as these pools are constructed off site, there are limits to the shape and size of the pool. However the pools are more flexible, which can help prevent cracks appearing, especially in earthquake-prone areas.
Follow the rules
   Gaining approval from all the relevant authorities before construction is initiated is one of the most important steps in getting your pool ready.
   When planning a pool, it is important to adhere to Cayman’s planning laws. There require that, for a residential pool, the front setback should be 20 feet, while the side setback should be 10 feet in the case of a single storey house or 15 feet for a two or three storey house or apartments. The rear setback should be 20 feet, although this changes when dealing with waterfront properties.
   Once planning approval is granted based on the pool design complying with the setback requirements, the applicant has to apply for a pool permit through the Building Control Unit.
   The Building Control Unit looks at the plans in greater detail, paying attention to a number of factors before deciding whether approval will be granted.
   For a concrete pool, building control look at the thickness of the concrete shell as well as the presence of adequate reinforcement. When dealing with a fibreglass pool, these factors are not taken into account.
   Building control also looks at the distance of the proposed pool from any adjacent building or other superimposed loads.
   Another important factor that is considered is the electrical code requirements, including the bonding for pumps, lights and ladders.
   The Department of Environmental Health also has to sign off on any pool plans before construction can commence.
   Whether dealing with a new installation, alteration or repair, a permit needs to be obtained first.
   The Department looks at plot plans, structural plans and mechanical plans.
   The plot plan needs to show property lines, pool shape, setbacks, side yards, clearance from existing structures adjacent to the proposed pool, the deckwork configuration showing anticipated drainage, the anticipated overall drainage of the pool site as well as the proposed location of the mechanical equipment room.
   The structural plan should show the type of construction method to be used, the pool dimensions including depth, interior finishes and a floor plan for the mechanical room, showing clearance for equipment and access for inspection.
   The mechanical plan is the final part of the puzzle and should show volume, system flow rate in gallons per minute as well as the turnover in hours. The type of filtration system as well as the means of waste disposal should also be included, as should the type and size of pool heater should one form part of the plans.
   The size, location and type of piping should also be included, as well as the location of the main outlets, the surface skimmers and inlets, the rated capacity of the pump to be installed, the means of adding additional water and the layout of the pool room.
   Once the Department is satisfied that everything is in compliance with code, a permit will be issued.
   If this all sounds like a lot of work, it certainly is. However, it is important to get everything right in order to see to it that your pool provides years and years of enjoyment.