Building a pool is like adding a character to a Rembrandt. The fresh element draws your eye and redefines everything around it, and it needs to be well-placed and well-made in order to fit with and serve its surroundings. And sometimes–when there is a master at work–even the surroundings themselves change to accommodate what is new.

The following 9 questions from By The Blade Lawn and Landscaping represent key areas to focus your inquisitiveness in all levels of the pool-building process, from the surface decisions about pool types all the way to deep lore–the undertow of threats that could destroy your investment. Ask these questions as you go, and your lawnscape will be on its way to gaining a lasting enhancement, a centerpiece that invigorates your family culture and increases the value of your home. Disregard them, and you can be left with an eyesore and a headache–something that doesn’t meet your needs or your desires.

Question 1: Are Your Pool Builder’s Plumber and the Electrician “In-House”? A pool is a plumbing job, of course, and the lights, pump, and other moving parts will need electrical know-how. A building team that brings in its plumber and electrician from the outside can cause you a liability as their work may not cohere with the rest of the product, and if they disappear after the job, their services may not be available to you in the future–a sure headache.

Question 2: Will They Get the Plumbing Right in the Pool Construction? Talk to your builder about high-quality drains, skimmers, and returns. This equipment should turn over the entire pool about twice a day, and there needs to be a proper drain system to ensure that the entire pool content is being agitated, not just the top half. Installing a poor circulation system is a sure way to increase the time spent on maintenance.

Question 3: Should You Go with Gunite? Liner pools may be cheaper, but they won’t last as long and they come in uncreative packages. Pools made of fiberglass suffer from some of the same restrictions. Gunite, a type of sprayed concrete, is durable and flexible, and is most likely to give you a beautiful final product.

Question 4: What About Automation Options? If convenience is your priority, you should consider building an automation system into your pool construction. These systems are quite a step up from the old on-off switches or local panels. You can adjust or schedule your heating, pool lights, circulation settings, waterfalls, or any other variable from the comfort of your home or remotely from your phone or computer, or have your hot tub ready for you when you get home. The possibilities are almost limitless, but it’s good to plan ahead.

Question 5: How Does It Look from Your House? An excellent designer will work with you to match your pool’s style with that of the house and your landscaping, but don’t forget this: you will spend as much time enjoying your pool from your window as from any other angle. Your pool becomes the centerpiece of your lawnscape and should accent the entire backyard environment — particularly from the perspective of your back window.

Question 6: Is an Autocover Advisable? With an automatic cover, a push of a button can child-proof and debris-proof your pool by unfurling a cover directly over the surface–any time, any day. These covers–which can be in the $10,000 to $20,000 range–can fit with any pool shape if there is enough deck width to work under, but you should decide what you want before you build.

Question 7: Direct Chlorination or Salt Water? Chlorine is essential, but how you make chlorine is an option. As an alternative to direct chlorination, a salt-water chlorine generator can cost a bit more up front and have some maintenance associated with it, but its constant stream of clean chlorine can soften the water and reduce irritation to the skin and eyes. Converting your pool to salt chlorination after the fact will require cutting into the piping and re-wiring, so if you want salt, go ahead and get it from the start.

Question 8: Where Does the Runoff Go? If runoff from a rainstorm is not directed away from your pool, it can collect in the cavity underneath the basin and cause damage. Ask your builder about a drainage system that will protect your pool.

Question 9: How Long Will the Construction Take? Even the perfect pool is useless if it’s not ready on time. Plan ahead to get the maximum benefit from your investment. Pool construction takes anywhere from 2 to 6 months, depending on your budget, so if you plan to open in the spring, get the process started in the fall.

As you wade through the bewildering wash of inquiries that flood the process of pool-building, your Ambassadors of Outdoor Living at By The Blade are here to help. Our team filters gallons of information to bring the right facts to your attention–even things that you might otherwise overlook. With the right assistance from the masters, you can realize a pool that will mesh with your lifestyle and enliven your outdoor environ for many years to come.