In Baja California and many areas of Mexico, it makes a lot sense to add a pool to your vacation or investment property. This article will discuss a few of the different styles of finishes for the pool and deck as well as what type of water treatment and filtration you would want to use.
Pool construction is continually evolving in Baja. A greater selection of materials are becoming available and design aspects are even being incorporated into basic homes. With an increasing number of North Americans living in Baja, Mexico year round, a pool not only serves as a great way to beat the heat, but also serves as a lasting investment in your property. With three months of Baja Sur weather in the triple digits, a pool becomes a focal point of day to day living as well has the backyard BBQ.
Once the domain of five star resorts, infinity (horizonless) pools, spa/pool combinations and fountains are now an essential element in completing your investment in median level and upscale homes. With the dramatic landscapes of our peninsula and breathtaking vistas from our shoreline homes this new generation of Baja Pools is not just for recreation, but also serves as a significant part of the aesthetic appeal of the home.
The ideal way to enhance the long term resale value of your home is to include your pool design in a new construction. Your architect and pool designer can take into account views, lighting angles and reflections of the pool or fountain to create breathtaking results. Lighting may really enhance the look and value of your investment. Whether in the pool or just around it with many color choices and low energy LED lighting that can be very inexpensive to operate. It is amazing how even a basic set of Malibu lighting can enhance the evening appearance of your pool. Pool professionals can further enhance lighting effects with underwater lights, halogen spots and in ground keg lights.
Many people however, must contend with adding a pool to an existing property. This can often present greater challenges than starting from scratch. Your location may be more limited, pump and filter locations must be considered along with the location of existing structures and plumbing. Los Cabos is a premium pool market and you will find pretty much everything available to you here that you might find in Southern California. As the local resorts grew along the Corridor they began the need for quality pool design, construction and service that is now available to the home owner.
You also want to be careful what type of deck you have around your pool. For example simple concrete will be fine for most of the year but may be very hot when it comes to the hotter days. Obviously you want a deck that has traction when wet, cool when hot and not a lot of grout or cracks that can be hard to keep clean. With a lot of years living here and seeing many different decks I would recommend not using bricks, rock like flagstone or saltillo tiles. These all can become very hot and while some have traction tiles do not unless they are specially made with traction added to the surface.
You should seek local professional advice when choosing the equipmentz and materials for your pool, hot tub or fountain. Materials and techniques that may suffice where you came from, may not endure the harsh climate of Baja. Additionally, the technology of pool building is evolving too. Award winning local pool builders, belong to international organizations which help them stay informed as to the latest in shapes, styles and techniques. The pools that are being built today for the new generation of Baja home owners bears little resemblance to the pools built nearly three decades ago.
In the construction of your pool you need to consider sun angles, views and the stability of the earth you are excavating. Proper preparation of the soil, ample foundation and liberal use of rebar are key. Most pool construction today is done by spraying gunite (concrete sand mixture) over a supporting structure of rebar and cement footings. This allows more options in the shaping of the interior of the pool into attractive curves and comfortable corners.
Tile still offers that luxurious Euro look, and is still a very popular finished surface over the gunite structure of a pool. Special materials are used to adhere the tiles to the pool and special equipment is used to provide straight seams and lines in the tile surface. The down side to tiles is the adhesion and durability of individual tiles. The final look of your pool is strongly affected by the artistry of your builder.
One of the most popular new pool surfaces is what is called 'pebble finish'. Tinted washed pebbles are mixed with an epoxy material and troweled onto the gunite of the pool structure. The material adds to the waterproofing of the pool structure, it is virtually slip free and is available in a wide variety of colors. Listen to your pool maker when selecting a color. When we resurfaced our pool at the Baja Insider office with a “Cabo Blue” pebble finish. It was one of the darker colors on the chart and looked more grey than blue. Once we added a few feet of water over our new finish however, we were amazed at just how blue the finished full pool was.
Many homes with outstanding views are using infinity pools to compliment the natural vista. A horizon-less pool allows selected edges to be very shallow, sometimes less than 1/2", where the water flows over the edge, into a catch basin on the outside of the pool and is re-circulated. From normal eye level the pool then appears to blend seamlessly into the vista beyond. Spas, fountains and hot tubs also use this technique to create a very dramatic architectural effect. Combinations of water architecture are becoming increasingly popular. Spas within pools, exquisite rock waterfalls and incorporated fountains can not only add to the novelty of your pool but also improve filtration and reduce the need for chemicals.
You also need to decide what type of water treatment you will be using. The old standard “Chlorinated” system is still the most common but not the only option these days. You may want to use the least common used method, bromine or the newest growing in popularity“salt water” pool that leaves a delicious feel on the skin. There are pluses and minuses to what system you choose and your pumps and filtration system will depend on what type of water treatment you want to have. When selecting a pump/filter package for your new pool it is advisable to over buy rather than cut corners here. Windblown dust and debris pretty much comes with the territory here in Baja. Keeping your pool easy to maintain, beautiful and healthy are a direct result of the proper filtration equipment.
Believe it or not your probably going to want to add a pool heating system to extend the usefulness of your pool. Electricity isn't cheap in Baja, so you will probably want to consider a gas heater. We began discussing a pool heater in mid October. Once you've lived here a full season, it's hard to get excited about getting in a pool that is less than 80°F. It is also advisable to include a safe pool cover, to increase heater efficiency.
Landscaping and lighting are the final touches to your water world. Palms, ferns and other plants can add to the tropical feel around your pool. But be careful, don't select plants that produce leaves, berries or sap that could discolor you pool deck or water.
The painted cement pools many of us remember as kids, are out. They add little to the value of a home and can present maintenance liabilities as they age. Many local contractors are delighted to offer home builders their services when it comes to pool construction. "Hey, It's just a hole in the ground with a little more cement work, right?" Building a structure that will house thousands of gallons of water, safely for years, without washing your downhill neighbor away in the night is a construction specialty. We recommend that if you want a lasting and well built pool or water feature that you work with pool builders and not just any contractor.
So, immerse, imbibe and enjoy, knowing that your new swimming pool or fountain is not just a recreational item, but more the completion of your investment in paradise. Splash!