Poolside pergola

If you’ve been thinking about ‘taking the plunge’, now is the time to get busy planning how you can maximise the potential of your poolside area when summertime hits its peak.

It is one thing to put a pool in, but quite another to make the area surrounding your pool a lifestyle-enriching destination that draws you and your family and friends outside at every opportunity. The secret is versatility – making the area usable not just on sun-drenched days, but during the cooler months and into the evenings.

Pavilions that are fully equipped with an outdoor kitchen (BBQ, bar fridge, benches), a dining area and a space to lounge about with your own fire pit or gas log fire strip, day bed, bench seating, ceiling fan and a wall-mounted TV provide a resort style haven that is sheltered year-round.

Of course, your needs may not desire everything a resort-style pavilion offers… It might be a selection of the above mentioned elements to create an idyllic retreat-style poolside garden.  A place to escape, ponder, relax, admire, reflect.

Make a list and prioritize it!  Really consider how you want to utilise the space surrounding your new pool, who will be using it and when (now and in year’s to come), be mindful of your home’s architecture and your environment and consider the vast amount of different materials on offer (decking versus paving, timber versus brick, concrete, etc).

A pool is a lifestyle-enriching investment, so long as it’s surrounds are functional and responsive to your and your family’s needs.  Get planning now, so that you are ready to ‘dive in the deep end’ next summer and change how you use your outdoor space.

*For more poolside landscaping inspiration, visit our Pinterest profile. Images sourced via Pinterest.

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Decking and lighting

Do you dream of having breakfast alfresco as you read the Sunday papers, or catching the last rays of sun as you wind down after a hard day at work around your swimming pool? Creating functional areas out of unused space is just one of the many benefits timber decks (and paved areas) provide to add more enjoyment to your outdoor lifestyle.

An outdoor space to take a nap, feel the breeze, read a book, converse with friends, listen to the birds, sip a drink and relax!  Decking provides an attractive and functional platform to extend your indoor living space…large, liveable outdoor areas that are a destination beyond your four walls.

The type of deck you choose will depend entirely on how you wish to use the area, the site’s topography, exposure, architecture, council and building regulations and the floor plan of your home.  Are you wanting a seamless transition from your indoor living or dining room to connect with your outdoor area – outdoor kitchen, alfresco dining, outdoor lounge? Or, is it a remote space that you want to utilize in your garden – poolside, observation area?  Decking no longer simply provides a ‘landing space’ for your home’s entrance.  This is reflected in the scale of decking which has grown along with our love for the outdoors, spending time with family and friends – entertaining.

Consideration for how you want to use your decked area is an important first step in the design phase – so too is adhering to your local council regulations and domestic building regulations.  Whether you are modifying an existing deck or building from scratch, a building permit will most likely be required.  Even if a proposed structure is exempt under the Building Regulations, owners may still apply for a building permit to show that the new work was correctly constructed, it is structurally sound and it does not adversely affect the safety of the public or occupiers.  More information can be sourced from your local building surveyor and the Victorian Building Authority.

Then, the fun begins – which timber material do you want to use to construct your deck?  There are so many natural timber products to choose from and more recently the introduction of composite decking products to add to the list.  Merbau and selected Native Australian hardwoods are an excellent choice for decking for their longevity, high rigidity, durability and resistance to attack by fungi and insects.  There are many pro’s and cons for all of the decking products available – essentially each project will have specific considerations including exposure, budget, architecture, etc.

Finding a suitably qualified tradesperson to guide you through the whole process from design to completion is an important ingredient to ensure your deck area is a quality construction that adheres with regulations and is standards compliant.  According to Nepean Building Permits, there are several important factors to consider when building a new deck:

  1. The footing system of the deck must comply with Building Code of Australia (BCA) and AS 2870 (Australian Standard for footings).  The type of footing system would be the same that is required for standard dwellings.
  1. The deck sub floor and decking material must comply with BCA & AS 1684 (framing standard).  This is the same as for standard dwellings.
  1. A deck on a residential property is covered in the Domestic Buildings Contract Act and therefore an contractor working on a deck must be a registered building practitioner if they invoice more than $5,000 in costs.

All this planning and consideration will serve you well once your dream deck is constructed.  It will be a place where fond memories are made and treasured.  It will be somewhere you can sip on a latte (or glass of wine), reflect on the times shared with your family and friends and allow you to connect more often with Mother Nature and the beautiful outdoors.