Swimming pool design guide will give you ideas for that dream pool you want, from concrete pools, above ground pools and even fiberglass pools.

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long pool to the left of home

Design. Build. Maintain. A Single-Source Luxury Pool Specialist is Your Partner in the Process.

You’ve got a vision for your great outdoors—ideas for an ultimate backyard oasis with a high end pool like the ones you’ve experienced at resorts or admired on Houzz, or even enjoyed at a neighbor’s party. You imagine coming home to a serene, modern pool and dining on the patio. Or, entertaining friends and family while children splash around.

Why dream of a pool & spa?

A luxury pool and spa can completely change your lifestyle. With a detailed design, talented construction team and pool maintenance partner, you can soak in all the benefits (including increased property value) without doing the work.

We know, taking the plunge and choosing to build a luxury pool and spa is no small decision. Who will translate your ideas into a workable plan? What can you expect during pool construction? Will you completely blow your budget? (We’ve got a solution for that—read on.) What happens when the pool builder is finished? Isn’t caring for an outdoor pool complicated?

Exhale. Go back to that vision of your future luxury swimming pool and let’s dive into what’s actually involved in designing, building and maintaining the custom pool you’ve always wanted. We promise when you work with a pool construction company that takes a holistic perspective and can bring every piece of the project together into one, seamless process, the only “job” you’ll have to worry about is planning your first pool party. (We’re serious about that.)

This Ultimate Guide to Getting the Luxury Pool of Your Dreams is designed to educate you about how the best luxury pool design and construction firm in New York and Connecticut executes the type of projects you’re pinning. (Check out our portfolio and see what you think.) You can use this tool as a way to vet pool construction companies, as well.

Let’s get started!


pool design hand drawn sketchCustom pool designs are a specialty that demand experience, training and a commitment to staying up on the latest technical and aesthetic pool advances. The symbiotic relationship between our design staff and production staff allows for constant communication to ensure the designs intent is followed through upon.

Neave Pools is a custom pool builder that operates within Neave Outdoor Solutions, a full-service outdoor design, build and maintenance firm. With a luxury pool dedicated design-build team, we live and breathe luxury pool design, construction, and maintenance.

What to Expect from a Pool Designer

When you engage a professional pool design team to make your luxury pool dreams a reality, here’s what you should expect from the process.

  • Initial idea discussion to gather inspiration
  • A site evaluation and specific measurements
  • Budgeting and project phase discussion
  • A 3-D detailed rendering of your luxury pool and outdoor living space
  • A pool design-build plan to successfully execute the process

You’ve Got Ideas

custom backyard swimming pool ideas

The first meeting with a pool designer is when you’ll share your vision. Now’s the time to pull up your Pinterest luxury pool board and show the pool pictures you’ve saved on sites like Houzz. These points of reference give your pool designer an idea of your preferences—and what you don’t like. (This can be just as important.)

Beyond imagery, the pool designer will also ask you questions about how you plan to use the space (and who else will use it).

  • Will this be a family entertainment space or a quiet getaway?
  • How much of your entertaining and free time will be focused on the water vs. the surrounding outdoor living environment?
  • Would you rather soak in a spa or swim in a pool (or both)?

>>Tip: Check out the pool builder’s online portfolio to see what types of luxury pool and spa projects the company has successfully completed. And, ask for referrals so you can talk to property owners about the final result.

Let’s Evaluate Your Property

The designer will preview your landscape using aerial imaging software then listen to your ideas while walking your property when he or she meets with you. The designer will review a survey of your property to understand exactly what “lies beneath.” Your pool should fit into the outdoor environment as if it has always been there, blending seamlessly. The designer will evaluate your site’s topography:

  • Does the property include slopes or is it mostly flat?
  • Are there views beyond your back door that you hope to enjoy from a pool, or do you want privacy?
  • What outdoor living features already exist on your property? Consider any patio spaces or decking, and landscaping.

There are so many possibilities for designing a luxury pool. An experienced pool designer can narrow down the options after a thoughtful, detailed survey of your property. Also, a pool designer will take into account your home’s architecture. You want the pool to look as if It has always been on your property, so style cues from the house or other outdoor structures should be carried out into the pool area.

>>Tip: Your site’s topography and location play a significant role in pool design. For example, a pool grotto is easier to implement if your property already has some grade to it—a slope that provides a natural foundation for this feature. And, an infinity edge pool fits a property with views of water or a cliffside, so the pool water appears to be disappearing into the vista.

Time to Talk Budget

Before a design is put on paper, it’s time to have that critical conversation about the budget. You’ve got a number in mind for what you can spend on a luxury pool. Transparency from the get-go will help your designer create a project that includes your wants and needs so you can stay within your spending parameters.

What happens if the project you’re dreaming of surpasses your budget? (You certainly wouldn’t be the first property owner with this dilemma.) You can still have the outdoor living space you want—in phases. This is a significant project, and you want it done right. You won’t do yourself any favors by skimping on materials or scrapping a pool feature that you desire.

An experienced pool design team will guide you through a process of setting priorities for your outdoor living area and luxury pool. A complete design can be broken down into phases that are accomplished gradually, as your budget allows. Additional financing may be an option too for those things that you would like to have now but are just outside the budget.

>>Tip: The first phase of a major pool and outdoor living project begins with activities that cause the most disturbance to your property—grading, running electric and plumbing, digging and installing the pool and/or spa. That way, your property has the infrastructure for projects slated for later phases.

What Matters Most?

We encourage every property owner engaging in a luxury pool and spa project to spend time thoughtfully considering what features they must have—and what they’d like to have but can live without.

Luxury Pool Features

luxury pool features image

A simple, linear pool design like a rectangle or square is timeless, adds value to your property and will enhance your outdoor living lifestyle. Or, you can design a custom shape to seamlessly integrate with your landscape. In addition to custom shapes and sizes, there’s so much more you can include in a pool design to customize the experience. Here are some pool features to consider as you work through the design process.

  • Slides
  • Infinity pool edges
  • Water features
  • Grottos
  • Sun shelves
  • Swim-up bars
  • Yoga decks
  • Beach entries

Pool Automation

custom swimming pool automation contractor image

During the design process, you’ll also learn more about pool automation and how it can enhance your outdoor living experience. Pool automation allows you to remotely control the water temperature by using a smartphone.

Swimming pool control systems can automatically add chemicals so the water is perfectly balanced. Pool and spa technology also includes systems alerts that let you know if there’s a potential leak, or when to clean a filter. (In fact, the system can alert your pool maintenance provider so you don’t have to worry about a thing.)

Some basic pool automation features include:

  • Automating filtration, sanitation and cleaning
  • Variable speed pool pumps that can be connected to pool automation systems
  • UV light systems that help reduce and control algae, viruses, bacteria and organic matter
  • Pool chemistry automation to maintain optimum water balance
  • Automatic pool and spa cleaning systems
  • Pool lighting you can control from a smart device

Pool Designer or Pool Design Team?

Here’s one last point with pool design that we can’t emphasize enough: Does the pool construction company you’re considering have a designer or a design team.

Why does this matter?

A design team brings a range of talent to the table when creating a plan for your luxury pool. Some designers excel in the technical arena of pool design, and others are passionate about the latest materials. We all bring something different to the process, which is why Neave Pools’ design team works collaboratively on every project. Not only that, we include experienced landscape architects to help plan surrounding pool spaces, whether that’s including an outdoor cabana or outdoor kitchen. You’re paying for one design, but gaining the knowledge and expertise of many working together.

Your Luxury Pool Design—Ready to Build

The result of all this legwork is a 3-dimensional rendering and two-dimensional CAD design of your luxury pool and outdoor living space. This sophisticated design brings your vision to life, and it is precise. This is critical because some pool designers might offer a “free design” if you hire them as your pool construction company. That’s great—except that free design is usually a sketch and gives the construction team absolutely nothing to work with in the field.

Thinking about hiring an architect to design the pool, then bringing on a general contractor to execute the project? A word of warning here: Architects’ designs often don’t consider the nuances of building the pool, and they probably will not be involved during construction to make field modifications.

>>Tip: A single-source pool design, build and maintenance firm can guide you through the entire pool construction process. After the pool is built and you’re enjoying the space, you can rely on that full-service firm as a resource and maintenance partner.


neave groups new york pool design team working on pool construction

You’re about to embark on a full-blown pool construction project that will change the face of your New York or Connecticut property. It will also change your lifestyle at home—how you use your outdoor space. An experienced, certified pool contractor will ensure that the design is accurately implemented. Basically, the pool construction team will bring that vision to life.

Of course, there’s a lot that goes into executing a sophisticated luxury pool design—but the good news is, this is what the Neave Pools team lives and breathes. It’s our specialty, and you should be sure this is the case with any pool contractor you engage for a project of this scope.

What To Expect During Pool Construction

“What am I getting in to?”

We’re glad you asked. Your luxury pool contractor will establish a timeline, including start and completion dates. But keep in mind, construction means change—and there will be changes along the way as crews can face unexpected challenges. That’s okay! It happens with every outdoor project, and the key is to hire a partner that can effectively troubleshoot any issues to preserve the integrity of the design and the quality of the final product.

After the design process wraps up, preparation for construction begins. Your pool contractor will obtain permits from municipal departments and secure other approvals, while answering any questions from engineers regarding the plans.

Here are the basic pool construction steps you’ll see unfold on your property:

  • Excavation and grading: The pool builder will essentially clear the property to create a blank canvas, including adjusting elevations to accommodate the luxury pool design. At this time, patio and planting areas are also cleared, graded and prepared.
  • Pool infrastructure: Next comes plumbing installation and framing, the guts of your pool and spa.
  • Gunite installation: The majority of pools Neave Pools installs are comprised of a gunite/shotcrete shell. Vinyl pools require installation of a floor and liner. The process for these two different pool shells is entirely different and will impact the scope and construction time for your pool project.
  • Tile and coping: There is a tremendous range of beautiful tile on the market today, and it’s exciting when this piece of the project begins because now you will watch the shell transform into a gorgeous pool.
  • Filtration and pumps: While not the most glamorous part of the process, pool filtration and pumps are the key working parts of your luxury pool. Don’t allow just anyone to install this equipment. Rely on a certified pool contractor with knowledge of the latest technology. You want this equipment installed correctly to avoid malfunctioning and costly repairs once the pool is in use.
  • Plaster pool: For gunite pools, crews will apply plaster as the final step before it can be filled with water. Vinyl pools get a liner.
  • Just add waterand balance chemicals: Proper pool chemicals are brought into perfect balance, and water tests are conducted so adjustments can be made.
  • Pool inspection: Your pool contractor will arrange a final inspection and be on site to communicate with the inspector.

What We Love About Gunite

Vinyl swimming pools generally cost less to build, but you can end up paying more in maintenance later. For luxury pool designs, we recommend a gunite swimming pool shell because the material looks and feels luxurious, and it blends in seamlessly with surroundings, including spas and waterfalls that can be incorporated into the design.

Gunite is a more permanent pool option, and it involves using a material called shotcrete. With this, we can be creative with pool specifications—there’s more room for customization so you can get the size and shape of pool you want.

Gunite is finished with plaster, and you can expect plaster to last up to 20 years. Replastering is cost-effective and a fairly basic project. With gunite as a base, you reduce the likelihood of pool leaks and cracks when properly maintained. (We’ll talk about that more later.)

Not to mention, in the harsh Connecticut and New York winter months, gunite can stand up to freeze-thaw cycles and frigid temperatures. Overall, you’ll get a greater return on your investment and increase property value with a gunite luxury pool.

Your Pool Contractor—a Partner in the Process

amazing backyard swimming pool computer rendering

If you’re reading this and feel overwhelmed—don’t. If you’re reviewing the pool construction process and wonder how all this comes together into the luxury pool pictured in your 3D design—relax. We’ve got this.

The purpose of this guide is to explain the pool design and construction project step-by-step so you know what to expect. But you do not have to manage it. That’s the job of your certified pool contractor. When you opt for a single-source design-build-maintenance firm that specializes in luxury pool building, you can step back and trust the process.

Your pool builder is your partner and will guide you through every step, from design to the final walk-through and even regular pool maintenance, if you choose.

Who Can You Trust?

An experienced, professional pool builder will…

  • Return your phone calls and be in constant communication so you’re never left wondering, “What’s going on with this project?”
  • Offer a list of references so you can call other property owners who hired the pool contractor and ask questions about their experiences
  • Provide a fair estimate for the scope of work you are requesting (Beware of low-ball estimates. You get what you pay for.)
  • Provide proof of insurance and certification, along with engaging in the pool construction industry to stay up on the latest designs and technology
  • Walk you through the pool design and construction process so you understand what to expect

>>Tip: How will you communicate with your pool contractor? The professional you partner with should make communication simple, whether that’s by voice call, text, email or in-person meetings. We find, a combination of all these ensures a smooth pool design-build process.


Luxury Swimming Pool

Preserving your luxury pool investment calls for ongoing maintenance—and we can’t stress this enough. A neglected pool is a real liability from a health, safety and property value perspective. Not to mention, you’ll spend significantly more to fix problems that result from lack of maintenance than you would if you simply kept up with the basics.

Pool Maintenance Checklist

At Neave Pools, we have Certified Pool Operators (CPO) on staff, and our team has been trained and certified by top-end manufacturers to stay up to date with the latest diagnostic tools and equipment. Our goal: to keep your pool in the best condition possible.

Here’s what you should look for in a pool maintenance partner.

Routine maintenance includes balancing chemicals, adjusting water levels, removing debris and cleaning tile.

Routine pool maintenance includes:

  •         Test water chemistry and adjust chemicals as needed
  •         Adjust water levels as needed
  •         Add salt to pool if it has a salt chlorine generator
  •         Skim water surface and debris
  •         Brush and vacuum pool
  •         Clean out skimmer basket
  •         Inspect equipment, including main drain cover and vacuum covers
  •         Polish handrails and ladders
  •         Clean tile

Beyond basic maintenance, a pool service technician should perform preventive maintenance on pool heaters, including cleaning the unit. Every six months to one year, filter cartridges should be replaced.

Neave Pools’ service technicians are certified by the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP), the National Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (NESPA) and the National Swimming Pool Foundation.

>>Tip: When the same luxury pool builder designs, constructs and maintains your swimming pool and spa, they know the ins and outs of your property and exactly how your pool was designed. There is a sense of accountability and pride. The pool service team is a true partner working to maintain the value of your investment.

Advancing Technology & Pool Maintenance

Remote monitoring systems, pool and spa automation and the array of advancing technologies make owning a pool and spa easier than ever. You can focus on the relaxation and fun—and let cutting-edge pool and spa systems take care of work like monitoring chemical levels, controlling pump speed and even cleaning.

Automatic Pool Chemistry Monitoring

Maintaining pool chemistry can be a tricky balance. Water makeup changes every time a swimmer enters the pool, and whenever debris finds its way in. Pool chemistry is always changing—but you can keep it stable and at optimum levels with systems that automatically monitor and adjust pool chemical levels. You can receive alerts when the pH is off, and your system can also report the levels of chlorine. Ultimately, these advanced pool water chemistry systems keep your pool safe, clean and healthy for swimming.

Creating the Ultimate Outdoor Living Space

A luxury pool and spa are stand-out features in your outdoor living space—but that’s not all there is to it. At Neave Pools, we know your pool is part of a bigger picture. It’s a key ingredient to the lifestyle you want to experience at home. It’s a focal point that blends with beautiful plantings, areas for cooking and dining, and green spaces for gathering.

Let’s Pull Outdoor Living Space Together

Neave Outdoor Solutions can transform your backyard into your own resort-worthy, personal paradise. Neave Pools is your single source for pool and spa design, construction and maintenance. We work hand-in-hand with landscape architects, horticulturalists and outdoor living artisans who build dream designs.

Look outside. Think beyond basic. Let’s share ideas.

Contact Neave Pools, a specialty division of Neave Outdoor Solutions. In Hudson Valley, call 845.463.0592. In Westchester County call 914.271.7996. In Connecticut, call 203.212.4800, or fill out this contact form and we’ll get in touch.

Swimming pool design guide will give you ideas for that dream pool you want, from concrete pools, above ground pools and even fiberglass pools.

FREE Pool Design Guide

Download our FREE 25-page Swimming Pool Design Guide and create a perfect paradise in your backyard.

Download Now