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  • Third generation in the family business, Peita Otterbach brings 10 plus years of marketing experience to Albatross Pools with a proven track record aiding organisations in strengthening brand loyalty, creating product awareness and producing tangible results improving both bottomline and market share. Recently completing her MBA, Peita draws from her commercial experience across a number of industries and expertise in Digital Marketing and Strategy as she works with her father Michael Van Der Haar to expand and strengthen the distribution network of Albatross Pools throughout Australia and internationally. Peita also assists in the Pool Shops and Pool Display Centres having worked in both for some years during her studies.


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    Does a pool add value to a house?

    It comes as no surprise that ‘pool’ is the number one search term being used by buyers on realestate.com.au when refining their search criteria (Herald Sun, August 17 2013).  Gone is the day of the humble backyard, many now consider this space as an outdoor room complete with kitchen and swimming pool.  The luxuries of gas pool heating and pool covers, delivers year round entertainment – a much desired lifestyle by many buyers in the market today.

    A swimming pool integrated in with an outdoor entertaining area is without a doubt one of the main selling features of newly built and newly renovated homes being advertised in property magazines and online today.  According to Andrew Keheler, Jellis Craig Doncaster Director, Generation X buyers typically seek out properties with a pool as they have young children and regard a pool as a source of enjoyment for many years to come (Herald Sun, August 15 2013).

    People in the world of Real Estate and Property Development suggest a pool can add anywhere from 6% to 35% come auction (Herald Sun, March 3, 2014). An amazing swimming pool can be a “carrot” to a buyer in the market according to Paul Osborne, Secret Agent, especially those in the marketplace with children aged between five to fifteen years of age (The Age, March 9 2014).

    At the end of the day, it comes down to the buyers present on auction day and how much they are willing to spend to achieve their desired lifestyle both indoors and outdoors for their family.

    To view recent pool projects and gather ideas on how you can incorporate an Albatross pool into your outdoor area, view the pool gallery. Or visit our fully landscaped swimming pool display centres open 7 days a week.

    Source:
    1. Herald Sun 2013, Can I have a pool with that? Available from: http://www.news.com.au/finance/real-estate/can-i-have-a-pool-with-that/story-fncq3gat-1226698453057. [15 August 2013].
    2. The Age 2014, In the swim - the pull of a pool Available from: http://www.domain.com.au/news/in-the-swim--the-pull-of-a-pool-20140308-34ean/ [9 March 2014].
    3. The Herald Sun, A house you can swim in Available from: Herald Sun - A HOUSE YOU CAN SWIM IN - PressDisplay.com [3 March 2014].

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    Water Features for Pools

    A pool is a substantial investment, and it should enhance your property not just functionally, but aesthetically. A well-chosen water feature can make the difference between a plain, utilitarian swimming pool and a pool that will make you feel as if you’re immersed in beauty and opulence. If you’re saving money by selecting a pre-engineered pool, then perhaps you can afford to invest some of the savings into making the pool truly spectacular.

    Here four ideas for water features and the approximate amount that each might add to the cost of your pool:

    1. A Water Curtain

    $1,500 to $3,000
    Add a water curtain, such as a cascade or silk flow waterfall from AstralPool, to your swimming pool. Not only do water curtains look lovely and add fun to your pool, they also help to lower the temperature of your entire yard through evaporative cooling. When water falls through the air, some of it evaporates and when water changes from a liquid to a gas, it absorbs heat. That’s why a water curtain is just as functional as it is beautiful.

    Also, exclusive to Albatross Pools is our Cascade Water Curtain as part of our Courtyard Series.

    2. Deck Jets

    $1,800 to $2,500 / set of four
    Deck jets are a fountain feature that shoots water from your deck or paving, through the air and into your pool. Like water curtains, deck jets cool the air around the pool and can add an extra element of fun to the set-up. Deck jets are a great feature, but they do need to be carefully maintained so that they don’t become clogged with dirt or leaves.

    3. A Feature Wall or Rockery Wall

    $1,000 and up
    In the context of pool landscaping, a feature wall is a wall beside the pool that’s enhanced with a decorative surface or texture and may also incorporate plants, flowers and water features. A feature wall can help with privacy and even provide security, but it also sets off the pool, visually. A feature wall can include a water curtain or waterfall. One of the most attractive types of feature wall is a rockery wall with water trickling into the pool, much like the type of small waterfall you might see on the side of a mountain. Rockery walls can be designed in many different ways, and they look fantastic when combined with lush foliage. Their only drawback is that they can wash dirt into the pool, so depending on how the feature is detailed, extra filtering may be needed.

    4. Statuary

    $200 and up
    Decorate your pool or the garden around your pool with statues. Choose ornate planters, human figures, animals or even modern sculptures. Bring a classical, creative or artistic look to your pool area. Be an art collector or have a little fun. Some statues are also fountains, and like other water features, they’ll help to cool the air.

    Water Features Pools - Dandenong Pool Centre

    This pool has a rockery wall, a water curtain and deck jets

    Water features can make a huge difference in how your pool is framed in relationship to your home and the landscape. Decks, patios, pavement and landscaping can complete the design. Call or e-mail us to discuss which options would work best with the space you have at hand. Working with water features and landscaping is one of the fun parts of our job at Albatross.

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    Pool Heating Options

    If you're thinking about having a pool installed, then you should also be thinking about whether or not to heat it. Pools can add so much to your family time and they're great for entertaining, too. However, especially in Victoria, there's a large portion of the year when it's too cold to swim in an unheated pool. Adding a heating system can extend the swimming season by a few months or even to the entire year, depending on your location and the system you choose. A pool is a serious investment. Adding a heating system can help you to get the greatest possible value out of it.

    Solar Pool Heating

    If the startup cost of solar pool heating is within your budget and you don't need to swim all year around, then solar pool heating is a fantastic choice. It harnesses the free energy of the sun to heat your pool.

    Here's how it works. Solar collectors are installed on a north-facing roof, and they occupy approximately the same area as the pool surface. In a conventional system, the collectors are simply pipes for water circulation. Solar pool heating systems are driven by sensors in the pool and on the roof. When the temperature difference is great enough, then the pumps are switched on by a solar controller. Once the pool water reaches the desired temperature, the system automatically shuts down.

    Gas Pool Heating

    Gas pool heaters are the preferred option for people who need a system that will deliver heat 100% predictably and dependably. Similar to the gas water heaters used with radiators for space heating they can be controlled by hand, by timer or by a thermostat, and they work with a pump and a filter to take water from the pool, heat it and return it. High efficiency gas heaters can be a good choice, particularly for small pools on that are located in well-populated areas, near gas distribution pipes. They provide dependable pool heating, usually at a reasonable cost.

    Electric Pool Heating: Heat Pumps

    Heat pumps are electric pool heating systems, and they work a little like backward air conditioners. Some salespeople will say they’re "100% efficient." Electricity is always 100% efficient at the point of use. However, it is not necessarily very efficiently generated and it incurs line losses in its journey through the power grid. Therefore, heat pumps are usually the least efficient choice for pool heating.

    How To Choose a Pool Heating System

    Remember to consider both start-up and long-term energy costs when choosing a heating system for your pool. Energy costs are likely to continue to increase, so a solar system may pay for itself fairly quickly in reduced utility bills. For the ultimate pool heating system, you can add a small gas heater or heat pump as a backup to your main, solar system. Take a look at your gas and electricity provider's web site and at government web sites before making a final choice. Whichever type of pool heating system you choose, select a contractor with a clean record and an established reputation in your community.

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    Is a Concrete Pool Right For You?

    If you're thinking about installing a pool on your property, then one of the first things you'll want to decide is whether to pour a custom-designed concrete pool, purchase a prefabricated fibreglass pool or choose a pre-engineered pool. Since concrete pools were the most common choice in Australia for many years and are still popular today, let's take a look at the pros and cons of installing a concrete pool.

    Concrete Pools Have Their Advantages

    Poured concrete offers more design flexibility than any other type of pool construction. Since concrete pools are created onsite from a material that is poured into forms, then hardens, they can be any size and shape. There are many options for the interior finish of concrete pools, from paint to tile to a pebbled surface. Concrete pools are a common choice for lots that require an unusually shaped pool or for families that prefer a large pool with curved edges, for example, a circular or oval pool that's bigger than the standard fibreglass models. The structure of a well engineered, well-built concrete pool can last almost indefinitely if the pool is on a stable site. For some projects, a concrete pool may perhaps be the best choice.

    Pool Formwork
    Source: Wikipedia Commons, Concrete Pool Illustration

    But There Are Associated Costs and Risks

    Poured concrete pools also have a few drawbacks, and they are mostly cost-related. Concrete pools can be very expensive to build, especially if they're complex. If your site isn't straightforward, then your concrete pool may need to be designed by a fully qualified engineer, and that will add expense. The costs don't end with the design and construction of the concrete shell. The interior finish of the pool can cost thousands of dollars to install initially and will generally need to be refreshed, repaired or renovated every two to ten years. Each time the interior finish is renewed, it can cost as much as it did to install it initially. So, a concrete pool is generally more expensive to build and maintain than other types of pools, even when everything goes smoothly.

    When there are issues with the site, then a concrete pool can be very problematic. Because their structure is heavy and rigid, they need to be founded on stable, undisturbed ground. Concrete pools can potentially settle unevenly and even crack if the soil underneath and around them is not stable and consistent.

    There's Another Option: Pre-Engineered Pools

    Pre-engineered pools have been a popular choice in the US and Canada since the mid-twentieth century. They're constructed with a concrete base, and their Aqualux walls are backed by a strong and durable steel framework. The entire Albatross pool structure is engineered from the highest grade of zinc enriched steel available. By utilising the most advanced clinch-lock technology during the manufacturing process, there are no welds resulting in superior strength and durability of the pool structure.

    Pre-engineered Pools

    Aqualux is strong enough to span between the supports in the frame (as shown below), and it also forms a beautiful and durable finish for the inside of the pool. Pre-engineered pools are faster to build and in most cases less expensive than concrete pools. They offer speedy installation similar to that of a fibreglass pool, along with the design flexibility of a concrete pool. They also have lower maintenance costs because the Aqualux interior finish is so non-porus and durable.

    SUV on pool membrane

    Like a concrete pool, a pre-engineered pool can have a very long service life. Indeed, Albatross Pools has been building pre-engineered pools in Melbourne since 1969, and the pools we built early on in our business and have kept track of are still in service after more than 40 years. For many projects, especially large, rectangular pools, pre-engineered pools have the advantages of concrete without the extra cost. For some projects, they are a better choice in every way. For example, pre-engineered pools are more flexible than concrete pools, so they are less likely to be affected by volatile soil conditions.

    Please don't hesitate to call or e-mail with any questions you may have. We can advise you on whether a pre-engineered pool is right for your property, or whether you'll need a custom designed poured concrete pool to meet your needs.

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    Small Pools for Entertaining

    As new communities become higher density and lot sizes shrink, we're seeing more demand for small pools. When we work with our clients to design a small pool, we talk to them about how they're going to use it. Will they use it mostly for exercise like water aerobics or lap swimming, or will it be used more often for family fun and for entertaining? Will the pool be used mostly by children, teenagers or adults? How will the pool fit in with the family's everyday life, and how often will it be used for weekend parties and get-togethers? Of course, it's also important to know the size and shape of the yard and the other purposes that it serves.

    Recently, we posted about small pools that will be used primarily for exercise. This week, we'll talk about small pools for entertaining guests and for family fun.

    Plunge Pools

    The term "plunge pool" originally referred to the deep pool that forms under a waterfall. Water plunges from a cliff for centuries and impacts the same spot over and over again. The soil or stone erodes, and the pool keeps getting deeper. The water may flow into a shallower river or lake, but there's a plunge pool underneath the foam and mist of the waterfall. What a beautiful image!

    Today, "plunge pool" is also a term we use in the pool industry to indicate a relatively small pool that's used mostly for cooling off. Sometimes, plunge pools are associated with saunas. They're something that you can jump into to cool down. They're generally from two to seven metres on each side, and they're smaller in plan than a standard pool. Plunge pools can be any depth, although they're sometimes defined as either deep or shallow. The depth really depends on the intended uses and on who will have access to the pool area.

    Wading Pools

    Wading pools are shallow pools that are tailored for young children. Of course, adults can use them to cool off, as well. We're sometimes asked to build a wading pool for the children and a deeper pool for the adults. In the future, when there are no small children to use it, the wading pool can be repurposed into a water feature. Separate wading pools are safer for children than pools that are shallower on one end, but of course they still need to be supervised.

    Wading Pools
    Source: Wikipedia Commons, Small pool with small Jacuzzi

    Large Spas

    A spa is a small pool designed for sitting. Spas are often equipped with air or water jets that give your back a refreshing massage while you soak. They can be independent, or they can be located on one side of a bigger pool. A large spa can double as a small plunge pool.

    Large Spas
    Source: Flickr, Large Spas

    Small pools are not only easier to fit into a small yard, they are also quicker and less expensive to heat and to clean. They have lower maintenance costs than larger pools. Our pre-engineered pools can be any size or depth, and we can equip them with jets, steps and other features. They are a good value both short and long-term, and they look good, too. Get in touch with us today and tell us about the kind of small pool you'd like to enjoy with your family and friends.

    Back to Small Pools for Exercise

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    Small Pools for Exercise

    In today's housing market, there is an increasing awareness of the value of higher urban density in creating liveable, walkable neighbourhoods. While living in less space per person can bring us closer together as communities, it does limit our options when it comes to the outdoor amenities we can build on our properties. At Albatross Pools, an increasing number of our customers are asking us to design pools for small yards that impose strict limitations on the size and shape of the pools. These constraints give us an opportunity to work with our clients to help them clarify their priorities. What we've found is that there are two very common reasons to build a pool: for exercise and for entertainment. Many families are interested in both, however, one is usually primary and the other secondary. In this post, we'll focus on pools for fitness, and in a later article, we'll talk more about small pools for entertaining and for pure family fun.

    Water Exercise

    A pool really is a fantastic place to exercise. Water exercise offers cardiovascular intensity combined with zero impact. Unlike running, water exercise is almost completely safe for hips and knees. Unlike biking, water exercise does not involve being unprotected in the midst of vehicular traffic. You can swim, water jog or do water aerobics all your life without worrying about wearing down your joints, getting run over by a hummer or otherwise damaging your body.

    Natacio
    Source: Wikipedia, Natacio

    When it comes to residential pools with limited space, there are three approaches to water exercise: a pool that's designed for lap swimming, a pool for swimming in place and a pool for standing exercise like water jogging or water aerobics. Of course, the same pool can be used for more than one type of activity.

    Lap Pools

    A small lap pool is by nature long and narrow, and it will generally be 1.5 metres to 2.0 metres in depth. Swimming back and fourth is a straightforward way to stay fit, and everyone who swims knows the drill: swim one way, flip against the far wall, swim the other way and repeat. On a small lot, a lap pool might span the length or the width of the back yard or even bisect it diagonally. It has the potential to help shape the geometry of an interesting overall landscape design.

    Lap Pools
    Source: Flickr, Lap Pools

    Modified Plunge Pools and Large Spas

    A plunge pool is a popular choice for families who have a limited amount of space to work with and who use their pools for entertaining guests. However, plunge pools tend to be small and deep, while water aerobics and water jogging are best done in pools where the water is shallow enough to stand. Swimming does not require deep water, either. That's why many people choose a small pool of a little less than 1.5 metres in depth for exercise. Jogging in place and water aerobics do not require a huge amount of width or length. These activities can be done in any pool with enough room to spread out the arms and move around a little. Swimming in place, whether its facilitated by swim jets or a swimming harness, requires a pool that's at least 4.5 metres in length and at least half that in width.

    A swimming harness is an arrangement of resistance bands and pads that will allow you to swim in a stationary position. The Stillswim system is an example of a swimming harness. Swim jets create an artificial current that can be adjusted to match your swimming speed, allowing you to swim in place. Davey Water Products makes swim jets that can be used with pre-engineered pools. Both of these methods can work well for a small pool, however, not everyone finds them comfortable or pleasant. Before installing a pool with the intention of using swim jets or a swimming harness, be sure to try using the method in advance to see if you like it.

    In summary, small pools that are going to used primarily for exercise, if water jogging or water aerobics are part of the plan, should have a depth that allows a person to stand upright. If the pool is only going to be used for swimming, then the depth is not as much of an issue.

    Of course, our customers usually like to use their pools for cooling off, too, and we can build them on almost any type of base, for example, with a variable depth or steps for sitting. At Albatross, we specialise in pre-engineered pools. Our pools can easily be built at any size, and we can build very affordable, very durable small pools for exercise.

    Go check Small Pools for Entertaining

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    What’s popular in pool design?

    Similar to the styling of your home, your chosen pool design should be an expression of who you are and the desired lifestyle you seek to create for your family.  When visiting clients’ properties some 20, 30 or even 40 years down the track, the most aesthetically pleasing and timeless backyards are those which feature a unique pool design that has been tailored to suit the space available and work in unison with the architectural styling of the home.

    Popular Pool Shapes

    Rectangles of all dimensions are on trend in pool design.  Easily positioned along a boundary fence or a straight line of the family home, the rectangle pool shape is a practical yet simplistic and timeless pool design popular amongst renovators, builders and architects.  A wedge, roman, half roman, L shape, B shape and a lap pool are all popular variations of a rectangle pool design.  Creativity can be had with how the pool entry is incorporated into the pool design - an external swim out area (circular, rectangular or freeform in shape) or bench and soft seats internally positioned in the swim area of the pool.

    Freeform pools are by far the most exciting and innovative option in pool design today.  Some clients choose to incorporate the contemporary lines of their newly built or renovated home into the design of their pool and opt for a structured geometric freeform pool shape.  While others desire a natural pool lagoon and decide on a more fluid freeform pool design to blend in with the natural surrounds of the pool, creating a landscape architectural statement.  The pre-engineered nature of an Albatross pool offers complete freedom in pool design achieving almost any shape and size.

    Family size, property easements, natural slope of the property, pool fencing requirements, sun exposure, how you intend to use the pool, pool surrounds and the desired look and feel of your backyard are also key areas worth consideration when tailoring your pool design with a qualified sales consultant.  To organize an obligation free swimming pool quotation, contact us today.

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    Thinking about buying a pool but don’t know where to start?

    Buying a swimming pool is one of the smartest moves you can make but it can also be one of the most confusing products to understand. Concrete pool, fibreglass pool or a pre-engineered pool? Chlorine pool, salt-water pool or fresh water pool? Solar pool heating or gas pool heating? Standard pool pump or energy efficient variable speed pump? So many options to choose from. Continue reading "Thinking about buying a pool but don’t know where to start?"

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    Why Aqualux out performs other pool surfaces?

    How do you measure performance? Normally you will measure and collect data and evaluate it. When it comes to your swimming pool, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is choosing the pool surface, but do you know how they all perform?

    Unless you’ve owned a pool or even owned several pools with different pool interiors, it is hard to make a comparison because you cannot rely on your experience; you have to be guided by the experiences of others.

    Often vinyl pool surfaces are linked with only above ground pools, but truth is, there are hundreds of thousands of pools all around the world with a vinyl pool surface. The reason is, it is one of the easiest pool surfaces to maintain and it remains flexible so it won’t crack and leak, like other cement based or hard pool surfaces.

    Our changing climate here in Australia means the ground expands and contracts as the rain falls or we have extended dry periods. This means the soil around your swimming pool can shrink and move which can damage a pool with small cracks followed by leaks unless it has a flexible pool construction like a pre-engineered steel structure and a flexible pool surface that will keep your pool watertight. Think about your house, most houses show the signs of small cracks from movement over the years and your pool is no different. Using a commercial vinyl pool interior will keep you pool waterproof as it stretches and flexes to accommodate regular ground movement.

    When it comes to looking after your skin, especially young children, a vinyl finish is smooth and soft on your skin yet textured for grip. No need to worry about rough edges of harsh abrasions, it is gentle on your skin even after hours in the pool water.

    One of the most important parts of owning a pool is keep the water balanced and healthy for your family. Vinyl is an inert pool surface, meaning it does not affect the chemical balance unlike cement based pool surfaces such as tiled, concrete, pebble and quartzon. A commercial vinyl pool surfaces makes it easy to keep your pool in balance with the water crystal clear ready for swimming. So when looking for a new pool, or renovating an old pool, choose a pool interior that is flexible, soft to touch on your skin and easy to look after.

    Albatross Pools specialise in pre-engineered steel swimming pools with an Aqualux commercial vinyl swimming pool surface available in a range of pool colours. Visit one of the fully landscaped swimming pool display centres open 7 days a week to touch and feel an Aqualux pool surface.

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