Illinois is known as the prototypical Midwestern state, especially when it comes to weather. Most parts of the state experience four distinct seasons, including a blistering summer that’s perfect for swimming. It’s no wonder that many homeowners in Chicago and other parts of the state have inground pools installed in their backyards.
When deciding on whether to get an inground swimming pool, one of the key questions to ask yourself is whether you will get enough use out of it to justify the cost. In Illinois, the number of days that you can swim are somewhat limited (at least in most of the state). In Chicago, for example, high temperatures don’t typically hit the 70s reliably until May, and they drop back down in September. For some, this isn’t enough time to justify the cost of an inground pool. For others, the short window of opportunity is actually a selling point because it means less pool cleaning and maintenance costs.
If you’re interested in maximizing your swimming time, you should install an electric pool heater to keep the water warm in the both the cooler months and the cooler morning hours. If you have money for it, you might also want to consider an inground spa to go along with your pool. It will give you something to enjoy even after the weather turns cold. You might even want to consider a plunge pool that can be used for either cold or hot water.
Inground pool prices are somewhat higher than the national average in Illinois, all things being equal. Of course, things are never equal. Your choice of pool size and materials will play as much of a role in the final cost as anything else. Concrete (gunite) pools are sturdy but expensive, while vinyl pools are more affordable but damage-prone. A third option – fiberglass – is growing in popularity in Illinois and other states because it’s often cheaper than gunite and more durable than vinyl. On the downside, fiberglass pools come pre-formed, so you don’t have as many design options.
Permits for new residential inground swimming pool construction fall under the authority of city government in Illinois. Whatever office handles building permits in your area should also issue swimming pool permits. The process is different everywhere, but as a rule, you have to fill out one or more applications with an enclosed fee. If you have a professional pool builder at your service, they may be able to do this work for you, or at least guide you through it.
At this writing, Illinois does not have any statewide laws regarding residential pool safety. However, your local municipality almost certainly does. If you don’t already have a fence to surround your pool, you will likely need to build one. Even if you already have a fence, don’t assume that it’s legal as a pool barrier. The bottom line is that you must check with your local government to find out what safety measures are a matter of law where you live.