Alan and Beth Yost know where they're going to go to relax this summer: their back yard. The Yosts recently oversaw completion of an elaborate backyard swimming pool and deck area for their home that overlooks Lake Travis. "Last night, we made a couple of martinis and just sat out here and looked at the view," Beth Yost said. "It was very nice."
As summer and its promise of 100-degree days approach, Central Texans are making plans for spending time in the water. For most, this means a dive into the community pool or a dip into Barton Springs. But for those who can afford it, a custom-built backyard pool offers more than cooling water. It offers privacy, a luxurious place to hold parties, an easy way to entertain children and their friends, and a convenient way to enjoy outdoor fun without having to drive anywhere.
The Yosts wanted their pool to be a place to enjoy the view from their rural Jonestown home. After five months of construction, the final result is a pool with a 96-foot perimeter that is surrounded by 1,780 square feet of deck, steps and a small gazebo. It has a shallow 8-inch-deep play area for the Yosts' 23-month-old daughter, Brianna, and then ranges in depth from 3 to 4 feet. Visually, the pool is accented by two aerators that spray water onto the surface and a 32-foot-long "negative edge" that makes the pool seem to spill over into the gray-blue waters of Lake Travis.
"It's like being on vacation in your own back yard," Alan Yost said. This type of luxury doesn't come cheap. A client wanting a pool and deck area like the Yosts' would have to spend $100,000 or more, said Mike Church, the owner of Cody Pools, which built the pool and its surroundings.
For those wanting to buy a pool complete with a house and who have $2.7 million, the owners of the pool at 1501 Canyon View in West Lake Hills are waiting for your call.
The swimming pool is so central to the design of this 4,274-square-foot house that it was constructed before the home was built. On one side of the 75-foot lap pool are the family room, the kitchen, dining and living rooms and two bedrooms. On the other side of the pool, connected to the first part of the house with a glassed-in bridge, are the master bedroom, office or nursery, bathroom and yoga room. In a separate building, there is a guest bedroom and bath, as well as a larger office.
"We intentionally placed the pool so you could see it from everywhere," said Lou Kimball, the architect who designed the house for Allan King and his wife, Janice Levering. "You are reminded of the pool and the water wherever you are in the house."
Because the lot is on a steep hillside, much of the house, including the pool and decks, juts out over the hillside and is supported by thick walls. To construct a similar pool on a such a steep site such as this one would cost more than $100,000, said Reece Jackson, whose company, Austin Waterscape Design, built the pool.
A pool on the hill
In Central Texas, many wanting a custom pool have to deal with the Hill Country terrain.
When Gray Breeden, owner of Echelon Custom Homes, was designing his own home, he was frustrated that the back yard did not have a view. The house in the Lake Pointe neighborhood is on a hill, and the front has a wonderful Hill Country view, but the back yard looked onto the backs of other homes and their garages.
So Breeden, who studied architecture, designed his home to include a backyard pool. But Breeden's pool is entirely above ground.Supported by walls that also support the home, the pool and its adjacent 475-square-foot outdoor living area -- which has its own furniture, fireplace and mini-kitchen -- are the same level as the living room, kitchen, master bedroom and bathroom. "The lot dictated what I wanted to do," said Breeden, whose Echelon Homes builds custom houses costing $500,000 and up. "A pool down a flight of stairs in the back yard would not be used" as much as a pool on the house's main level."
The house is still under construction and will not be finished for another seven months, but Breeden said his family plans to use the pool and outdoor area daily.
Eric Brown and his family are already enjoying their pool. "I can't believe we waited so long to put a pool in, because in Austin you can use it all year," said Brown, who with his wife, Kelli, purchased their River Place house six years ago and then had the pool built in 2001.
The couple has three children, ages 10, 7, and 3, who all love to swim.
"We used it on Thanksgiving Day," Eric Brown said. "We even used it at Christmas." Eric Brown recommends looking at different types of swimming pools to get ideas for your own. He and Kelli were inspired by the pool at the Westin La Cantera Hotel in San Antonio. The Browns' pool, constructed by Pool Pro Custom Pools and Spas, has a large beach area with a huge shade umbrella, similar to one that can be found at La Cantera. The beach area of the pool has a pebbled bottom and is about 8 inches deep, where the younger children and their friends can sit and play. For the older kids and adults, there is swimming area, which goes as deep as 6 feet, a waterfall and a spa, all looking out onto the fifth hole of the River Place Golf and Country Club.
There's also a cabana from which to serve drinks, a patio table and chairs, all perfect for the frequent get-togethers hosted by the Browns, as well as for family dinners.
If Pool Pro were to build a similar pool for another client this year, not including the cabana or fences, it would cost between $55,000 and $70,000, depending on the site, said Bruce Brown (no relation to Eric or Kelli), vice president of Pool Pro.
But the Browns say the pool and its surroundings are worth the expense.
"During the summer when the kids can stay up later, we cook out almost every night and eat right there," Kelli Brown said.