As I’ve alluded to on social media we are putting in a “pool,” but it’s not what you think (it’s better). When we first closed on the farm, the innocent fantasies for the property began. With almost 3 acres we technically have the land for a big old pool. But living in the PNW it doesn’t make as much sense to spend that kind of money or space to stare at a pool cover 8 months of the year. At the same time, thanks to climate change, the summers are now crazy hot, and while there are rivers and public pools, the heat last summer reignited the pool question with the same “it just doesn’t make sense for us” conclusion. I even explored a bio-dynamic swimming pond for months, to just realize that the liability of an open body of water scared me too much and the likelihood that it would look “natural” was low. Besides, do you really want to swim in a pond that cleaned itself with its own plants? So we almost gave up on the idea of a swimmable body of water when I was Facebook marketed by something called a Soake pool. I immediately clicked, landed on their site, and screamed to Brian that I’ve indeed found our “pool” that checks our boxes and makes so much more YEAR-ROUND sense for our PNW farm.
What is a Soake Pool?
Here’s how I describe it to friends: It’s a pool the size of a living room rug (7×13) that can be a hot tub in the winter, and a cool pool in the summer. A year-round win/win that adds to your life without using as much real estate or spending as much money as a typical pool. It may not be perfect for everyone, but it was exactly what we wanted and needed.
The Pros of a Soake Pool – My Pitch To Brian:
1. It’s year-round enjoyment regardless of outside temperature – pure genius. As I said, it can be a hot tub in the winter (or a cold plunge should you turn it off and let the outside temp cool it) and a normal heated or cool pool in the summer. We don’t live in CA anymore, so it was hard for us to justify the expense and the maintenance when we’d use it so much less. This year-round enjoyment really made the difference to us.
2. It’s made on the East Coast out of high-quality beautiful materials – think pretty tile and concrete, not a fiberglass shell. It’s delivered to you ready to install, thus eliminating the need for a pool contractor (it’s not a total plug-and-play, it’s still a construction project but no, you don’t need to hire a pool contractor which can save you a lot of time and money).
3. It’s a much smaller lead time for a pool (2-3 months) versus getting on a waitlist and then having six to eight months of construction.
4. When not in use, the smaller footprint means that you aren’t staring at a huge pool cover or dealing with as much maintenance. Up here a house with a huge pool is almost a deterrent for a lot of people (it was for us and my brother’s family) because they can be just so huge, expensive, and used so infrequently. Yes, this property could handle the size, but we simply didn’t feel like it was how we wanted to use our outdoor space (I mean, we still have to get these alpacas in here).
5. Because of the size and less construction needed it obviously can cost less than a pool. To be clear, these are not “cheap” as they are very high quality, but depending on how you design it and what your needs are to hook it up, it can be way less of an investment than a pool.
But Isn’t It too Small To Swim In? Will You Really Use It?
Obviously, that depends on your lifestyle and preferences. It’s our opinion (and hope) that this is perfect for our needs because while our kids love swimming and jumping/diving (and will continue to do so in rivers and public pools) they mostly gravitate towards the shallow area where they can float, stand, sit, splash, hang out, and cool off. We are huge homebodies and designed this house and land to not really need to leave and instead to entertain friends, families, and neighbors. We picture kids coming over after camps all summer, warming up playing basketball/pickleball, and cooling off in the pool when it’s 95 degrees until 8 pm (it gets strangely hotter here throughout the day). It’s a great way to be able to chill and hang out in your backyard in a body of water on super hot days, but no it’s not going to be where they learn how to dive. We won’t be having pool parties, we’ll be having backyard hang sessions by the sports court where people can cool off by a pool when they get hot.
How Does A Soake Pool Work? Is it Easy To Install?
It definitely can be. Similar to a hot tub, you need to have the equipment hooked up to electricity and either gas or propane to heat it. It’s more involved than a hot tub that sits on the earth – you will have to trench for those mechanical lines, make sure you have enough on your electrical panel and gas meter to accommodate it, etc. You’ll need to dig a huge hole for it to be craned in and backfilled properly. The Soake team has helped hundreds of families ensure they are all good to go and they are there to help streamline the process. Of course, I relied on our local expert landscape construction team, Northwest Native Landscapes who acted as our GC on this one (which is atypical for him and we are SO grateful). Thank you, Dan’l! The point is – it is a construction project and shouldn’t be ordered like a rug, but it’s typically far more manageable than a pool.
You might have seen on stories that we ran into problems because our driveway and turn radius was so narrow that our crane company couldn’t bring in a larger crane. They brought a smaller crane in hopes of bringing the pool closer to the hole via a flatbed truck. But the mud and rain had different plans for us that day and the flatbed truck got stuck. Our team troubleshoot and did an incredible job of making it happen the next day and it wasn’t a huge deal. But with all heavy machinery + rain + mud + a hill can get trucks stuck so consider your topography if you are doing it in the rainy season or if your location is hard to access. Typically they can crane over a house just like a hot tub and drop it into the hole in your backyard without much disruption. It’s incredible.
How Much Do Soake Pools Cost?
Like all semi-custom things in life, it ranges from a smaller model with simple materials and a manual cover to a larger version with more high-end materials and electric covers. There is a lot to factor in and like any construction project, there could be some costs specific to your project. For our Soake Pool, we worked out a mutually beneficial partnership and we are obviously very grateful to be in this position, full stop. There is the cost of the pool itself and then the labor around it. To install it we had to put in a lot of gravel up the mud hill to get the truck carrying the pool (which included a lot of labor to spread out and compact the gravel and now to remove it). We also had to replace and upgrade our gas line and meter (we didn’t need to when we renovated because we have almost zero natural gas usage here), so that was an additional few thousand dollars. You will need a contractor or installer to dig the hole and put it all together. The product itself (fully tiled pool, including all equipment needed to run the pool) ranges from $31k-$45k depending on the cover and features chosen. That won’t include the excavation, trenching, hardscape, electrical, plumbing, or delivery. Like everything in our homes, it’s very specific to your project. It can be simple or add up so it’s good to know going into it so you can ensure it’s the right decision for your family. The final cost really depends on how far away your pool equipment is from the electrical or gas source (trenching is usually cost per linear foot) or how you want to finish the hardscape surrounding it (readymade cement tiles are a lot cheaper than flagstone, for instance). Like most things in life, the more you do yourself the less you spend on hiring out. It’s the old “time versus money” conundrum. If I could go back in time I would have rushed the installation for October, before months of rain made it harder to maneuver in the mud, which would have saved us some money.”
Are These Becoming More Of A Thing?
Yes. Soake has been around for almost 10 years and their business has exploded with happy customers that wanted exactly what we do. I know firsthand that if you live in SoCal or Arizona that a traditional pool can get a lot of use, but in so many other areas what you really want is just to float around and cool off in the hot months. It simply makes so much sense and therefore is indeed a growing trend. The size also cuts down on maintenance and electricity costs and since you can use it in the winter as a hot tub most users keep it open year-round, eliminating the need to shut it down and winterize
Is It Chlorine Or Salt Water?
It’s a salt water pool. It’s smooth and luxurious and clean.
So Where Is Our Soake Pool Going And What Is It Going To Look Like?
See it up there as that tiny little blue square!!! We are treating our Soake Pool almost like a large water feature or a fountain, then designing the spaces around it. Since our property is more of a farm vibe (yes with a pickleball court, I know) we don’t want it to be front and center or to be too obvious and turn it into what could look more like an estate. It is not THE feature of our property, it’s more of a secret surprise in its own little courtyard surrounded by a split rail fence, and lots of potted plants and greenery. The greenhouse/shed that we are designing is more of a feature behind it. So from the sunroom, where I’m writing right now, you really won’t see it – you’ll see the split rail fence and the greenhouse, which is our intent.
The View From The Back Porch
This is the view from our back porch that Cali from Studio Campo (our landscape designer) drew up. The landscaping is actually still up in the air (just as far as how many plants are over there, etc) but we wanted to get a sense of what it could look like. This drawing gives us SO MUCH HOPE.
This is how it looks now:) Right now we have the area around it designed with rectangular flagstone as the hardscape then the greenhouse and veggie garden area will be pea gravel, but that part is up in the air.
Our plan is to finish the hardscape around the pool and then reassess everything. Ideally, we’d live with it for a summer before making more permanent decisions but at the same time, we can’t deal with another winter of mud out here. I’m thinking we want to widen the stone path from the greenhouse area to the pool area to make it feel more open and connected (and add locking gates that aren’t on the plan). So this could all get tweaked and changed over time as well. What can’t move is the sports court and the pool and we know pretty closely where the greenhouse is going to land, but everything else is up in the air.
What Does The Inside Of The Pool Look Like?
Ours is still wrapped so I can’t show you but will as soon as we take it off. It’s so lovely and looks very high-end – like a custom site-specific pool.
The interior area is 7×13 (the exterior is larger) with a 55″ – 57″ water depth (just shy of 5′). We designed ours with a bench and two stairs – so people can easily perch and get in and out. Our kids can’t touch the bottom but they can easily bounce off of it and swim so easily to the side. I chose a darker tile that basically just recedes, but all your options are here.
Is There A Pool Cover? Does It Lock?
Yes. As someone who has unmatched anxiety around kids + bodies of water, I feel really darn comfortable with this pool in my backyard (I recognize there are safe large pool covers these days, too but between the size/height of this and how easy and safe it is to open and close I have zero anxiety). There are different options for pool covers – both manual and automatic. We chose the powered safety cover, which locks (they all do). It is more expensive, but we are hoping the ease is worth it. As far as pool gate requirements – check your local code, but in many areas, it’s not required. We will have them, though because I’m a big fan of safety and low-maintenance parenting.
Can A Soake Pool Be Above Ground Or Flush With The Earth?
Both. And I really like the look of both, too! We chose to have it be flush just so it has less presence (and it saves on hardscape) but I love the idea of the partial above-ground option that acts more like a hot tub and of course provides seating even if you aren’t in the pool.
This one (above) is our inspiration – we love how it integrates nicely with a more rustic design and greenery.
The Soake Pool Is In!! Now What?
The mechanicals are all trenched and the electrical and gas are going in this week and next. Then they can backfill the pool (put gravel all the way around it), install the pool cover, hook up all the goods, and then hardscape. We are all learning the process as we go (and Soake customer service has been super informative with a lot of calls and follow-ups). We are probably still a couple of months out from using it (or needing to), but we hope by late spring we’ll have sod, and hardscape and can start building out the greenhouse and finish planting.
Y’all, I can’t wait for this to be transformed. I know that the landscaping won’t be grown in for a while (read: years) but the mud will be reduced greatly in the next six months.
I didn’t want to leave you with visions of mud – instead one more picture of a Soake pool in the prettiest farm setting.
We feel extremely lucky to do this and bring you along in the process. I felt like this was a really great product to share with my audience because I figured I wasn’t alone in wanting a hot day body of water option, but not wanting a full pool. Soake will be in the comments answering questions should you think that a Soake pool is right for your family. I’ll also be continuing to document the process here and of course, give a full review (similar to the induction range post) after the first year.
Thanks, Soake Pools for partnering on this project – now let’s hope the sun lets the spring greenery explode so I can show it sooner rather than later 🙂
*Photos of Me and the Farmhouse by Kaitlin Green