Building a luxury home in rural Fairfield County, CT means summer weekends relaxing by the pool while the kids splash around. This is one of the reasons some residents of Greenwich, Westport, Darien, and surrounding towns choose not to live full time in Manhattan. Enjoying your home to its fullest means taking advantage of the outside spaces when the weather is nice. The kids will be the first to tell you that a pool is a must-have feature.


Besides being a great place to unwind, a well-built swimming pool will add value to your property. When it comes time to build, gunite is one of the most popular fabrication choices for custom pools, particularly in Fairfield County and the Northeast. Here’s what you need to know before taking the plunge.

Flexibility in Design
Due to the nature of the material and construction process, gunite gives you a level of design freedom that’s unmatched by any other type of fabrication. That’s because the process does not involve prefab fiberglass forms. Gunite, a mix of cement, sand, and water, is poured through a pressure hose into a custom-designed shell, allowing you to choose any shape and size that you desire.

The design process is typically done using a computer-aided drafting (CAD) program. So you can create an elegant symmetrical style or something that’s more freeform and organic. The process starts by excavating the space, then lining it with rebar. Once the shell is set, the special gunite concrete mix is sprayed, shaped, and finished.

Damage Resistance
Fiberglass and vinyl liner pools can break and tear. Because gunite is concrete, it’s durable. Of course there are some instances where the material can sustain cracks, but it’s not susceptible to damage from ordinary use, and it won’t break down over time. Another durability benefit is that you can scrub and clean the material without inadvertently poking a hole in a liner or wearing away a fiberglass finish. And if a tree branch or other sharp debris lands in the pool, the material will resist the impact.

With a gunite pool, you’ll never have to replace a liner or ultimately install a whole new form. When concrete requires repair, it’s done in place. And with the right reinforcements when the pool is built, the risks of damage are minimized.

Pool Surround Options Are Practically Limitless
The swimming pool is the star, but the pool deck and/or surrounding masonry and landscaping will help create a true outdoor retreat. When you work with your homebuilder to choose a custom surround, the possibilities are limitless. Flagstone and brick are beautiful choices for a natural, classic look. For a more organic environment, natural stone in a variety of shapes and sizes can line part of the edge to give the effect of having been carved away from a natural spring.

Potential Drawbacks
While gunite pools are considered a more valuable addition than other fabrication styles, the material is not without a few drawbacks. A typical fiberglass pool installation takes a couple of weeks from start to finish. Vinyl liner pools take a bit longer. With gunite, expect a few weeks to two months from the first day of excavation until the pool is ready for use. This is mainly because concrete requires time to cure after it’s applied.

In some situations, gunite can be rougher than vinyl or fiberglass. But that’s minimized when you’re working with an experienced builder. And if you like, tile can be applied over the concrete for a surface as smooth as glass. You may also need to apply a fresh finish coat periodically. This isn’t as comprehensive a job as replacing a liner, and it adds a fresh surface that makes the pool look new again.

Adding a swimming pool is a significant commitment of time and can be a disruption to the property. The entire process requires a variety of material and design choices to plan and discuss with your homebuilder. The end result, however, will be well worth it. The right custom pool will add substantial value to your home, and if built properly it should last a long time.