Man Puts 8-Foot-Wide Pool on His Balcony, Pink Flamingos and All

By Heather Holland on July 30, 2013 7:02am 

Slideshow
 Justin Holt went to great lengths to keep a private pool on the balcony of his Murray Hill Apartment.
Murray Hill Resident's Inflatable Balcony Pool
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MURRAY HILL — It’s not the suburbs and it’s no luxury condo, but one Murray Hill resident has a private pool on the second-floor terrace of his apartment.

Justin Holt, 35, started dreaming about installing a pool during the heat wave two weeks ago as he reminisced about the backyard oasis he grew up with in suburban North Salem, N.Y.

“I…grew up having a pool so I know how relaxing and rejuvenating it can be to come home from work or school and take an immediate dip,” said Holt, an art director for a digital ad company.

After browsing the web for a water feature that would fit on the 300-square-foot balcony of his apartment — located in the East 30s between Park and Lexington avenues — Holt found the perfect inflatable option on eBay for $70, complete with an electric filter and pump.

Once inflated, the pool is about 8 feet wide and 2 1/2 feet deep — which is large enough to comfortably fit eight people, Holt said.

"When you’re underwater, you forget you’re in the city," Holt said. "It’s a mini vacation moment.”

Before that vacation could start, though, Holt had lots of work to do to get the pool up and running, starting with purchasing all the necessary tools to keep it clean.

“Just because it’s a smaller pool does not mean you can skip the typical big-pool maintenance,” Holt said. “The water gets murky and slimy very quickly if unattended, especially in the heat.”

So he headed to Brooklyn in a Zipcar to buy supplies including a pH-balancing chemical, pH balance checking strips, chlorinated powder and a pool cover.

“The maintenance can seem like a chore but we actually enjoy it,” said Holt, who lives in the apartment with his girlfriend, who is also an art director.

“It's easy and fun and it means our water will always be crystal clear, which is very satisfying.”

The next obstacle was getting the water into the pool. To do this, Holt connected a 15-foot hose to the kitchen sink in his one-bedroom apartment and pulled it through a window leading to the terrace.

"It took a few hours to fill the pool, but it depends on the water pressure," he said.

Swimming pools are closely regulated in New York City, with the Department of Buildings requiring any pool to have a special permit before it is installed. Pools must also adhere to building code regulations such as electrical precautions and overhead clearance.

The New York Department of State defines a swimming pool as any pool that's able to carry more than 24 inches of water, which would apparently include Holt's pool.

Holt, however, has not applied for any permits. He claims he told his landlord about the pool and has not been prohibited from using it.

"Our terrace is made of thick concrete so it can hold a pool of that size," Holt said. "There is also a storage drain in the middle which works great in case anything were to happen, like when a friend leans too hard on the pool wall and accidentally spills 50 gallons of water in one second."

The finishing touch, though, is the pool toys, he said.

“Get some pink flamingo drink holders,” he said. “They dance around the pool all day. It’s creepy, but in a good way. Our neighbors have even made it a point to let us know how much they enjoy looking at our pool from above.”

The pool gets little direct sunlight so it stays relatively cool during the day, but whenever it heats up, Holt simply dumps a couple buckets of ice in it to cool it down.

Since the pool’s installation, Holt and his girlfriend have made evening dips a daily routine.

“And not just for a quick dip,” said Holt. “Sometimes we lay in there for an hour and talk about our day."

“I mean come on," Holt added, "how often does one have a private pool in Manhattan?"

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