The Base Guide to Swimming Pool Complexes
Since Covid, our homes have had to work smarter and harder as we now see them as more than just somewhere to eat and sleep. At Base, we’re experiencing an increased demand in requests for at-home swimming pool and leisure facilities as we look at ways to turn our homes into relaxation spaces and provide a focal point for health, stress relief and socialising.
What is it for?
It might seem self-explanatory, but swimming means different things to different people and a pool can have many uses.
Do you want a pool for serious swim training, to get fit or to maintain a level of physical activity? Do you want a social space where you can chill out with family and friends? Will the pool be used by children or will it be an adult-only space?
The answers to all these questions will be something you need to consider when designing and building your pool.
A pool for swim training, for example, will need to be reasonably deep, long enough to get more than two strokes in before turning and preferably an even shape.
A pool that is to be used by children or people with mobility issues will need to have shallow steps or a gentle slope to make getting in and out easier – and if you want your pool to be the focal point of your social events, you will need to think about leaving enough level space around it for loungers, chairs and tables.
How much space will I need?
Once you have an idea about what you want your pool to be used for, you can start to plan where it will go and how big it will be.
Before you start, you will need to take a good look at the space you have available and list your priorities for your new pool. Realistically, this will depend on the style and location of your home – the options for a country home are different to those available in a townhouse.
Firstly, decide whether you want your pool to be indoors or outdoors – or with a retractable roof for the best of both worlds?
If you don’t have space inside your house, or room to build an extension, think about whether you have an outhouse, barn or existing outbuilding that could be converted into a swimming pool room.
Adding a retractable roof and bi-fold doors to an existing outdoor pool instantly brings it inside, allowing you to get the most out of the pool all year round.
You might have an unused basement or cellar, which is a popular choice when it comes to building indoor pools.
You will also need to consider space to walk around the pool, access for cleaning and maintenance, and whether you need any fencing or rails for safety.
If you intend to use your pool for relaxing or socialising, you will also need a terrace or patio area around it. And if you have a view you want to show off, you could even think about an infinity pool.
If your pool is to be cleaned with chemicals, you’ll need somewhere to house the plant room, and your guests will appreciate a private changing space close to the pool.
What type of pool can I build?
There are many different options when it comes to building a pool at home, from a small standalone spa pool to a large concrete swimming pool – and even a natural “open water” pool.
Standalone pools, which are above ground, are a no-fuss option that are both easy to install and remove but don’t give the aesthetic effect that many people are looking for. For serious swimmers though, a standalone swim spa, with water jets which allow you to swim against a variable current, are an interesting option to consider.
Rigid fibreglass pools can also be installed quickly, once a suitably sized hole has been dug out and prepared.
Concrete pools lined with ceramic, glass or stone tiles are one of the most popular choices. They take longer to install but are very hardwearing and should last a lifetime, with proper care and maintenance.
Concrete pools also allow for creativity when it comes to the shape of your pool – while rectangular pools remain popular, there is no reason why your pool shouldn’t be round, triangular or even in the shape of your initials!
Cheaper than a tiled pool is the hole and PVC liner option, although the liner will need to be replaced every seven to 10 years as the PVC will decay.
A pool with a moveable floor allows you to change the depth depending on how you are using the pool – and who is in it. This improves safety for young children who might otherwise be out of their depth, while allowing swimmers the option of greater depth for more serious training. Lifting the floor to deck height instantly gives you more floor space, whilst also ensuring that no-one can accidentally fall into the pool.
Natural pools, especially suitable for devotees of open-water swimming, are the most environmentally friendly option and need little maintenance beyond caring for the plants. These pools use organic filtration and drainage systems and no chemicals, and blend seamlessly into your garden landscape.
If you’re looking to build an indoor pool on the lowest level of your home, concrete is still a good option. For pools on other floors of the house, it is worth thinking about stainless steel as an alternative to reduce the weight and any extra structural strengthening that might be needed.
We designed this pool for a client as part of a remodel of their home. The sloping nature of the site meant we were able to utilise empty space underneath the driveway to create a private leisure space.
Bi-fold doors make it useable in all seasons and cladding echoes the finish of the main property. There’s even a small home gym in the rear!
And for this country house project, our design focused on delivering options for reinstating the former swimming pool with a new pool house structure in contemporary or traditional architectural style.
Do I need planning permission?
Some pools could be installed without planning permission and buildings converted into swimming complexes under permitted development rules. However different factors, such as if you live in a conservation area, will influence whether or not you need to submit a full planning application.
Heating, cleaning and upkeep
All but the most hardy swimmers will need to factor in some form of heating for their pool. You could opt for a traditional boiler or choose an air source heat pump for a more environmentally friendly and cost-effective option, especially if you are building a pool as part of a new build development or extension.
A solar heating system can also utilise radiation from the sun to heat the water without the need for much added energy use.
For all but natural pools, a good cover is a must. As well as keeping out leaves and debris, covers help retain heat, prevent evaporation and prevent the build-up of algae in outdoor pools. Some are designed to take the weight of anyone who steps on them, which can help prevent accidents and drowning.
When it comes to cleaning your pool, a chlorine system is the traditional option but ultra-violet, ionisation and active oxygen systems are also available.
You will also need to think about dehumidifiers if you opt for an indoor pool, to avoid mould and damp damage caused by warm, moist air.
What else do I need to think about?
Quality – choose a professional accredited by the Swimming Pool and Allied Trades Association (SPATA) when choosing someone to build your pool, as that is a guarantee of the association’s standards.
Safety – water is dangerous. Factor in options like non-slip surfaces, covers, moveable floors, fences and gates to reduce the risk of accidents.
Landscaping – do you want your pool to be screened away from your house and garden, or will it be a showpiece?
Chemicals – if you have a plant room and a chlorine cleaning system, make sure everyone responsible for the pool maintenance is aware of the COSHH rules for hazardous substances.
Servicing – regular servicing can spot potential problems, such as broken tiles or leaking pipes, before they cause too much damage.
If you’re planning a swimming pool or leisure complex for your property, get in touch.
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