Swimming pool — types, cost, maintenance

A home swimming pool is great for cooling off in the summer, keeping fit and amusing the kids. So find out about swimming pool design, types, cost, installation and maintenance here.

Swimming pool

Your swimming pool could
come in many shapes and sizes

Are you thinking of installing a swimming pool at home? If so there’s a lot to consider, here are some ideas:

Swimming pool types

Above ground pools – “Above ground pools are cheaper than built in pools, they are less invasive and can be dismantled quite easily,” says Lee Giles, from J Lunnon Pools & Spas in East Sussex. He adds: “They do need a lot of maintenance though.”

Submerged pools – built in pools look nicer and are more easily accessible but also more expensive. Outdoor built in pools are the most popular option and come in all shapes, sizes and designs. They are made from a variety of materials such as concrete and tiling or fibreglass lined. Lee explains that: “The most common pool material is the vinyl liner.”

Indoor pools – you may need planning permission to build an indoor pool but the benefits are obvious, you can stay warm and swim all year round.

Swimming ponds - “Swimming ponds are natural pools which work using plankton in the water to keep it clean, so there’s no need for chemicals,” says Tim Evans, director of GartenART ltd in London. Swimming ponds originated in Germany and Austria and are becoming more popular in the UK. You can either build a pond from scratch or have one converted into a swimming pond. Tim explains: “Swimming ponds look nicer than artificial pools and people like the idea of diving into nature, the water just feels nicer. ” Because there is no need for chemicals, they require less maintenance then artificial pools.

Heated pools – most people in the UK opt to heat their pools, and while traditional gas, electric or oil heaters are still used, renewable pool heating options are becoming popular. Lee suggests that: “Air source heat pumps are really where the industry is headed, solar is popular for pool heating too.” Many pools use a combination of traditional and renewable heating solutions.

Swimming pool enclosures

Swimming pool enclosures are a popular addition to outdoor pools; “An enclosure gives you nine months plus use out of the pool each year,” says Martin Paine, from Arcus Pool Enclosures in Cambridgeshire. “They are great for security and come with child proof locks on,” he adds. A range of enclosure designs are available; from small dome structures to larger fixed covers.

An enclosure is also useful for conserving heat, without one, 90% of heat loss from swimming pools occurs through evaporation off of the water’s surface. An enclosure reduces this by up to 85% especially if solar covers are used, which means less chemicals are needed to maintain the pool. “Enclosures reduce cleaning time as well because it stops leaves and debris landing in the pool,” explains Martin.

Planning permission for swimming pools

If you live in a listed building or conservation area you will need to apply to your local building authority for permission to install a swimming pool and building consent is needed for indoor and some outdoor pools. Otherwise you don’t normally need planning permission for: outdoor pools, those in detached buildings (provided they are for domestic use only), or enclosures and outbuildings as long as:

Swimming pool

Check whether you need planning permission to install a swimming pool

  • No more than 50% of the original land is covered by the pool (including outbuildings or extensions).
  • Pool enclosures are not more than 2.5m in height
  • Swimming pool outbuildings are single storey and no more than 4m in height if they have a dual pitched roof or 3m for any other kind
  • The pool outbuilding is not built on land forward facing of a wall forming the principle elevation
  • There are be no verandas, balconies or raised platforms

Pool maintenance

Pool maintenance can be expensive and time consuming. As well as removing leaves and debris, “You need to test the pool water on a weekly basis and check the filters are clear,” says Lee. “On average this takes around an hour a week.” The most time consuming element is applying chlorine and ensuring the P.H levels stay at around 7.5. If this gets too much, you can always hire a pool maintenance company to keep your swimming pool clean for you. Outdoor pools can suffer during winter, so many people choose to drain the pool, blow out pipes, apply antifreeze and cover to protect during the coldest parts of the year.

Swimming pool costs

The price of your swimming pool will vary greatly depending on its size, shape and type. You should consult a professional company for details and get several quotes for the job. Lee suggests that a heated pool in an air conditioned outdoor building could cost around £40,000 – £50,000, whereas a standard swimming pool enclosure would be around £25,000 – £35,000. “The average cost for a heated, standard sized outdoor, built in pool is between £30,000 – £35,000,” he says.

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