6 things to consider before building a swimming pool

A pool makes a glamorous addition to your home, the perfect spot for a summer party or afternoon with family and friends. Amelia Thorpe reveals the top six things to consider before building your own.

Few would deny the pleasure of a refreshing dip on a sweltering summer’s day. Vigorous swimming is well known for developing full-body fitness à la Michael Phelps and even the gentlest of strokes can be meditative and relaxing. Here are six things to consider before building your very own:

Indoor v outdoor

The obvious advantage of an indoor pool is that it can be used all year round, but budget can be an issue. Depending on the design and specification, Mark Saxton of Saxton Pool Architecture (01666 840065; www.poolarchitecture.co.uk) notes: ‘An indoor pool will cost about three or four times an outdoor one.’ Despite the expense, however, Mr Saxton is seeing more demand for indoor pools because they can provide better value in terms of hours of use. ‘People are much more interested in their health and well-being than they were when I started in this business 25 years ago,’ he says. ‘With the increase in stamp duty, more people say they prefer not to move and choose to spend the money on an indoor pool instead.’

Location, location, location

Location is important, warns John Tehan of Smallwood Architects (020–7376 5744; www.smallwoodarchitects.co.uk), who suggests an indoor-pool structure is best attached to the family rooms of the house, such as play room or breakfast room. ‘It needs to have an easy connection to the house, otherwise it just won’t get used,’ he advises. After all, even the most dedicated swimmer may be deterred by the need to step out into freezing rain on a winter’s night. It may be possible to re-purpose a barn or another outdoor building, but both the size of the pool (typically 36ft or 40ft long by 13ft or 16ft wide) and the equipment needed to maintain it may make this impossible. However, basement pools can be successful, as there may be more room under the footprint of a house.

Consider your environment

Andrew Inchley of Yiangou Architects (01285 888150; www.yiangou.com) recommends building a pool structure to suit the environment. ‘It’s important to design with a light touch, to make the building integrate with the surroundings,’ he says of the reason that structures with maximum glazing, minimal framing have become so popular. ‘When you are in the pool, you want to feel as if you are in the garden, and when you look at it from the house, it should look like part of the landscape, rather than a big, heavy statement.’

building a swimming pool

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Get the best of both worlds

Developments in glazing and folding/sliding mechanisms also mean that indoor pools can now be designed with doors that concertina to the side or roofs that slide open, to create an outdoor feel. Indoor-outdoor pools, divided by a glazed screen that can be opened when the weather is warm, can offer the best of both worlds, although Mr Saxton warns that they can be ‘complicated and very hard to get right’.

Create the ultimate garden feature

If you remain an aficionado of the outdoor pool, Mr Tehan has some advice that goes beyond picking the sunniest, most private and sheltered spot. ‘Outdoor pools tend to be more successful when they can serve as a garden feature,’ he says. ‘A dark pool, perhaps lined with slate, in a landscape setting can look more natural in the English climate than a bright blue Californian cliché, which can look forlorn in the drab months of winter.’

…and finally, don’t forget

To complete your dream design, be it indoor or out, consider the poolside facilities, too, from showers and changing rooms to steam rooms, kitchens and entertaining areas. Mr Inchley says: ‘Think of it as a space not only for swimming, but also for enjoying life.’

To pool or not to pool?

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