Outdoor swimming pool advice
PUBLISHED: 16:06 13 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:03 20 February 2013
Essex Life interiors expert Antonia Edwards answers your questions
Take the plunge
Q: We're considering installing a swimming pool as we do a lot of entertaining in the summer. Our garden isn't huge and we don't want something that will dominate the space. What are the smaller options available and what are the advantages and disadvantages to bear in mind?
Speak to at least three swimming pool specialists, particularly those recognised by the Swimming Pool and Associated Trades Association (SPATA). Many pool companies will specialise in one type of pool so it's worth getting a range of opinions and therefore an overview of all the possibilities. Steer clear of any DIY options as a badly designed pool can be potentially hazardous and cost more in the long run. You will also need to check whether planning permission is required and notify your local water authority that you plan to build a pool.
Initially, you'll need to choose between an above ground or in-ground pool. Above ground pools are typically less expensive than in-ground and depending on size, allow for more flexibility as they can be more portable and potentially taken down when not in use. However, they may not provide the subtle appearance you're looking for, nor the luxury of poolside lounging.
An in-ground pool is a major renovation and therefore a much bigger commitment. Popular varieties include concrete, liner or fibreglass and each require different degrees of maintenance which will in turn affect costs. Concrete is typically the most common type of in-ground pool and has the advantage of being moulded into virtually unlimited shapes and sizes to suit your spatial requirements.
For something which integrates well with the garden, companies such as Caribbean Pools in Halstead make natural pools resembling water features and can therefore be appreciated all year round. Water treatment is carried out by a large filter bed and aquatic plants around the pool resulting in a chlorine-free environment.
Traditional heating systems will be affected by fluctuating energy prices. Tony Dunmow, from Neptune Pools at Stoke by Clare, suggests alternatives such as solar power or air source heat pumps which are reasonably priced, efficient and environmentally friendly. The higher the volume of water, the higher the overall heating and chemical costs, so smaller pools should cost less to run and maintain. Tony also asserts that a good quality safety cover will not only save lives but save money by retaining heat.
Smaller options include the Endless Pool which has a built in motor to create a current to swim against, almost like a treadmill for swimmers. But if your pool will mainly be used for entertaining, a large hot tub could be another alternative for adult guests. Installation costs will be significantly less and the smaller size means you can heat them in winter.
All in all, when the sun does decide to show its face, a dip in your own outdoor pool will be a well-deserved luxury and will perfectly complement those summer parties for years to come.
Your questions answered
Your questions answered