Swimming Pool Specialists - what you need to know
Swimming pools are a serious construction project, especially if you go for an indoor pool which requires an extension, a new building, and appropriate ventilation.
What a swimming pool specialist can help with
- Indoor swimming pools.
- Outdoor swimming pools, along with associated buildings and extensions.
- Overflow and infinity pools.
There are four basic types of pool construction:
- A reinforced concrete shell, finished with tiles, marblite or special paint.
- A blockwork or prefabricated panel shell supporting a tailor-made PVC liner.
- A glassfibre or ceramic one-piece shell.
- An above-ground pool.
Your swimming pool specialist will need you to think about a few different things that’ll determine your requirements. It’s good to think about these things in advance of talking to them.
- How much are you prepared to pay to run your pool? Heating costs can vary significantly depending on your insulation and structure of the pool. Ask your specialist about the options and budgets for running your swimming pool.
- How will you be using your pool? Do you want to swim lengths or just have somewhere to relax? This will affect the length and dimensions.
- Who’ll be using your pool? If you’ve got young children you’ll need to think about safety devices, covers, or fences to keep them safe.
- How tall, or short, are the people who are going to be using the pool? This will affect the depth of the pool.
- How much space is available in your garden or property? You need to be practical about the space a pool could occupy.
If you’re interested in having one installed it’s always best to use someone who specialises in pools. Not only will they have the experience to take on the construction, they’ll also be able to advise on the best way to insulate, heat and line the pool. You’ll need them to give you tips on maintenance and chemicals too, which a specialist company are better placed to do.
The planning stage will be hugely important in any swimming pool installation. You’ll need to make sure all designs have been finalised, so that you know the exact costs involved. Making changes at a later date will probably be very difficult.
As part of the planning, make sure your swimming pool specialist has done a proper survey – it’s important they know the lay of the land, including where all services pipes are. The last thing you want is a burst water main or a gas pipe being damaged. They should also cover off any necessary planning issues and building regulations.
Swimming pool maintenance
The pH of the water is very important – it should be ever so slightly alkaline, between 7.2 and 7.4 so that the water isn’t irritable to people using the pool, and won’t damage the pool itself.
Chlorine is a bactericide and oxidiser. It’s used in lots of water treatment processes, including in the plants that produce drinking water. Using chlorine will help keep your pool clean, safe and hygienic to swim in.
Health and safety for children
It’s crucial to think about safety devices for children – covers, fences, gates etc, so there’s no risk of danger. Your specialist will be able to talk you through the options on this front.
As a general rule, it’s important to insist that everyone learns to swim properly – for safety, exercise and fitness.
The Swimming Pool and Allied Trades Association (SPATA)
SPATA are the body who represent the swimming pool industry and have the latest information about swimming pool construction, depths and safety standards.
Swimming pool cost
Costs can vary dramatically. A circular, above-ground, unheated pool, with a diameter of about 5 metres, could cost around £1,500. Larger outdoor pools, depending on insulation and heating options, can be between £25,000 and £40,000. If you’re having an indoor pool that requires an extension or a new building then it’ll be substantially more.
The qualifications your swimming pool specialist needs
It’s not a requirement but being a member of the Swimming Pool and Allied Trades Association (SPATA) is a good start. Other than that, you’ll be wanting to look for the same qualifications and experience you’d find in builders who take on large projects like loft conversions and extensions.
Other trade bodies - your swimming pool specialist might be a member of other trade bodies such as The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) and the Federation of Master Builders (FMB). These bodies have criteria that must be met in order to become a member, demonstrating the extent of their experience.
For example, with CIOB membership they look for things like degrees, technical qualifications, military training and educational backgrounds.
Gas Safe and Part P - the company you choose to take on the work will almost definitely be using a team of specialist tradespeople, whether they’re sub-contractors or fully employed by the builder. Anyone working with gas needs to be registered with Gas Safe, and anyone working with electricity (in England and Wales) needs to be registered with Part P. These tradespeople will have a valid membership ID, which they’ll be happy to show you.
Competent person scheme - for any work that requires planning permission, your builder can take care of all of this if they’re registered with the competent person scheme. You can search the Competent Persons Register to check they belong to a scheme.
Planning permission and building regulations for swimming pool jobs
There are 2 kinds of permission and approval you might need, which you can read about in more detail on the government’s website.
- Planning permission – usually for major changes or new parts to your house (loft conversions, basement conversions, extensions etc).
- Building regulations approval – this can apply to even small changes to your house, and is to make sure that all homes have the same safety and design features set out in the latest government legislation.
A couple of extra things you might need to consider - If you’re in a conservation area or live in a listed building, you’ll need to check with your local council about any further considerations. Also if you’re a leaseholder rather than a freeholder, you may need to get permission from them to get the work done.
Just remember you might need more than 1 kind of permission or approval to get cracking on the work. Use a builder who’s a member of a competent person scheme and they’ll take care of everything for you.
If you don’t have the right approvals and permissions, this can result in fines, penalties, or serious issues if you want to sell your home. You may even have to pay to undo the work, so it’s important to get it right before you start.
Insurance for swimming pool installation work
Public liability insurance - your builder definitely needs to have public liability insurance, which will cover you and them if someone gets hurt or if the property is damaged.
Insurance-backed warranties or guarantees - you can get this as part of the cost of the work, if your builder offers it. Check exactly what’s covered - it should include the cost of finishing or fixing the work if there are any issues.
Home and contents insurance - if you have home or contents insurance, check with your insurer to make sure you'll be covered while the work is going on. You might have to pay more for your insurance during and after the work. Your insurer will probably want to know what builder you’re using and what insurance they have.
Questions you should ask a swimming pool specialist
- Can they provide an itemised list of costs for the full project?
- Do they have public liability insurance and what does this cover?
- Are they registered with a competent person scheme and will they take care of all planning permissions / building regulation approvals?
- Do they offer insurance-backed warranties?
- How long have they been trading for?
- Can they give you up to 3 references of recent work they’ve completed?
- Do they use sub-contractors or their own employees?
- What experience do their sub-contractors/employees have and are they covered by insurance?
- Will they give a guarantee/warranty for the work and how long does it last?
- Will they source all materials and equipment?
See the latest questions that homeowners have been asking swimming pool specialists.