Despite the British weather, more and more people are asking us ‘can I build a swimming pool in my garden?’ We hope this article will give you some ideas as to the questions you need to answer to decide whether a swimming pool is possible and if so what type of swimming pool might be best for you.
You don’t need planning permission for an outdoor swimming pool as it is considered an outdoor project and you don’t need building regulations provided the pool is unenclosed with no heated air surrounding the pool. Indoor pools may require planning depending on the structure of the building they’ll be covered by, you will definitely need building regulations.
SWJ Consulting only designs reinforced concrete pools, so if you have decided on a masonry or fiberglass pool then please do continue reading, but we are not the right engineers for you. If you don’t know the difference, then read our article on different types of swimming pool construction.
As with any construction or building project, when it comes to planning a concrete swimming pool, three things need initial consideration and they all impact on each other; the feasibility of your plans, the best construction method, and the expected costs.
Once you know these things, you’ll know if you can go ahead and build that swimming pool in your garden.
Structural engineers like ourselves will help you determine the viability of your plans based on four different elements that will affect the build.
It might seem like we are stating the obvious, but it is crucial that we/you understand the type of ground you are intending to install a swimming pool into:
• The Geology of the ground – what are you going to be digging into, what is the substrate like; clay, chalk, etc..
• Ground water – how wet, or how much groundwater is there in the area you want the swimming pool – will any excavation immediately fill with water and do you need to plan for this?
• Heave to counter uplift – what weight is required to stop the swimming pool from rising when it is not full or when there is increased uplift pressure from the soil or groundwater
• Location – Do you have the space for a swimming pool and the plant (machinery) that is needed to run it? Is there access for diggers and concrete lorries, for example, and where will the water drain to when the pool needs emptying?
SWJ Consulting would suggest that a site investigation is commissioned which will involve excavating pits into the ground to find out the geology of the site. The nature of the soil will help us decide on the best type of construction method for your swimming pool and will also help you determine costs.
Understanding the water in the ground around your home is critical. We always recommend that a site investigation is completed, which includes long-term groundwater monitoring. Any below-ground design needs to consider the potential for changes in the water level and how that will affect the structure – in this case the swimming pool. This helps us to calculate heave to counter uplift.
Heave to counter uplift
There are two sources of uplift; Hydrostatic, uplift pressure from water in the ground, and ‘heave due to removal of overburden pressure’ – when soil is no longer compressed by the weight of the soil above (because it’s been removed to dig your swimming pool).
Once you know the pressure you’re resisting it’s about understanding the weight of the intended construction method and how you can add weight to resist uplift – when the swimming pool is full of water and when it is empty to be cleaned.
You need to ensure you have the amount of access needed to build a swimming pool, particularly if you’ve neighbours and boundaries to contend with, you can’t just assume they will give you access. You will also need to ensure you have the space to house the plant and determine if there is sufficient drainage so that you can empty the pool when needed. A structural engineer can help with this – and again this is dependent on understanding the geology of the ground.
The process and considerations of a swimming pool
Swimming pools are a fantastic thing to have in your garden for health and leisure purposes. The key to a successful build is ensuring you have completed adequate research and sought expert advice. Without this preparation you could spend a lot of money on a project that goes wrong, remember you don’t have to have planning or building regulations, so consulting with specialists is crucial. Speak to a structural engineer as well as the company installing the pool and your construction company or the ground workers excavating the site.
We recommend anyone considering a swimming pool follow the process below:
1. Research the different swimming pool construction options
2. If you don’t want a reinforced concrete pool then speak with a structural engineering company that will help you
3. If you decide you want a reinforced concrete pool then give SWJ a call on 01993 225 085
4. We can come and complete a site visit to get an idea of the viability of your pool and discuss your options
5. You can then get an initial quote and design from your pool & construction company to see if you can realistically afford to build a pool
6. We can then complete a thorough site investigation if necessary
7. Once you’re happy the build is potentially within your budget, you can then get final quotes
8. We recommend you use a specialist firm for your swimming pool build. You don’t want to be faced with additional costs because the company you’re using has not built a swimming pool before.
The one thing we haven’t covered in this article is pricing. Pricing for site visits and site investigations depends on the client and the project, so the best thing to do is give us a call on 01993 225 085 or email email@example.com. We will happily discuss your project with you and give you a no-obligation quote.