Structural Engineers Swimming Pools2023-11-06T16:01:21+00:00

Installing a swimming pool is a complex project, SWJ Consulting understand the structural complexities of swimming pools and ensure they’re sound for installation, maintenance and beyond

Our Video Series

There is a lot of research that needs to be completed before you decide on whether you can have a swimming pool or not. This video from Russell Wrapson, one of SWJ’s directors, talks you through the work that structural engineers need to complete. We have accompanying blogs to help explain your options, so don’t forget to look at those too.

We can advise on the construction of swimming pools and pool enclosures

The structural challenge is in keeping the water in and stopping it mixing with the surrounding ground. There are some unique load combinations to consider when compared to traditional schemes.

When a pool is full the water pushes on the base and sides of the subsoil. The pressure created by the weight of the water pushes back but the pool is invariably heavier and so wants to sink into the ground. Because water is lighter than soil, when the pool is empty the structure wants to float, so the structural design must be able to withstand the uplift. The pressure when the pool is empty can easily cause crazing and cracking, so it’s vital to get structural engineering advice early on in the planning and design stages.

The design of the pool is balancing two extremes; when the pool is full of water and in use and when the pool has been emptied ready for cleaning. A full pool will exert the maximum pressure on the founding soils.

When the pool is empty, hydrostatic uplift of the base slab and design of the pool walls are the critical checks we have to consider.

Emptying the Pool

As with a basement project, the key to successful implementation of the scheme is a thorough understanding of the ground conditions on site through critical checks. We must take into account how the hydrostatic uplift of the base slab and design of the pool walls will impact the structure when the swimming pool is empty.

Pool companies often factor in the weight of water as a counterbalance against the walls caving in, so, an empty pool can pose a structural risk if the right advice is not taken.

Other considerations needed when planning a swimming pool is the drainage for the cleaning the pool, where will the large amount of water go when the pool is emptied and at what rate? Can your existing pipes cope with the discharge? Chlorine also creates a challenge when designing swimming pools as it creates a hostile environment for the steelwork so special paint specifications are required to protect the steel or a solution using materials such as glulam timber to form the superstructure.


Call us today to discuss your project on 01993 225085

Swimming Pool FAQs

What are Fibreglass prefabricated pools?2023-02-08T14:18:48+00:00

Fibreglass pools are a single-piece shell that is prefabricated and delivered to fit in a prepared excavation, usually with a concrete base. Plumbing connections are then made to the plant room and then the whole area is back-filled ready to add the finishing touches.

What are Liner Swimming Pools?2023-02-08T14:19:02+00:00

A liner swimming pool is where a vinyl liner is used instead of a fixed structure like masonry or reinforced concrete. The pool needs excavation, but the ‘structure’ of a liner pool is not reinforced and is not watertight, to allow movement in the groundwater pressure. The flexibility of the liner means your pool won’t collapse as the ground naturally moves. Liner pools tend to have a constant depth of 1m with a graded slope or steps.

What is a Masonry Swimming Pool?2023-02-08T14:19:09+00:00

A masonry swimming pool is where the pool is built with masonry concrete block walls. These are tied to a poured concrete base – it is a common way to build the pool walls in private and smaller commercial pools. The masonry blocks create cavity walls that have poured concrete in between. Blockwork is quicker and cheaper to construct but it can limit the shape of the pool.

What are the advantages of reinforced concrete swimming pools?2023-02-08T14:11:09+00:00

There are several advantages. You are not limited to prefabricated shapes and designs and your pool will last 50+ years plus with the right maintenance. You can also choose the finishings and surrounds that suit your garden, rather than being restricted.

What is a Reinforced Concrete Swimming Pool?2023-02-08T14:19:15+00:00

This type of swimming pool construction involves excavating the ground and then creating a concrete ‘shell’ that is reinforced with steel rods and is shuttered and then the concrete is added. Sprayed concrete can also be applied to a pre-assembled steel reinforcement frame.

What are the different types of swimming pools I can have?2023-02-08T14:08:04+00:00
What do I need to do to build a swimming pool ?2023-02-08T14:06:36+00:00
  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
  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.
Do you need experts to build a swimming pool?2023-02-08T14:04:32+00:00

You don’t have to have planning or building regulations to build an outdoor pool so you need to be sure you use experts to build your pool including a structural engineer, a specialist pool company, and possibly a building contractor or ground worker.

What access do you need to build a swimming pool?2023-02-08T14:19:28+00:00
What is swimming pool plant?2023-02-08T14:01:53+00:00

Plant is the machinery/equipment like pool circulation and filtration equipment required to treat the  water in your swimming pool. A Plant Room for a domestic outdoor swimming pool needs about 3m2 of floor space and should be no more than 6m from the pool.  You need to be sure you have the space for a plant room if you are planning a swimming pool.

What does heave to counter uplift in swimming pools mean?2023-02-08T14:00:57+00:00

Heave is the weight needed to counter the rising (uplift) of a swimming pool – regardless of how it is built. 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 (uplift) you need to ensure the weight of the intended construction method will be able to resist any uplift – when the swimming pool is full of water and when it is empty to be cleaned.

Will the type of ground in my garden affect the price of my swimming pool?2023-02-08T13:59:30+00:00

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. Digging into bedrock will be more expensive, for example, because it is more labour intensive. read our blog on whether you can build a swimming pool in your garden

What is the best kind of swimming pool?2023-02-08T13:56:54+00:00

If you are looking for the cheapest and quickest installation then the best kind is a vinyl liner pool – but they are not expected to last longer than 6-12 years and you may need to replace the liner. If you are looking for flexibility of design and longevity, then a reinforced concrete pool is the best and will last 50+ years with regular maintenance. Read our article on different types of swimming pool construction.

Do I need planning permission for a swimming pool?2023-02-08T13:52:32+00:00

You do not need planning permission or building regulations for an outdoor swimming pool as it is considered an outdoor project (provided the pool is unenclosed with no heated air surrounding the pool). Indoor pools do need building regulations and may also require planning depending on the structure of the building.

What factors effect whether I can have a swimming pool?2023-02-08T13:50:33+00:00

To determine the feasibility of a swimming pool you need to consult a structural engineer to determine the geology of the soil you are intending to excavate and the levels of ground water. With this information you can then get an accurate quote from a pool installer or construction company.

Do I need a structural engineer to build a swimming pool?2023-02-08T13:48:50+00:00

You need a structural engineer to build a swimming pool as they need to calculate the heave to counter uplift. In other words 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

What factors effect the cost of a swimming pool?2023-02-08T12:37:48+00:00

There are three main factors that will affect the cost of your swimming pool, the size of the pool you want, the construction method you will use and the location you are building it in.

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