AliG

Swimming Pools

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This may be of use to some people and of interest to others. Certainly I could not find much information before I embarked on our build and it was a bit of a leap in the dark.

 

We designed our house with a swimming pool. It is quite an extravagance but my daughter and I really enjoy swimming and messing about in the pool and it is a luxury I have always fancied.

 

The pool has now been up and running for the past couple of months and I am extremely pleased with it. The installers did a very professional job. As always I tried to make sure that there was as little maintenance as possible required.

 

The filtration system by a company called DA-Gen is all automatic. In the last two months all I have had to do is put a pool cleaning robot like a Roomba in the pool every week and it polishes it up. Other than that there has been abolsutely zero maintenance. The installer told me that historically they would visit a pool once a month. They will probably visit mine three times in the first year and then less after that. The main job will be changing over the chemicals, and just checking everything is working.

 

The pool automatically tests the pH level and adjusts as necessary. The pH is set at 7.2. The chlorine is set at 0.5 ppm which is the same as the local drinking water. The pool creates chlorine from salt when necessary and there is no chlorine smell or taste.

 

The pool is from a company called Niveko. It is a one piece polycarbonate pool and came as a single piece on the back of a truck from the Czech Republic.

 

The pool is 8.9m long, 3.4m wide and 1.3m deep. Thus it contains around 40,000 litres of water. I spent some time at the pool in the gym and reading advice from owners in America on what size to buy. Traditionally pools are twice as long as they are wide, but I wanted a pool that was long enough to swim lengths. Having tested out the gym pool I reckoned I needed at least 8m. If I could not get permission for this much floor space I would have investigated an endless pool where you swim into a current. Depth wise people recommended that a deep end was pointless as it was impossible to stand and play games. we often stand and play water volleyball and the depth is working out perfectly. More depth would just be more water to heat and more ground to dig out. I would recommend 1.3-1.4m depending on your height.

 

I read up on various kinds of pools. A discussion with one company that build traditional tiled/concrete pools suggested a cost of £200,000 which was ridiculous. You can also have a liner pool where you build a concrete shell then use a waterproof liner inside. This is cheaper but needs replacing every so often. I also investigated building a pool from ICF. Although this seems like a good idea, I could not find anyone with expertise in it.

 

Eventually I came across these polycarbonate pools. I liked the design as it has EPS insulation around the outside. The pool could also incorporate a built in cover. Around one third of the heating cost of a pool is due to evaporation. This also keeps humidity down. Finally the smooth finish compared to a tiled pool makes the build up of bacteria much less likely and reduces the need for cleaning and chemicals. It also means no sharp edges on your feet.

 

The total cost for the pool, dehumidifying equipment, filtration, ventilation etc was around £80,000. The real cost is the 80 square metres for the pool room, plant room and changing room. This probably added around £120-150,000 to the build cost of the house. The building work was not complicated much by this, a deeper area of foundations was dug and the pool sits on a concrete slab similar to the ground floor of the house. We did find once we dug down that there was some underground water and it had to be tanked. The pool and ventilation were then put in place below floor level and covered up whilst building work continued. The pool sits on top of 150mm of EPS with a further 50mm around the outside.

 

Historically a pool was a big negative on a house in this area, making them almost impossible to sell. The reason was massive heating bills and maintenance costs. Also they made your house smell of chlorine and the humidity would destroy your house.

 

One thing that prompted me to write this is that we have our heating now all working as it should. I noted on another thread that they had not insulated the circulating hot water system. This has been done now. I thought that this was causing unexpected high bills for heating hot water. However, I have since realised that perhaps the main reason was that the pool, hot water and UFH had all been connected in series to the boiler. Thus when any one of them called for hot water from the boiler all the pumps ran. This was pumping hot water to all 4 UFH manifold in the house every time the hot water or pool called for heat. By my calculation the loops contained towards 200l of water which was constantly being circulated and heated unnecessarily. We have now separated the circuits and gas use has dropped dramatically.

 

Before building the pool i tried to use @JSHarris heating calculator to calculate the cost of heating the pool. After a bit of messing around I decided that a pool was not different to any other room. The reason that pols historically use a lot of heat is that they were often put in orangeries or cheap extensions. Effectively you are trying to heat a large (80sq metres in my case) room to 28c all year round. These rooms often had single or double glazing. My pool is in a room as well insulated as the rest of the house with triple glazed 0.7 U-value windows. The area below the pool has 0.1-0.15 U-value, the walls 0.14. The heat recovery system is 90% efficient. The calculation said that the pool would cost around £500 a year to heat. Frankly even at £1000 I would have been pleased.

 

Anyway I have been on holiday this week and checking our gas usage now that everything works as it should. We have been using 7-9 units a day depending on how much the pool is being used. We have been using 75-100 kWh of gas per day or around £2-2.75 a day in gas. Hot water is around £1 a day, so the pool seems to be coming in close to my calculation. I am very pleasantly surprised. This is heating the pool to 28C and the room to 24C when the pool is closed and 29C when it is open. The outside temperature has really dropped to around 15C. The humidity is kept to around 60% when the pool is closed and 65-70% when it is open.

 

All in all it is a big extravagance but one I am very pleased with. It was great in the hot weather a few weeks ago, my daughter and her friends are loving it and hopefully I will get many years of enjoyment from it.

 

In terms of things I would have done differently. We were a bit tight on the plant room and stuff just fits. The changing room door is quite close to the pool and the frame gets wet. We should have sloped the tiles back towards the pool so that when the kids jump in the water would run back naturally. I bought a squeegee to push excess water back in.

 

Everything is pretty much finished, just some mastic around the room edges required. Heating costs may fall a little as the bottom edges of the windows have not yet been sealed to the floor and had compriband insulation outside, so we are probably leaking a bit of air.

 

Pictures -

 

Concrete pad awaiting the pool.

 

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Pool and ventilation below ground level.

 

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Plant room. These are the filters and chemicals, the dehumidifier/heater is behind the door.

 

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Changing room. We came up with the idea of building the bench out of wood effect tiles so it won't be affected by water.

 

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Changing room shower.

 

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Pool today after the kids were playing in it.

 

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Cleaning robot.

 

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The pool has two large colour changing LEDs that provide a great effect at night.

 

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Edited by AliG
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Stunning.much appreciated for the follow up info.

What dehumidifier system did you go for? 

I haven't ruled out one yet and your figures are very similar to what I was projecting. 

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The heater/dehumidier is from a company called Heatstar. It is connected to the central heating boiler which provides heat that can be used to heat the pool water or the pool room. We have UFH in the pool room just in case, but I don't see it ever being used.  I thought it might be needed to help dry the floor, but things dry quickly due to the dehumidifier.

 

I have not checked the electricity consumption yet.

 

It works very much like a MVHR system. There is a large wall vent above the pool that draws hot humid air in. A heat exchanger then uses the heat in this to help heat the pool. It sends cooler dry air out the vents in front of all the windows to stop them steaming up and to stop the room getting too hot when the pool is open. Sometimes it will just draw air from outside for ventilation.

 

The Heatstar unit is around £12-13,000 if I remember correctly and the ductwork was around £10,000. The prices of some things have increased due to the weaker pound since we ordered.

 

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Wow Crazy stuff ! but who doesn’t like a bit of crazy !  Your here for a good time, not a long time so have fun and spend your money however you please, I know I do ! 

My long term plan is to build a sauna out onto my pond area, have an open deck with a spring fed plunge pool, a glass fronted relaxing area with a wood burner and then a sauna behind that with a glass front so you can see through the sitting area out to the pond / wetland area. Slowly I am acquiring little bits and pieces for it and in about 4 years time I will be ready to make it happen. Got to love a bit of crazy !  

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Sounds fun, we considered a sauna but I hate being hot/sweaty.

 

The kids complain the pool is too cold at 28C, I find it a little chilly as I get in but just nice got cool down and relax once you have been in for a minute or two.

 

We have a double whirlpool bath in the main bathroom that we only used for the first time a few weeks ago. I had to keep asking the wife to fill it up with cold water as I felt the room was way too hot.

 

Despite often seeing pool rooms with hot tubs in them, the pool installer told me not to do it as the warm temperature that is nice in a pool room would be really uncomfortable with a hot tub. I thought about putting it outside as you are thinking, but a hot tub is way warmer than a pool and would need a lot of heat outside, also hot tubs need way more chemicals to stay clean if you keep them hot as it is a great temperature for bacteria to grow. An outside sauna is probably a better idea.

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4 minutes ago, Declan52 said:

Hats off that is amazing looking.

 +1 to this. There are also some clever design ideas to admire and "borrow".

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I considered some strange ideas Inc linning the pool with UFH pipe to heat it. The basics was insulated slab, icf with pool lined with stainless steel (same stuff we are doing the standing seam roof) all diy. I was trying to botch together stand alone meaco ducted dehumidfyer and of the shelve mvhr but prob better to get a proper designed unit. 

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Very nice. I recall my BIL having the same swimming pool cleaning system in Australia.

 

I am no a strong swimmer and I have never understood why you would want a pool you can't stand up in, so I like your thinking. The only reason for wanting a pool that's too deep to stand up in, is if you are going to be diving.

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looks very nice and I really like your wood effect tiles.

 

Was the total cost £150-200k or 230-280k?

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I don't think I would want to try and do this as a DIY project. TBH I think the costs were quite reasonable for what I got. The only thing I thought was a bit high was the ductwork.

 

The key thing for me was not having to test pH levels, manually put chemicals in etc. That would have been a non starter as everyone else wold use the pool and I would have all the maintenance work. The level of automation is impressive.

 

The filters run automatically. The installer programmed it to run during the day as he was worried about the noise, but in fact as we have a concrete first floor you cannot hear it upstairs so he has just adjusted it to run during the night.

 

There is a centrifuge that removes large debris. The water is then pumped through that big blue tank which is full of fake sand for filtering and then it goes through a UV pipe that kills bacteria. The system runs the pump during the night to send water over the edge of the pool into the side channels for filtering. I chose a "deck level" pool as these filter better and look nicer. A "skimmer pool" where the water is lower would have saved a few thousand as the deck level pool needs a separate overflow tank, but it does not filter the water as well. In hindsight though the water from the deck level pool goes everywhere when the kids jump in.

 

A system constantly tests the pH and chlorine levels and the passes electricity through the water to create chlorine gas when necessary. All the chemicals are in tanks connected to the equipment and it uses what is needed automatically, all that is required is that someone changes them over when empty.

 

The filtration and heating systems know when the covers are on or off. They run in a lower power more efficient mode when the covers are closed and ramp up when the covers are opened and the pool is in use.

 

The robot provides further cleaning by having spinning rubber brushes which clean the bottom and sides of the pool. It also agitates the water and has onboard filters. After 2.5 hours it stops and you pull it out and rinse out the filters. Generally they have a little sand/dust from ongoing painting and a couple of long hairs. The water is beautifully clean and fresh.

 

I read a guy inAmerica who had installed a pool 1.3m at one end and 1.8m at the other as pools have a "deep end". He said it was useless as you couldn't stand in one end, but if you wanted to do a full head first dive it still wasn't deep enough. Basically I wanted the water to come up to my armpits.

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@ultramods

 

The pool, filtration, cover, Heatstar etc was about £75,000, it might be about £80,000 today.

 

I just had another think about the costs of the extra space as I was calculating them on the all in cost of the house.

 

The house is costing around £2000 per square metre all in to build, but that includes the pool, walnut staircase, a lot of landscaping, architects fees etc. Actual build costs are probably more like £1500 a square metre ex these.

 

Thus I guess you are looking at 80 square metres at around £120,000 plus the £80,000, so £200,000 in total. It may have been a bit more due to the extra digging etc, so say £120-150,000 or £200-230,000 in total In fairness that would buy a lot of gym memberships but just having access whenever you want and not having to swim around other people's kids, swimming lessons etc is lovely.

 

I'll edit the cost above.

 

 

Edited by AliG
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I have just checked our electricity consumption. I had to get the meter manual out as it wasn't displayed automatically.

 

We have used 6760 kWh since the meter was installed last December.

 

This includes a considerable amount of power tool usage by the builders, but the pool wasn't running until more recently.

 

We have solar panels but they are not connected up yet. Annoying after this summer. We have a 5kw system which should generate around 3500kWh a year and reduce consumption a lot.

 

The MVHR is also not running yet, but should be in the next two weeks.

 

There are an enormous number of pumps in the house for hot water, UFH, the pool etc, I just counted 11 pumps, some of which were running almost constantly until I got them sorted last week.

 

We have a Tesla, but until the last few weeks haven't been able to get it into the garage to charge it.

 

I will take a reading tomorrow night to see what our electricity usage is now.

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1 hour ago, AliG said:

In hindsight though the water from the deck level pool goes everywhere when the kids jump in.

Exactly what makes it fun ;) 

In my mates 19' x 5' above ground pool, we used to do the washing machine. 6 or so of us would all walk, then jog around the outside until it was up to the edge and then just fall over ( all of us half pissed on very low-quality wine I hasten to add ) and there would be body parts everywhere. I don't think anyone really realises just how much fun a pool is, and I bet your kids are thinking themselves very lucky. Good on you for spoiling them. :)

Forget about running costs, its not about that. 

 

Oh, and damn you for having such a bloody nice house. :D  

   

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Posted (edited)

Hi @AliG super useful as we're looking at an indoor swimming pool as well. Thanks to your post I started looking at Niveko, as well as other one-piece manufacturers Riviera (German) & Tilestone (French). Did you ever consider the stainless steel swimming pools like Berndorf? ICF pool certainly sounds like a good idea and there is a local pool builder who specialises in that. Think it may come down to price and style at the end! 

Edited by janelondon

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I used to work in the health and leisure industry as a supplier/installer.

If the pool is indoors, make sure that all fasteners are not affected by the chlorine, it caused the rebuild of St Albans leisure centre roof back in the 1990s.

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Posted (edited)

I did read about that and worry but shouldn't be a worry nowadays. Not to say that we haven't tried to make sure everything is waterproof and sealed.

 

Afraid I didn't look at stainless steel pools. A quick Google suggests that they are significantly more expensive than polycarbonate, maybe adding 50% to the total cost. One company that builds traditional concrete/tiled pools quoted me three times what mine cost!

 

Household pools have way less chemicals in them due to lower usage level. My pool is only 0.55 parts per million of chlorine, the tap water limit is 5. The pool guy tells me it is actually below the local tap water level.

 

I cannot believe how well the automated systems work to look after my pool. There are various cartons of liquid that are connected by tubes and it just tops itself up as required. In a year of use the only maintenance for me is to chuck the cleaning robot in every couple of weeks and occassionally run the brush around the edges the robot may miss. The pool guy has to come 2 or 3 times a year to replace the chemicals and check everything, but nothing has needed done.

Edited by AliG

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, SteamyTea said:

I used to work in the health and leisure industry as a supplier/installer.

If the pool is indoors, make sure that all fasteners are not affected by the chlorine, it caused the rebuild of St Albans leisure centre roof back in the 1990s.

grade 314 stainless steel is often used but it is useless in a high corrosion swimming pool environment as it corrodes from the inside (it ends up full of holes and looking like a Crunchie bar). The grade of SS needed is 316 which is an austenitic marine grade.

Edited by Ian

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5 minutes ago, Ian said:

grade 314 stainless steel is often used but it is useless in a high corrosion swimming pool environment as it corrodes from the inside (it ends up full of holes and looking like a Crunchie bar). The grade of SS needed is 316 which is an austentitc marine grade.

 

Don't you mean 304 is often used? As in grade A2. 

 

Had a few jobs by the seaside where we changed out the fixings for Gr316/A4.

 

I'm often gobsmacked by the rusty bolts on flumes etc at municipal leisure centres. Remember similar at one of the Centre Parcs I went to. Very unsightly.

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2 minutes ago, Onoff said:

 

Don't you mean 304 is often used? As in grade A2. 

 

Had a few jobs by the seaside where we changed out the fixings for Gr316/A4.

 

I'm often gobsmacked by the rusty bolts on flumes etc at municipal leisure centres. Remember similar at one of the Centre Parcs I went to. Very unsightly.

sorry, yes 304.

A number of years ago I was asked to inspect the suspended ceiling of a large public swimming pool and found that the whole ceiling was on the point of collapse as the 304 SS hanger wire had corroded - you could snap the wire with normal finger pressure.

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But, but, but, 304 is cheaper 🤦‍♂️

 

I can’t believe we still use 304 outside 

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Top tip if ever cutting stainless steel studs that have been say resin anchored in but are a tad overlength.  If you've cut them with a disc cutter chances are they'll have got hot and it screws with the material properties causing the end to rust. 

 

Clean them up with a flap disc just to remove the discoloration on the end. (You can also take the burr off).

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Posted (edited)

On a much, much more modest scale, I am building a small family house self build, so small that every inch has to work for us, as you can see by the floorplan:

Image preview

One idea was to have a hot tub or jacuzzi under the decking outside the lounge, with a lift up cover like this:

 

Image result for hot tub in decking

 

Then is was only a small step to thinking of an 'endless pool' instead, especially if it had hot tub features, allowing chilling out or swimming.

 

This would be a partly sunken pool, though the top two thirds of it would be above ground, albeit under the deck. 

 

Anyway, the pool companies who offer a suitable product seem very difficult to pin down on price. Or even at all. This has got me thinking: Surely this is just a matter of digging the right size hole, building block walls up the sides, screeding it, tiling it, then filling it up with water, before getting something like a Fastlane machine at one end to create the current to swim against? I'm only looking at one max 2m wide and say 3-4m long.

 

Thats OK isn't it? Eh? Surely?

 

What am I missing? What do I need to know that I currently don't please?

 

Any advice gratefully received! 

Edited by Tony K

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3 hours ago, Tony K said:

What am I missing?

Ongoing maintenance.

I used to design, supply and fit spa baths, small swimming pools, saunas, plunge pools, steamrooms and sunbeds.

Pulled out of the domestic market, customers just had no idea what was involved in owning them.

Find a local hotel, or better still, a decent council run pool, pay your £5 and enjoy it all.

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On 30/07/2019 at 22:43, SteamyTea said:

Ongoing maintenance.

I used to design, supply and fit spa baths, small swimming pools, saunas, plunge pools, steamrooms and sunbeds.

Pulled out of the domestic market, customers just had no idea what was involved in owning them.

Find a local hotel, or better still, a decent council run pool, pay your £5 and enjoy it all.

 

I appreciate that there are lots of economics to think about, and I think I'm getting my head around that. My question is more to do with the actual construction of a pool.

Is it basically a case of building a blockwork wall 4m x 2m (for instance) and floor, then tiling the inside space, making sure I have added the pump etc and a cover? Or is there far more to it than that?

If it is, then that affects the economics of the project as far as start up costs go.

 

Is there a basic guide to the construction of a pool anyone can recommend? 

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