Thinking of building a home swimming pool? Not sure whether to go for an aboveground or submerged pool? Not sure whether to go for a block and liner pool or a fibreglass body instead? Perhaps you could use some advice from a swimming pool contractor!
As the name suggests, swimming pool contractors are tradesmen whose expertise lies in anything pool-related. Contractors can take care of the entire process of building a home swimming pool: that means wiring all the electrics, digging the hole, getting rid of the earth and all the other jobs right up until the pool is ready.
There are lots of decisions to be made when you are building a swimming pool and this guide will make you aware of your choices.
When might I need a contractor and what sort of pools are there?
It might seem obvious, but you will need a swimming pool contractor to design, build, or repair a swimming pool.
There are two main types of swimming pool: aboveground pools and submerged pools. Aboveground pools tend to be cheaper because you don’t have to dig a hole and fit them but submerged pools are more traditional and provide easier entry for children or elderly people.
In addition to the type of pool, you will have to decide on the type of materials you want your pool to consist of. There are three common finishes: liner; fibreglass shell; and tiles. These all require different amounts of maintenance and will affect the overall price of the job.
Other options, such as types of pool covers, pool heaters and filters, the shape and size of your pool, and whether you want a patio area or pool house built will also affect the cost and amount of time it takes to build your pool.
At this stage, when you are still planning which sort of pool you would like, it is a good time to talk to a swimming pool contractor, who will come and advise you (after visiting your property and seeing the plot on which you intend to build a swimming pool) on what options are possible and what the various costs would be.
What are the benefits of using a professional over a D.I.Y. job?
Designing and building a home swimming pool is a highly demanding and skilful job – even installing a readymade DIY swimming pool shell is not as easy as it sounds.
It is possible to build a swimming pool as a DIY project, but it requires lots and lots of time and equipment. Don't expect it to be cheap either; even as a DIY project it'll cost at least £8,000 for a very basic set up. The whole process will be a lot easier if you enlist a professional.
A professional contractor will have years of expertise and know-how, and will often be able to finish a job far quicker than you will, in addition to giving you peace of mind. Also, bear in mind that individual designs may require specialist tools or knowledge that you simply do not have access to.
One last, and fairly major, advantage of using a swimming pool contractor as opposed to doing a D.I.Y. job is this: you will have someone to go back to if something should go wrong a few months down the line. When you consider the cost of re-doing an entire job, in terms of time and money, this becomes a major advantage.
Where can I find a contractor and how do I choose one?
Of course, contractors advertise in local directories and online but the problem with choosing one like this is that you will have no idea of how reliable, professional, and expensive the company is before you deal with them.
The best thing to do is to ask people you trust, who have had pools built, exactly who it was that they used. Neighbours are always a good source of information!
In addition to this, always check that a contractor has up to date insurance, covering him for any damage that might be caused to your property.
What qualifications/accreditations should you look for?
SPATA (the Swimming Pool and Associated Trades Association) vets its members before membership to ensure that they are competent, professional and up to date in their methods and workmanship, which means that a SPATA-accredited contractor is likely to be a good bet, if you can find one.
That said, the single most important thing you should look for in a contractor is experience. Someone with at least several years’ experience in building swimming pools is ideal: they will know what does and doesn’t work and will have built several different types of pools, which means they will be well-placed to advise you on yours.
Costs of buying and installing a swimming pool
The cost of a pool will depend on what sort of pool you choose. Submerged pools are more expensive, especially if they are to be one-off designs. Additionally, your choice of heater, pool cover and extras – like diving boards – will bump up the price.
The estimate that you are given will comprise of two parts: the contractor’s labour rate and the materials rate. Although rates vary from contractor to contractor, you should expect to pay at least £60 per person per day on labour. Often, however, labour will be included in an overall estimate price as opposed to being calculated daily.
It is very important to get multiple quotes as prices can vary wildly. It is recommended that you obtain at least 3 estimates. It is also worth asking if they will guarantee their work – and how long for!
You should also be sure to get a written estimate with a breakdown of all the costs. The final price should not deviate greatly from this guide price (provided no unforeseen problems surface).
Please also bear in mind the cost of running and maintaining the pool after it is built. This ranges from £200 to £800 per season, depending on the size of the pool and the insulating materials.
Please note you will not always recuperate the cost of building a pool when selling a house; although it is an investment, a pool will probably not add significant value to your house so please be aware of this when deciding whether to build one.
What happens next?
After you have chosen a contractor and talked through the design with them, they may start work immediately, depending on what you have arranged.
The first step is the messiest: digging a hole. Bear in mind that they will use JCBs for this, which require access – this may mean churning up your garden somewhat. After the hole is dug, all the earth that was removed from the ground will have to be disposed of.
After this, the hole will need to be flattened and evened out. Depending on what sort of pool you have chosen, the floor will now be screeded and a liner will be inserted or a fibreglass shell will be installed.
At this stage, the pool is nearly ready. Steps, for entering the pool, and extras such as decking around the pool and pool cover systems will be installed.
A good contractor will see the project through from conception to completion, take care of ordering the parts and fitting everything from essentials through to finishing touches and optional extras.