You've decided that now is the time to add a touch of luxury to your home by installing a swimming pool. There's simply no better feeling than plunging into your own pool after a hard day's work or sharing the experience with your family and friends.
However, there's one BIG question you need to ask yourself before you start building your dream swimming pool and enjoying the luxury lifestyle you've always dreamed of: do I want an inside or outside swimming pool?
To help answer that question, Chris Hayes, Managing Director from The Swimming Pool and Allied Trades Association (SPATA), talks about each option's key considerations.
There are several key advantages to outdoor pools, more if you include soaking up the sun whilst swimming. For the most part, an outdoor pool is often treated as a permitted development, so it may not require planning permission unless you are building in a conservation area or area of outstanding natural beauty. But, it would be wise to take advice from your local planning department to make sure.
There are also fewer restrictions to the size, shape and overall design of your pool, so you can be as outlandish as you like. Outdoor pools lend themselves to being social as they integrate into the wider garden space so you can fulfil dreams of summer pool parties with friends, the barbecue on the go and drinks in hand.
Keeping it warm doesn't need to cost a fortune, and installing a water heat pump can be incredibly efficient. Once a week or so, it will need leaves raking off the surface and its pH and chlorine levels checking, but whilst outdoor pools generally require more manual maintenance, it is all easy to keep on top of. An outdoor pool will need shutting down from October to March, and for added protection from the elements, if you intend to keep it full of water, it will require a strong protective cover to keep out the debris and provide safety.
An indoor pool can provide much more usability, and if you also like to exercise on land, it makes a fantastic addition to your exercise suite. They are great fun on a rainy day, and you can enjoy it all year round whether you want to swim a few lengths or enjoy a quick dip after a day at the office – in fact, you can enjoy your pool whenever it suits you, day or night, summer or winter.
Its heating system will most likely warm the water and the air within the pool room whilst eliminating the smell of chlorine so that you can swim in a lovely cosy environment all year round. What's more, it doesn't require quite as much maintenance as it is far less likely to become home to algae, leaves and other debris, and the environmental control unit will do a lot of the cleaning for you.
The main consideration when deciding between the two is space and budget – unless you're lucky enough to have an existing building, you'll need to build a structure to house the pool. This will most often require planning permission and will typically make the initial cost outlay higher due to the extra building work required.
The best of both worlds
Whilst both options have their advantages and disadvantages, it is possible to enjoy the best of both worlds. If you'd like an outdoor pool but can't cope with the chilly air in the winter, then a quick and easy way to protect your pool is to incorporate a swimming pool enclosure.
Pool enclosures are usually made from glass or polycarbonate material with an aluminium frame, so whilst they are permanent structures, they aren't quite as substantial as a pool house which helps with cost and flexibility. Assuming your pool is heated, once it is securely enclosed, it will be warm enough to swim in even on the coldest of days. You will need to keep a cover on the pool when it is not in use, though, or condensation will become a problem.
If the thought of an indoor pool appeals, then you can create that outdoor feeling for the warmer months with large bi-fold or sliding doors on one or two sides, perhaps leading to a patio area, so you can easily slip on to a lounger and soak up the sun between dips or sit and enjoy a drink by the pool whilst the kids have a splash about.
Now that you have decided what pool you want, I recommend that you consult with a SPATA member as they work to an agreed set of standards and are covered by Professional Indemnity insurance, so you'll have that extra bit of reassurance about their credentials and expertise.
Another good starting point is SPATEX, the UK's only dedicated, international spa, pool and wellness show. Though it took place virtually earlier this year, there is still a whole host of information and inspiration to get those creative juices flowing.