Take the plunge

PUBLISHED: 14:12 15 May 2008 | UPDATED: 15:11 20 February 2013

Wooden above-ground pools are shown off to their best advantage when combined with garden decking, as this Acorn Pools project demonstrates

Wooden above-ground pools are shown off to their best advantage when combined with garden decking, as this Acorn Pools project demonstrates

If you dream of summer days by the pool, or winter evenings relaxing in a hot tub, read on for the latest advice from the expertsWords by Laura Hunt

There are lots of pleasures in life - and swimming pools and hot tubs are just two
of them. "People like to come home from work, put on their swimming costumes
and relax in their pool or hot tub. They are great for socialising and on hot weekends, you never realised how many friends you had. Add a barbecue, and its like being
on holiday all the time," says Keith Hulbert, managing director of Splasher Pools.

It's a misconception that pools and hot tubs are just for the rich and famous.
"Modern pool construction methods have slashed both the time it takes to build
a swimming pool and the cost," says Ben Studdy, chairman of SPATA, the regulatory body for the UK swimming pool industry. Above-ground pools are the cheapest option, available in UPVC, metal and wood, with prices starting around £4,000.

How much will it cost?
Expect to pay up to £16,000 for a luxury, wooden pool kit that will blend well with the garden decking. Above-ground pools are easily and quickly installed, and most come with all filtration and equipment required to get started.

When you move house, you can drain and dismantle your pool, and take it with you. A panel and liner pool will cost around £20,000, it takes about a month to install, and liners will need replacing every 10 years or so. They come in a variety of colours and patterns, including very convincing mock tiling or mosaic.

A quick-fix alternative is the one-piece pool that can be up and running within around a week and will cost around £15,000. These are available as fibreglass or ceramic
all-in-one moulds and are simply lowered into a pre-prepared hole.

If you want to blow the budget, go for a fully-tiled, reinforced concrete pool. Usually finished with tiles or mosaics, prices start at around £40,000. At the other end of the spectrum is a natural swimming pool. "Engaging with nature and swimming in fresh water has long been considered pivotal to health and vitality," says David Nettleton from Clear Water Revival.

Natural swimming habitats are perhaps a thing of the past for most people living in
the UK, but Clear Water Revival is a company readdressing the balance. Chemical-free water is used in every natural swimming pool, maintained with a filter system of
micro-organisms and plants that remove all harmful bacteria and pollutants, and produce only pure water ideal for swimming.

By using state-of-the-art filtration technology developed in Austria over the last 20 years, many designs of pool are possible - from the 'swimming pond' (densely planted and home to diverse wildlife) to the more traditional swimming pool 'form' (tiled walls, cleaner lines with less/no plants in the pool). Managing director, Anthony Exell, from XL Pools, says there is strong evidence of increasing demand for more energy and cost-efficient swimming pools, reflecting rising energy prices, greater environmental awareness and more technologically advanced products.

Hot tubs
The British and Irish Spa and Hot Tub Association (BISHTA) says that 7,000 portable spas are expected to be sold to homes all over the UK this year. They appeal to families looking for ways to spend quality time together, to couples who like the latest gadgets, and to those who love the therapeutic effect. BISHTA says the hot tub market has stayed consistently around the 7,000 to 10,000 sale mark, but the consumer now has much more choice, with an estimated 100 brands available in the UK.

Portable units are cheaper to install than their in-ground counterparts, are energy efficient, and completely self-contained. You simply fill with water, connect to a dedicated electrical source and maintain an easy treatment routine.
Martyn Gent, branch manager of HotSpring Spas, advises: "Water care is important and the manufacturer's instructions should highlight how to balance and sanitise the water in the hot tub. Kent suffers with hard water, which creates scale, and a descaler needs to be added to stop your pipework furring up." After-sales support is vital, especially for ongoing water treatment. So make sure you buy from a
reputable dealer.

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