Planning a swimming pool?

24 March 2023 by Darren Leach

Swimming pool farmhouse summer

Having your own swimming pool at your home is possibly the ultimate luxury for any house; not only is it a great health benefit having this convenient facility, but it also creates a private oasis for relaxation.

So, you may know you want to get a swimming pool, but don’t know where to start? Here are some key pointers that might help you get started with this project.  

Who can design my swimming pool?

To add a swimming pool into your home will be a big investment, so it is important to get it right and work with professionals who can guide you, design the pool and install it correctly. If you are looking for a simple installation of an outdoor pool, you could work directly with a professional swimming pool contractor, we would recommend only working with those accredited by the Swimming Pool and Allied Trades Association (SPATA).  

But, if you are looking to alter your home to incorporate a swimming pool, or build a new ‘pool hall’ (the technical term for structures with swimming pools within), then you’ll want to work with an architect. As professionals we are creative as well as technically minded, we are experts at transforming any ideas you might have into a tangible solution.  

When you hire an architect, you know where you stand. All architects in the UK have to be insured and registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB).

Indoor or outdoor pool?  

This is probably the most fundamental decision you need to make about your swimming pool, both options have positives and negatives that need to be carefully considered to see which option suits your needs, home and your lifestyle.

An outdoor pool on a warm summer’s day is hard to beat, instantly transforming your home with relaxing holiday vibes as you unwind around the water. A swimming pool creates a wonderful focal point for your garden, often incorporated within a large terrace to create a natural place to gather. An outdoor pool tends to be less expensive to build, with less maintenance costs although the heating can be more expensive compared to an indoor pool, depending on how much of the season you might want to use it for.  

An indoor pool is generally more expensive to install, with more building work needed and extra elements such as ventilation and interior lighting needing to be considered. If you opt for building a pool hall it can also be designed to incorporate other functions, such as gym, sauna or spa, to create a whole luxurious leisure suite.

The biggest selling point for an indoor pool is that it can be used throughout the year, which can be especially attractive with the inclement UK weather. There are ways to design the building to connect an indoor pool to the outside, such as by introducing bi-fold doors or a retractable roof, which allows you to enjoy the best of both the indoor and outdoor option.


Do I need planning permission for a swimming pool?

As exact planning restrictions vary across the country, we urge you to check with your local planners before starting any project, these are very general notes.  

Broadly speaking if you are installing an outdoor domestic swimming pool, this tends to be classed as a garden project and will not need planning permission, but there are some restrictions on size and placement that needs to be considered (see notes in ‘Can I fit a Swimming Pool in my Garden?’).

If you opt for an indoor pool, you will need to construct a ‘pool hall’ to house it in, which might need planning permission depending on how it is designed. If the pool hall is not attached to the house it is possible to get permission under Permitted Development as the structure can be classed as an ‘outbuilding’. If the pool hall is to be attached to the home it will be classed as an extension, with planning permission needed.  

It is also possible to convert part of your existing dwelling, which would not need planning permission but tends to be a more expensive and disruptive option, it is popular to convert basements to create a full leisure suite, especially in built up urban areas.  

Should you be lucky enough to live within a listed building, you will need to get Listed Building Consent with all swimming pool options.

Sunny swimming pool Farm House

Can I fit a swimming pool in my garden?

This very much depends on the size of your garden and the size of the pool you need! Swimming pools can vary hugely depending on what you are using it for; for example, if you are wanting somewhere to relax around with the family and friends on sunny days you will want a larger pool than if you are just looking for a pool purely to exercise in.

There is a planning clause that governs any structures built (garden rooms, pool hall or outhouse) within your garden, limiting them to no more than 50% of the space available. Additionally, your pool must be built at least 10m from the house, due to health & safety concerns to keep water away from electrics and generally cannot be placed to the front or side of your home.

If you cannot fit a full sized swimming pool you can look at smaller options, such as exercise pools or plunge pools (see notes below).

What types of swimming pool are there?

There are many different swimming pool design types, and a multitude of ways to construct them, so whatever your dream pool is there will be a way of achieving it no matter what your budget, site limitations, or even how radical your design ideas might be.

As a quick overview, standard domestic swimming pools can be constructed from concrete, fiber glass or liner. Concrete is the most common in the UK, as it is the most hardwearing material, which gives you full flexibility on the design and size and also is accessibility to all sites, but it is also the more expensive option and takes longer to install. We suggest reading this article with the full options list of swimming pool construction options. 

Natural pools are a wonderful option for a more rural setting, the design uses organic filtration from plants so it is the most environmentally friendly option and once installed there is very little maintenance needed. The design can fit seamlessly into the landscape, for those into wild swimming these can be a perfect solution, however they do look more like a pond with their murky water, so they might not appeal to all.

For those who might not have the space for a full swimming pool but are looking to use it for the health benefits, you can opt for an exercise pool. These ingenious pools are designed with high-powered jets at one end, which gives you a current to swim against rather than needing the space to swim lengths in.

Alternatively, for those with minimal space but wanting a perfect place to relax in, a plunge pool can be a good option. These tend to be slightly larger than a hot tub, built into the landscape which make then a wonderful feature within a garden, however it is not something you can do much exercise in!


We hope this has helped guide you on a way to achieve your swimming pool dream, do get in touch to see how we might be able to help you make these a reality.


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