Planning and Building an Indoor Pool
By James Atlas
Remember when you were a child and one of the perfect joys of summer was swimming from sun up to long after the sun set? Recapturing those easygoing times is probably why you have always dreamt of building a pool of your own. But if you live in an area where summers are short, or if you are looking for the convenience of an all-weather swimscape, you may want to consider the benefits of building an indoor pool.
Indoor pools are the ultimate playroom. Think about it: one room containing everything you need to entertain, exercise, dine, and lounge. From an exotic indoor tropical paradise, complete with waterfalls, waterslides, and palm trees, to a marathoner’s dream with a lap pool and other equipment to train for athletic competitions, an indoor pool room becomes a home’s focal point, the room to where everyone gravitates when visiting. But the best part? You can slip into your pool whenever the mood strikes—rain or shine!
The Planning Process
Before you decide on what type of room you want for your indoor pool, you should open the lines of communication with your architect and pool builder. They in turn will interview you to discover how you will use the pool and how your lifestyle will be impacted by the finished product. Without this step, your construction team will not be able to provide you with the best possible result.
For optimum results, an indoor pool should be built during new construction or when a current structure is being renovated. Based on the pool’s design, materials needed to complete the project, and even the ground on which the pool will be constructed, the pool builder will have to work with a team of experts, including a licensed architect, to ensure that both the room and the pool are built to code and that all permits are in order. Because soil conditions and drainage play a part in the footings and substructure, a building team’s skill in preparing setbacks, easements, rights-of-way, scale, proportion, and balance is essential.
Design-wise, an indoor pool room should be treated as any other space in a home: It needs to blend in with the home’s architecture and personality. Construction-wise, special modifications must be made to accommodate humidity and other related issues. An experienced pool builder who is well-versed in the unique issues of building an indoor pool knows how to manage situations before they become problems. One of the first things they will consider is all that water—and the resulting evaporation.
Indoor pools are essentially bodies of water in a confined environment, and as such, have special requirements that must be met if the room is to be not only beautiful but also functional. Trouble begins when that setting’s climate is not properly managed. Dehumidification systems are the best way to control the “weather” inside the room, but a unit needs to be properly sized to handle the correct amount of air and humidity in a room to prevent mold, corrosion, and other problems. Builders also utilize water-resistant products like Dryvit and Wonder Board® to finish the walls in a pool environment to help stop damage from moisture. An automatic pool cover is another superior option for preventing problems: Studies show that they can reduce evaporation and humidity by up to 50 percent.
Ventilation systems are equally as important in controlling a room’s environment, especially when the room is full of windows, skylights, and sliding glass doors—all that glass allows heat to build up. Plus, if you plan to use chlorine to sanitize the pool water, be aware that as the chemical works, it generates chloramines which have a strong odor. By properly placing the vents in the room to ensure optimum air flow over the windows, an experienced architect can guarantee air flowing and keep the room inhabitable.
Defining the Style
Another important person to consider for your team is a skilled interior decorator. Unlike an outdoor pool where planting materials and hardscapes are the priority, the environment of an indoor pool needs to be in harmony with the home’s overall décor. Furniture, amenities, and even the artwork, must reflect your home and your style.
When the outdoor venue is picturesque and a pleasure to view, using its beauty as a backdrop for the indoor pool is an excellent way to capture nature’s beauty and bring it indoors without a lot of hassle. Walls of windows, a ceiling of skylights, and sliding glass doors achieve this open feeling.
Natural lighting is best, but when the sun goes down or hides behind the clouds, artificial lighting can create a whole new vibe. The lighting should be restrained: the idea is to create a welcoming ambiance. Wall sconces combined with in-pool lighting can create a glow that will transform a room from daytime to nighttime. Most designers will recommend not installing overhead lighting, however, because changing bulbs or repairing fixtures would be too difficult.
After all the amenities are in place and your pool is ready for opening day, take time to look around and admire the view. No matter the reason why you decided to build your indoor pool, you will undoubtedly echo what others have found to be true: you now have a new favorite place to enjoy the best things in life—your family and friends.
James Atlas is an 18-year veteran of the swimming pool industry and his company holds a membership with the by-invitation-only Aquatech Society. Atlas is the owner and co-principal of Platinum Poolcare Ltd., Wheeling, Illinois, a residential swimming pool construction, renovation, and maintenance company that also offers service to several commercial aquatic properties including the Bulls, Bears, and White Sox training facilities.
Photo courtesy of Platinum Poolcare, Ltd.; Photography by Outvision Photography
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