Building and buying

Building a swimming pool: types, regulations and costs

Thomas Bott

Anyone planning to build their own swimming pool first has to answer several questions. There are so many sizes, so many shapes, so many designs. What’s more, the building project must comply with the regulations in force in your canton. Here we explain the possibilities that exist and the points you should consider. After all, a swimming pool is much more than just a lot of water in your garden.

A young man jumps into a wooden pool in the garden.
© Getty Images / Mieke Dalle

In this article

Swimming pools: the different types available

Round, square or customized: anyone planning a pool can choose between a variety of shapes. But the choice of the type of pool is even more important because it determines the look, durability and much more. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages.

A rectangular ground-level pool in front of a small villa.

An inground pool is not so easy to move, but it fits much more harmoniously into the overall appearance of the property.

Steel-walled pools

A steel-walled pool is ideal if you want to be a little more flexible. This type of pool comes in many different shapes. Round pools are particularly popular. They consist of a base plate and an outer wall made of steel. This is insulated and keeps the temperature of the water constant. The interior is lined with foil. A steel-walled pool can be set up at ground level, but you can also partially or completely install it in the ground. These pools are often compactly designed, making them suitable for smaller gardens as well. Anyone who enjoys swimming laps will not be satisfied with a steel-walled pool.

Stainless steel pools

Pools made of stainless steel offer a little more freedom in terms of size and shape. Although they can also be self-supporting, they are designed to be installed in the ground. They are much more complicated to build than steel-walled pools because the individual parts are not joined together by means of connectors. The assembly therefore requires welding work. But the high-quality look is worth the effort.

Stainless steel pools are very durable and do not lose their appeal over the years. However, you must ensure that the pool is planned as an overflow pool. The water constantly spills over the edge of the pool and is sent back through the water treatment system. This also prevents the edge of the pool from heating up too much in the sun.

Breeze block pools

Breeze blocks allow the pool to have a flexible structure. The individual components can be stacked on top of each other very easily. The base consists of a concrete slab, the shape of which is also customizable. Concrete is poured in to strengthen the basic structure. Waterproof foil is used as cladding at the end of the construction process. A breeze block pool is usually completely inground and designed as a skimmer pool. This means that the water level should be kept just below the edge of the pool. Styrofoam or pre-cast concrete elements can also be used as alternatives to breeze blocks.

Concrete pools

These pools are completely made of concrete. The concrete can either be exposed concrete, which determines the look of the interior surface, or concrete painted a specific color. There are almost no limits to the design. However, building a concrete pool represents a great deal of work because of the complex casing construction. In addition, concrete has the disadvantage of becoming susceptible to cracking after a while. This can be prevented by placing an extra layer of tiles between the water and the concrete, for example. Concrete is often the best option for larger pools or when rounded edges are desired.

A large pool in front of a bungalow.

A private swimming pool in the garden can be a great asset to the whole property. There are virtually no limits to the possibilities in terms of pool types and sizes.

Wooden pools

The natural look of a wooden pool fits in very well in some gardens. With a little bit of skill, you can even construct this type of pool on your own. Another advantage is that wooden pools stand freely and can therefore also be easily moved. However, the solid wood frame must be able to withstand the mass of water. The interior is lined with foil. Pools made of wood require a lot of care and can be damaged over time by external factors such as snow, ice and rain. Tip: well-impregnated, glazed wood is more resistant and therefore somewhat easier to maintain.

Plastic pools

If you want to avoid long construction times, a plastic pool is the right choice for you. It usually consists of polyester or glass fiber reinforced plastic (GFK) and arrives at your home prefabricated. Trucks and cranes will need access to your garden for delivery. The plastic pool is installed in the ground and covered with a thin layer of concrete for stabilization purposes. It is durable, but repairs to this type of pool are usually difficult to carry out.

You should pay attention to the following when building a pool

First of all, you should think about the size of your pool. Not every garden is suitable for a gigantic pool in which you can swim laps. The shape and appearance should correspond to your property and house. Ensuring that the ground is even is a basic requirement.

As far as the location is concerned, we recommend an area that is as empty as possible and facing southeast. This will enable the water to heat up in the morning and you can enjoy direct sunlight until well into the day.

You should also have the ground checked during the planning stage. Certain obstacles such as tree roots or the groundwater level could make pool construction difficult or even prevent it. The swimming pool needs a water and electricity connection for the pump. Since a new installation is usually expensive, it is advisable to plan the pool so that it is close to existing pipes.

Regulations in Switzerland: rules you must comply with

The building regulations for swimming pools depend on the regulations in force in the relevant canton. In most cases, however, non-fixed, seasonally installed swimming pools with a total area of up to ten square meters and a height of up to 1.5 meters are permitted without a building permit. You will need a permit for all other types of pool. Check with your local authority about local regulations before planning. This will help you avoid any difficulties, additional costs or disputes with neighbors.

A father plays with his son in a simple pool with visible struts.

Smaller pools made of metal, wood or plastic are available from around 1,000 francs.

The costs: swimming pools for every budget

The price of a swimming pool depends on various factors. The choice of material, the shape and of course the size play a key role. For some types of pool, you will also have to allow for an expensive delivery, for example for a plastic pool. Prices for a simple steel-walled pool start at around 1,000 francs; a larger pool made of stainless steel can easily cost 30,000 francs or more. A company specializing in pool construction can provide you with an offer tailored to your property and your wishes.

Conclusion: durability has its price

An individually designed pool made of high-quality materials requires extensive planning, a lot of time and is relatively expensive. In return, you usually have to worry less about early damage. Alternatives made of concrete or plastic also offer many advantages and are cheaper. If there is not enough space in your garden for a large pool, wooden or steel models are the right choice for you.

And another tip: if you don’t need a swimming pool, a whirlpool in the garden could be a good solution for you.

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