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The latest fashion these days is to have a pool which looks natural, and that's what I ended up chosing

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BUILDING A SWIMMING POOL

Thinking of building a pool?
The first thing to bear in mind is that the whole process is going to take you far, far, far longer than your wildest dreams could ever have you imagine. It will probably cost you a lot more too. Worse still is the building of the pool itself. For several weeks we began to wish we had never embarked on it.

Yet even a few days after it had been built, the hours of laboring, the wringing of hands and the shaking of fists.... started to disappear onto the distant horizon. We love our pool desperately now and I can't imagine being without her!

But to be honest our pool is not your normal pool. She doesn't look like a swimming pool (though she has all the advantages of one), she look like a natural pool in the rocks.

If that is what you are looking for: read on; you are in luck.

If that is not what you are looking for, read on all the same. By the end you might start having second thoughts about your pool.

Another example of a swimming pool which looks natural

Essential steps and timing


1. Decide where you’re going to put the pool.
2. Apply for planning permission
3. Decide what kind of pool you want
4. Start doing research on what’s available, the price, and the delivery date
5. Find someone to dig the pool out and remove the earth
6. Take delivery of the parts
7. Build the pool
8. Fill in the space between the pool and the sides of the hole that was dug out
9. Install electricity, pump, heating etc
10. “landscape the pool”
11. Fill with water


To be realistic you will need a year to do this. And the shortest possible time frame will be four months: allowing two months to get planning permission, (during which you can find the right pool, negotiate the price etc) and two months to dig the pool and build it. Start in February at the latest to be sure to have a pool for the summer.

You can even build a swimming pool which looks like this...read on

Deciding where to put your pool

The more sun the less the water you’ll need to heat.. People using the pool and sitting around it will also need to be able to choose whether they want to be in the sun.
1. Try to put the pool in a place which is easily accessible to diggers and concrete mixers etc. If it’s difficult to get machinery and equipment in, it will end up costing a lot more money
2. A flat spot without stones will be easier and cheaper to dig
3. Avoid places where leaves can easily fall in.
4. Check the water level before you dig the hole. It will be difficult to build it if the hole fills up with water.


A  very natural looking pool which can be buit from a

Which pool?

Asking for planning permission
In France you will need an “authorisation de construire”. Go to you local mairie (townhall) for the relevant forms (and some guidance). Usually you will get the “authorisation” within in a month but if you’re in a protected area it will take two. The company which sells you the pool should be able to help you to fill in the papers.


Deciding on the pool you want.

If you want to use the pool for the summer, you need to decide by the end of February where you will buy it from. This is also a good time of the year to negotiate a price! Allow a month for delivery.

We had already had a pool “hors sol” (out of the ground) - the cheapest option, and a good start if you’re not sure how much you’re going to use the pool. Once you’ve decided you’re going to use it quite a lot, a pool in the ground is a much more practical, as well as being easier on the eye. Our main problem with the ”hors sol” pool is that we kept getting holes in the liner. So when I started looking at the choice of “underground pools” I was fairly determined to avoid the ones with a liner. In fact a good deal of pools on offer looked very similar to the pool that we had “hors sol”- : a metal kit which served to contain the water inside with the help of a liner!

I looked seriously at the fiberglass pools, but I soon became convinced that I wanted a more natural looking pool – something like a rock pool. The fiberglass pools come in very traditional forms and colours, and certainly doesn’t look natural.

The three interesting things about the company (REVLINE - http://www.piscines-reveline.com) which we chose are:

1. Although it comes in kit form, (which makes it cheap) you end up with a concrete pool, which means something far sturdier than the other kits on the market. It also means NO liner!
2. You can chose any shape you like: the pool is delivered in concrete panels and you simply place them in the shape you want. Ideal for someone like me who wanted to have something which looks natural. You can also chose whatever depth you want and where.
3. If you are looking for a pool which looks natural, the REVELINE pool doesn’t need a ladder or the rather artificial steps you get with most pools. As you can make the pool any depth you like, you can get in and out of the pool either by a gradual slope, or by a small very shallow pool (espace détente) which can either lead to the rest of the deep pool with steps (made of concrete). With the Reveline system you only have to decide on the depth of the pool on the perimeter (so that the length of the panels can be ordered). The depth of the pool anywhere else is simply as deep or as shallow as you dig it. The Espace détente appealed to me as a an agreeable way of allowing several people to get into the pool at their own speed or just to relax in shallow water. And if you install water jets here, it can even be a good place to have a gentle water massage.
4. Because you have a “revêtement” (a kind of paint you apply to the walls) instead of a liner, you can have the pool whatever colour you like. Mine is stone coloured – the same colour as the stones laid around it and the waterfall we built from local stones.




Which pool?

Asking for planning permission
In France you will need an “authorisation de construire”. Go to you local mairie (townhall) for the relevant forms (and some guidance). Usually you will get the “authorisation” within in a month but if you’re in a protected area it will take two. The company which sells you the pool should be able to help you to fill in the papers.


Deciding on the pool you want.

If you want to use the pool for the summer, you need to decide by the end of February where you will buy it from. This is also a good time of the year to negotiate a price! Allow a month for delivery.

We had already had a pool “hors sol” (out of the ground) - the cheapest option, and a good start if you’re not sure how much you’re going to use the pool. Once you’ve decided you’re going to use it quite a lot, a pool in the ground is a much more practical, as well as being easier on the eye. Our main problem with the ”hors sol” pool is that we kept getting holes in the liner. So when I started looking at the choice of “underground pools” I was fairly determined to avoid the ones with a liner. In fact a good deal of pools on offer looked very similar to the pool that we had “hors sol”- : a metal kit which served to contain the water inside with the help of a liner!

I looked seriously at the fiberglass pools, but I soon became convinced that I wanted a more natural looking pool – something like a rock pool. The fiberglass pools come in very traditional forms and colours, and certainly don’t look natural.

The three interesting things about the company (REVLINE) which we chose are:

1. Although it comes in kit form, (which makes it cheap) you end up with a concrete pool, which means something far sturdier than the other kits on the market. It also means NO liner! For anyone who has dealt with a liner for a swimming pool, there will be a long sigh of relief!

2. You can chose any shape you like: the pool is delivered in concrete panels and you simply place them in the shape you want. Ideal for someone like me who wanted to have something which looks natural. You can also chose whatever depth you want and where.

3. If you are looking for a pool which looks natural, the REVELINE pool doesn’t need a ladder or the rather artificial steps you get with most pools. As you can make the pool any depth you like, you can get in and out of the pool either by a gradual slope, or by a small very shallow pool (espace détente) which can either lead to the rest of the deep pool with steps (made of concrete). With the Reveline system you only have to decide on the depth of the pool on the perimeter (so that the length of the panels can be ordered). The depth of the pool anywhere else is simply as deep or as shallow as you dig it. The Espace détente appealed to me as a an agreeable way of allowing several people to get into the pool at their own speed or just to relax in shallow water. And if you install water jets here, it can even be a good place to have a gentle water massage.

4. Because you have a “revêtement” (a kind of paint you apply to the walls) instead of a liner, you can have the pool whatever colour you like. Mine is stone coloured – the same colour as the stones laid around it and the waterfall we built from local stones.


A natural looking swimming pool

Building the Pool (an A-Z)

Digging the hole and getting rid of the earth.
This sounded like the easy part of the operation, (like many other things!) but we couldn’t find anyone to do it – except at a ridiculous price (5,000 euros), so we decided (actually we didn’t have much choice!) to rent the equipment (a digger) and a “camion benne” (dumper truck) and do it ourselves. Yes! don’t forget that you also have to find a place to put the earth………..if you prepare yourself a few months in advance you might be able to find someone who needs it and will come and take it away for free. Otherwise you may find yourself paying a small fortune to take it to a dump. Whatever happens be careful: don’t take it all away – you’re bound to need some of it back later. Thankfully ours’ wasn’t far away and it wasn’t too difficult to get back for the final landscaping!! Two other things to bear in mind which will save you time and money: the amount of earth to be removed is far larger than you can imagine because it is compressed earth. Also though it’s important to dig the hole big enough, don’t dig it to large.

We we’re a bit careless about measuring out the pool precisely and ended up making the hole much to large in places. Later on you’ll have to fill in the space between the sides of the pool and the edge of the ground with gravel….which takes up a lot of time and money. It goes without saying that you must carefully measure the depth of the pool and make sure the bottom is flat.


Taking delivery of the parts.
The parts of our pool arrived but there wasn’t a list of pieces with them, so we wasted a lot of time trying to figure out what was what while building the pool. So make sure you get the list of parts and you know what’s what before you start.

The first part of the building process was relatively easy. You take some polystyrene blocks, lay them out in the shape of you pool, (in the hole you’ve dug!) stand the concrete panels in them and fix them together with metal braces. If you’re lucky, like we were, you will end up fixing the last two panels together to form the shape of the pool you have in mind. But perhaps this isn’t always the case. You also have to cut the panels for the skimmer (or skimmers) and for the various openings such as the water jets, the cable for the projector etc. Revline suggested buying special drill attachments for making these openings but having searched everywhere for them, we gave up and succeeded in drilling the outside of the hole with the drill and knocking the pieces out. In my opinion, as the holes and the spaces for the skimmers are a standard size , they should already have been drilled out by Revline!.

Next we put a row of polystyrene blocks on the top of the concrete panels (no problems here) and then we wrapped lengths of iron rod around the base of the concrete columns and around the tops of them (held jn place by the polystyrene blocks). Not a very nice job, but OK. We also had to lay the iron meshing on the bottom of the pool.

In the In the meantime you have to start thinking about the concrete. The chances are you’ll have to order it a few days in advance. We checked out prices from different companies but discovered that even though the companies had different names, they were all owned by a quasi state monopoly Beton de France) (How French!) One important thing to take into account is what size cement mixer can access your pool (or for that matter your property). The bigger the cement mixer the cheaper – a small one may have to come several times. Whatever happens it’s important to give precise instructions: the kind of cement and the quantity. And the width of the gate they have to get though! You have to pay for all the cement you order, even if you don’t use it. But woe betide if you don’t order enough.

The first thing to do is to concrete around the bottom of thee panels, then concrete the floor.

Before the cement mixer arrives we had to put plastic panels in grooves on the back of the concrete panels, to create perpendicular pockets behind the place where the panels met. This means that when each pocket is filled up you end up with a ring of concrete panels supported by concrete pillars.

Sounds great, but in reality the plastic panels made to enclose the concrete pillars were not nearly robust enough. and so several of them collapsed under the weight of the concrete when we tried to fill them up. We ended up by buying huge card board cylinders, cutting them in half and fixing them in place by whatever means we could to and filling them up with concrete.


Once the concrete is dry you can cut out and install the skimmers and it’s now time to attach all the pipes. Take great care that you mark the end of each pipe so that when you come to connect them to the pump you know what’ s what.
Now comes what turned out to be the worst job for us. As the hole that we had cut for the pool was too large we had to order tons of gravel to fill in the gap. (Whatever you do, don’t fill in the gap with earth , as this will make the walls of your pool very unstable). Unfortunately the lorry couldn’t get to the pool; so we had to hand shovel several tons of gravel into wheel barrows to get it there.

Take care to protect the pipes when you’re pouring the gravel in. If you dump tons of gravel on a pipe you could damage it. At this stage you’ll be relieved to find that the worst part of the work is over…though there is still more to be done than you think………..

The cracks between the concrete panels, (on the inside of the pool) now have to be filled up with filler – sounds easy but the filler didn’t want to stick in the joints. You also have to make sure that the whole pool (walls and floor) are clean and smooth before applying the revêtement. (the special “paint” covering the walls and floor of the pool)

The revêtement takes a hole day in itself: you have to apply one coat, then cover it with something that looks like fabric, then repaint over the top of this. The result is a thick smooth surface. The really interesting part about this is that you can have whatever colour you want. And you can easily change it – just give it another coat. If you’re looking for a natural looking colour steer clear of the usual fake - looking “swimming pool blue”. Darker colours give the same effect as a real pool – leaving a wonderful reflection of everything around thee pool. An off-white - slightly sandy colour gives you a chrystal clear effect.


Once the revetment is on you should allow a week for it to dry before filling up the pool. But anyway you have at least a days work in the meantime on the setting up the pump, the filter and figuring out which pipe goes where. You will also need to set up the electricity box which comes with it and get an electrician to do the necessary wiring.

Landscape your pool.
So the pool is finished – well almost – because it will look pretty depressing until you finish landscaping it. The chances are that there won’t be a blade of grass left around your pool and the walls will end with a simple coat of concrete. You may be able to decide in advance what you’re going to put around your pool, but I found it difficult to take a decision until the pool had been built. Avoid using the ugly concrete slabs that people normally put round pools. You may not be able to afford real stone, but there are some nice looking concrete slabs which resemble real stone.

For more information on Revline pools: http://www.piscines-reveline.com/




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