The Pool Obsession part 3: The Pool House

After the disaster of the 24 x 12 foot Intex Ultra Frame Pool I decided to be more realistic.

Buying a pool big enough to swim in required far too large a volume of water to heat.

In the UK climate, that’s going to be expensive to install or to run.

I opted to have something to just cool off in, and forget swimming. I was working somewhere with a gym and pool directly opposite the office, so my swimming urges were satiated.

The 10ft Intex Easy Set Pool beckoned me again; I could buy one for only £35 now! (sometimes cheaper to buy for more with a filter pump then separate later).

This time though, I’d do it properly.

I had a perfect size, level concrete slab patio at the end of my garden, behind the garage. I would utilise a cheap Intex (i.e. same brand – same connections/plumbing!!) pool pump and electric heater which I could power from the garage without any additional electrical requirements.

I bought a vinyl pool cover to keep the leaves out. I considered a saltwater chlorination system, but for a pool that size realised it would be easy enough to keep clean using the chemicals and the cover.

Of course the cover was rubbish.

An 11ft diameter circle of vinyl is bloody tricky to stretch over a 10ft ‘floppy’ pool. Especially when windy. It also kept falling off. When it did stay on, rainwater would build up in huge puddles, stretching and damaging the vinyl.

I’d already started building a hexagonal frame around the pool to make it look nicer and to be able to sit on the sides. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m no carpenter; but I was single, working from home often, and had plenty of spare time – so I managed to knock together a suitable frame.

With this frame in place I was able to build a two-halves wooden vinyl covered structure as a better pool cover.

My intex pool frame & cover
My intex pool frame & cover

Well, I’d hoped it would be better.

The completed frame
The completed frame

It needed to be light enough to be able to lift on and off easily, yet heavy enough to not be blown about in the wind. The end result just about worked, but again, rain water would build up on the vinyl section and it ended up stretching. The poor joints (hello, not a carpenter!) soon came loose and the frames fell apart.

The location of the pool directly below pine trees didn’t help; the pool water got filthy.

The solution?

Build a roof over the pool.

At first I envisaged this as a simple four post structure with a sloping plastic roof, something I would build myself.

I studied the area and worked out how I could build a stable structure.

I couldn’t, really. I would need some more solid walls.

Then I thought to myself, why not enclose the whole pool, and build a greenhouse around it?

I’d already had the idea of filling the gaps between the wooden shell and the pool with insulation to help prevent heat loss; putting the whole pool in a greenhouse would actually help heat the pool!

However, greenhouse glass is incredibly flimsy, and dangerous – considering my young daughter would also be playing in this. Most
greenhouses would also be too small to accommodate it.

It would need a sturdier, larger solution – more like a conservatory.

Here I stopped myself. Costs were spiralling!

I considered a plastic/perspect type conservatory/greenhouse. But that would look naff.

So I decided to build a wooden framed enclosure with several windows and a glass roof that could open when it got too warm.

This was way beyond my abilities so I got in three tradespeople to quote building a large ‘shed’ around the pool.

The first two guys quoted around £1500-£2000 which was way beyond what I’d hoped to pay.

Even the third guys quote of £800 was more than I wanted to pay, but I knocked the price down by a couple of hundred pounds by
using corrugated plastic rather than glass in the windows and roof.

I was quite disappointed with the result though and perhaps shouldn’t have gone for the cheapest option.

The windows look a bit, well, crappy, in corrugated plastic. You can’t see through them properly and they don’t have the same heating ability of glass.

They were also far too small. The “pool house” (ooo, fancy) was a bit dark – I’d imagined a light and airy enclosure.

Getting a soaking in the pool house
Getting a soaking in the pool house

The roof window was also really difficult to open, and only opened a fraction.

However, the principle issue of keeping the leaves and flies out was solved!

Enter the spiders.

I don’t know if I have suicidal or accident prone spiders in my garden, but the number of dead spiders I find in my pool is disturbing. I regularly have to fish them out with a net; actually my daughter quite enjoys helping me with this!

The heating was vastly improved too now; and late in the summer of 2012 my daughter and I enjoyed several days splashing around in the pool.

The next summer though I hardly used the pool.

Why?

Quite a few reasons… it wasn’t a great summer; if there were hot, dry days then they usually weren’t in sequence, so the pool hadn’t time to heat up enough… and those days spent with my daughter we spent on days out, making the most of the weather. I was single/dating and kept busy for the rest of the weekend and the evenings. Even though I worked from home a couple of days a week, I was busy with other projects.

I also went on holiday a lot that year.

Later, I painted the interior a light blue to brighten it up. However, the moisture built up and black and green mould started to grow on the ceiling. A lot of scrubbing and effort later, I managed to clean it up and re-painted it, mixing in an anti-mould paint additive.

It didn’t work too well though, so I now leave the windows open to reduce moisture build up. This is of course means though that the heat doesn’t build up, and on those odd days I think “let’s use the pool!“, it’s not warm enough.

We come to the present day and I still have my “pool house” and it’s collection of cobwebs and dead spiders.

The roof now leaks from rain, although that’s not a major concern. However the lack of light and general gloominess makes it rather undesirable.

This spring, I spent several weeks searching for a company that could fit a new, slide to open, glass roof.

Such a company doesn’t seem to exist.

Several glazers, shed companies and other random tradespeople refused even to come and have a look at it. “Ooo that’s not something we do“. So I started looking for a sliding window frame – such as many be fitted in a loft or top floor apartment, with the idea of purchasing one and getting a local builder to fit it.

Crikey they’re expensive.

Most of the designs are electric powered sliding systems for luxury homes. It was very hard to find a simple manual slide open window of a suitable size, and even that wasn’t cheap. The best solution I could find was 1960s VW campervan sliding window!! But they were a little small and how the hell would I fit them to the ceiling?

The madness had to stop.

I have left the pool house as it is.

We have hardly used it this summer.

We have had many days in a row that have been sufficiently warm to use it, but again, have been busy with other projects. We managed to take quite a few weekends away, so have fulfilled our swimming pool urges for this year.

Last month the weather was hot and my daughter was with me and asked if we could use the pool. I’d recently bought a saltwater chlorination system (the idea being if we’d got a proper glass roof, we could dual up it’s role as a greenhouse and grow tomatoes, and I didn’t want chlorine and other chemicals in the air around the plants) so the pool water was constantly clean and she was convinced the water was warm enough.

I wasn’t. So I kept my t-shirt and shorts on and she happily splashed around for 10 minutes or so.

Splashing me in the process of course, and I got cold and came out.

I asked if she was cold and she denied it, but 5 minutes later I saw her teeth chattering so fished her out.

So what does the future hold for my pool house?

At this stage, I don’t think it’s worth spending money on. We’re not using it often enough. If we can find a cheap glass roof solution and double up it’s purpose as a greenhouse, that would be a good way to go. But we’d need someone to fit it, and fit a new door, as access to the plants would be impractical in the current set up. So it’s more money.

I’d rather spend the money to go on holiday and use a real pool.

My god! Am I becoming sane in my old age?!

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