Most Americans would enjoy the versatility and flexibility an indoor pool would offer them on a daily basis. However, only a small percentage of the population actually has an indoor pool because it’s so expensive to build, maintain and operate, leaving indoor pools to wealthy owners’ high-end homes.
There are many issues to consider when homeowners ask to include an indoor pool in their house. One is to make sure they are prepared for the costs. “Before we do an indoor pool, we interview the client so he understands the construction and operation costs,” says Tim O’Neil, operations manager and design engineer for Downes Swimming Pool in Arlington Heights, Ill. “Dehumidification is very expensive and we want the client to be prepped for [high] utility bills.”
Because the space will hold a large amount of water, dehumidification is the biggest factor to making sure this space holds up for a long period of time. “You have to manage the temperature in the room so there isn’t condensation on the windows. And then there are issues of corrosion and how the inside of the structure holds up,” says Paolo Benedetti, principal, Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa in Morgan Hill, Calif.
Consulting HVAC professionals in the early stages of design can ensure good design and reduce future problems. “Moisture is the largest problem that indoor pool builders encounter. It must be controlled by a dehumidification system installed by an HVAC specialist. This may control the entire environment from air conditioning to heating, along with dehumidification,” says Robert Blanda, CBP, owner, Mill Bergen Pools in Brooklyn, N.Y., an affiliate of the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals.
Beyond a dehumidification system, a cover is used when pools are not being used. A cover will decrease moisture in the air as well as create a safety feature when small children or elderly people are near an indoor pool.
Good Pool Design
Owners of indoor pools decide to include this luxury in their homes for different reasons. Some are driven by the weather where others are driven by privacy. “Some clients want to swim year-round regardless of the weather, such as in places with harsh winters. It might be a client with issues of being exposed to sun such as people who’ve had skin cancer. Other clients do it for environmental issues such as blowing sand, and keeping debris out of the pool. And then there are people who want privacy,” Benedetti says.
The placement of the pool depends on the client’s desire. Most people picture an indoor pool as a large rectangle. This may be the case with a high percentage of indoor pools, but Skip Phillips, owner of Questar Pools and Spa in Escondido, Calif., emphasizes good design of his pools. “Generally people take as big a room as they can afford and put as big a pool as they can squeeze into it. This defies proportion and scale and that’s what makes YMCA pools duds. If you take the same pool, put it in the corner of the room and have it overflow its rim into a garden, then take the unusable space and shift it to the other side for lounge chairs, it would be much more interesting to me,” he says.
Another pool designed by Questar in Napa Valley, Calif., was placed half inside and half outside with glass doors that close over the middle. Phillips adds that the fundamentals of good pool design remain the same with this type of design.
The placement of an indoor pool depends on available real estate. Some designers choose to position the pool next to the house with a common wall in between, where others create separate buildings. When available property is an issue, indoor pools can be installed in basements. “Going down is logical because real estate is so expensive,” Benedetti says.