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Swimming Pools Project: Part One

For those who own property in Bulgaria, their thoughts are already starting to turn to warm spring days followed by the long hot summer and how they can improve the value of their property or holiday home. No better time to think about a swimming pool. A pool is one of the main features which will increase the value of your Bulgarian property both for rental and resale.

If you want your pool to be ready for diving in this summer, then you need to start planning now. In a series of six articles Quest Bulgaria is taking a look at installing a swimming pool: what choices are available, how much it could cost, maintenance ... and other important considerations.


Location, location, location!

It might sound the most obvious of questions - but is your garden big enough for a pool?

There are regulations (under the Territorial Arrangements Act) to take into account, such as: the pool has to be situated at least 3 metres from the boundary with your neighbour (on all sides), and has to be less than 100 cubic metres in volume if you want to install it without planning permission.

Where the pool will go in your garden! Do you want the pool to be near to the house? This way it becomes a kind of natural extension to the house and a great focal point. If you’re thinking of enjoying super summer barbecues around the pool, then its proximity to the house will be better so you’re not traipsing all over the garden carrying things to and from the kitchen.

Choose an area that is not overlooked from neighbouring houses and is away from the road to avoid noise and petrol fumes.

Plan of attack

Get a pad and pencil out and make a sketch plan of your garden trying the pool in different places. Maybe you haven’t finished landscaping the garden yet, so this could also be the time to plan in your plants, shrubs and trees.

Be careful not to locate the pool in an area where leaves are likely to fall naturally into the pool, or be blown there by the wind. You don’t want to be fishing out leaves every time you want a quick dip, nor have the pool contaminated. Branches and large tree roots must also be considered as these can quickly damage the pool.

Also on your drawings you will need to consider the proximity of utilities such as all-important water pipes and electricity. Having the pool nearer to the house will cut down on the length, and therefore price, of cabling needed for water heaters, filters and lights. Check on your house plans (you may have them with your Notary Deed) to see if there are any underground pipes and cables which may have to be moved.

What about the sun and wind? It’s lovely to float around the pool on a lilo with the sun beating down, but it’s wise to think about having some shade available too, especially if there are children using the pool. The sun can also increase the growth rate of bacteria in the water, so keep this in mind. A cool breeze is welcome in summer, but you don’t want a force 9 gale blowing across your head the minute you’ve got in the water. Choose an area with some wind protection, or maybe plan to include it in the landscaping afterwards.

Think about the type of soil in your garden. You will probably need to ask a professional for advice here unless you’re well-up on excavating. Fresh soil is liable to subside and sandy ground can sometimes be difficult to excavate: there may also be large rocks that need to be removed. Flat land usually makes the installation process easier but there are ways around sloping land and some types of pool are designed specifically to overcome this problem. However, if your land is sloping, do think about natural water run-off - is all the muddy rainwater in your garden going to flow straight into the pool?

What next?

Now is the time to start thinking about how the whole thing is going to come together. Before you rush off and part with your money, get some ideas and advice from a professional company. It’s free and you can say ‘no’ at anytime, so it is worthwhile, as they will no doubt come up with things you haven’t thought of, plus design ideas.

Real life experience

"We wanted a lovely large pool at least 10 m. long with a sloping bottom and a jacuzzi at one end with roman steps at the other. Once we talked to a professional pool company we discovered that as it would be more than 100 cu.m. we would need planning permission. They also pointed to the cost of running the pool and maintenance. Ouch!

We were undecided as to which type of pool would be best. The professional explained to us the advantages of having a concrete pool - any shape is possible, they are of solid and strong construction, they are long-lasting, and you don’t have to replace the ‘lining’ (although the tiles may need replacing over time). Concrete pools are suitable for most types of climate.

The downside is the time it takes to construct the whole pool as the concrete needs time to dry and set. Usually you should allow at least two months for the construction of a concrete pool from starting digging to jumping in.

We ended up with :
A concrete pool 8 m x 4 m
A sloping bottom 1.2 - 1.4 metres
One set of pool ladders
Underwater pool lights
Filters around the pool edge (instead of in-water skimmers)
Jacuzzi section 3 m in diameter
Glass mosaic tiles
18 kw electric water heater
Pool cover
Tools and chemicals

We got two quotes. The price from company A was 27,651 leva, and the price from company B was 28,281 leva. Neither price included the initial excavation and concreting of the pool. We obtained a price from two local contractors, the cheaper being 17,400 leva. The total cost came to approximately 45,000 leva."

Part Two - Type of Pool
Part Three - Finishes and Tips for finding Suppliers
Part Four - Extras
Part Five - Pool maintenance
Part Six - Cheap Pool Solutions