Over the past few years, through blistering summers and frozen winters, I have enjoyed many hours swimming in my plastic Intex swimming pool. Even more, the hours spent travelling to the beach to find water big enough and cold enough to get properly wet in. The time had to come when I would feel compelled to answer the age old question: Whether to build a real swimming pool in the garden?
I suppose the deciding factor was always one of cost. I could never justify building the kind of pool that would satisfy me. A small plunge pool is of no use and a 25 meter pool would require a windfall.
A lake is a whole different matter. Still a substantial project, although one which I am perfectly happy to undertake myself.So, for those times when I should otherwise be swimming this year, I will be labouring instead.
In sourcing materials, I accidentally found an old Endless Pool on eBay, it had about two hours to run. It was described wrongly by missing out the branding "Endless Pool", and had been described simply as an "Exercise Pool" I won the auction for a song at £1,200 (yes I know there should have been an extra 0).
Installing the Endless Pool in the garge has taken a few weeks. I needed to lay a concrete floor, build a new internal block wall, fit a ceiling and other work again, (I could not justify the cost of anything other than DIY). The pool works perfectly, although it needed a new heater (for the family of course). Installing this has delayed the lake somewhat but at least we will be able to swim throughout the Spring & Summer whilst building the lake.
1st April: Time to dismantle the old pool and organise the relocation of the caravan.
4th Apri l: Pool is gone. The caravan was always rather untidy. Great for a potting shed but not much else, so wouldn't fetch more than a couple hundred pounds on eBay . But it won't' fit out of the gate, so, it's time to dismantle and sell the metal for scrap.
13th April : The caravan has now been dismantled and was surprisingly a long and tough job. Thankfully most of it was put on the bonfire, so disposal was not too difficult. The scrap metal is now ready to be sold at the scrap yard and the chassis is on ebay. Next job should be much more fun.......digging a hole with the biggest JCB I can find.
Monday 2nd June: Big Toys arrive. Ten days off work and I reckon that should be just enough to excavate. Day One: spent laying a draining pipe. Day Two: Excavation begins but heavy rain stops play at 7pm. Day Three: Weather forecast heavy rain.
Well, ten days were enough but I am left wondering whether it might have been cheaper to have hired the equipment for seven days plus a driver and have had an easier job of it. Digging a big hole is actually rather difficult when you have to allow for the slope of the land. In the end I dug out two feet too deep, for about a third of the length and had to spend about six hours putting it back in. Also having to construct a new ramp to get the machinery in and out of the pool. There are still more heavy equipment jobs to do, with back filling and landscaping once the swimmming zone walls are built, but I will use lighter equipment.
Infilling the pool with soil did have one silver lining though. I no longer needed to excavate a trench for the foundations. I simply shuttered the foundation and replaced the soil. This probably saved a coupe days of back breacking work. The excavator was too clumsy to do the job and the ground was now virtually all flint.
Filling the trench with concrete was simply a matter of hiring the contractor and the concrete was poured. Job done in 90 minutes.
Building the walls for the swimming zone came next. This was also a little awkward at the start. Laying out a perfect rectangle 25 meters by 4 meters is not that simple. Even a one degree mistake would amount to a good few inches after 25 meters. In the end I did my best and made a really silly mistake. I had measured off a length of twine, 25 meters long, exactly. Unfortunately, when I pegged it out, puuling it taught.........it stretched about 12 inches. I had therefore dug the foundation trench, about 12 inches too long and had to re dig the trench.
I had decided to use high density concrete blocks 7.2 newton strength. Laying them on their flat side and building in a few pillars along the sides of the walls. I could have used normal blocks and lay them normally, but chose to build a stronger wall just in case. I could also have chosen to reinforce the foundation trench, but decided not to.
Laying 1200 blocks is a huge task, especially considering I had never built a brick wall before. I hope to have this task completed by the end of July.
2 July 1014. One month in. I am half way through building the swimming zone. I have been let down by the supplier of the blocks, who is unable to drop them into the pool area. They are unloaded onto the edge of the lake. This means I have to carry each block, one at a time into the pool. The effort this takes in time and energy is disapointing. The delivery driver has also failed to deliver at all in raining weather, as he cannot drive onto the field. I have lost six days bricklaying time because of this.