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Property in France

Swimming Pools Make a Splash

Tuesday 05 July 2011

With most of France sizzling under a heatwave over the past few weeks, the construction of a private swimming pool has never been more popular.

France is second only to the USA in the number of home owners who enjoy the pleasures of a swimming pool on their property.

There are 1.5 million homes equipped with a pool and with around 200 new pools being installed each month the popularity of a private pool continues to grow.

According to the Fédération des professionnels de la piscine (FFP) sales are up this year on 2010, which itself was up by 13% on 2009.

For many, having your own swimming pool has ceased to be a dream and is now being treated more like the purchase of a new car.

However, unlike the purchase of a car, the installation of a pool on the property is an investment that will bring a return, whether from letting income or later from the sale of the property.

Above Ground Pools

If you only want to use a pool for a few weeks each summer, and you live north of the Loire, a cost effective solution would be to install an above ground pool.

Entry level versions of these pools start from only a few hundred euros, but sturdier and larger versions cost several thousand euros.

There are more construction and material types than you can shake a stick at. Your choice will need to be governed by your budget and just what type of use it is going to have, but wooden above ground pools are robust and attractive, and can be left outdoors all year.

One of the advantages of choosing an above ground pool is that there are generally no administrative formalities to worry about.

These pools are excluded from the regulations concerning pool security systems, and few local councils insist on obtaining administrative consent for installation of the pool.

Strictly speaking, if the pool exceeds 10m2 and/or 1.8 metres in height, and it is to remain in place longer than three months, the council can insist on their approval being obtained, although outside of urban and protected areas this is rarely necessary.

Submerged Pools

For those with the cash and a property to match, then a submerged in-ground pool is the only real option.

You are going to need to budget upwards of €25,000 and often a lot more if you seek a large pool built to the highest standards.

As well as the cost of the pool itself, remember also to consider what accessories you need to buy to accompany it.

Since 2006, a security system has also been obligatory for submerged pools. You have the choice of barriers, an alarm system, a reinforced safety cover, or a permanent shelter.

An alarm system is the more discerning choice, and it also happens to be the most cost effective option. Some of the new models on the market, such as the Sensor Espio, are now submerged, so there is no longer any need to attach the alarm to the side of pool as was the case with earlier models.

A pool cover will help retain the heat of the water overnight, but do ensure you buy one composed of at least 400 micron material to ensure a good level of insulation. Alternatively, invest in an automatic rigid cover that will give a longer life and avoids having to manually roll out and back in a plastic cover.

If you want to ensure that the pool is kept clean, and to relieve yourself of having to manually clean it, the purchase of a robot cleaner is likely to be an investment you will not regret.

Apart from the capital costs, you also need to consider the running costs. Maintenance of a pool does require a reasonable understanding of how it all works, so it is well worth spending some time getting to understand the basics of how to stop your pool water turning green, to avoid the cost of having to call out a pool engineer to resolve the problem.

There will also be additional electricity costs from running the equipment and possibly heating the pool, as well as an increase in the residence tax, the taxe d'habitation.

You do not normally need planning permission for a submerged pool, although some admistrative formalites are necessary.

If the pool is less than 10m2, and with a cover no higher than 1.80 metres, then no formalities at all are required.

An uncovered pool at least 10m2 requires submission of a building works notification, called a Déclaration préalable.

The installation of an indoor pool, or a pool under an existing building, would normally require no consent, but do seek confirmation from your mairie.

If the pool is being constructed in proximity to the boundary of your neighbour, planning laws normally require a minimum distance of 3 metres is respected. In some areas it may be more.

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