When summer rolls around, many French homeowners’ thoughts turn to the pros and cons of installing a swimming pool and you’re not alone. The Fédération des Professionnels de la Piscine et du Spa 2018 reported that France now has a higher number of swimming pools (one pool per 27 people) than many European countries, including Spain. But what do you need to know about buying a swimming pool in France? Here are the five most important steps.
1. Planning Permission For Your Swimming Pool in France
Permission is required from your local mairie (mayor’s office) to install a swimming pool and you should apply at least one month, preferably more, before the scheduled delivery. There are a set of standard forms to fill in, running to about 12-15 pages. The forms comprise a typical CERFA document (an acronym for any official form for carrying out an administrative procedure in France).
You can ask for assistance to fill out the paperwork, often through your pool company, for a fee of approximately 40 – 50 euros. Or, if you know a local building designer who is accustomed to dealing with the mairie, it may be worth employing him or her as your liaison person. If the mairie doesn’t reject your application within one month, it’s accepted that you can go ahead with the pool.
Sometimes, there will be a series of additional questions that need answering before your application is approved. For example, does the pool take up less than 50 per cent of constructible area after you take out the size of your house and any other structures on the property? You may also be asked to ensure that the edge of your pool is at least five metres from any public road or footpath. These questions seem to vary from region to region and from mairie to mairie, but assuming that the land where you wish to install the pool is designated for building, it is unusual for permission to be denied if the correct procedures are followed.
2. Choosing Your Swimming Pool
Swimming pools are most often made off-site in France and then delivered directly to your property. The most popular types are glass fibre shells (known as a ‘coque’ or polyester monoblock) or those made of ready-made concrete or composite panels. With the latter, the shape will be marked out and then the concrete will be poured into place, ready for your own interior tiling or liner. Once the pool is in place, the decking or tiling around it is up to the individual and is usually not counted in the overall price. However, the margelle, or coping tile around the edge, should be available from your pool company but at an extra cost.
How Much Does a Swimming Pool in France Cost?
A typical price to pay for a pool of around 7 m x 3 m will be around 15,000 euros. This includes the pump and filter, but additional and optional costs will include the robotic pool cleaner, (often around 1,000 euros), the pool cover (around 1,000 euros), a facility to store your pump and filter if needed, and other cleaning implements (such as a skimmer for regular removal of leaves and insects). The margelle is also an extra cost – obviously the bigger the pool, the more you will pay.
Paying for your swimming pool
Most pool companies ask for a third of the price as a down-payment, with the rest to be paid on delivery. If you have a smooth process, you can have a pool installed and ready to use around three months after deciding to buy one.
3. Installing Your Swimming Pool
If you’re purchasing a pre-made pool, the time from decision to purchase and delivery should typically be around eight to ten weeks. The pool company should visit before the installation and mark out the area in preparation for earth removal. If you can find somewhere close, within five to ten kilometres, for the earth to be dumped, the company will often take it there free of charge. If you can’t, and are reliant on them to find a suitable place, there will be added charges according to the volume of earth to be removed.
The shell should then be delivered shortly after your earth removal. Most companies are adept at manoeuvring the shell into place, be it over your fence, or down your driveway, or across land. Be prepared for curious neighbours to watch, particularly in a small village, so everyone will soon know you have a pool!
4. Securing Your French Swimming Pool
By law, you must have a security barrier, a pool alarm or a cover on your pool to ensure that animals and children cannot enter unsupervised. Your pool should be fenced in with physical barriers such as walls and lockable gates, or have a separate fence around the pool. You should check which types of alarms and covers are acceptable to the French Government, but when it comes to everyday safety, there is never any substitute for the vigilance of an adult supervisor.
5. Initial Maintenance of Your Swimming Pool
You will either have chosen a salt or a chlorine pool and after you have filled it with water, the pool company should add the right amount needed to ensure it’s safe for swimming. Most pools automatically adjust amounts required to maintain water cleanliness but it’s then advisable to continue testing the water, usually around once a week. PH kits are available at pool shops for a cost of around 15 euros for 50 strips.