The first summer after buying our little stone cottage in the Lot as a holiday home /bolthole, we, like many others, decided we would like a swimming pool. In fact, with temperatures of 30ºC plus, clear blue skies, and time to relax, “the pool” became a must.
But never having had one before where do you start? First the internet – an information overload; next, talk to people who have one – great, but now you enter the world of opinions and sensitivities: “You must have a sand filter”, “you must have a salt system”, “you must have an electric cover” and so on, and so on. We decided that the best route for us was to talk to local pool installers and get them to visit the site to discuss alternatives, prices and what you get for each price (items which very often are essential to pool maintenance can be classed by some installers as extras).
Having done the rounds and quickly realised that our budget would not run to our dream pool we decided to have a Christal Pool double bubble pool (figure of 8 shape) installed by Piscine-Plus of Gourdon. The price was right and, very importantly for a holiday home the time schedule right as it would be ready for use the next summer, despite some of the worst weather the Lot could throw at the installers in February and March.
With the help of the team at Piscine-Plus we quickly learnt the new skills of balancing the Ph and Chlorine, cleaning the pool and the filters, and putting on and taking off the summer cover – not to mention closing the pool for winter and putting on the winter cover! But all these tasks were forgotten as we cooled off, swam and just enjoyed the pool.
We did have one problem which confirmed we were right to use a local company: one morning I noticed, what turned out to be a small split in a seam, and instantly panicked that all the expensive water was going to run out. I called Piscine-Plus, and within the hour Chris Harrison was there. It was a split, and the liner needed to be replaced under warranty. It was at the end of August and his advice was not to install the new liner before the winter, but instead get the split patched under water, and the new liner installed for next summer, which is exactly what happened – full marks!
We so enjoyed life in France that we decided, when the opportunity arrived, to sell up in the UK and move to France full-time. Our tiny little cottage was not big enough as a “maison principal”, so after much failed searching for a larger cottage within the village, we decided to have a new house built with ofcourse a pool. Based on the good relationship we had with Piscine-Plus, coupled with the problems other people had had with other installers, we decided that they should install our new pool, and involved them at an early stage. This time we decided to go for a rectangular pool, but with a sloping site, it was essential that the pool installers worked with the people doing the land work.
It all went very well, and we moved into the house in April 2007. The pool was ready for use in May. Due to the sloping site, there was a need for a lot of infill around the pool, and therefore the need to ensure it was compacted, because of this, the tiles were not laid until September. Nevertheless, we did make good use of the pool when the weather permitted! We have had an automatic chemical controller installed in this pool, which monitors and makes the necessary adjustments to the Ph and Chlorine, something which I as the “pool boy” recommend.
In the Lot, 2007 was not one of the hottest years and so we decided to implement some form of heating. After much research, we decided to follow Piscine-Plus who, on their demo pool, had installed the “green solution” of a heat pump. I am installing the pump myself and although the plumbing is done the wiring is not, because at the time of writing, the water is at a comfortable 28ºC.
One area I have not commented on is that of security. There are so many ways of meeting the legal requirements for pool security in France, that it is very much a case of choosing the best solution for you and your site. We have a thermal security cover and an alarm for when it is open, but we could equally have had 1.2M high fencing or laser beams etc. You make your choice and pay the money – no solution is cheap.
For us, the key in having a pool is to find a good installer. Start by talking to other people who have pools, and then get detailed estimates from a number of different installers, but make certain they are really experienced by going to see work that they have done and if possible talk to the owners. We are certainly happy with our pool!
Article by Wyn Lucas, who is enjoying life in France.