HH Consulting

Swimming Pools

Swimming pools are essentially water retaining structures that must withstand a large weight of water. There are varying designs for pools, most common are pools sunk into the ground but pools can also be built above ground. Most pools will commonly be found in your backyard or in your gym but you'll also see pools built on top of a roof of a tall bulding or even on the deck of a cruise ship. No matter where or how a pool is built, the structural engineering has to be done correctly to make sure the pool can function properly - this is where HH Consulting comes in.

We bring your unique pool design to life

There can be many different kinds of pools, and different clients have different needs when it comes to building a pool. There are needs for public pools, competitive pools, infinity pools and private pools with unique designs. Whatever the case may be we have solutions to every request that a client can make and we have methods to making sure the structural engineering for all these different types of pools is sound and can pass any inspection.

Private Pools

Private Pools

Private pools can be custom built to the client's specs but usually the average size of a private pool is 3.7 m × 7.3 m (12 ft × 24 ft) to 6.1 m × 12.2 m (20 ft × 40 ft) - which is considerably smaller compared to the average size of public pools. It is very common to have built-in pools in privately owned backyards but you can also find pools that are built above ground and dissasmbled after the summer season. There are different methods of constructions for private pools but the most common structure for private pools are in-ground. These pools can be made with gunite shotcrete, concrete, vinyl-lined, and one-piece fiberglass shells.

Many private pools will often not have the up-to-date safety requirements for young children the way public pools meet these same requrements. It's common for private pool owners to prefer their pool's visual aesthetics to match their house, and will often skip out on fencing off the water. Private pool owners instead take their child's safety measures into their own hands or build a separate pool for their children if they have the means to do so.

Public Pools

Public Pools

Public pools can be a big part of a recreational center like a gym or club. Sometimes, you'll find these places to have more than one main pool like an indoor heated pool for the winter season or a shallow pool for children or disabled adults. You'll often find saunas or hot tubs and jacuzzis nearby as well.

Public pools can also be a common feature of a hotel or motel reserved for use by their guests and is often a great way to attract gusts. Some hotels may even have separate facilities for their public pools and may even have events and activities based around their pools.

The most common structure for public pools are that of rectangles 25 m or 50 m long, but they can realsitically be made in any shape or size. There can also be more elaborate pools with artificial waterfalls, fountains, splash pads, wave machines, varying depths of water, bridges, and island bars.

There are swimming facilities where the public pool is the main feature, there you'll find facilities for changing with lockers to store your clothes and showers to wash yourself before and after swimming in the pool. Facilities like these often have lifeguards to ensure the safety of swimmers.

You'll also find shallow pools that are intended for use by small children, these are often found in parks or recreational facilities. Some of these older pools have to be drained daily and treated with chemicals to ensure a safe environment since these type of pools will often lack a filtration system.

Competition Pools

Competition Pools

Competition pools share a standard size of 25 or 50 m (82 or 164 ft) long and at least 1.35 m (4.4 ft) deep as set by the International Swimming Federation (FINA). Competition pools will generally be indoors and heated so they can be used by athletes year round, this also makes it easier to comply with the regulations set by FINA regarding pool temparture, proper lighting and automatic officiating equipment.

An Olympic-size swimming pool is slightly bigger, according to FINA an Olympic pool is 50 by 25 m (164 by 82 ft) wide, divided into eight lanes of 2.5 m (8.2 ft) each, plus two areas of 2.5 m (8.2 ft) at each side of the pool. The first Olympic pool was built for the 1924 Olympic games and the template have been used since then for all Olympic swimming competitions and other world championship events.

A competition pool may be referred to as either fast or slow, this depends entirely on the physical layout of the pool itself. A faster pool means it has proper depth, was built with elimination of currents in mind, has increased lane width, has energy absorbing racind lane lines and gutters, and uses other innovative hydraulic, acoustic and illumination designs. Overall, the strucutre of the pool will determine it's classification for competition so the structural engineering plays a key role when constructing compeition pools.

Infinity Pools

Infinity Pools

Infinity pools produce a visual illusion that makes it seem like the edge of the water vanishes into the horizon, these pools are also known as negatice edge pools or vanishing edge pools. Often, these pools are built near a body of water so the water can appear to fall into the ocean, lake, or bay. Mostly these pools are built on a property that's elevated above the beach to give the infinte effect a greater edge. Infinity pools rely heavily structural engineering to make the effect work and are quickly becoming a fresh new alternative to standard pool designs.

Indoor Pools

Indoor Pools

To be classified as an infoor pool, the strucutre must be located inside a building, under a roof and insulated by at least three walls. The primary purpose of indoor pools is to be able to swim or train year-round. Indoor pools can be found in call climate types but typically they're built in places with extreme weather conditions. Since an indoor pool is inside an insulated room, it is cheaper to heat than an outdoor pool as the heat won't escape the insulated room.

Typically an indoor pool will match the design of the house but there are variables that are required such as heating and ventilated in order to ensure comfortable humidity levels. Not counting proper drainage and automatic pool cover, there are many ways to remove humidity from the air that's often preset in any wet indoor environment. It is important that an indoor pool has proper dehumidification tools to prevent long term structural damage, these tools can also help lower energy costs and improve the climate of the room to create a comfortable swimming environment.

And more...

Hot tubs and spas

There are many more varieties of pools that weren't listed above, these include exercise pools, children's pools, hot tubs and spas, ocean pools, natural pools and ponds, and zero-entry swimming pools. HH Consulting provides structural engineering services for any type of pool that our clients need.

Structural Engineering Methods

It is essential for pools to be designed and installed to meet a water-tightness criteria and meet standards set by local governments. Even though pool designs and construction methods can vary, for the most part they rely on very similar plumbing and filtering systems. Strcture also have to obey the laws of physics so there's not much variance in what can essentially be accomplished, therefore as long as the design is logical the construction methods will work as well.


There are many different filtration systems, these include:

Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

Diatomaceous Earth filtering methid uses fossilized exoskeletons of diatoms, mined from the earth to act as tiny sieves that remove debris. These are capable of filtering particles as small as 5 microns. This filtration method is the most expensive option and requires more maintenance then other filtration methods.


With this method, water filters through an area of sand and exists at the bottom through a set of tubes. Over time, the filter sand becomes clogged with debris coming from the pool, when this happens the pressure increases on the filter, slowing down the flow of water - this is when you know that the sand needs to be replaced so the filter can function normally again. This is a relatively cheap method of filtration but one that needs more frequent maintenance.


Similar to the sand filter, water passes through a filter cartridge that captures debris, allowing clean water to pass through the other end. These are very economical and don't need to replaced as often as sand based filters.

Methods of construction

The different pool types vary because of the method of construction used to create the basin. The basin is the core structure of the pool and determines the size and shape of the pool.

Above-ground pools

Above-ground pools are known for their cost-effective and effortless consturction because they're usually assembled using pre-fabricated kits that are sold retail and wholesale. These types of pools often have safety concerns because it's difficult to see into the pool unless the person watching the pool is elevated above the pool or standing on the platform.

Fibreglass pools

When building with fibreglass, a mould can be made to shape the basin of the structure that fits the required specification of the design. These fibreglass-reinforced plastics are very sturdy and last a long time compared to concrete. The construction method is also simple - first a hole is dug and the plumbing is laid out inside it. The fibreglass-reinforced shape is then lowered into the hole and sand or similar fillter material fits the shape into the hole. Lastly, the area around the pool is backfilled and normally a concrete deck structure is built around the pool structure.

Vinyl-lined pools

This construction method involved digging out a hole and then using metal, plastic or wood to frame a wall around the perimeter of the hole. Then sand filler is laid out at the bottom of the hole and a vynil-linind is secured to the frame. This method is a cheaper alternative to other in-ground pool designs but it's also less durable as well. With this method, the liner will require replacement usually every ten years.

Gunite pools

For Gunite pools, the construction method begins with a hole being dug out and the plumbing being placed inside. Next comes a framework grid of rebar, this frame is sprayed with a heaby coat of gunite - a mixture of cement and sand. The framed gunite is then smoothed out and left to cure for several days. The pool is then finished with either plaster, concrete paint, tile, exposed aggregate or fibreglass. In the case of exposed aggregate, this requires placing concrete before removing the outer skin of the cemenet paste, which reveals a decorative coarse aggregate.

Concrete pools

Simialr to gunite pool, concrete pools have a small difference in their constuction method. Instead of spraying gunite, concrete is poursed into a conventional wood framework. Alternatively, the walls can be constructed using concrete blocks, however these constuction methods have become less common as gunite techniques have developed over time.

Some other methods that may be included in swimming pool constuction include:

  • Recessed rest ledges.
  • Overflow channels.
  • Starting platform upstands.
  • Ladders: Types include recessed into pool tank, built-in and tiled, face-fixed stainless steel.

Some content and data found in this article was sourced from Wikipedia and the Design Buildings Wiki.

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