Pool Enclosures & Pool Shelters
Before we jump into pool enclosure cost we need to understand the difference between a pool enclosure and a pool shelter or pool cover. Unfortunately they are not the same yet the name pool enclosure is widely used to describe both in the industry.
The definition of a shelter is a small building or covered place which is made to protect people from bad weather or danger. Both a pool enclosure and pool shelter provides coverage and protection from the weather. But a pool shelter is a light weight structure usually shaped like a crescent or half moon just covering the swimming pool with little or no head room at the sides of the structural. Sitting on a deck chair maybe possible for larger units but standing is usually not due to the shape of the building. The pool structure is secured to the pool deck with no foundation.
These pool shelters are low cost structures that are made for mild climatic areas to be used in areas with no snow or very little snow and low wind areas. Any warranty, if provided, clearly states that that snow must be removed, straps, poles to secure the building in high winds or the unit must be dismantled in order to avoid the warranty being void. They are in effect an expensive pool cover.
A Pool Enclosure, as an architectural product, is an actual building that encloses the swimming pool and the deck area. They are building structures that need a foundation and are designed to meet local building codes. Stamped engineering drawings are required for each location to ensure the building meets snow and wind loads and are submitted to the local town or city for building permit approval prior to installation.
Now that we understand the difference between pool enclosure and pool shelter/pool cover we can now look at the cost of pool enclosures. Typically pool enclosure costs are determined by the following main factors:
- Size of the Pool Enclosure
- Enclosure Design
- Fixed or Retractable Pool Enclosure
- Snow load & Wind load
- Framing Materials & Glazing
Size of the Pool Enclosure
Size determines everything. Typically the larger the pool enclosure, the lower the cost per square foot, but the overall cost will be higher. That is why when considering the enclosure size consider the layout of the pool and deck. If the swimming pool and pool enclosure is new, consider looking into a seating area beside the pool for lawn chairs, lounges, tables, etc.. Some projects get into features such as fountains, diving board, rocks, slides, planters or other decorative items that may be placed around the pool and the walking area around these items. And don’t forget at the end of the swimming pool a pool cover, either built in or on the deck, space is usually over looked for this piece of equipment.
Once the size is determined the design of the enclosure needs to be considered. The design is also influenced if it will be a freestanding enclosure or attached to an existing structure. If attached to an existing structure the interface and height needs to be looked at to ensure it compliments and functions well with the existing structure. When attached to an existing structure the enclosure cost maybe lower if a wall section is not required, but if a house interface or a house attached is required it may be the same or slightly higher in cost.
Fixed or Retractable Pool Enclosures
The second major factor on cost is deciding between a fixed or retractable pool enclosure. A fixed pool enclosure is simply a fixed building that doesn’t move and the most cost effective to build. By adding sliding bi-fold doors, windows and sliding doors enhance the fixed building by providing fresh area in the summer months.
Retractable pool enclosures or telescopic pool enclosures on the other hand have fixed and moving sections of the building to be opened in warmer weather uncovering the pool and deck area. The moving sections also known as bays typically slide over or under each other. Your pool in effect becomes an indoor or outdoor pool whenever you open or close the enclosure. This greatly enhances the function of the pool area when opened by extending the deck beyond the enclosure area. Typically the bays are moved by hand and require two people to open and can be closed over a 5 to 10 minute period. New telescopic pool enclosures are easier to move, but over time it requires more effort. It is recommended that all retractable pool enclosures be purchased with an electric drive system that automatically opens and closes the pool enclosure. This is an additional cost, but well worth it over time and if you are alone or have any physical or health issues, it would be a must have.
Snow load & Wind load
Considering snow and wind load when deciding an enclosure is the last thing on people’s minds, but not the engineer’s. If you live in an area that receives a lot of snow and wind then the indoor outdoor pool enclosure must be designed for it. Because pool shelters are not designed for any real snow loads or wind loads, they typically fail for this reason and have a limited life. So, the higher the snow and wind the larger the structural members or framing will be. These larger framing components will also increase the cost of telescopic pool enclosures, but not by a huge factor since pool enclosures are first designed for high winds and snow loads. And they will stand up to the weather no matter where you live.
Also the roof of the pool enclosure should not be flat in any section but have a peak or gable roof as a minimum to allow snow and water slide off the enclosure. On any weaker system, too much rain, freezing rain or snow will result in the collapse of the pool enclosure.
Framing Materials & Glazing
Pool Enclosure structural framing materials can range from wood, steel to aluminum but not unsupported or non-reinforced vinyl (vinyl alone doesn’t have the strength). Aluminum is considered to be best due to its ability not to rust or rot in an indoor outdoor pool environment. The high humidity created by the evaporation of pool water will require a HVAC system if wood or steel is used. Even then, over time the wood and steel will deteriorate if regular maintenance is not performed. The additional cost of the HVAC as well as the electricity to run the HVAC continuously should be considered.
The glazing or the material used to cover telescopic pool enclosures range from acrylic, polycarbonate to tempered or laminated glass. The acrylic and polycarbonate are more cost effective and durable than glass but during cooler months condensation maybe visible on the inside. This will not be an issue for the aluminum framing but over time will be for wood or steel, which is why wood windows are not usually installed in homes to day.
If glass is considered it must be tempered or laminated for safety reasons. It is heavier requiring the structural framing members to be larger to support the load increasing the enclosure cost. Even tempered glass also can break on impact and more care is required not to hit the glass with the pool skimmer pole or other pool equipment.
Average Pool Enclosure Cost
With everything to consider it sounds pretty expensive, not as much as you might think. At Covers in Play we prefabricate each Retractable Pool Enclosure system and ship it knockdown to the installation site. So the onsite assembly and installation time is reduced to approximately a week for smaller units or so, depending on the size and complexity of the enclosure design.
The system also has lots of options allowing for economizing the design to suit various client needs and site conditions.
With all the considerations listed above the average pool enclosure cost ranges from $50 to $110 or more per square foot depending on all the options. Applicable taxes, shipping, site prep, installation are all considerations.
This makes it a great deal compared to conventional construction costs that are typically two to three times the cost.