Found the perfect property in Portugal but it lacks a certain something? Like a swimming pool? Don’t worry, if you have the space and the planning permission, installing a swimming pool in your home in Portugal isn’t too difficult. Here is what you need to do.
Having a private swimming pool is right near the top of the wish-list for many people planning a move to Portugal. It’s a place to relax and hide from the summer heat, and sure to be the heart of everything for the younger members of the family! This article considers all the practicalities of building a swimming pool in Portugal.
There’s rather a lot to think about when building and owning a pool of your own. Before you dive into that crystal clear water, you do need to consider legal issues, safety and ongoing maintenance. Read our list of your 10 best contacts for an easy life in Portugal for more advice.
If you need a help raising money to buy in Portugal, read our new guide, How to pay for a Portuguese property.
So, let’s begin with the types of pool you can choose from:
The Types of Swimming Pool in Portugal
Above Ground Pools
Above ground pools are generally seen as the budget option, and it’s possible to pick something up for less than €1,000. For that you’ll still get a basic filtration system and somewhere for the family to splash around.
As these are temporary structures there’s no need for any formal permission. In fact, the biggest challenge will probably be finding a large enough area of completely level ground. This is something that can prove surprisingly difficult!
Obviously an above ground pool won’t add any value to your property and some may not see it as a “proper” pool. However, it’s fair to say that nowadays there are some surprisingly sophisticated and attractive options. These can include wood surround pools that look more professional than one might expect. Large garden centres and Leroy Merlin DIY stores often stock a large selection.
Prices: From c. €800-4,000.
Prefabricated “shell” pools are very popular in Portugal, and you often see them on display at roadside showrooms. As these come as pre-constructed shells, installation is a relatively simple process of preparing the site, moving them into position and then adding the finishing touches, such as surrounds and decking.
These pools are surprisingly forgiving when it comes to earth movement, and owners tend to find that it’s easier to maintain chemical levels than it is with tiled and liner pools.
Prices: From c. €12,000 plus, installed.
Tiled Pools and Liner Pools
The sky’s the limit when it comes to tiled and liner pools, with all sizes and shapes available to those with the budget. A current popular current choice at the luxury end of the market is a natural pebble finish.
Generally speaking, liner pools are preferred over tiles. Although they don’t quite have the finish of a traditional, tiled pool, they are more forgiving to earth movements. (It’s worth remembering that Portugal is a country that’s susceptible to earthquakes).
Prices: From c. €15,000 – all the way up to €millions
When paying for expensive items from the UK, it’s vital to protect your budget from moving exchange rates. Read the Property Buyer’s Guide to Currency.
Another increasingly popular option for building a pool in Portugal is to use an existing feature and “up-cycle” it into a pool. Stone irrigation tanks are perfect for this, and large enough to create a splash pool for a small family.
Several companies specialise in these conversions, but it’s also possible to take them on as a DIY project. Several coats of silicone paint and some intelligent use of pump and filter parts can create you a very unique place to cool off, without the need to spend a huge amount of money.
Prices: From c. €5,000 as a DIY project. €10,000 plus for a professional conversion.
To Heat or not to Heat?
One thing you will notice in Portugal is that heated pools are rare. While this makes perfect sense during the intense heat of July and August, it can seem a shame that it limits the use of the pools. Often, Portugal’s many hotel pools seem purely ornamental for much of the year!
Obviously if you’re buying a pool of your own, you need to decide whether to opt for the extra expense of heating, in return for a much longer season of usage. There are alternatives to a fully integrated heating system. These include solar covers, and even third-party gas and propane heaters you can add to an existing pool.
Broadly speaking, you need permission to add any permanent pool to your home in Portugal. With new homes, architects often include a pool in their original plans. In these cases it’s safe a build a pool so long as it complies with the measurements and specifications in the plans.
If your property’s habitation license doesn’t include provision for a pool, you must have plans drawn up and approved by the camara (town hall). If you’re using a pool company for the whole project, the chances are that they will assist with this.
There’s no shortage of “illegal” pools in Portugal. If you’re buying a property with a pool, it’s worth checking it’s in the plans
It’s worth noting that there’s no shortage of “illegal” pools in Portugal. If you’re buying a property with a pool, it’s worth checking it’s in the plans, or you may find yourself needing to go through a process of “legalising” it. You should also be aware that having a pool will likely increase the value of your property, which can in turn increase your IMI (council tax).
Swimming pool maintenance has quite a steep learning curve. Some people opt to pay a pool company or an individual tradesperson to handle regular maintenance. This usually entails a weekly visit while the pool is in use, and less frequent visits over the winter. Everything from keeping the chemical levels right to backwashing the filter system is crucial to keeping the pool functional and safe.
Even with somebody else attending to most of the maintenance, it makes sense to learn the basics of controlling the water chemistry. This means keeping an eye on chlorine levels and the pH of the water. With time, it becomes easy to understand the chemical readings and know what’s needed to keep the water safe and clear. Salt water pools are popular in Portugal too, for those who prefer an environment free of chlorine or bromine.
Safety is a huge consideration for anyone who owns a swimming pool in Portugal. Sadly, people do fall victim to tragic accidents every year.
Surprisingly, it’s not yet mandatory to fence off private pools in Portugal, as it is in France and Spain. However, it makes sense to take any necessary steps to project people from the water, especially young children. If you rent out your home, a fenced pool can be a considerable selling point for visitors with young families.
We can put you in touch with a trusted, Independent Financial Advisor. Get help with all the financial aspects of your home – and your life – in Portugal.
Swimming Pool Costs
We’ve already looked at the basic costs of building a pool in Portugal, but there are various other ongoing costs too. For example:
Electricity: Running a pool pump is estimated to cost at least €700-900 per year. You can add significantly to those figures if you plan to heat the pool.
Chemicals: Chemicals are relatively inexpensive, but it still makes sense to budget around €20-30 per month while the pool is in regular use.
Maintenance: If you hire somebody to maintain your pool – a must if you’re not in the country all the time – you can expect to pay €20-50 per visit, depending on whether you hire an individual or a maintenance company.
Accessories: There’s no end to the accessories you can buy for a pool, from covers that keep in the heat to hoovers and cleaning “robots” that simplify maintenance. Obviously none of these things are mandatory. However, if you’re putting together a budget for a pool, it makes sense to be realistic about which of these things you’ll want and need.
Owning a swimming pool in Portugal is a true pleasure, but there are plenty of practicalities to consider. For more on daily life in Portugal, check out this guide.