Two companies have emerged in recent months promising pools that are cheaper and easier to install than conventional shotcrete vessels and tap into very of-the-moment trends.
Soake Pools, in New Hampshire, creates precast plunge pools measuring 7- by 13-feet that complement the tiny house movement. The products are being delivered throughout New England and can be shipped nationwide, said its president, Karen Larson.
The manufacturer touts the benefits of a small pool that is cool in the summer, hot in the winter. Alternately, its deep plunge pools can be heated year-round when properly insulated with a cover. At only 2,800 gallons, it’s more energy efficient and requires fewer chemicals than a traditional pool — all things that would appeal to the smaller-is-better mindset.
“People understand that we tend to build things bigger than we need,” Larson said.
The pools are precast in Madbury, N.H. and tiled in a climate-controlled warehouse — an approach more cost-effective than building on site, Larson said. Then the 18,000-pound concrete shells are delivered to the homeowner.
Modpools, of Abbotsford, B.C., also have a small footprint (8- by 20-foot) and get extra hip points for being made out of steel cargo containers with a large window on the side.
The manufacturer is an offshoot of ModPro, a firm that repurposes shipping containers into offices and commercial kitchens, among other uses. The rigidity and portability of those big steel boxes make for sturdy pools that are easy to install with some light ground preparation, said founder Paul Rathnam. A drop-in divider creates a dedicated spa on one side of the vessel, cutting energy consumption.
This company also is making inroads to the U.S. market, Rathnam said.
Both Soake Pools and Modpools operate with standard pool equipment that can be controlled via smartphones. And each has a network of preferred contractors for installation and equipment set-up.
For now, they’re selling directly to the consumer. ($21,500 for Soake; $26,900 for a Modpool.)
Both manufacturers say that traditional pool builders shouldn’t feel threatened by their products. Rather, they’re simply meeting a need among those who desire something more affordable than a custom pool, yet more fashionable than your basic aboveground model.
“I don’t think they should feel any more nervous than the traditional homebuilder being nervous about prefabricated homes,” said Rathnam.
Echoed Larson: “We’re a very nichey product with a very specific customer.”
And for its part, Modpools says it’s open to the idea of establishing a dealership network.
“There are a lot of people looking at the benefits of it, rather than the competitive factor,” Rathnam said.