By Richard Scheps
Most people look forward to a hot, sunny day with eager anticipation. It’s an opportunity to enjoy a drink on the patio, sit on a lounge chair in the warmth of the sun or take a dip in the pool. However, what if there was no need to wait for a hot, sunny day? What if you could enjoy your pool, spa or patio at any time of the year, no matter the weather?
These were the very questions a homeowner in Sharon, Ont., asked when they considered installing a pool and patio. The answer was to design and install a fully automated retractable enclosure by Covers in Play of Richmond Hill, Ont.
Where to begin
The benefits of a retractable enclosure are well known to those in the industry, but not necessarily to the consumer. We tell clients that a retractable enclosure could be best described as a sunroom or a ‘solarium on wheels’. The benefits we like to stress during the initial consultation include: being able to pen the enclosure to enjoy the outdoors or close it during inclement weather, significantly extending the pool season, reducing maintenance costs (due to minimized water evaporation and decrease the frequency of adding water, heat and chemicals) and helping protect users from the harmful effect of ultraviolet (UV) rays.
In terms of design options- size, style, operation, configuration and construction-it is typically the client’s requirements and preferences that influence the final result.
The size of an enclosure is primarily determined by the intended purpose of the enclosure and the preferences of the client. From an engineering perspective, enclosures can be designed to almost any required size.
On one project where the enclosure was intended to extend the amount of time the pool and patio could be used throughout the year, for example, a 16.8 x 9.8-m (55.1 x 32-ft) enclosure was designed to accommodate a 5.5 x 10.4-m (18 x 34-ft) pool. This provided the homeowners with sufficient floor space for the patio table and lounge chairs as well as additional landscaping features such as gardens and rockery around the pool.
Typically, retractable enclosures are designed in one of two styles: a fully freestanding enclosure or an abutment to an existing structure. When connected to an existing structure, an enclosure can be designed to take the place of a roof or it can be designed in a way the existing structure takes the place of the enclosure’s side or end wall. In connecting an enclosure to the home, the pool and patio become an extension of the current living space.
When designing an enclosure, another available style option is the roof profile, which can be single/gable or multi-peak. Additional ‘peaks’ in a roof will allow an enclosure to be built in a wider span and may be required to accommodate local snow loads.
Roof profiles can also be designed purely for esthetic reasons, depending on what the homeowner is looking for.