They are normally used as water tubs for livestock to drink out of, but people have found a new use for stock tanks — a stylish, functional, and cheap version of a plunge pool.
- People are jumping on a new trend using livestock and water tanks as plunge pools
- A Sydney tank supplier diversified his business when asked to make a pool about two years ago
- He’s since developed the product to be a fully functioning pool with everything a normal pool has
When David Mortimer started his custom tank building business 15 years ago he never expected to be making pools.
“We build stainless steel water tanks for residential, commercial, and rural customers,” he said.
“But about two years ago we started getting some customers in asking if we could build a tank without a lid on it.”
Curious to see what all the fuss was about, Mr Mortimer started experimenting with a range of different sizes and structures that would best work as pools.
“We’re always looking for new opportunities and areas to diversify … so we ran with that concept and developed the product further,” he said.
“We got it [the stock tank pool] fully engineered and certified, and made sure it’s able to withstand the forces of people jumping in it.
Price point the big seller
Mr Mortimer said a lot of his customers are looking for a cheaper alternative to the standard in-ground pool.
“You’ve got your pools where you dig a hole and you build the pool and they start around $50,000,” he said.
“Then you’ve got your concrete plunge pools that generally hover around the $12,000 mark, but you need quite a significant crane to get those in.
Mr Mortimer said the tanks also fitted in most small backyards which had made them widely popular in metro areas.
“We do get the customers that come in with a really small backyard and they think their only option is to get a spa or something like that,” he said.
Growing trend in cities too
The Swimming Pool and Spa Association of Australia’s (SPASA) chief operating officer Spiros Dassakis said the niche small pool trend had taken off in New South Wales and Queensland.
“We have seen in the last couple of years stock tanks becoming more appealing in rural settings but also in urban settings where you’ve got a minimalistic feel to the dwelling,” he said.
Mr Dassakis said the small pool trend was not limited to stock tanks.
“As the urban dwellings get smaller in space there’s a real move to the desire of a smaller type of pool,” he said.
‘Fully functioning pools’
Not all tank manufacturers have taken to the trend like Mr Mortimer, who developed the tank pool to have everything a normal pool has got.
“The pools are fully functioning pools — they have filters, chlorinators, pumps, you can get water heaters as well,” he said.
Mr Mortimer said his pools were made from corrugated stainless steel and did not require plastic liners which could be prone to damage as per typical above-ground pools.
“Stainless steel is quite thin so its thermal performance against the water is pretty small,” he said.
Difficult to DIY
Mr Dassakis said it was important people sought out properly manufactured alternative pools.
“We discourage anyone from doing their own hydraulics, which deals with the pump or the heart of the swimming pool,” he said.
Mr Dassakis said any pool over 2,000 litres could not be installed without going through the permit process.
“Products that you buy from reputable dealers that are installed correctly meet relevant Australian standards to keep Australians safe,” he said.
“It’s an exciting new trend that we think will continue.”
In Victoria, any swimming pool (defined as being able to hold 300mm of water or more) must be registered with the local council and have appropriate safety barriers in place.
Different regulations apply in different states and consumers are advised to check with their local council before installing any pool.
Child safety around pools vital
Royal Life Saving NSW’s drowning prevention and education general manager, Craig Roberts, said like with any pool, people must be careful when using stock tank pools.
“Like any body of water they are classed as a swimming pool, so they fall under the normal swimming pool legislation and regulations,” he said.
“We have seen an increase in drownings in swimming pools, particularly in the 0-5 age categories in the last 12 months.
Fencing around swimming pools is an additional requirement owners must adhere to.
“The safety barriers around the facility are key, owners are required to have a fence meeting those regulations around the pool,” Mr Roberts said.
“It’s also really important that anyone with any pool has a gate that can be closed and latched so young children can’t access it.”
Mr Roberts said it was vital that children were supervised when in pools, as there had been a lack of adequate supervision in the majority of drowning cases involving children.