Pool Houses – The Definitive Guide

pool houses article

If you have a pool at your home, you may be thinking of building a dwelling nearby – commonly known as a pool house. So, Do you need Council approval for a pool house?


To some extent – yes. A pool house has the same approval process as a granny flat, so you may have two options for approval (depending on where you live). There are cases however if you are just adding a small pool house, taking up a small footprint, where you don’t need council approval.


I will cover this along with the detailed steps that need to be taken in order to build the pool house of our dreams.


DON'T PAY A FORTUNE FOR YOUR GRANNY FLAT. Find out how to deal with council and build a granny flat for the lowest cost possible. Learn More.

For a larger pool house, much like the size of a granny flat or secondary dwelling you need to start with either:



Today I will show you modern pool house designs, rustic pool house designs, and pool house ideas for those on a budget…Plus a whole lot more.


Modern Pool House Designs


Consider the below elements when designing a pool house:


pool house example

This pool house does a lot with the little space it has. Source: Realestate.com.au


  • Entrance – Imagine the entrance to the pool house just as you would any other door. In this pool house, the door is surrounded by large planters, which makes an eye-catching entryway.
  • Front Facade – The first impression is important. This offers a stunning view, with downlights shining onto limestone walls.
  • Doors – A pool house is the ideal place to try out the balance between indoor/outdoor living. Choose a glass sliding door, a retractable door, or, like in this pool house, floor-to-roof glass doors.
  • Find a Flow – To make the area as a whole work, it is all about cohesion. Find a way to match the pool house furniture with the patio furniture. This house has stuck with nautical colours throughout.
  • Go Sky-High with Your Ceilings – Higher ceilings will give your pool house a spacious, open, and airy feeling, copying the vibe of the outdoor area itself.


NOTE: A building any higher than 3.8m means your setbacks will start increasing .


  • Add an Abundance of Natural Light – By using large windows and throwback mirrors, you will make a small space ‘feel’ bigger. How to achieve this can be seen here.
  • An Open Plan Kitchen, Dining and Living Area – This will be the heart of the pool house, ideal for those who enjoy entertaining.


By combining these rooms and removing the dividing walls, you are creating extra space.


  • Add a Media Room – If you have the space, you can also have a little media room, as seen in this pool house. It will feel like your own private area to relax, away from the main home.
  • Stick to a Theme – Common themes are “Hamptons-esque”, “Mediterranean”, or simply “coastal”. Determine what suits you, your style, and what works with your main home, and stick with it.


I will elaborate on this under “Pool House Decor” below.


  • Put the Main Living Area Outside – If you don’t have much room available and want to save the room you do have for a kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom, think about putting your main entertaining area outdoors.


The outdoor living area in this pool house works well as it’s not cluttered – it’s a nice space with lovely views of the pool and plants, and is tucked into the corner, so it offers plenty of privacy. This is a place where you can go and relax in your own backyard.


blippis pool house

Opening up your pool house creates a resort feel. source: DIRT.com


Make sure you have some shade, and it’s the perfect place to sit and hang out like you’re on holiday, or entertain guests, all summer long.


Added touches to also think about are:


  • A Loft – Not only should your pool house be a relaxing place to sit and hang out, it should also be a storage space for your pool toys. To keep these off the floor, consider adding a loft that you can use as a storage area.
  • An Outdoor Shower – Regardless of if you’re going to have a bathroom in the pool house, an outdoor shower near the pool is always a good idea. If you shower before going inside, you will stop the inside of your pool house getting dirty. They also add extra aesthetic appeal to the area.


Further inspiration can be taken from the renovation done to the home and studio pool house designed by Kyal and Kara Demmrich, the winners of The Block, shown in this great blog post.


Rustic Pool House Designs


If you live in the country, perhaps on a farm, you might be tempted to build a barn-style pool house. But you could always think about going for a rustic look instead. After all, your pool house does not need to be over-the-top – it can be plain and simple, yet still lovely.


For example, the notion behind this pool house is a rustic, open plan pool area.


pool house open plan

Opening up space to the pool, creates the illusion of more space. Source: Realestate.com.au


With timber bench-tops that can be used as seating, tiling (a cheaper alternative for concrete flooring), and lovely planters, this pool house has a gentle feel. The use of reclaimed wood and downlights – but not too many – hit a nice balance between rustic and elegant.


This same look is carried on throughout the pool house, with white walls but wooden touches.


Pool House Ideas on a Budget


There are many ways that you can cut the costs of your pool house. I have listed them below.



Prefabricated Pool Houses


A prefabricated granny flat is a:



These are both granny flats that are built in off-site (in a factory), then transported to your property when the manufacturing is finished. However, there is a difference between the two. Your “flatpack” will come unassembled – just as the materials you need to build a granny flat.


Meaning, when you receive your flatpack, you’ll either have to build it yourself, or hire a builder to do so. Whereas, when your modular home leaves the factory, it’s almost fully put together. It will only take about 3 days for it to be assembled when it reaches your property.


modular pool house

Modular designs can still work with the existing architecture of the house


There are many prefabricated pool houses available to purchase, and if you are looking for a cheaper option, these are worth exploring. However, do not forget there are additional costs on top of the price of a prefabricated granny flat, which can be seen here.


Below is a list of where you can purchase a prefabricated home from.


Kit Homes



Modular Homes



Pool House Plans


It may help to hire a designer to help you with your pool house plans. This is as there are many things to think about when designing your pool house.


Firstly, in many states in Australia, it’s necessary that the pool house be separated by the pool with a safety fence. You must also ensure that your pool is complying with the pool safety laws and regulations that are applicable to your location.


This is as there is an Australian standard that applies to all pool fences throughout our country. However, every one of our states / territories has their own laws and permits – that is, your own current standards that you must be compliant with.


These too may vary from Council to Council. To ensure that you are qualifying with all your legal responsibilities regarding your pool, I suggest that you contact your local Council.


Next, if you’re planning on putting living quarters in the pool house, you must think about the privacy of the tenants between both dwellings.


With this, take into account that the average size of a backyard in Australia is getting smaller. So, it helps to have some assistance to get the placement of the pool house in the correct position. There are simple things to think about, like, if you have a glass pool fence, the safety factor.


You don’t want your outdoor area too close to this – especially if you have young children, or even if you are planning on putting a table and chairs in there.


Basically, the pool house needs to be functional, but should also be fun. The original idea behind a pool house was to have a place to get outdoors and relax in the sunshine. Unlike a traditional granny flat, they were not originally intended to be an extension of your main home, but over the years this has changed somewhat.


So, it may help to have the assistance of a professional to get this balance of indoor / outdoor living correct.


Studio Pool House


A studio pool house proves that bigger is not always better.


As mentioned above, a pool house was originally designed so you could have a place to relax outdoors. So, it does not need all the ‘bits and pieces’.


Studio pool houses, although simple in layout can be large enough to include a lot


If you’re limited for space, a studio pool house could be the answer you are looking for.


It is going to offer you convenience, and complement your pool, simply by existing.


Why so? Well, it;


  • Will limit the need for anyone to enter your main home after they have used the pool, which will keep the dirt out of your primary dwelling.
  • Offers visitors a place to change into their swimsuits, and perhaps even have a shower.
  • Is a place where you can store your pool toys, towels, and accessories, such as its cleaning equipment, to get them out of view and clean up the backyard.


Pool House with Living Quarters


These days, many builders are seeing pool houses becoming much more than just a place to put away your pool stuff, get changed or dry off. The modern pool house is becoming much more like a traditional granny flat – a place that is big enough for all the family to spend time together, just in the warm sunshine.


As the pool is one of the most common shared areas of a house, a pool house naturally becomes a central point. So, the outdoor living areas are becoming a priority. As the kitchen is one of the most important areas of a house, it becomes the most important part of the pool house – sometimes indoors, sometimes outdoors in the alfresco area.


Larger pool houses are becoming popular


So, pool houses are no longer just a place to dry off after a swim – they have been fitted out with abundant seating for everybody to lounge around for the entire day. Some even have enough bedrooms for visitors who do not want to leave just yet, because they find it too nice.


Also, as we now have;


  • Lovely outdoor furniture that is weather-resistant.
  • Outdoor heaters.
  • Flat screen televisions that can be mounted to the walls.
  • Barbeques for cooking on outdoors, and
  • Tiled or polished concrete floors,


An outdoor living area can match if not beat an indoor living area.


I found this article that has some great tips on how to make and keep your outdoor area your very own retreat.


Pool Houses for Sale


An interesting and inexpensive place to look for pool houses for sale is eBay.


You will find an array of pool houses in different sizes.


Two important things to look for are;



It is also important to note that you are buying the item ‘as-is’ – most companies advertising generally will not offer returns or refunds.


All that aside, you can see some great examples of the pool houses available below;


  • Pool House – This is inexpensive and would make a great studio pool house – it is only 1 room and it doesn’t have a kitchen, as pool houses don’t necessarily need one.
  • Pool CabanaAnother great design for a studio pool house.
  • Granny Flat turned Pool House With its’ rustic look, this granny flat would make a lovely pool house.
  • Pool House with Kitchenette – If you are after something with slightly more room, this has a kitchenette, a toilet and shower.


Pool House Decor


A good idea with a pool house is to choose classic furniture to provide structure to the room, then have fun decorating it. Use the decor – throws, lighting, and tabletop features – to set the mood.


Choose your theme and stick with it, but do not be afraid to be creative, and experiment with colour.


Have fun, spruce up your pool house as per your very own style.


Making pool furniture more comfortable with bean bags. Source: Bliss Bean Bags – Pool Bean Bags


For example, add a decorative piece of wall art. Or, if that isn’t your thing, and you’re going more for a rustic theme, antler busts on the wall are a great way to add a bit of flair.


Other common requested inclusions are;


  • An outdoor bar.
  • An outdoor area to play on a pool-table, pinball, or table-tennis.
  • A BBQ.




A well-designed pool house will make summer far more exciting than it normally is – and that is wonderfully exciting. Not only can you use the area for entertaining or relaxing, it also has privacy, natural light, and lovely views.


One of the best things about pool houses is that, just like a granny flat, you can build all sorts of sizes. From a studio to a pool house with living quarters, what works for your property can qualify as a pool house.


So, your pool house may have no bedrooms, and just be a place for rest and relaxation. Or, it may have so many bedrooms it is often used as a guest house.


If you’re looking for a budget option, you have plenty of options to choose, such as a prefabricated home.


You can do some, or all, of the work yourself.


Though, it may help to hire a designer to draw up the plans.


This way, you will get a well-planned pool house that does not bring dirt and debris into the pool or your main home. You will also get a pool house that makes it feel like you are having a holiday in your very own backyard. Staying at home never felt so nice!