Our guide to designing, building and installing sports clubhouses and pavilions

Clubhouses and Pavilions: A Design Guide

Sports and leisure facilities such as clubhouses and pavilions should provide an aspirational environment, whether designed to fit into a stunning natural outdoor landscape or to create additional luxury as part of an existing build. Though the finished product may be easily visualised, bringing that dream to reality can seem initially like a long and complex journey.

From the early planning stages, right through to financing your project, our comprehensive buyer’s guide will help get you started.

We have expertise in designing a range of sports and leisure facilities, including private pool houses, visitor centres and luxurious outside hotel bars. With commercial builds often requiring particular facilities, it’s imperative to ensure the planning process is meticulously carried out.

The benefits of a bespoke building

When designing a purpose-built facility, you have the option to create a space that completely meets your needs. Perhaps you need extra space to expand your existing building? Do you need a small covered area, or a space designed specifically for a certain need, such as a changing room or clubhouse? Whatever your requirements for a sports building, choosing a bespoke design can be particularly beneficial.

There are other positives to creating a bespoke outbuilding, as opposed to developing an existing build:

  • Environmentally friendly

  • Long lasting

  • Stylish and designed to your specifications

  • Speed of build on site

  • Using disused space or land

  • More cost-effective

Why choose timber?

There are a number of benefits of using timber as the main construction material. It is versatile, durable, sustainable, aesthetically stunning and has a number of often overlooked qualities, such as a calming psychological effect and the ability to improve air quality. It is also significantly cheaper than other types of construction materials, and takes less time to manufacture and construct.

Planning your building

Why do you need a new sports and leisure facility?

Whether you need a new sports pavilion for a school or university, or you are a private resident wishing to develop a new poolside building or storage space, developing a new build is a long-term investment. As such, all considerations must be taken into account, from finalising budgets and timescales, right through to preparing the site for construction work.

Consider the costs

As the building is bespoke, the cost is also individually quoted to take into account size, materials and any additional features. Expect to pay at the higher end of the spectrum for larger spaces, including complex interior designs and bespoke requirements.

Taking practical considerations into account

You must consider practicalities such as building obstacles like trees or overhead power cables. You should also seek expert advice regarding how to ensure your building has easy access to the required utilities, and where this will come from. Planning experts and building companies will be able to ensure your ideas are feasible and will fit your budget.

Planning permissions and building regulations

When considering extending a building or adding an entirely new build to available land, you must consider these two vital permission processes. Though you may need other permissions along the process (your planning expert will be able to advise on these), the below permissions are non-negotiable, and must be obtained.

Planning permission

It’s likely your new build will require planning permission - speak to your local Council for some initial advice, which will give you an indication of what to include in your application and whether building permission is likely to be granted.

Your application will need to include why you have decided to build and what the positive implications will be (include benefits to the community if possible), what the building will be used for, where it will be permissioned and how it will be designed. You will also need to ensure you have considered the implication on neighbouring properties and how the build might affect them.

As you’ll need to provide quite extensive information, including drawings, using a construction company that can assist you with the planning application process would be a wide decision.

Expect the application process to last up to 12 weeks, so make sure this time is factored into the timescales for your build.

Building regulations

The plans for your new build, including detailed designs and specifications, will need to be be submitted through building control so they can ascertain that the build is fit for purpose. If required, you may need to work with your chosen construction company to alter some of the specifications or provide some further information. Again, be prepared for this process to take some time. Gathering important information and making alterations is a potentially costly and time-consuming process, so account for this in your budget and timescales.

The building inspector will look at the structure of the building, including accessibility, and will also take into account any fire risks, energy performance, lighting, heating and other considerations to ensure the building is safe. During the building process itself, expect several inspections to ensure the build is going ahead as planned. The building inspector will need to sign the building off once it has been completed.

The Stable Company utilise an approved inspector scheme, which reduces the time taken to complete the approval stage of the application as they are already familiar with the type of buildings that we produce. Should clients wish, we will also happily submit planning permission and/or a building regulations application and fully assess the site for suitability as part of our Complete Care package.

Design and facilities

The beginning stage of the design process includes detailed plans and drawings to decide exactly how your build will look.

Consider the surroundings

If you’re developing a build to blend in with its natural surroundings, consider carefully what type of material you need to use. Timber is a wonderful material to fit in with a natural landscape, but varying wood species carry their own unique properties and aesthetics. You could, if appropriate, consider a green roof to encourage wildlife and biodiversity - a particularly appropriate choice for educational facilities.

When it comes to clubhouses, identify potential flood zones and locate the build away from these areas to minimise the risk of flooding. Avoid areas of poor ground when possible, too. Consider the area - do you need to install security features such as barriers? Locating a clubhouse near to the edge of the site and passing traffic will help to lower the risks.

Position the clubhouse in an area that allows for the best viewing, and consider an external viewing area with shelter as a contingency when the weather is poor.

If you are researching a new build, buying a freestanding build that has been prefabricated off-site and then delivered is a more cost-effective option than extending an existing building, though a walk-way or shelter can be included to seamlessly connect the two.

You must also decide how many people your space must accommodate, and the internal layout of your build (even down to the finer detail, such as furniture considerations).

Additional extras

From living roofs through to material choices, be prepared to make an array of tricky decisions when it comes to your final design. There is no ‘one size fits all’ option when it comes to a bespoke build - you can decide on a range of additional extras to help bring your true vision to life.

If you’re installing a pool house or changing room, for example, why not consider non-slip flooring? You also have the option to install a covered porch system to entrance doors or external safety pathways. If you wish to incorporate specific kitchen or bathroom facilities, you could incorporate kitchen units, colour coded cubicles and external power and water. Extras such as data connection and specialist roofs (such as Sedum roof covering) help to add that finishing touch to your build. Don’t forget to consider the wider aesthetic of your build, too. Landscaping the area around your build can help to ensure your carefully designed new build truly stands out amongst its surroundings.

Of course, though design is a main priority, considering the environmental impact of your build is also incredibly important. Think about green solutions such as solar power, heat recovery and rainwater harvesting and incorporate these into your initial design.

Installing your build

An experienced project manager will work with selected contractors to construct your build to the exact specifications. The fit out will also include the installation of plumbing and electrics.

At The Stable Company, we will work with you to create stunning designs whilst meeting practical specifications, ensuring your build meets your vision whilst remaining practically functional and viable.

Design considerations

Considering factors such as the positioning of a new building (including its accessibility from public transport), and ensuring safe and easily accessible entrances and exits, are paramount. It is also important to incorporate accessible changing rooms and toilet cubicles in order to create an inclusive build.

Wider corridor spaces, varying locker levels and appropriate colour schemes to distinguish the doors from adjacent walls are all small but vital considerations that will help to make any new build a more accessible and inclusive space for all visitors.

The position of lighting should also be considered to help those with visual impairments - avoidance of glare and awareness of different textures and lighting levels can help to create a welcoming environment for all.

Suitable flooring and walling

Energy-absorbing flooring is a popular choice for sporting facilities, with semi-sprung beech or certain wood veneers also meeting the British Standard.

Suitable walling for sports and leisure facilities must be robust and impact-resistant. Consider a bright colour to provide a light effect, though it should give significant contrast to light equipment such as shuttlecocks. Sound-absorbing wall qualities are also popular, with full-length curtains also providing a similar effect.

Natural turf pitches are often considered for some outdoor sports, but looking into how much use the turf can support and the type of drainage to choose are just some of the key considerations to take into account. Talk thoroughly through your options with your construction company to decide if natural turf is the right type of surface for your project.

Artificial surfaces can be more durable and flexible, specifically designed to meet exacting requirements. All-weather options and games courts, for example, are just two examples of the various surfaces to consider for educational or community outdoor sporting areas. To choose the right type of flooring, you must consider the following: how often the area will be used, what it will be used for and at what level.

For changing rooms in clubhouses or pavilions, flooring with a slip-resistant finish such as tile or rubber is particularly important. Floor drainage should also be incorporated into the design to ensure excess water from showers is efficiently removed.

Lighting

When it comes to sports and leisure, lighting is particularly important to ensure full visibility of the area, especially to illuminate outdoor areas. Various types of lamps are used for both indoor and outdoor lighting, dependent on the need of colour, energy efficiency and long lastingness. When initially designing a build, it is important to take all of these factors into account when choosing the right lighting for your needs.

When designing clubhouses and pavilions, natural lighting from rooflights can reduce costs from artificial lighting and can provide a bright and welcoming atmosphere. In changing rooms, rooflights are a safer alternative to windows and allows light into the room.

Storage

Storage is essential for most sports and leisure facilities, often requiring well over 10% of the overall floor area to house equipment. Doors must be wide enough to easily fit the largest piece of equipment, and the storage area must be positioned in a safe and convenient area of the room.

Remember - a smoke detector / fire alarm may be required to be installed for some storage rooms that house certain equipment.

For clubhouses specifically, a secure hut outside of the clubhouse could help to save vital space.

Sustainability

Considering the thermal efficiency of windows, walls and roofs can make the clubhouse or sports facility much more energy efficient - thorough insulation is key. Draught proofing will also help to reduce heat loss.

Letting natural light in through rooflights, windows and sun tubes will help to avoid costs associated with artificial lighting.

Incorporating natural ventilation will reduce the need for air conditioning, ultimately helping to reduce energy and the associated costs. To save costs and vital energy, consider harvesting rainwater from clubhouse roofs and link the water storage to an irrigation system.

When it comes to renewable energy, there are a number of design features that can be incorporated, including solar panels, solar water heating systems and wind turbines to generate energy. Installing a ground source or air source heat pump can absorbs heat, which then helps to heat the water system and the clubhouse building.

Additional facilities

Creating a welcoming environment by landscaping the area will help your new build stand out, particularly in urban areas. Fully functional kitchen areas and bathroom facilities could also be important to include in the design.

Often overlooked factors such as separate adult and child changing rooms ranging to protecting wall-hung equipment should be incorporated in the design drawings, depending on your type of build.

In clubhouses where a shower is incorporated, ventilation is a vital consideration when developing the initial design.

Finance

There are a number of funding sources available for communities or organisations wishing to enhance their sports and leisure facilities.

Before applying for funding schemes or programmes, try securing local funds or finance first. This will make the application process for a grant more viable, as it demonstrates you have explored other sources of funding and also sought support from local partners or influential members of the local community. It’s worth keeping in mind that, if your project is beneficial to the community, then the community’s support can be brilliantly demonstrated by some financial support.

Community and fundraising

Appealing for donations or organising fundraising events is a great way to reach out to the local community and raise awareness for your project, as well as raising money. You could also explore the possibility of crowdfunding, or claiming Gift Aid. There are a range of finance options to help get your project started. For example, our lease financing gives businesses or commercial organisations the option to fund a new build with a fixed term, fixed rate, lease rental facility. There are also a number of grants, schemes and programmes to financially aid businesses and organisations. For further inspiration, take a look at the options included in our funding guide.

How to make a successful application

Your build is more likely to receive funding if you can prove it will have a positive effect on the wider community, such as a sports pavilion being accessed by several community groups for young people. Think carefully about how your building could have multiple uses and ensure your application goes into detail about this. For inspiration, get out into the local community and speak to local groups and organisations to ask how your sports or leisure building could potentially help them.

Ensure your application meets the criteria. Competition for funding is tough, so you’ll need to ensure your proposal matches the application criteria perfectly in order to be considered.

Choosing the right construction company

Make sure you ask the right questions to find the right construction company for your needs.  Ideally, choose a building company that is located close enough to visit you regularly to discuss the progress of the build.

Consider how involved the construction company can be - will they only construct the actual building, or will they help with every stage of the process (including submitting a planning permission application)? Consider how involved you would like to be, or how much of the build you’d like to be managed on your behalf. At The Stable Company, we have the expertise to project manage the construction site, including sourcing and managing all subcontractors and registering the project with the Health and Safety Executive if required.

The cost of designing a new building can be expensive - does your chosen construction company have a finance option so you can spread the costs? Work out your own financial limitations and whether finance is a key consideration.

Always ask any construction company about their aftercare and warranty period. All new builds should come with a guarantee to ensure your build will be in great condition for a long time. You expect to want to use your building for many years to come. At The Stable Company, we provide a 10 year insurance-backed guarantee, so our customers can be confident their build is secure and insured for more than a decade.

Project management

Ideally, you will want to choose a company that can manage the entire process on your behalf, from design idea right through to the handover of the keys to your brand new build. Choosing a flexible company such as The Stable Company will give you the option to manage as little or as much of the process as you would like.

Design expertise

As a bespoke timber manufacturer, we have experience in developing a range of sports and leisure buildings, from changing rooms to outdoor bars. Thanks to our Complete Care Service, we are able to carry out the entire building process on your behalf so you won’t need to navigate planning permissions or deal with multiple tradespeople. However, you also have the option to use The Stable Company to provide just the drawings to aid your planning application, if you have a separate construction team in mind.

With fifteen years’ of experience in the construction industry, it’s fair to say our specialist team are experts in creating stunning bespoke builds to suit your budget and your timescales, where possible.

Remember - no two builds are the same, so it’s important to choose a construction company that shares your vision and enthusiasm for creating something bespoke and inspiring. Whether your goal is to inspire young students as they are introduced to a new sporting team, or you wish to develop a home gym to give you space to relax and refresh, make sure you choose a team of designers who will work closely with you to realise your ideas.  

If you’re considering a new sports and leisure building, please do get in touch.

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