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SWIMMING POOL REMOVAL GUIDE


So, you have finally decided to take the plunge and dive-in head first into your swimming pool removal. Suddenly, you are faced with a whole new set of questions. How will your pool removal be handled? Most cities allow a partial collapse and fill, where others require a full removal of all concrete and rebar and then backfilled under the supervision of a licensed Geotechnical soils engineer. There are many options that fall between these two ends of the spectrum and I will do my best to describe each techniques and the pros and cons of each.

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The Partial Removal and Non-Engineered Fill (Sides Broken down)


The process: This is the most common type of removal that we see. This technique involves punching holes in the bottom of the swimming pool, breaking the sides (bond beam) down 18-36 from grade and then backfilling and compacting with no engineering oversight. Suitable future use: Most cities will consider the area of the former pool non-buildable (no additions or dwellings) but the area will be perfectly acceptable for landscaping, sheds, concrete, plants or trees. Advantages: The main advantage to this type of pool removal is cost savings and the speed at which it can be removed (2-5 days) Disadvantages: There are a few disadvantages to this technique. The main disadvantage is that it will be something you will have to disclose to future buyers of the property and could affect the value of your home becasue it is considered non-buildable. On the other hand, you should check with the city building depatment and see what the property setbacks are to see whether it is a buildable area in the first place. Another disadvantage is that if someday someone wanted to install a new swimming pool the old one would have to be dug up, broken out, recompacted and re-dug to the shape of the new pool. Also, if this technique is performed incorrectly you may have an increased chance of sinkage, swelling, or a lack of proper seepage. Refer to the How to Hire A Contractor section in our ebook to see if your contractor measures up!

Partial Removal and Engineered Fill


The Process: This technique is the same as above except that the backfill would be monitored by an engineer technician who would perform density testing during backfill and then submit a senior engineer letter. This technique is typically only used when required by the city but if you are unsure of your contractors abilities it might be a good idea. Suitable future use: Most cities will consider the area of the former pool non-buildable (no additions or dwellings) but the area will be perfectly acceptable for landscaping, sheds, concrete, plants or trees. Advantages: The advantages to this type of pool removal is cost savings and the speed at which it can be removed (4-5 days). Another advantage would be that you have verification that the area has been properly compacted. Disadvantages: There are a few disadvantages to this technique. The main disadvantage is that it will be something you will have to disclose to future buyers of the property and could affect the value of your home becasue it is considered non-buildable. On the other hand, you should check with the city building depatment and see what the property setbacks are to see whether it is a buildable area in the first place. Another disadvantage is that if someday someone wanted to install a new swimming pool the old one would have to be dug up, broken out, recompacted and re-dug to the shape of the new pool.

Partial Removal and Engineered Fill

The Process: All concrete (Gunnite), fiberglass, liner, re-bar, etc. is removed from pool cavity and hauled offsite. The area is filled and compacted. Suitable future use: Most cities will consider the area of the former pool non-buildable (no additions or dwellings) but the area will be perfectly acceptable for landscaping, sheds, concrete, plants, trees or new swimming pool. Advantages: The advantages to this type of pool removal is cost savings and the speed at which it can be removed (4-5 days). Another advantage would be that you have verification that the area has been properly compacted

Disadvantages: There are a few disadvantages to this technique. The main disadvantage is that it will be something you will have to disclose to future buyers of the property and could affect the value of your home becasue it is considered non-buildable. On the other hand, you should check with the city building depatment and see what the property setbacks are to see whether it is a buildable area in the first place. Another disadvantage is that if someday someone wanted to install a new swimming pool the old one would have to be dug up, broken out, recompacted and re-dug to the shape of the new pool.

Full Removal with Non-Engineered Backfill


The Process: All concrete (Gunnite), fiberglass, liner, re-bar, etc. is removed from pool cavity and hauled offsite. The area is filled and compacted. Suitable future use: Most cities will consider the area of the former pool non-buildable (no additions or dwellings) but the area will be perfectly acceptable for landscaping, sheds, concrete, plants, trees or new swimming pool. Advantages: When you sell your home your disclosure will state that the entire pool was removed which may have less impact than if you had performed a partial removal. If your property setbacks would not allow building in the area regardless of the former pool there should be little or no impact on home value. Another advantage of removing the entire pool is that with no concrete burried in the pool it leaves less room for error in the backfill process. If a contractor doesnt know how to properly layer the concrete chunks during backfill it can leave air spaces that over time can cause sinkage in the former pool area. This process also eliminates any concerns of seepage as with the partial removal. In my opinion, if you are going to go through the expense and effort of a full removal it is usually worth it the spend the extra money to have it engineered. The cost is typically about 10% more.

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Full Removal with Engineered Backfill


The Process: All concrete (Gunnite), fiberglass, liner, re-bar, etc. is removed from pool cavity and hauled offsite. The area is filled and compacted. Provide a demolition and compaction plan wet stamped by a state licensed Engineer, perform density testing and oversight during backfill, and submit a final engineer review declaring the area buildable Advantages: Although this is the most expensive option, it is the absolute best process. In the eyes of real estate and building departments it is as if the pool never existed. Disadvantage: Cost

This should give you an overall idea of your options. Keep in mind that there are some variations in between these that may fit your special situation. I tried to simplify the process just to give you an idea of what would be done in each scenario but I would be happy to talk to you in more depth about our specialized process for removing swimming pools. I hope you find this helpful and I wish you the best on your upcoming project!
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If you must drain your pool I would suggest the following to avoid this problem:
Break 2 holes. One in the deep end and one in the shallow end. The holes should be broken at least 2 ft. X 2 ft. Do not cut the holes with a concrete saw because you will cut the rebar and the repair will be more difficult. Use a small jack hammer and break small bits of concrete and remove all of the rubble leaving dirt and rebar exposed. BEWARE: Do not drain your pool completely all at once during the rainy season. It is best to drain it until the shallow end is exposed. Break your first hole in the shallow end. Then drain the rest and break the hole in the deep end. This process does not guarantee that your pool will not move but will reduce the likelyhood. Swimming Pools are designed to hold water and that is what is best for them. If at all possible do not drain your pool until you are ready to act on your remodel or removal.

Soon the rains will start coming and it will be time to deflate the water wings, put away the margarita machine, and retire it for the season....But one word of warning.... Many of my customers have decided to defer maintenance on their swimming pool and drain it in the mean time. The often unforeseen consequence is that a swimming pool with no water can also be a boat. As the water seeps in from the sides, the pool can lift out of the ground. Ive seen them as little as 6 to as much as 5 feet out of the ground. As the water seeps in from the sides, the pool can lift out of the ground. I have seen them as little as 6 to as much as 5 feet out of the ground. If the plan was to remodel the pool, it will now have to be removed completely, back filled and then re-dug in the shape of the new pool. A BIG mistake. Alternately, if your plan had been to remove the swimming pool using the partial removal technique it changes the process significantly and would include an increase in price. On the flip side, if you had planned on a full removal it makes no difference exept that we may need to wait a few days in between demolition and backfill to allow the cavity to dry. Click Here to watch what happened when I poked some holes in the bottom of the above pool.... July but due to the clay type soil in the area it held the water for months. If you must drain your pool I would suggest the following to avoid this problem: It actually surprised me that so much water was still under this pool because it was late

BEWARE OF THE FLOATING POOL

HOME VALUE AND POOL REMOVAL


If I remove my pool, what is the effect on the value of my home?
This is one of the most common questions I get from clients that are undecided on whether or not to remove their pool. I am by no means a real estate professional but I have read several articles on this topic and have seen the effects that removing a pool can have on selling a property first hand. Here is my attempt to answer that question... Most people would like to have a definitive answer regarding this question. Unfortunately, like many other factors in real estate, it depends. Below are some of the issues I have seen that affected property value in relation to swimming pools. This is a list of factors that may have a flat or negative effect on your homes value. 1. If the pool takes up 30% or more of the backyard. 2. If the pool is over 30 years old and is in need of repair 3. If the pool does not have a safety gate around it. 4. If the pool is made from a vinyl liner. 5. If the geographic area the pool is in has less than 3 months of swimming weather 6. If the pool is the only one in the neighborhood. 7. If your area is currently experiencing a drought This is a list of factors that may have a positive effect on your homes value. 1. The pool is less than 15 years old. 2. The pool takes up less than 10% of your backyard. 3. Most of your neighbors have pools. 4. The pool equipment is relatively new and energy efficient. 5. The geographic area the pool is in has more than 6 months of swimming weather 6. The pool is completely enclosed by a safety gate. 7. If your home is considered a luxury home Supply and Demand: The current economic downturn has reduced the pool of buyers substatially over the past couple of years. According to real estate professionals the best way to get offers on your home is to appeal to as many possible buyers as possible. In general, most families that do not want a swimming pool are less likely to look at a home that has one due to the cost of removal. Whereas, a family that does want a swimming pool will likely look at homes that have existing swimming pools or enough space to install one. Another factor to keep in mind is that if you have a swimming pool and are selling your house, it may benefit you to sell during the summer time when swimming pools are the most attractive to buyers.

REMOVE VS REMODEL
If your pool is in need of repair and you are selling your house these are some suggestions that may be helpful. 1. Talk to your real estate agent and ask their professional opinion on the effect of having a swimming pool on your property. 2. Review the above list of positives and negatives and see which you fall into. 3. Get 3 estimates on repairing your pool. 4. Get 3 estimates on removing your pool. 5. Compare the middle 2 estimates of removing compared to repairing and figure the difference. Example where repair would be the appropriate action: Base home value: $500,000 Value added for pool: 3%= $15,000 Cost of Removal: $10,000 Cost of Repair: $12,000 If Repaired the total value would be $503,000 (500,000+15,000-12,000) If Removed the total value would be $490,000 (500,000-10,000) Example where removal would be the appropriate action. Base home value: $500,000 Value added for pool: -2%= (-$10,000) Cost of Removal: $9,000 Cost of Repair: $7,000 If repaired the total value would be $483,000 (500,000-10,000-7,000) If removed the total value would be $491,000 (500,000-9,000) Other factors such as landscaping and time factors such as maintenance and mortgage should also be taken into account.

Personal Experience

A large portion of pools that I have removed are related to real estate transactions. Here are a couple of examples that I have experienced after removing swimming pools. 1. A home in Moraga was on the market for 6 months, prospective buyers generally felt the same about the pool, that it was poorly placed and undesireable. I removed the pool and the house was in escrow within 2 weeks. 2. A home in Walnut Creek where the owners needed to move for work purposes was unable to sell their house because of the decreased value due to the real estate slump. In order to rent the home the insurance company wanted to increase the premium drastically and install a gate that was going to cost $3,500. In addition, several renters expressed hesitation due to the pool and the homeowners would be responsible for maintenance and repair. They decided the best course of action was to remove the pool. The homeowners had far more interest from potential renters once the pool was removed. The majority of the applicants had children and wanted to be in the Walnut Creek school district but didnt want the hazards or liability of a pool.

Top 10 Things to Consider When Hiring a Pool Removal Contractor.


1. Check the contractors license number 2. Get at least 3 bids from quality swimming pool removal contractors 3. Get a minimum of 10 references and call at least 3 of them. 4. Make sure all project expectations are in writing and only sign the contract if you under stand the terms. There should be NO change orders or up charges for a pool removal if bid is done properly. 5. Confirm that your pool removal contractor has general liabilitiy insurance and workers compensation. Also, make sure they will not be using any subcontractors without your knowledge. 6. Never pay more than 10% or $1000, which ever is less, for a deposit. Additionally, never let the payments get ahead of the work. 7. Before work commences, make sure your contractor has pulled the proper permits. 8. Ask your contractor what techniques they will use for compaction and ensure it is appropriate for the soil type. 9. Whoever you decide to hire, it is important that they have substantial experience in removing pools. If the process is done incorrectly, the cost to correct the mistakes will be more than the original cost of the removal. 10. Do NOT make your final payment until all work is done to your satisfaction and all items in the contract have been fulfilled. (This includes the city permit being finalized)

For more information on swimming pool removal check out my blog!

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