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Thread: Help! Buy or Bail?

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    Help! Buy or Bail?

    Hi everyone,

    My wife and I are in contract for our first home in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area. It's a foreclosure with an in-ground pool. We really love the house but we've become increasingly concerned about the pool; specifically whether it's structurally sound and operational. When we first looked at the house, we thought if there was something wrong with the pool that it would be simple and cheap to take it out. We subsequently discovered that removal is quite expensive and has implications on future sales of the house.

    (The pictures below are hyper-linked to Picasa. There you can click the magnifying glass on the top-right of the image in order to zoom into the original photo detail.)

    The Pool:
    - 30+ years old
    - 13,000 gallons
    - In-ground gunite? (I'm not really sure)
    - Pump model is Hayward (or Emerson) R63CXDPY-233

    - Filter?

    - Appears to be solar heated. There are black panels on the roof with pipes leading to pump.


    Concerns:
    - The pool has significant horizontal cracking along the entire waterline of the pool. We're worried it's not structurally sound.
    - From what we've learned on this forum and elsewhere, this cracking is a result of mechanical separation between the pool shell and the coping causing fractures in the bond beam.



    - The pool has been drained recently and may not have been done in safe way. We're not sure why it was drained. We've seen 4 other foreclosures with pools and only this one was drained. We're worried it might have operational issues.




    Questions:
    - Does anybody have any ideas what kind repairs might be needed for this pool and a guesstimate of the costs?
    - Has anybody recently gotten a pool completely removed(so that the ground can be built on)? What was the process like and how expensive was it?
    - We have a pool inspector coming out but can he do much of an inspection on an empty pool?
    - And the big question: Given the age of the pool and everything we don't know about it (and everything we do), should we consider walking away from this purchase even though we love the house.?

    Our inspection window is very narrow so any advice or thoughts at all would be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance for the help.
    Rick
    27K Gal. In-ground 20x36 Plaster (Custom Curved Shape)
    1 Hp WisperFlo Pump; Purex Triton 60 Sq Ft DE Filter (FNSP 60); Teledyne Laars Heater

  2. Back To Top    #2
    Puffin's Avatar
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    Jul 2010
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    Metro Atlanta, Georgia
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    Re: Help! Buy or Bail?

    I'm in the process of closing on a house where the pool needed work, it was also drained and the state of the mechanical systems was unknown. I contacted a local pool company that rehabs pools for an assessment/estimate to rehab the pool and a pressure test to check for leaks in the plumbing. It'll cost you a little money, but at least you'll have some information to help with your decision.

    I think if I had to do that over, I'd get at least one more opinion.
    19,600 gal, Vinyl, Grecian L, StaRite Dura-Glas 1 HP pump, 3/4hp booster, Pentair Clean and Clear 420 Cartridge filter
    The Pool Cleaner 4x, PoolSkim

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    May 2007
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    Silver Spring, MD
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    Re: Help! Buy or Bail?

    Welcome to TFP!

    It is difficult to tell from photos, but that look fairly good to me. The equipment is definitely older but there are signs that it has been maintained relatively recently. The tile is having some problems but the plaster looks to be in good shape other than needing to be cleaned.

    I agree with Puffin, you should get a pro out to make an estimate on getting everything going again. They will be able to give you a much more detailed list of exactly what needs to be done. My guess is that it won't be too bad.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

  4. Back To Top    #4
    susa's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
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    Deep South
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    Re: Help! Buy or Bail?

    I would pay a couple separate companies for the pool inspection and would not think any condition of the equipment as a show-stopper. The pump, filters, panels, electrical are easy and cheap to replace. Top of the line variable speed and SWCG, under 3000. Replastering the pool is about 2000 to 4000, again, not a show-stopper. If anything comes back questionable, ask for a small price reduction to account for the cost with repairs. Unless that is already factored in...

    Talking to the neighbors is a top-1 on your list, have you already interviewed them? It often yields valuable data about the family, the history of the house, pool, issues, etc.

  5. Back To Top    #5

    Re: Help! Buy or Bail?

    @Puffin: Since it's the busy season for pool people right now, we've having troubles finding someone who can come out early this week to fill it. Even the pool inspection wasn't available until the last day of our inspection period. Our main concern with filling the pool is liability issues (eg. neighbor child is hurt going into the pool when no-one is around).

    @JasonLion: Do you think the cracking along the waterline is maybe not as severe a problem as we're afraid it is (bond beam issue)? That would be welcome news. We were mainly worried because it occurs in the substrate and goes completely around the pool.

    @susa: We've been running around in a panic this last week trying to get inspections and other stuff arranged.Talking to neighbors is good advice and didn't even occur to us.

    BTW, if you click on the pictures it will take you to Picasa. There you can click the magnifying glass on the top right of the image. This allows a zoom into the original photo detail. (I've edited the original post to include this info as well)

    If anyone knows of an inspector(or other pool professional) that they trust in the Bay Area, please let us know.

    Again, thanks for all the advice. We really do appreciate it.
    Rick
    27K Gal. In-ground 20x36 Plaster (Custom Curved Shape)
    1 Hp WisperFlo Pump; Purex Triton 60 Sq Ft DE Filter (FNSP 60); Teledyne Laars Heater

  6. Back To Top    #6
    JasonLion's Avatar
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    May 2007
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    Silver Spring, MD
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    37,879

    Re: Help! Buy or Bail?

    Understand that it is impossible for me to be sure of anything from the photos, but tile cracking like that is fairly common and doesn't usually indicate an especially serious problem. It kind of looks to me like the cracks are very near the top of the bond beam, and not involved in most of the mass of the beam. My guess is that it just needs touching up and new tile, but even the worst likely case would be taking up the coping, doing some minor repairs to the top of the bond beam and reinstalling the coping again. More serious problems are possible, but not likely, and will require some minor chipping into the concrete to investigate. A pool renovator could evaluate that in person quite quickly and give you a much better idea of just what is involved.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

  7. Back To Top    #7

    Re: Help! Buy or Bail?

    @JasonLion: Thanks. I completely understand that only limited information can be gleaned from the photos. We've called some pool builders/remodellers and we're waiting to hear back from them.
    Rick
    27K Gal. In-ground 20x36 Plaster (Custom Curved Shape)
    1 Hp WisperFlo Pump; Purex Triton 60 Sq Ft DE Filter (FNSP 60); Teledyne Laars Heater

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