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Thread: OKC renovation - forty-year facelift

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    MiaOKC's Avatar
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    OKC renovation - forty-year facelift

    Hi, all! This is our second season with our 40-years-young IG gunite pool in Oklahoma City. When we purchased this house, we thought the pool would need a facelift in the next several years, and began to plan to save up for 5 years to accomplish the reno. Well, season two has started and our pool seems to have decided that 5 years is too long to wait and it wants attention now!

    We had two different pool companies come for repair/pool school last year when we first moved in and they didn't really want to give definitive bids but ballparked $25K and $50K as renovation figures as a number pulled from you-know-where. When I fainted at $50K, the PB said that we have a $100K pool setup so really, $50K is a bargain. Ahem. Well, we decided on the 5 year plan and put a pin in it, to swim and live with the pool a while to see what we want out of the yard before doing anything drastic.

    It's been a year and we've been doing some thinking. In springtime, we thought "if we can just get this retaining wall fixed, we could last another 3 years." Now, nearly July, we've come to the realization -- as DH dragged the shop vac out to hoover up all the crumbing coping and rock retaining wall/coping bits, debris, at one point he was standing on the edge skimming and the coping literally crumbled from beneath his foot at an old patch point, and I got a five gallon bucket out to corral all the tiles that have been flinging themselves off the side, having noticed several spreading cracks in the plaster (we hope it's just the plaster and not the gunite) while swimming last week, and having our separate IG hot tub completely empty itself in three days with all the pumps shut off, and on and on --- we've decided we need to look at doing something sooner than later.

    I'd like to get some ideas together this summer, since we have had no luck getting a builder to come look and tell us what is possible - several just don't call back, and one (a franchise) said call back in the fall, and standardize into an RFP so that we can compare apples to apples, when we presumably can get someone out to bid in the fall.

    To organize our thoughts, I first would want to know if our fondest dream is even possible (you know, presuming money is no object and we hit the lottery between now and reno time) and then we can work on scaling back to reality as needed from there.

    1. The biggie would be to reshape our pool to a simple rectangle from its crazy T-ish shape which would make it much smaller - we'd keep the deep end and wall off (somehow) parts of the branches of the "T" in the shallow end, maybe making the deep end more shallow so the fall off isn't so great (goes from about 4-8.5 feet really fast, maybe over 8-10 foot slope). The main drain has been abandoned at some point and is capped off - the robot knocked the cover off because the non-SS screws had rusted through and we can see into the body of the drain, there is a square-headed pvc cap like you'd see on a drain clean out, and a smaller pipe sticking in from the side, I think that one is connected to the skimmers.

    Ideally we'd like an auto cover for safety and a rectangle would facilitate that, but even if auto-cover is out of budget we'd like some kind of cover for leaves, solar blanket, etc, and things are just so huge and unwieldy now it's not happening. Some kind of tanning shelf/bench, and big wide steps (we love our current steps, but they would be gone if we reshape the pool).

    2. We'd like to incorporate the IG hot tub into the footprint of the pool, which would free up some of the rest of our backyard for lounge chairs, etc. In a perfect world, it would be able to be under the auto-cover (or any cover) and yet have some kind of spill/water sound thing that could help mask ambient noise in our neighborhood (traffic, kids playing basketball next door, pool pump, neighbor's five dogs barking, etc). If this is impossible, we are open to filling in the current hot tub and doing without or getting an AG sometime. But it seems wasteful to scrap it entirely because we've got two pumps, a blower and a sand filter for the current hot tub, all in good shape. The current problem is we must have a major leak in the main drain somewhere, because all the water has drained out mysteriously, with no pumps running.

    3. Push back the retaining wall/add drainage. Two sides of the current shallow end are composed of crumbing rock coping/retaining wall combo. This is a PITA to work around when skimming/vacuuming the pool, plus heavy rains wash dirt and debris into the pool. I'd like to get those walls at least five feet away from the pool so we can comfortably maneuver poles around, and add some kind of drains (maybe channel drains in the deck or french drain behind the walls?) to route water away from the pool. We have a big bamboo grove behind the pool, which is great for privacy but a pain for pool maintenance, as it has a gravel mulch bed that makes it impossible to rake the shedding bamboo leaves out or blow them with the blower to clean them up before they blow into the pool. We'd install a bamboo rhizome barrier behind the wall, too, to keep the bamboo back.

    4. The rest of the usual - replaster, re-tile, re-cope, re-deck, fix the lights, possibly a new electrical panel. Am trying to talk DH into some DIY on this, the most obvious place being the re-deck if we use pavers. There may be some demo (like retaining wall) that we could do, too.

    5. The icing on top would be things like landscaping, building a pergola over on the end where the diving board is to visually separate pool area from the huge driveway for our rear-load garage and to provide shade (we think we will remove the DB since it seems even at 8.5 feet it's not deep enough for the use of DB - DH is 6 feet and he has to dive very shallowly to use it, and his fingers still brush the bottom. Visiting kids love it, so I'm torn about the removal, but would like that space on the deck back for entertaining), new fencing, regrading the lawn next to the pool, etc.) Many of these are things we could DIY and would come after the major reno.

    Ok, this is reaching novel length, so on to the photos. Any input and advice would be appreciated. If anyone local has recommendations for a PB, please let me know, too! Thanks!

    Current basic shape (most of these are from the real estate listing when we bought the house):





    This was our first opening last year, but kind of shows the shape so I'm including it:


    You can just barely see the IG hot tub at the bottom of this pic:



    And at left (please avert your eyes from the tree stump carved into a raccoon - it's my least favorite part of the yard):




    And in all its glory:


    Privacy fence going in at this end - hopefully this week:


    This year, you can see the tiles are missing and coping is crumbing and rock wall is even more degraded:






    Partial equipment pad - can't see the heater for the spa or the sand filter for the spa, but you can see most of the three pumps and the pool sand filter and timer and blower for the hot tub:


    This is an idea with elements of my dream pool: simple shape, incorporated hot tub, dark plaster - it's a little smaller than we would be able to have, but the simplicity is soooo attractive to me with my complicated pool!


    Edited to change subject line as we commence our renovation!
    35,000 gallon gunite pool, semi-T-shaped, 29x15 shallow end and 16x22 deep end, built in the mid-1970s and renovated 2013-2014 // Polaris 9300 Sport robotic cleaner // Taylor K-2006 ... Learning as we go and so grateful to everyone here for their help! Our reno thread

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    Re: Oklahoma City area PB recs and can this even be done?

    I really like that pool! 40 years old IS young.

    It may not be as big an issue in OKC, but I've been reluctant to go dark on the surface because of heat.
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    MiaOKC's Avatar
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    Re: Oklahoma City area PB recs and can this even be done?

    Thanks for the reply, Robbie ... I checked out your pool and it's also an oldie-but-goodie. Our 70s tile design has grown on me but much of it is damaged. I actually really like the regular coping (not the rock) that we have, but one pool man said he knew the guy who's dad made that in a small OK town and it isn't manufactured anymore so we couldn't get it to repair the broken ones or to replace the rock edges. The T-shape wouldn't even be such an issue except it makes so many things a little bit more challenging, so it can be an annoyance. I am betting dollars to donuts a re-shaping is not in my financial future, so I'm trying not to get too attached to the idea of that change. A standard reno will still be a vast improvement, due to what I like to call "deferred maintenance" on the part of former owners.

    We want the darker plaster FOR the heat! We're wimps and like a nice, bath-water-esque temperature to swim in. Even with OKC's hot temps over the last few weeks (we're only slightly cooler than DFW - sometimes not even that), the water has been stuck at 82-84. We want it warmer, but there's not a good place for us to add solar and using a heater on a 35K gallon pool is probably not in the cards. During the record-breaking heat last summer, the water was finally comfortable. I figure we could aerate to cool in high season easier than we can bring it to warmth for shoulder season swimming.

    Something a pool guy told us when he first got into the yard has stuck with me: "You have the shag carpeting of swimming pools back here." Ha ha, it's not quite that bad but I'd like to make it a little more classic looking (I creeped on your posts to look at your pool - you've got classic in spades! Love the brick decking!)
    35,000 gallon gunite pool, semi-T-shaped, 29x15 shallow end and 16x22 deep end, built in the mid-1970s and renovated 2013-2014 // Polaris 9300 Sport robotic cleaner // Taylor K-2006 ... Learning as we go and so grateful to everyone here for their help! Our reno thread

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    Re: Oklahoma City area PB recs and can this even be done?

    Bump!
    35,000 gallon gunite pool, semi-T-shaped, 29x15 shallow end and 16x22 deep end, built in the mid-1970s and renovated 2013-2014 // Polaris 9300 Sport robotic cleaner // Taylor K-2006 ... Learning as we go and so grateful to everyone here for their help! Our reno thread

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    Re: Oklahoma City area PB recs and can this even be done?

    Here are some of my thoughts (from a person who built and loves the look of rectangular pools)...

    1) If this part isn't cost prohibitive, create the rectangle you desire. Since you would only be filling in and not excavating it might not be completely outrageous.

    2) Create a square spa in the corner closest to the house in the shallow end with the inside wall at roughly mid-waterline tile level but rounded on the top pool-side edge and especially the corner. I say rounded because the autocover will be dragging the cover over it and a point sticking out will cause premature failure in that area.

    3) Get an above grade autocover that is mounted in a box on the end where the diving board is now. This would mount on an track on the deck surface. Above ground covers don't look the best but that's the only type that would be reasonable I think. The boxes don't look bad if you get a nice one.

    4) Demo the existing retaining wall and move it back with a foot width of gravel behind it and down below the wall base and landscape fabric surrounding it. Drain tile at the bottom of the gravel leading whichever direction allows you to remove the water from behind it. Slope the decking towards the wall and have a linear drain where the wall meets the deck.

    5) Paver decking.

    Items 4 and 5 could be DIY. BIG project though!! Good luck with your planning and hopefully you can make a renovation happen.
    18'x38' Rectangle (3'-8 1/2' deep w/ diving board) - 27K gal. w/ gray plaster
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    MiaOKC's Avatar
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    Re: Oklahoma City area PB recs and can this even be done?

    Thanks for the input, bmoreswim! I have read occasionally about people's new builds that have depth problems or things and the PB says "oh, we'll even it out with plaster" or whatever, but with the scope of this change being so big, I just don't know what is possible, even with new gunite. Does it need rebar to tie it in to the existing shell? Returns would need to be moved, one skimmer would need to move, etc. My Florida cousin says the is a case of "start over" but I have read on Pool & Spa News or some other industry website that in a bad economy, people do not do as many reshapes but do replaster and retile instead - so that leads me to think that it CAN be done, but maybe WE can't do it, if ya know what I mean.

    I had hoped that since the coping and tile is all coming off, they could do the under-coping track for the auto-cover: the above-ground track looks like an accident waiting to happen with kids stubbing their toes, tripping over the track and falling into the pool unexpectedly. I wish I could actually get someone out here to look at my pool to tell me about it. Sigh.

    I've checked out your build (I don't remember if I've gotten through all the pages yet, though), and it looks awesome! What a beautiful space!

    Again, thanks for the comments, anyone else please feel free to chime in.
    35,000 gallon gunite pool, semi-T-shaped, 29x15 shallow end and 16x22 deep end, built in the mid-1970s and renovated 2013-2014 // Polaris 9300 Sport robotic cleaner // Taylor K-2006 ... Learning as we go and so grateful to everyone here for their help! Our reno thread

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    Re: Oklahoma City area PB recs and can this even be done?

    I have to say I like the pool. I would think that modifying the shape to remove the T would be cost prohibitive. There would be a lot of work involved almost akin to building a new pool. The biggest question in my mind is the structural integrity of the shell. You mention cracks forming in it. That might get expensive to correct as well. One thing you could consider that wuld solve your shape issue and might be quite a bit less expensive than a rebuild would be to drop a rectangular fiberglass pool into the existing one and fill the excess with gravel and put in a new deck.

    http://www.vikingpools.net/images/galle ... remont.jpg

    You could plumb the new shell easily. Probably would need to bang a few holes into the old pool shell for drainage. then address the hot tub separately.
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    Re: Oklahoma City area PB recs and can this even be done?

    Quote Originally Posted by keithw
    I have to say I like the pool. I would think that modifying the shape to remove the T would be cost prohibitive. There would be a lot of work involved almost akin to building a new pool. The biggest question in my mind is the structural integrity of the shell. You mention cracks forming in it. That might get expensive to correct as well. One thing you could consider that wuld solve your shape issue and might be quite a bit less expensive than a rebuild would be to drop a rectangular fiberglass pool into the existing one and fill the excess with gravel and put in a new deck.

    http://www.vikingpools.net/images/galle ... remont.jpg

    You could plumb the new shell easily. Probably would need to bang a few holes into the old pool shell for drainage. then address the hot tub separately.
    This is an interesting idea. At least worth investigating with the manufacturer and a local installer.

    I do like pools design, however I love my auto cover and can see why you would consider building it to accommodate one.
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    Re: Oklahoma City area PB recs and can this even be done?

    Interesting thought about the fiberglass drop-in idea. I would disagree with the thought that you would have a do-over here if you still want concrete though...could be wrong. On the under-track auto cover, you are correct that with the coping and deck being replaced you could certainly put that variety in. Tying into the old shell would require drilling for rebar but that would seem an inconsequential aspect in the scheme of things.

    When you think you know what you want, get a PB to give you a quote on a redo and a do-over then you'll know.
    18'x38' Rectangle (3'-8 1/2' deep w/ diving board) - 27K gal. w/ gray plaster
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    Re: Oklahoma City area PB recs and can this even be done?

    Interesting idea, Keithw, I had not considered dropping a new pool into the old one. If it turns out to be impossible/financially unfeasible to change my pool while keeping it gunite, we might consider that or I might just have to embrace the T shape and think about a baby fence. I'm not sure about other parts of the country, I'm sure it has to do with weather and local customs, but in our area a FG or vinyl pool is not considered to be as high-end as a gunite pool, so I would like to keep it gunite if I can. Not that a falling apart pool like I have now is adding a lot to the old property values, but still.

    I did get out yesterday and use dye to see if the most concerning crack in the pool was sucking water, and it appears to be cosmetic cracking rather than structural. None of the dye was sucked into the crack, and we have not been losing water. So hopefully that is good news and I can stop giving myself heartburn while searching the internet for the terms "gunite cracks."

    As no PBs seem to want to come visit my pool to give me a bid while they are in the midst of their summer season, I imagine any firm plans will have to wait until winter/fall. I do have a concrete contractor coming to meet me this week to see if we could move forward with the plan to rebuild/move the retaining wall. The wall must be rebuilt no matter the shape of the pool, so we will see what develops there. Will keep you apprised.

    Thanks for the ideas, please feel free to keep them coming - it's a long time until the fall!
    35,000 gallon gunite pool, semi-T-shaped, 29x15 shallow end and 16x22 deep end, built in the mid-1970s and renovated 2013-2014 // Polaris 9300 Sport robotic cleaner // Taylor K-2006 ... Learning as we go and so grateful to everyone here for their help! Our reno thread

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    Re: Oklahoma City area PB recs and can this even be done?

    Concrete guy estimates $9k for a 50', 20" high 6" wide wall, with demo of existing customers wall and excavation to move wall 5' from pool. Needless to say, we've been googling building our own wall. We could save $2500 if we demo and excavate ourselves.

    Several hours devoted to affixing tiles back on the pool the last few days
    Somehow have lost 3 tiles, but am moving on. Amazing how much better it looks just to have tiles on the wall!

    Two more builders contacted for quotes. Please let one call back!
    35,000 gallon gunite pool, semi-T-shaped, 29x15 shallow end and 16x22 deep end, built in the mid-1970s and renovated 2013-2014 // Polaris 9300 Sport robotic cleaner // Taylor K-2006 ... Learning as we go and so grateful to everyone here for their help! Our reno thread

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    Re: Oklahoma City area PB recs and can this even be done?

    I'll be following this one to see what you come up with. Sure hope another builder comes in with something more helpful and reasonable.
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    Re: Oklahoma City area PB recs and can this even be done?

    I would call Todd Ramsey, 919-9364. He is suppose to be best tile/coping guy in Okc. He also builds a few under Mirage Pools. All are busy though as you know. Good luck!
    IG gunite Edmond, OK(OKC), 18x36 freeform ~20K, 4-8' deep, Pentair equip, (2) 3hp VS+ pump, 520 cart filter, 3 LED, Easytouch8, ItellichlorIC40 SWG, Polaris 3900 cleaner, Spa 8'x18"raised, 20' raised bond beam 2 sheers, Stonescape Tahoe Blue quartz plaster, TF-100 kit.
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    MiaOKC's Avatar
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    Re: Oklahoma City area PB recs and can this even be done?

    Thanks, Flatlander. I did a search on some of your posts and you had commented on a few local builds. I sent a message to Quiescent to see if I can get a quote from them - are they still on your short list. I would feel better if I could get ANYONE to look at this pool! I would rather have a PB for the ease-factor and warranty factor, but am getting desperate enough to call subs myself. The not-knowing ($10K? $25K? $50K? $100K? We bought lottery tickets last week!) is the worst!
    35,000 gallon gunite pool, semi-T-shaped, 29x15 shallow end and 16x22 deep end, built in the mid-1970s and renovated 2013-2014 // Polaris 9300 Sport robotic cleaner // Taylor K-2006 ... Learning as we go and so grateful to everyone here for their help! Our reno thread

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    Re: Oklahoma City area PB recs and can this even be done?

    MiaOKC, I'm in the process of a build with Quiescent. PM me if you would like some feedback.
    34X26, 3'-7', 420 cartridge, intelliflo variable Pump, pentair legend cleaner, intellichor salt system, jump rock, ok flagstone, suntan ledge w 2 bubblers, LED w opt controller, intermatic w/freeze, 500sf amerideck, rock waterfall

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    Re: Oklahoma City area PB recs and can this even be done?

    That Racoon post is awesome!!! Wish I had that kind of talent, I'd have a forest of them mixed in With the other trees.
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    MiaOKC's Avatar
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    Re: Oklahoma City area PB recs and can this even be done?

    PoolinOk, I tried to send a PM but it's my first so I'm not sure I did it right. Hope so!
    35,000 gallon gunite pool, semi-T-shaped, 29x15 shallow end and 16x22 deep end, built in the mid-1970s and renovated 2013-2014 // Polaris 9300 Sport robotic cleaner // Taylor K-2006 ... Learning as we go and so grateful to everyone here for their help! Our reno thread

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    Re: Oklahoma City area PB recs and can this even be done?

    I replied to your PM miaOKc.
    34X26, 3'-7', 420 cartridge, intelliflo variable Pump, pentair legend cleaner, intellichor salt system, jump rock, ok flagstone, suntan ledge w 2 bubblers, LED w opt controller, intermatic w/freeze, 500sf amerideck, rock waterfall

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    MiaOKC's Avatar
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    Re: Oklahoma City area PB recs and can this even be done?

    We finally got a PB out to look at our pool - the first of 9 builders that actually set an appointment - and wonder of wonders, kept it! I liked the PB a lot, he does a lot of remodels and had worked for the family business since the early 70s, so he remembers a lot of the pools in our neighborhood going in and had a hand in quite a few. He seemed to know a LOT about our pool, even guessing at the original builder (who is still in business and I might try to get info on our original build/possibly quote the remodel), naming some of our unknown components (Calumet stone wall/coping, Venturi air holes on the spa deck, cast Dallas coping which is no longer made) and guessing that our construction is likely a concrete shell rather than gunite with full run-plumbing all the way around the pool, which is possibly embedded in the concrete walls.

    The good news is that he said all of the items on our wish list were doable! The bad news is that all it takes is money! Ha! Really, he said that he would work up a quote and get back to us. He did say what we wanted is POSSIBLE, which was encouraging. It would require tying into the existing shell, forming rebar to reshape and add new features like interior hot tub, tanning ledge, benches, etc, then they would "dry gun" those things and fill in the voids at either end of the T. They could also "dry gun" the retaining wall replacement and it could be faced with any kind of veneer we'd like: tile, stone, etc. The existing plumbing returns would be chipped out, and extension pipe glued on and routed to the new shape (same with the re-routed spa lines). Both skimmers would need to be moved and would be re-installed set back from the wall of the pool rather than flush with the pool walls as we have them now. Dual main drains would be installed, probably an LED light, and perhaps limestone coping (no SWG) and pavers or spray deck over the existing concrete deck (after leveling, replacing a few heaved areas, epoxying cracks, etc).

    If the weather is cool (i.e., fall or winter) the painted surface would be sandblasted and prepped for a new plaster, with the area below the tile line chipped out about 4 inches down. If the weather is hot, they will chip out the entire surface mechanically. They mix their own plaster and can do whatever we'd like as far as color, quartz-modified, etc. There is a crack that might be structural that would be ground out and epoxied before plaster, and other cracks addressed at that time, too.

    I'll be back once I hear about the estimate. In the interim, buoyed by my success in finally getting one person out to see our pool, I'll keep trying to get additional estimates.
    35,000 gallon gunite pool, semi-T-shaped, 29x15 shallow end and 16x22 deep end, built in the mid-1970s and renovated 2013-2014 // Polaris 9300 Sport robotic cleaner // Taylor K-2006 ... Learning as we go and so grateful to everyone here for their help! Our reno thread

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    Patrick_B's Avatar
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    Re: Oklahoma City area PB recs and can this even be done?

    Well, I am really glad to hear that for you! Sounds like you might have found just the right guy too. I like the sound of his experience as he sounds like a very seasoned veteran. Exactly the kind you need for this sort of thing. Sounds mucho expensive, but if it's done right, you'll be happy long after you forgot the exact cost. Good luck, and keep us posted on any more good news.
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