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Thread: Pool needs remodel - contractor tips?

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    Don't_Panic's Avatar
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    Pool needs remodel - contractor tips?

    Our pool was built in 1988 when our house was built. There hasn't been much done to it since then. It needs a new pool pump, new gas heater, resurfacing, and the pool deck and coping is older and not very attractive (I can live with it), plus the whole thing is just kind of boring. Our house is a fixer upper, so I have a limited budget of about 20-30,000. I'd like to add a waterslide for the kids if we can fit it in the budget.

    First contractor I called refuses to do work in my area. Wish they had told me before they missed our appointment.

    Second contractor came out today. These people have stellar reviews online, but the whole appointment just felt really weird. He didn't bring any photos, he didn't offer any suggestions of things we could do with it, and didn't try to sell his company. It feels like he doesn't want the job, and he talked to me like I wasn't smart enough to know what I wanted.

    Would it be improper to have the pool company that services our pool do the pump, heater, etc and keep the resurfacing and decking and so on for a contractor? Then hire a landscaper for landscaping? I thought I might get a better estimate if the job was bigger, but maybe not?

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: Pool needs remodel - contractor tips?

    You will need to do what I can "string pulling". This is when you find a good trades person you trust and can get to do xx work. You then ask them who they would have do yy work. You keep asking around until you have solid people for all areas of work.

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: Pool needs remodel - contractor tips?

    OP, I sympathize with your travails. I expect San Diego is a lot like where I live in Silicon Valley. Contractors are in short supply, and many don't want to mess with you unless you are spending lots and lots of money. The norms, practices and customer service levels standard in most parts of the US don't necessarily apply here. When I read on here about the level of service people get in other parts of the country, I'm green with envy. I read one post on here where the pool builder drove the homeowner around to multiple pools so they could see his work, even before they signed a contract. That kind of service is inconceivable in my market.

    I am not an expert, but have owned a very old pool for ~11 years and am just kicking off a major remodel. Talked to a lot of contractors, pool builders nd others, and have contracted lots of other jobs on my old house. Here are my thoughts:

    > With most types of jobs, I am happy to be the general contractor and put together the subs. Pool building, and major pool remodels, are different from most jobs in my opinion. They require specialized skills, and coordination between trades. I think these jobs are best handled by a pool builder.

    > It is not clear what the scope of the work you need is. When you say "resurfacing" do you mean the plaster on the inside of the pool below the water line? If so, I believe you need a pool builder. In my opinion, everything from the coping in should be handled by one general contractor, so you get coordination, and so if problems occur the subs can't just point their fingers at each other.

    > If you don't plan to do anything "in board" of the coping, like tile, plaster and plumbing, you may not need a pool builder and the idea of subbing out the work could make sense. There is absolutely nothing "improper" about doing this, its just a question of whether it makes sense for you.

    > Keep in mind that you may have to do more work than you really want to in order to get permits. You may not need permits for the kind of work you are doing, but if you do, you will likely have to update many things that are not a high priority to you in order to get the permits. Two examples where i live if you need a permit: (i) you will need to separate the main drain into two drains, which requires a lot of jackhammering of your gunite shell and new plumbing. This comes at considerable expense, and to my mind offers approximately zero enhanced safety; (ii) you will need to "equipotentially bond" the pool deck and all metal within five feet of the pool to the pool shell and pool equipment. I don't pretend to understand this, so my mind is open to the possibility that it may bring meaningful enhanced safety, but either way, it's going to cost you.

    Two pool builders is not a lot. I suggest you talk to a few more. Be upfront about your budget constraints. Try to learn from each one you talk to and you will get a better sense of what you need to do. Hopefully, you will find one you can work with.

    Finally, if you can stand the pool for another summer, try doing the work in the fall. Up here, pool builders are much less busy in the fall than in the spring and they may be more willing to take on a small job. In the California climate, work can continue all winter, but people are more focused on having their pools available in the summer. Good luck!
    Retro Classic Pool built ~1960, remodelled 2018. In ground gunite 16x36, 8.5' feet deep, 8' diving board, 25,000 gallons, polished pebble with glass beads, travertine coping and deck, 420 square foot Pentair cartridge filter, Pentair Intelliflo variable speed pump, Pentair IntelliChlor 60 SWG, Polaris 280 with booster pump, two Pentair Itellibrite colored LED's, autofill

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    Don't_Panic's Avatar
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    Re: Pool needs remodel - contractor tips?

    Has it been 3 weeks? Wow.

    I finally got a pool resurfacer to come out! They are a Pebble Tec installer.

    Now I have a couple of questions. He said the plaster on the pool is original to the 1988 build, and that it lasted so long because it was quartz. He tells me that a quartz plaster is the best value pool finish. It will last about 20 years and is less in price than Pebble. His quote was $12,500 for the quartz in a black color.

    He then says that the Pebble Sheen will last about 30+ years. Obviously all of this is with good water quality. He quoted me $15,500 for a Pebble Sheen in a black color. The price difference isn't all that much.

    I'm leaning towards the Pebble because I think it will look better in the shallow end. Our deep end is 8.5 feet, so it won't matter there. We definitely want a black pool because a previous home had a black pool and we loved the look. Plus it should be a little warmer. The So CA coast weather makes for chilly pools, so anything we can do to warm the water up is great.

    I have my pool service company replacing the pump, heater and booster pump, so that is in the works.

    As far as the decking, my husband and I like the look of a wood decking, so he is going to install a composite around the pool. This saves up quite a lot, and I think looks nicer. Plus, it solves a lot of the little issues we have with the deck and the coping.

    I still need to figure out the landscaping and lighting. And buy new pool furniture. And I need to hire a welder to repair the wrought iron fencing around the pool. I think we are headed in the right direction? I really thought that I could hire a company and they would draw up plans and do everything and all I have to do it write a check. I guess not. But in the end the only important thing is that it gets done.

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: Pool needs remodel - contractor tips?

    Sounds like you are on a good path! Keep us in the loop with what ends up happening and when.

    I would ask to see some of the plaster's pool he has done to check his work.

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Don't_Panic's Avatar
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    Re: Pool needs remodel - contractor tips?

    He provided me with a list of previous customers that I can contact to see his work. But hey, he showed up, so that's a bonus. And I don't pay them until the job is finished to my satisfaction.

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: Pool needs remodel - contractor tips?

    Showing up is more than half the battle for some of them for sure!
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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