Debating a renovation, vs demo and rebuild - feeling a little overwhelmed

Mom2three

Member
Jun 22, 2017
6
OKC, OK
Hi all, I'll start with a little backstory, I've been lurking here ever since we bought a house that had a large in ground spa (no pool) about 3 years ago. We are a family of 5 with 3 children (12,7, and 5). Neither my husband or I had experience with pools or spas and feared upkeep would be a nightmare. We seriously considered not buying the house because of it. I found this site before we moved in and hit the ground running with a proper test kit. The daily upkeep that I had feared is easy peasy. We use our spa as if it were a teeny tiny pool. We only heat it enough to "swim" in the cooler spring and fall months. When we first moved in, it was workable size wise for our family. Now that our kids have grown a bunch it is getting very cramped.

Our spa is about 10 years old and is in need of some TLC. It has stone coping that has been flaking ever since we moved in. Last year the coping and exterior tile began coming off. There are a few cracked water line tiles and a very small hair line crack in the plaster near the skimmer. We finally had a pool contractor out to discuss our options. We are discussed 3 options.

Option 1: Remodel what we have. He said there is some damage to the bond beam. With the exception of the hairline crack near the skimmer (doesn't appear to leak) the plaster appears to be in good condition. However, he said that since we would be removing and replacing the waterline tiles we would have to do a replaster since the seal between the tiles and plaster would be broken. Is this true? We are still awaiting his final estimate, but the ball park figure was between $6,000 -$8,000 to repair the bond beam, replace coping (travertine), replace exterior tiling with coordinating split face travertine, replace waterline tile, and replaster.

Option 2: Remodel what we have as above, but expand with a larger pool section that ties into the existing spa structure. Would doing this affect the structural integrity of the exisiting spa? I'm not as big a fan of this option because the spa portion would still occupy a large portion of our somewhat limited space for a pool.

Option 3: Demo the current spa, and build a pool that gives our kids enough spread out and actually splash and play. He said that the demo job would only add about $1,500-$3,000 (depends on how much of our patio is removed) to the price of a new pool. With utility easements and setbacks from the foundation, realistically we can only fit a pool that is between 10-13 ft wide by up to about 30 ft long. Is this a reasonable width or will it still feel too narrow and cramped? This option has been at the back of my mind for awhile, but assumed it would be cost prohibitive. I assumed the demo cost would be much higher and that the pool itself would be much more expensive than he estimated. We didn't do a design, just discussed ball park estimates. He said that their starting price for a pool this size (shotcrete w/plaster) is about $35K, but that $50K is much more realistic. Do these estimates seem reasonable for our area (Oklahoma)? From looking at current and sold real estate listing in a 5mi radius, most of the pools near us appear to be vinyl. There are a couple in our neighborhood that are plaster. Aside from cost, is there a benefit to a vinyl lined pool? How often do you have to replace the liner? I've seen estimates online anywhere from 5-20 years.

We will have a few more companies out to discuss what our options are. As we interview pool builders/remodelers what are the main things we should be looking for to assess who would do the best work? I would hate to spend big bucks on a pool and be back where we are with things falling apart in a few years.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
18,935
Northern NJ
Showing us pictures of your spa and your backyard area will let us understand your situation better and what may best fit.

I think your choices are option 1 or 3. Either fix up what you have or decide you want to make your backyard into a pool paradise lifestyle as its best use for your family to enjoy.

The only way to know what is a good price in your area is by getting 3 to 5 bids on the type of pool you want. Explore a few different designs and evaluate their costs and what your family will enjoy.
 

Mom2three

Member
Jun 22, 2017
6
OKC, OK
Here is our current set up. While only a small section of the coping and tiles have actually fallen off, they are all hollow and need to be replaced. The joint between the waterline tile and coping is cracked and has been allowing water to penetrate and loosen everything. Based on the setbacks the first pool builder mentioned, I believe the spa is as close to the house as allowed. The decking behind the spa, appears to be encroaching on the utility easement. We can probably go as wide as to the blue bench in these photos.
.IMG_1604.JPGIMG_1605.JPGIMG_1603.JPGIMG_1602.JPG
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
45,747
Tallahassee, FL
I agree with Allen that it is 1 or 3. I am hoping for 3!!!

I would check on the easements on your own to be on the safe side. Should be be nice to make the pool into a L shaped pool for the kids to really enjoy. See your last pic? I would put the toes toward the house then the leg will go to and past were the spa is now.

Again follow Allen's lead on getting at least 3 more quotes/ideas. Try for a total of 5 if at all possible.

If you maintain your water then a liner can last a good long while. Seems as if you have that well covered!

Kim:kim:
 

Mom2three

Member
Jun 22, 2017
6
OKC, OK
I'm certainly leaning towards the demo and build option. I can't really justify spending that kind of money to repair something that isn't really working for us anymore. My daughter won't even get in it if her brothers are in there because it's so cramped she gets splashed and kicked constantly. I can't say I blame her, because I rarely get in with them either for the same reason.

The first guy recommended putting the pool basically where the existing spa and patio is. I hadn't considered an L shape using that part of the yard. It would allow a bit of a larger design. Currently that is our "soccer field" part of the yard. I do wonder if it would be problematic because the gas line enters the house through that space. I was thinking that if we did a raised beam on the backside of the pool we wouldn't have to do decking back there and could take the pool right up to the easement line and maximize our space for a pool. As far as equipment goes, I assume it would be preferable to start with brand new equipment than to try to reuse our existing?
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
18,935
Northern NJ
As far as equipment goes, I assume it would be preferable to start with brand new equipment than to try to reuse our existing?
If the equipment is in good condition it is all usable:
  • Easy Touch controller - You have a P (Pool only version} or PS (Pool/Spa Version)?
  • IC-40 SWG - that will work with a pool
  • Master Temp 400 - great heater
  • Clean & Clear cartridge filter - what size? Probably ok.
  • 1hp whisper flo (filtration), - that will work
  • 2hp whisper flo (spa jets) - that will work
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
17,043
Tucson, AZ
How long do you plan to live in that home?

How many pools are there in your vicinity and what type?

How do you plan to pay for the pool?

These are important questions to answer - if you’re not planning on this to be your “forever home” (barring an unforeseen and extreme circumstance) and if you plan to finance the build through your home equity, then it may not be prudent to install a pool OR build a pool that falls outside the typical parameters of what’s in and around your area. Despite what pool builders say, pools add very little value to a home and depreciate in value very quickly. Most appraisers will tell you that they assign only a small fraction of the pool’s cost to the home’s value and, as you shared in your post, the presence of a pool can be as much of a deterrent to potential buyers as an attraction. And you certainly don’t want to build a pool that is far outside the norm of what’s around.

$50k is probably a good rough estimate of what you want to do.
 

Mom2three

Member
Jun 22, 2017
6
OKC, OK
You have a P (Pool only version} or PS (Pool/Spa Version)?
I believe it is the PS. We'd for sure change out the filter pump, it is a single speed and we've had to replace the capacitors a few times already. We replaced the salt cell last season, so it should be good for awhile.

I'm trying to educate myself as much as possible before we meet with the next company. They are a company that does both concrete and vinyl pools. Thanks to all the pool shows on tv, we have a very basic general idea of how concrete pools are constructed. I can't wrap my head around vinyl liner pools. Is there a resource that shows their general construction?
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
18,228
Bedford, TX
M2,3

I know it is easy for me to spend your money, but in the long run your will be much happier removing what you have and starting over.

If I were a pool builder, I probably would not even bid on the job if I had to work around the existing spa.. My guess is that it would cost as much to redo what you have, and add a pool, as it would to rip it out, and start from scratch..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 
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ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
18,935
Northern NJ
I can't wrap my head around vinyl liner pools. Is there a resource that shows their general construction?
Vinyl liner pools typically have steel walls with a vermiculite bottom and then the vinyl liner hung from the sides. It is a lot faster and less expensive to construct then the rebar, gunite, tiling, plaster process.

See..



 
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Mom2three

Member
Jun 22, 2017
6
OKC, OK
How long do you plan to live in that home?

How many pools are there in your vicinity and what type?

How do you plan to pay for the pool?
We intend for this to be our forever home, but we thought that about our last house too. We've lived in our neighborhood for 13 years. We love it so much, that we literally moved right next door. Crazy, I know, but it had significantly more space, a dedicated office, and 2 more bathrooms we desperately needed. Even crazier? This house was on the market when we bought the other one, but at that time we didn't have any children and did not expect having 3.

From looking at satellite data, there are about 50 pools in our subdivision, and a substantial number in the subdivisions within a 3 mile radius. The majority of the pools in this radius are older (1999 ish) vinyl pools with fiberglass entry steps. There are 5 houses on our street that have pools. Only two of those are masonry pools with waterfalls, etc. A neighbor a couple houses down installed a vinyl pool last summer. In the past 13 years, there has only been 1 house on the market with a pool that did not sell in less than a week (quicker than average here), and that house was very very overpriced for the area. We certainly don't view a pool as an investment into our property. My dad is a realtor and has always told people that a pool doesn't add much value if any, and in some cases he's had appraisers deduct money because of the condition of the pool. Our current house sat on the market quite a while. I think the fact that it only had a spa instead of a pool/spa combo hurt it's appeal.

Financially, we are fortunate to be able to pay for the pool. However, that is only feasible because my husband and I are very frugal people and don't spend our money recklessly. Which makes this decision harder for us, because while I know we would enjoy a pool tremendously, it's hard to justify such a large amount of money on a non-necessity. But if we don't we still have to sink a big chunk of change in to the rehab of our existing spa.
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
17,043
Tucson, AZ
We intend for this to be our forever home, but we thought that about our last house too. We've lived in our neighborhood for 13 years. We love it so much, that we literally moved right next door. Crazy, I know, but it had significantly more space, a dedicated office, and 2 more bathrooms we desperately needed. Even crazier? This house was on the market when we bought the other one, but at that time we didn't have any children and did not expect having 3.

From looking at satellite data, there are about 50 pools in our subdivision, and a substantial number in the subdivisions within a 3 mile radius. The majority of the pools in this radius are older (1999 ish) vinyl pools with fiberglass entry steps. There are 5 houses on our street that have pools. Only two of those are masonry pools with waterfalls, etc. A neighbor a couple houses down installed a vinyl pool last summer. In the past 13 years, there has only been 1 house on the market with a pool that did not sell in less than a week (quicker than average here), and that house was very very overpriced for the area. We certainly don't view a pool as an investment into our property. My dad is a realtor and has always told people that a pool doesn't add much value if any, and in some cases he's had appraisers deduct money because of the condition of the pool. Our current house sat on the market quite a while. I think the fact that it only had a spa instead of a pool/spa combo hurt it's appeal.

Financially, we are fortunate to be able to pay for the pool. However, that is only feasible because my husband and I are very frugal people and don't spend our money recklessly. Which makes this decision harder for us, because while I know we would enjoy a pool tremendously, it's hard to justify such a large amount of money on a non-necessity. But if we don't we still have to sink a big chunk of change in to the rehab of our existing spa.
In most cases you have to see a pool not so much as some kind of outlandish luxury but as an investment in your family. If you think of it in those terms, it’s easier to be happy about spending the money. Your kids are older and would benefit from a bigger pool and that means they and their friends have a place to go where you can keep an eye on them. That’s a good thing.

It sounds to me like a vinyl pool is probably the more realistic option. They will likely be cheaper to build in your area as there will be more builders available. I would spend the some time thinking about designs and what would look right in your Backyard. No need to rush or be pressured. Your current spa is still useable and can easily be shutdown for the winter in anticipation of a spring/summer build in 2021 if you wanted to take your time planning. Gunite/plaster is certainly an option but definitely more expensive and outside the norm for your area.

Good luck.
 

bmoreswim

Mod Squad
Gold Supporter
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 16, 2012
6,264
Central MD
Going with the more common type of construction for your area is usually a good bet. I’d definitely consider the L shaped vinyl. But even if not, a 13 x 30 pool is a nice size. The biggest fiberglass pools are only 14’ I believe. And that’s really 13.5’ due to the way they measure fiberglass pools. So its a reasonable size.

One thing on the soccer field. We still have our after building the pool, but the usage goes down dramatically the larger the kids get because they outgrow it and are playing on the rec and school fields much of the time. But space is nice and I get the interest in preserving it. I’ve already eliminated options 1 and 2 in my mind! That was quite an investment for the original owners to put in a gunite spa only. I’d have ante’d up and gotten a huge standalone. They are amazing. In fact, you’d love having one of those too! I don’t but would like to in a retirement home, along with a pool of course. And a view, but I digress.
 

sktn77a

Gold Supporter
May 16, 2010
1,749
Chapel Hill, NC
If you plan to stay in the house, go with the new pool. Go with gunite/plaster rather than vinyl or fiberglass - you'll thank me in 20 years! 50k is not outrageous for a nice plaster pool. If there's any chance you'll be moving within 5-7 years then I'd be inclined to pass on putting a 50k pool in. You won't get your money back and it will limit the number of potential buyers significantly.
 
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