Faux Indoor Pool - Renovation Recommendations

Jon123

Active member
Jun 16, 2018
27
Massachusetts
Hey all...

We're looking for some ideas on what we should do here. We're open to most anything, but we're leaning towards keeping the pool if it makes sense to do so.

So, we bought a house last year that has an "indoor" pool. I am using quotes here because, as much as the pool is located inside of an enclosure, its more of an outdoor pool with a solid structure built around it. 🤦‍♂️

Some details:
  • We're located in the north east.
  • Gunite pool, built around 1985.
  • It looks as though the pool has never been re-plastered - it is in need of it as the surface in some areas is starting to crack/break away.
    • There are a few spots where previous owners have patched
  • All the pool equipment works (pump, DE filter, heater, SWG).
    • Pool is open as of a few weeks ago at a brisk 65° after 5 hours of running the heater.
  • Being an old pool, it's 1.5" piping.
  • It's plumbed for solar heat, but I currently only have 160sqft of panels (not currently mounted), so I'm not sure I'll even get much out of it.
  • Enclosure seems to have been built the same or following year.
  • Enclosure is attached to the house, and it does not have any kind of HVAC system, nor is the room (properly) insulated.
  • As for why they decided on the enclosure, my guess is it's for 2 reasons:
    • It's a heavily wooded area and options are limited for reducing the nearby trees - it would get very dirty without it.
    • Lots of mosquitos.
  • The skylights on the enclosure are about 3-4-ft higher than the drop ceiling. Without heating the pool stays very cool, even late in the summer it's still in the low 70s (with the room itself being much hotter).
  • Skylights will need to be replaced at some point - they leak pretty badly.
  • The concrete around the pool is in rough shape. Some of the slaps sunk down a bit and a lot of discoloration in spots.

If you have any other questions, let 'em fly.

The only thing here that makes me somewhat optimistic is that the enclosure has been here for 30 years and although it's not in great shape, it's not completely falling apart either.

In terms of what I'm hoping to find out:
  • Are we just screwed, or is there something we can leverage here?
  • The pool (and surrounding concrete) are in rough shape - so I was considering fixing those, but thats not a minor expense, and I don't want to invest money in it if it's going to be an eventual loss. If we were to do this, in the process of doing it:
    • Is it possible/plausible to re-plumb to 2" (is that even a good idea)?
    • I feel like the water doesn't recirculate well/some bugs aren't being effectively skimmed - Would it be possible to add more jets to improve circulation?
    • Update/add lighting?
  • If we wanted it to actually be an indoor pool (even if not during the dead of winter, say spring to late fall) - what would we be in for in terms of updates/costs?
    • If it's even doable, I'm thinking it would require the room to be torn up to be properly insulated, have a dehumidification system installed?



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Jon123

Active member
Jun 16, 2018
27
Massachusetts
I noticed a recent thread discussing a dehumidification system after posting this.

There were a few recommendations there that I had considered as well, such as replacing one or more of the current (fixed) skylights with openable skylights to try to reduce some of the humidity come summer. I also considered a greenhouse fan on the side of the structure, but I was concerned that the negative pressure created would end up pulling cooled air from the house. Maybe the fan combined with the skylights, or leaving some of the doors/windows open would mitigate that risk though...
 

Arizonarob

Gold Supporter
Silver Supporter
TFP Guide
Mar 25, 2018
2,548
Chandler Arizona
Hi Jon, welcome to TFP.

Well, it looks like you have some questions that only you can answer, as you seem to be on the fence with keeping it. Having a pool in MA is a short season as it is, and it doesn’t sound like they built the room properly to really use it all year round, without incurring serious expenses.

With that being said, call around and get some estimates on having everything repaired/upgraded, that will help you better decide what to do.
Looking at your pictures, it seems the pool was built as a lap pool, so someone was a swimmer along the way.
If it were my pool, I would either have it remodeled to be smaller and include a spa, or have it turned into a plunge pool and add a hot tub. The latter would be my choice as it’s easier to heat and maintain. :cheers:
 

SBall

Well-known member
Jun 27, 2017
234
Nashville, TN
What does your yard look like? Is your heater running off natural gas or propane?

I am not a fan of indoor pools, I just like being outside. However, I can understand the appeal in a cold climate.
 

Jon123

Active member
Jun 16, 2018
27
Massachusetts
@Arizonarob: The area as you step in to the pool has some "hot tub" jets (sorry, not sure what they're called), but it's just the normal pool water going through them. It's not clear to me where/how, but the electrical in the room indicates there used to be a spa somewhere. Might be interesting to do a new combo pool/spa.
I started reaching out to some companies for estimates for the basic pool reno - but it could be a combination of not wanting to deal with the indoor aspect of it, and it being the busy season, but I haven't heard back yet. Going to try some more this week.

@SBall: Large relatively flat yard, but there are some large trees about 20ft from the far wall in my photo.

One thought I had was to open up one of the walls a bit to make it more of a covered outdoor pool, if that makes sense. Like I said, the ideas are all over the place.
 

Jon123

Active member
Jun 16, 2018
27
Massachusetts
Heater is natural gas. 333k BTU. At local rates I figure it costs about $6/hr to run it and it will raise the pool temp about 2°/hour.
I ran it for about 5 hours last week to test and the 2°/hour seemed to be about right, I started at 56°, and end up at 67° after about 5.5hr. As we approach/surpass air temp I'd imagine that the heat loss is going to start to decrease the heater's effectiveness. Since then the temp has dropped down to 65 (as of yesterday), which isn't surprising as temps dropped in the area overnight and I didn't cover it during/after the test.

Although there is a lot of tree-cover, I placed a bluetooth thermometer up on the roof last year and during the summer it got very hot up there (peak at 140° in July). So solar heat would probably be a good option with the proper number of panels.
 

SBall

Well-known member
Jun 27, 2017
234
Nashville, TN
I realize you are dealing with far different climate than I am, but getting the water up to temp is expensive, and maintaining it is not nearly as bad. I would be extremely tempted to try opening up the walls and replacing with huge windows and/or more french or sliding doors. It is not terribly clear about the ceiling/roof structure, but wow if you could remove all that dropped ceiling mess and go straight up to the rafters, the room would feel much more open. Add some solar panels and run a dual gas/solar setup and could probably get a pretty big chunk of the year to swim.
 

Jon123

Active member
Jun 16, 2018
27
Massachusetts
We've had some hot days, but I was waiting for it to get a bit more consistently warm out before getting it up to temp (next few days we have some lows in the high 40s/low 50s).

The area above the drop ceiling doesn't look so pretty right now, but it could be improved on once the lattice is removed. Right now there are some gas and electrical lines running on top of the lattice too, nothing that couldn't be dealt with though.

Regarding opening up the wall... My thought was to open the right wall (where there are 3 sliders now) which goes to the backyard, and put a patio out there with a matching finish to the (new) area around the pool so it felt like a continuation of the area going outside.
I'm not sure what we'd be looking at for costs to add more glass there - but it would be nice for it to be a large opening when we wanted to though.

Solar seems to be the best bet in terms of dollars spent on heating. The 4 panels I have now don't leak (at least, when I tested them with a garden hose), but as I mentioned this is only 160sqft. I found a calculator online that recommend closer to 500sqft due to the pool being indoors. I don't necessarily want to buy new panels yet incase we do upgrade the pool and end up needing 2" headers since 500sqft would be in the $1-1.5k price range. I could maybe just use 2" header panels though now to future proof it.
 

swan771

Member
May 2, 2019
22
Palo Cedro, CA
What about opening up two sides with those giant sliding doors used to create indoor/outdoor living rooms? This would give you a nice cross breeze. I would add a spa and a sauna and you could keep them open when it is warm to swim and close them in the winter to use the spa and sauna.
 

Jon123

Active member
Jun 16, 2018
27
Massachusetts
I'd love to do that! This was actually one of my first ideas for what to do in there when I first started thinking about it last year... That is, until I priced them out. The big brand/originator seems to be NanaWall, but there are a few others that make them too. IIRC, to cover about a 16ft span it was coming in at something like $25k+. Maybe there is a less costly alternative that I haven't found yet though. I had briefly looked in to big glass garage doors (bi-fold doors were the most cost efficient) as well, those were coming in a bit less, at about $15k, but not quite the same look either.
 

CaptainCannonball

Silver Supporter
May 18, 2016
269
Woodland, Ca
I honestly really like the current setup. You have a cool unique pool. What kind of cover is that? It looks like it insulates really well. I wonder if you got it to temp would the solar be enough to maintain the temp? Keeping it at temp might not be fiscally terrible with a combo of gas and solar. :unsure:
 

Jon123

Active member
Jun 16, 2018
27
Massachusetts
Thanks! I'm not sure exactly what the covers are (it's 2 pieces and they came with the house), the long one is fairly heavy though. I can take it off the pool myself, but it's not the easiest thing to do and there isn't a great place to hide it right now (I have an idea though!)

The pool and the concrete around it are in need of repair. Haven't heard back from the 2 companies I've reached out to on it(?).

I think keeping it at temp won't be too bad during the summer. Once outside temps (and therefore the temp inside the room) starts to drop, I expect it to get a bit costly though.

I had considered "rolling my own" DIY dehumidification system, but after some research it seems like it may end up being a bad idea (at least, in terms of how much time I'd have to dedicate to it).
 

Jon123

Active member
Jun 16, 2018
27
Massachusetts
We had a local pool company come out and provide and estimate to re-plaster the pool, as well as other options: replace the decking/coping (and adding drainage, about 1700sqft of concrete to remove/replace), replace the plumbing with 2" pipes, and replace all the pool equipment. Their total came in at something around $85k(!).

Digging in, the most costly part of their estimate was the decking at nearly $60k. Their stated reason for that high of a price is because it's indoors and they don't have good access so more of the work needs to be done by hand which is less efficient. Logically this makes some sense, but I wonder if there is equipment that would help make this job more efficient. Looking quickly, I believe at the very least if the ground level sliders were removed, that would be large enough of an opening to get a skid steer through, and there are 6 of them, so that's a few access points. The other issue they mentioned was lack of full perimeter access for pouring the concrete - I can't do a whole lot about that though.
 

Chickinvic

Well-known member
Jul 12, 2017
128
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
What does your yard look like? Is your heater running off natural gas or propane?

I am not a fan of indoor pools, I just like being outside. However, I can understand the appeal in a cold climate.
I'm in Ottawa (so very cold winters, but hot summers), and I honestly prefer outdoor pools too. We keep ours open about 5.5 months of the year.
 

IanL

Member
Aug 18, 2016
12
Lewisberry,Pa
We had a local pool company come out and provide and estimate to re-plaster the pool, as well as other options: replace the decking/coping (and adding drainage, about 1700sqft of concrete to remove/replace), replace the plumbing with 2" pipes, and replace all the pool equipment. Their total came in at something around $85k(!).

Digging in, the most costly part of their estimate was the decking at nearly $60k. Their stated reason for that high of a price is because it's indoors and they don't have good access so more of the work needs to be done by hand which is less efficient. Logically this makes some sense, but I wonder if there is equipment that would help make this job more efficient. Looking quickly, I believe at the very least if the ground level sliders were removed, that would be large enough of an opening to get a skid steer through, and there are 6 of them, so that's a few access points. The other issue they mentioned was lack of full perimeter access for pouring the concrete - I can't do a whole lot about that though.
Looks like it could be a cool space and I like the idea of opening it up. Demoing the existing decking would not be a fun job but that price still seems steep. I can see from the contractors point of view of not really wanting the job but that’s the price they’d do it for. The existing concrete looks like it’s structurally sound, have you considered replacing the coping and laying tile over the existing slap or a thin stamped overlay? You could still trench where necessary to re-plumb and it would be much cheaper than complete demolition of the existing concrete.
 

Jon123

Active member
Jun 16, 2018
27
Massachusetts
Looks like it could be a cool space and I like the idea of opening it up. Demoing the existing decking would not be a fun job but that price still seems steep. I can see from the contractors point of view of not really wanting the job but that’s the price they’d do it for. The existing concrete looks like it’s structurally sound, have you considered replacing the coping and laying tile over the existing slap or a thin stamped overlay? You could still trench where necessary to re-plumb and it would be much cheaper than complete demolition of the existing concrete.
Sorry, I didn't see that I had some replies here.

The concrete is slightly worse shape than the original photo lets on. There are a few cracks in the piece near the skimmer, and one of the "sections" on the right side of the pool has settled about 2". It's not apparent in the photo because the railing blocks the seam. Maybe there are some other options though that I haven't considered short of replacing it all.

If anyone is curious, here are some more photos of the room: pool-photos
 
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