Heading down renovation road...

aztec123

Gold Supporter
Jun 8, 2015
29
Dobbs Ferry, NY
We bought a house with a pool 4 years ago, knowing the pool seemed old and would probably need work. That turned out to be true, and thus far I have been piecemealing it. Frankly that has turned out to be a big waste. I am coming to the conclusion the pool needs a major overhaul for both structural and cosmetic reasons, which will include re-doing several of the items I had already ‘fixed’ (meaning I would have been better off to wait and do them as part of the overhaul). In an effort to learn from my mistakes I want to come up with a master plan, an RFP, and try to get as much advice on how to do a renovation the right way, without spending more money than necessary. We can barely afford the pool as is, and we live in an area (Hudson Valley NY) with high repair and renovation costs (I will post what I have spent on prior repairs to provide a little context), so if I can retain portions of the pool, or re-use existing parts and materials, every bit will help. I would love to get some guidance on how to create a good plan, an appropriate RFP, and any other thoughts on how to address the issues I highlight.

Hopefully I am right in thinking that one big initial post with as much useful information and pictures as I can assemble is the best way to solicit advice? The pool was built in 1993. No idea if it has ever been resurfaced or renovated in any way. The deck looks to be something like Kool Deck but it has been painted with some sort of deck paint and seems to have many coats. The paint is slippery when wet. In moderate to heavy rains the deck floods in areas noted in pictures A and B, and the water gets 3-4 inches deep. Plant material gets in the water, which makes a mess when the water drains away, and often leaves the ground very slick the next time it gets wet (for instance kids using the pool). We have already had several kids slip and fall. The combination of the gray paint on the deck, and the poor drainage leaving things slick, creates a pretty unsafe combination. I need to come up with better drainage between the deck and the stone retaining wall - right now there is a 3-4 inch strip of dirt and gravel. Maybe actual drainage gutters and a sump pit with pump? I would like to keep the kool deck as the main surface type (thinking this would be cheapest alternative plus I don’t mind it) but want the paint to go away. I am wondering how to get the paint off (sandblasting?) so I can repair the deck (there are several poorly done patches as shown in picture C, and I can hear/feel where the surface as delaminated from the concrete below). Bottom line, is this surface something that can be restored, or do I need to plan on having a new deck installed?

The pool definitely has a slow leak in one of the skimmer lines (I can create bubbles in the pump basket by opening/closing the valve to the shallow skimmer), which I would like to fix as part of this process. The deck/ground has sunk in areas noted in pictures A and D, leading the deck to drop below the level of the coping. This is where I am pretty sure the leak to the shallow skimmer is, explaining the deck sinkage. That area most likely needs to be torn out, re-plumbed, and re-poured as part of the project.


The pool itself - when we bought the house was in decent shape, but clearly past its prime, and had some stains that diminished its appearance. I tried various 'stain remover' methods to no avail. Last year, when I had the pool opened, I had it drained and acid washed at a cost of $1,500. That appears to have been a mistake because 1) the stains did not go away, and 2) the plaster surface began to deteriorate on an accelerated basis. Lots of rough areas began to be noticeable, even scraping feet, arms, etc. And the pool sweep (Polaris) began to have what looked like white sand in the bag every time I emptied it. I'm pretty sure it is the plaster surface scraping/coming off. I took a picture (G) with the GoPro that shows some of the stains and how they are forming in lines? Don’t know why that is. The tiles around the water line have also been popping off now and then (I replace them myself). If I knock on the tiles, many sound hollow. Also the grout/mortar between the tiles and between the tiles and the coping has rotted in many places (shown in photos E and F) and clearly water can get behind it. The mortar between the coping stones is missing in many areas. I had the bead of expansion caulk between the coping stones and the deck replaced 3 years ago because it was clearly rotted/ missing in many spots (again, naively spending $1,250 on something I will now have to redo). Three years ago I also had the skimmers replaced at a cost of $3,750 - the pool was leaking badly at that point and my pool company traced it to the seal under the skimmers. Much less leaking since then, but I wish I had installed larger skimmers given the amount of debris that falls in the pool from the trees. I have to travel for work and am sometimes away from the pool for 3-4 days, and the baskets get clogged pretty quick.

The heavy foliage around the pool definitely makes maintenance on the pool a pain. Lots of debris in the pool as the trees go through their blooming cycles, both spring and fall. The trees and plants are nice, but I may have our usual landscaper do a severe prune back and remove a tree or two as part of this renovation. Any other thoughts are welcome.

The stones in the retaining walls around the pool deck are all drooping and tilting backwards (photo H), I think because the dirt they are holding back has slowly seeped out the front, and chipmunks have built elaborate tunnels/homes behind the stones, hollowing out that space Unclear if I want to tackle that as part of this renovation or wait and do that separately at a later time. I only mention it in case there is some reason to tackle it now, or any good ideas.

So I think I would like an plan that encompasses:

  1. Replastering the pool – proper preparation, and I would look at different surface alternatives but want something that lasts with minimal upkeep
  2. New tiles along water line
  3. Add tiling along the steps (they blend in and people stub their toes on them)
  4. New coping
  5. Does it make sense to have new, larger skimmers put in while I am doing this all? Will that add significantly to the labor cost?
  6. Fix any leaks on the plumbing
  7. Renovate the deck (remove paint, fix bad spots, redo surface?, seal? Fix expansion joints?
  8. Add drainage to deck
  9. The pool has no lights – is it possible to add some (in-pool-wall) lights as part of this project without creating major work?

Is there a checklist of other items I should be considering addressing while I have the pool under reconstruction?

Thank you for any thoughts or guidance!

(it appears I will have to upload photos on 2 batches - sorry, I tried to downsize them as much as I could)

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PrehistoricPool

Gold Supporter
Aug 22, 2015
134
San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Aztec,

I am underqualified to plan your overall remodel, I am sure others more knowledgeable will step in. I am just completing a major remodel on a pool that is almost 60 years old and had some of the same issues as yours. You might enjoy looking at the thread: Prehistoric Pool Gets Major Remodel in NorCal!!

I would like to offer my views on two questions you asked:

Lights: I had the once-standard 500 Watt incandescent light at one end of my rectangular pool. Like most it's age, it didn't work. I had two new color LED lights put in on the long side of the pool, facing away from the house and main patio area. I am really glad I did. They make the pool look fantastic at night. Cost about $3500 total (I am also in a high cost area), of which I think the equipment would cost about $1000 on Amazon, so the rest was labor. It was not that hard to add in the context of the type of remodel you are talking about.

Skimmer: I think you should replace while you are doing this. WIth all the other work going in, there is good chance of cracking them, or breaking the seal where they join the pool.

Good luck!
 

aztec123

Gold Supporter
Jun 8, 2015
29
Dobbs Ferry, NY
Wow - just spent a day going thru your project and BOY did I learn a lot! Congratulations on a beautiful outcome. I also learned how to post better pictures, so I will repost a few of my too-small ones. A couple of questions based on looking at your project - it looks like they chiseled out all your old plaster? That seems like the best way to go (to me at least). But last Summer when I was still 'piecemealing' my project I got quotes for re-plastering, and NOBODY took that approach. Everyone had descriptions like "The prep work will include etching the entire surface of the swimming pool. The tile line will be undercut so the new finish will be flush with the bottom of the tile. All plastic fittings (returns, main drain, skimmers and lights) will be chopped out and repacked with hydraulic cement to prevent future leaks. A bond coat will be applied before plastering." So all quotes were for some sort of etching and then using a bonding agent. When I suggested pricing out chiseling the old plaster, they acted like that was unheard of. One said "I suppose you could have someone sandblast it". I wonder if that is just a reflection of the market I am in? Everyone wants to do the minimum in order to maximize the number of jobs? Did you have any pushback on taking that path?
 
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