The Great Mistake (photo heavy!)

nameBrandon

Member
Mar 24, 2019
21
Chicago
Phase 1 – The Great Mistake

Gather ‘round friends, let me tell you a tale born of many mistakes, some perseverance, plenty of wallet-induced pain, and finally, the road to pool redemption…

It all began way back in early 2019 when my wife and I had decided to purchase a home we really liked. It had an amazing pool, pool house, the works. Unfortunately, the owner was in a very strange financial situation, had rented the house out, and ultimately the renter made it impossible for him to sell the home to us. So, after months into this deal, and thousands in home inspection fees, we had to walk away, but we hung on to the dream of that pool.

After a month or so, we found another place we really loved, and while the pool wasn’t as grand it was still nice and we looked forward to the day we could crack the cover off and open it up and have friends and family over to enjoy it. Oh, the naïve fools that we were.



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At that time, it was still late winter, just bordering on early spring. The owners, who had assured us they opened the pool every year, and that they did their own maintenance, lived on the east coast. I noticed the pool equipment in the garage as well as a ton of chlorine. That lines up with doing their own pool maintenance. Their story is starting to check out. The above ground equipment is all tarped up and tied down, bricks holding the tarps down. I mean it looks really well covered up. “This guy sure knows how to winterize his pool equipment!” I say to myself… I mean I can’t see any of the equipment but it’s obviously there. and it’s not like I would know what I’m looking at anyways, I’ve never owned a pool before. So, I walk away at least feeling good that he winterizes things properly.



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As part of the home inspection process we wanted to get a pool inspection, but numerous calls to pool companies basically ended with the consistent theme… that unless the pool was up and running, there wasn’t a whole lot they could inspect. We offered the owners to pay for an opening to inspect it, but they were worried it was too cold and declined. That, combined with the fact that we had never seen the pool without the cover on it as well should have been a red flag… I’ve believed I’ve mentioned being naïve before.

Fast forward to early May, we’ve closed on the property after negotiating a $5,000 pool credit to cover any unseen issues as well as a home warranty that covered pool equipment failure. We had done what we had thought would be enough to cover ourselves should this thing go downhill on us. What was that word again? Ah, yes... Naiveté .

Pool crew #1 is brought on to assess the situation. This is what we find after spending $1,000 with them.
  • Failed tile line
  • Black death looking staining on the plaster
  • Frogs
  • Multiple freeze broken plumbing lines
  • More frogs
  • Some tree branches
  • Cracked concrete cantilever coping
  • Broken plumbing above ground
  • All dead equipment except the heater
  • A broken gas line to the heater

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Pool crew #1 is in over their heads. If you live in the Chicago area, I’m happy to let you know which company this is so you can avoid them. At this point they take my $1,000 to clean/open the pool and run, and start filling up the pool with water calling it “opened”. They stop responding to my calls / texts / emails.



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nameBrandon

Member
Mar 24, 2019
21
Chicago
Phase 2 – Acceptance. and a lot of money.

After the experience with pool crew #1, I started making calls to the more reputable pool companies in the Chicago area and am getting some consistent feedback. This is going to take some time to fix. and be expensive. And there will be permits to pull... so many permits.


We review various courses of action. painting, tiling, re-plastering, nuking from orbit... we review timelines and more timelines. After meeting with a number of companies, we choose one gentleman and his crew who weren’t the cheapest but weren’t the most expensive either. He was willing to bring out tile samples, plaster samples, etc... and really went the extra mile to help us out. So, the plan we decide on together consists of

  • Remove a few feet of concrete around the pool and run all new lines
  • Repair / replace equipment
  • Re-tile
  • Re-plaster
Since we were removing the concrete decking around the pool anyways for the new lines, we decided to just kill all of it, and put in stamped concrete in a new, smaller footprint. I hired a separate concrete company for that work.

We start shortly after the July 4thholiday and here are some progress photos to date.

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This weekend we should finish the plaster, and are waiting on one final item before pouring the new concrete. Will post more photos as things wrap up.
 
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nameBrandon

Member
Mar 24, 2019
21
Chicago
I haven't forgotten about this thread, it's just been 17 days without any progress. We had to wait for the city / permit / inspection prior to pouring and that was.. inefficient.

This is the scene tonight, prior to pouring concrete tomorrow. This is apparently a multi-day effort, tomorrow they pour and stamp, the next day is cutting and washing, then finally sealing. At that point we can finally apply the new plaster to the pool. The theory here, is that by this Sunday evening (Sept 1) we should be filling this pool with water and opening it for the (very truncated) season! We'll see.. I've been around this pool long enough to know not to get my hopes up.

More to come shortly!

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9/1 - This photo is a few days old. We now have concrete and the plastering is happening as I write this. Hopefully within the next 24 hours or so we should be putting water in this guy!

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We have plaster (and some water)! Going to get the rest of the equipment running tomorrow as well as the diving board in place. We're still waiting on the gas line installation for the heater but the permit is done and the larger gas meter (800K BTU) from the gas company is in place. So close, I can almost taste the (cold) chlorine..

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Update - 9/5

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Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
13,927
Bedford, TX
Brandon,

Thanks for the story and the pics...

Once you step in "it", it is almost impossible to ever get it off your shoes... :)

$50K would have been a better hold back for the unknown pool...

Good luck with the rest of your pool upgrade..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 
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nameBrandon

Member
Mar 24, 2019
21
Chicago
This has potential for a very good thread. Please get one of the recommended test kits (TF-100 preferably) so that you will be ready when the rehab is complete.
Oh, most definitely. The complication that I haven't mentioned is that we're rennovating the entire first floor at the moment, so we're not even living there and won't be for another 6-7 more weeks. So I plan to use the pool company doing the renovation to do weekly maintenance and close it for the remained of the year, and probably to open it in 2020. At that point I'll take over and start to learn the ropes. I fully intended to manage this myself, but for now there's enough going on that I can't take over as pool captain.
 

Uncle Salty

Gold Supporter
Feb 3, 2017
292
South Carolina
Hopefully your home warranty comes through to cover some of the costs. Have you contacted the sellers agent regarding the non disclosure agreement, there’s no way that pool was opened and operational every year, it looks like it hasn’t seen the light of day for a couple years at least. I’m glad to see you’re going all in on rehabbing the pool but if it were me I’d be after more than the poultry 5K the sellers kicked in.

Salty
 

RMcGirr83

Gold Supporter
Nov 19, 2018
340
Tuscola, TX
Have you contacted the sellers agent regarding the non disclosure agreement, there’s no way that pool was opened and operational every year, it looks like it hasn’t seen the light of day for a couple years at least.
This, it should have been disclosed. It's clear it's been out of commission for a while and undoubtedly the sellers new there were broken pipes, etc.
 

nameBrandon

Member
Mar 24, 2019
21
Chicago
Hopefully your home warranty comes through to cover some of the costs. Have you contacted the sellers agent regarding the non disclosure agreement, there’s no way that pool was opened and operational every year, it looks like it hasn’t seen the light of day for a couple years at least. I’m glad to see you’re going all in on rehabbing the pool but if it were me I’d be after more than the poultry 5K the sellers kicked in.

Salty
This, it should have been disclosed. It's clear it's been out of commission for a while and undoubtedly the sellers new there were broken pipes, etc.
Very well written post @nameBrandon

I am sorry to read of this non-disclosed issue the previous owners sold to you. Question, did it come up in conversation or discussions to uncover the pool to take a look?
Thanks all! In the disclosures they did state that they were not aware of any issues with the plumbing (including swimming pool). That being said, I think it's a fool's errand to try and recoup any money from that. We'd have to prove that they knew there were issues. They hardly lived at the property, spending most of their time on the east coast. They could just say that the previous summer they opened it and all the plumbing worked. We had a bad winter. Maybe that caused all of these issues. It's just not something I can prove and it's going to take thousands in legal fees to work it, with little chance of success. It's a crappy situation, but thankfully we're in a position that we can invest the needed funds to solve the problems and get the pool we wanted.

Plaster is coming tomorrow, and then some minor items and hopefully we'll have new concrete poured within the next week or two! Sadly the renovation inside the house is trailing by a month or so. At least we'll be able to come over to use the pool for a couple of weeks this year, but it will probably be next spring/summer before we're able to really enjoy it.
 
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BMK

Bronze Supporter
Mar 29, 2016
320
SW PA
Well, when you pulled the cover off, the pool WAS holding water, such that it was.
So things could have been worse, not that its much consolation.
 
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nameBrandon

Member
Mar 24, 2019
21
Chicago
Well, when you pulled the cover off, the pool WAS holding water, such that it was.
So things could have been worse, not that its much consolation.
True! I did inquire as to the cost of an entirely new pool, and while the renovation is very expensive, it's still not the "from scratch" price, so at least we have that.
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
40,661
Tallahassee, FL
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your "story"!

nuking from orbit
LOL I bet that was your first thought when you saw all of the clumpy algae :shock:

Remove a few feet of concrete around the pool and run all new lines
I wondered how they would fix the pipe under the remaining concrete. Glad to see you removed all of it!

Keep the pool open as long as you can to help manage the curing of the new plaster. The pH will push up as the plaster cures.

Kim:kim:
 
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Arizonarob

Gold Supporter
Silver Supporter
TFP Guide
Mar 25, 2018
2,738
Chandler Arizona
The hardest lessons learned, are almost always the most expensive ones! At least you’ll have piece of mind that it is fixed correctly.
Sit back and drink a couple hundred beers, and it’ll all be ok. :cheers:
 

PlaysARobin

Gold Supporter
Jul 18, 2019
62
Mont Belvieu (East Houston)
Wow.... It takes a special kind of person to willfully pass along something like that. While I understand exactly what you're saying, regarding burden of proof and how difficult it would be, I would also say that the area directly below the cover, matches so well the state of the pool, that I'd be hard pressed to believe the entire decking wasn't in that level of disarray (unused for a VERY lengthy time. not just one winter season) and was simply sub'd out to be pressure washed for the sake of a 'beauty' sale.

Still, You've handled this with class from my perspective. Hope these guys continue to do right, by you, and you have YEARS of enjoyment to put the brief suffering well in the past.
 
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