How to get rid of a neglected swimming pool?

22 Replies

Hi All:

I inherited a property with an unused and severely neglected pool. No one has used it for 15 years and it is somewhat of a cesspool at this stage due to years of rain, frogs, infestation etc.

What is the most economical way to get rid of the pool and what sort of costs are associated with this? Do you require a permit for this? Are there any pitfalls to watch out for and are there any structural ramifications. I would love to hear any other suggestions on this. 


Thanks!

Depends on if it's vinyl or concrete. Either way, the bottom of it needs to be opened up. Obviously concrete will be a more challenging issue. You'll need to pump it out, get in there and tear up the bottom so water can drain out. Any concrete work around the edges will need to be broken up and removed. (can maybe go into the hole depending on local codes). Then you'll need many dump trucks full of dirt to fill the hole. Doing away with a pool is an expensive proposition and in many cases could approach $10k. There may also be underground wiring and plumbing that should be removed as well...

Had a friend who had it done for $4k here in California. But yeah I would get rid of if and use that space to build a Adu or something. Pools suck. Lol good luck 

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@Varinder Kumar 4k sounds awfully cheap especially for CA. ADU is a great idea and I agree, pools suck and come with all sorts of liability. I would probably just lay concrete slabs on top to make a partial patio as its only a rental property. Have you ever done an Adu, what sort of cost was involved?

@Jacob Beg

Yup it is pretty cheap but 4k may mean a lot to some people working for it. How ever I have not done an Adu yet, I’m planning to. But cost involved would be permitting, foundation, rough plumbing, electrical, framing all the way to finish. A studio or small 300sqft can cost, here in California $100k. Well worth it though. Better than buying a duplex - IMO. Rent out the front house and the back Adu. The mullet brother- Business in the front party in the back haha 

Permit required in some jurisdictions. Turn off all power/gas to equipment.  Core drill the bottom or jack hammer openings especially in the deep end, but throughout (must obtain drainage).  Pieces should be <6” and can be left in the bottom of the pool.  Demolish sides at least 18” down, again to <6” dumping in bottom.   Demolish deck if desired.  Again <6” left in bottom.  Haul in dirt from reputable source.  Dirt is cheap, but moving dirt is expensive.  You can pull wire or abandon. Abandon plastic plumbing. 

Filter, heater, etc is simply removed.  

This will not be cheap.  Using a contractor in my expensive market starts at ~$7k mostly depending on size/volume of the pool and how the dirt has to be moved to the pool. I do know someone that did it themselves and their pool had large vehicle access (versus bobcat size loads).  It was not that hard with large vehicle access. I also know a company that did it to 2 shallow ponds that also had large vehicle access.  I do not know anyone who has chosen to go this route where dirt would need to be brought in with bobcat. 

I think I would keep the pool and having had pools for ~35 years (including now), I have a good understanding of their cost to maintain. 

Good luck

@Dan Heuschele Thanks for the input. Rightly or wrongly, I see pools as a major liability for a rental property especially in a market where pools are not common vs may be in FL where a pool is perhaps a must have. I have not much experience with it. Current tenants do not use it, but I remain concern in case if someone falls in that cesspool. If fix the pool, I cannot charge additional rent as I am already capped and I will be stuck with maintenance costs and I can't help but think that if someone drowns in a functioning pool and if it turns out that the landlord could have done "something" whatever that "something" is, he may be on the hook for a major lawsuit. May be I am being over cynical, but I have mostly seen pools as a liability in our rental market.

Originally posted by @Jacob Beg:

@Dan Heuschele Thanks for the input. Rightly or wrongly, I see pools as a major liability for a rental property especially in a market where pools are not common vs may be in FL where a pool is perhaps a must have. I have not much experience with it. Current tenants do not use it, but I remain concern in case if someone falls in that cesspool. If fix the pool, I cannot charge additional rent as I am already capped and I will be stuck with maintenance costs and I can't help but think that if someone drowns in a functioning pool and if it turns out that the landlord could have done "something" whatever that "something" is, he may be on the hook for a major lawsuit. May be I am being over cynical, but I have mostly seen pools as a liability in our rental market.

You should be confident of your liability protection regardless of the pool/cesspool. We use an umbrella policy for our primary liability protection, but also have an LLC that gives the appearance of adding some protection. The LLC protection would be pierced by someone who takes the time to figure things out, but may discourage some from pursuing some liability issues.

Pools are expensive to maintain.  Pumps last me less than 10 years.  Chlorinators last me less than 5 years.  Vacuum heads need to be overhauled every couple of years.  vacuum hoses lasts a few years.  pool surface with modern material maybe 25 years (old plaster lasted longer than the newer surface material). Other chemicals, cleaning filter baskets, backwash, complete filter tear downs are regular maintenance items.  Heaters and filters last a long time but eventually need replacing.  My remote controller seems to be going.  I looked for a new one and it is ~$350; seems ridiculous price for what amounts to a remote control.  

In my market water is very expensive and in short supply. 

All adds up that a pool is tough (maybe impossible) to obtain additional rent on long term rentals that covers the maintenance/cap expense.

However, cost to add a pool is very large.  You will be paying thousands to get rid of an asset that costs tens of thousands to add. 

Pools can provide significantly higher rent in short term rentals.  Pools can add some value to the property (typically far less than the cost of the pool addition).

I understand the dilemma but cannot get past paying to remove an asset that costs tens of thousands of dollars to add.  

Good luck 

@Jacob Beg- inheritances can be a mixed blessing in many ways.

If you believe that the pool is located inside the footprint of any possible future structure or addition, it would be wise to go through the local building department and get it demo’ed and re-compacted properly. If not, you may be able to break out the bottom of the pool and refill it with rock and fill material. Hoping that your inheritance brings blessings to you.

@Jacob Beg People pay 50k and more for an in ground pool. Why not sell to someone who wants a pool. I paid about 5k to replaster with a quartz chip product and retile the perimeter with blue pool tile a few years back. Big pool. A pump is $200-250 x 2 if you want a pool vac pump. We had a diatomaceous earth filter and an in line automatic chlorinator. Thats about it. Not complicated. So for a little above the price of removing a pool you can add value...unless no one wants a pool in your area. They pay up quite a bit for one here, central Texas.

Originally posted by @Varinder Kumar:

Had a friend who had it done for $4k here in California. But yeah I would get rid of if and use that space to build a Adu or something. Pools suck. Lol good luck 

 I am a general contractor, removed several pools and my cost (no profit) often exceeds $10,000. You only need to jackhammer a hole about 2 feet square (can't remember the exact minimum) near the deep end of the pool so rain water drains. The expensive part is most cities require that the vertical walls need to be jackhammered to 2 feet below grade (ground level) and you cannot through the chunks of wall into the pool. They need to be hauled away. Then there is the cost for the soil to fill the pool and it can be expensive plus the cost for labor to get the soil from a truck into the pool. Then, the soil needs to be compacted every 2 feet with a power compactor. My charged to a customer are usually $18,000 to $20,000. Then, the electric wiring is supposed to be completely removed all the way to the electric panel, gas piping to a pool heater should be capped at the source where the pipe is connected to the gas meter, or wherever. And...most cities require a permit, inspections and that costs money. The last thing a homeowner needs to do is to do is report the removal of the pool to the county assessor so whatever value the pool added to the property is removed from the property's annual taxes.

@Marian Smith I wish it was the same way here in Virginia. Perhaps in the summer time someone would pay that kind of money. I didn’t intend on selling as there is a sit in tenant paying market rate for a property that will need fair bit of investment to sell at premium dollar in addition to the pool repairs. 

This got me thinking that the best time to maximise the value of the pool ( if I end up keeping it) is to sell in the summer when people are excited about it versus the excruciating winter. I plan to get some quotes, and have been prepared to pay no more than 10k for removal. Comps check of properties with a pool and without reveals no real difference.

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I can't believe some of the estimates to demo an old pool.  Our first house had an abandoned pool. It was one of those ancient in ground pools with a vinyl liner, cinder block walls and sandy bottom.  We had quite the "wetland" in our backyard, the first Spring we found a giant snapping turtle in the pool.  I guess he fell in chasing the bull frogs.  

Anyway, I found a pool contractor who was building another pool in the neighborhood.  He was looking for a place to dump the fill from another pool he was digging.  He needed a close place to dump the dirt and I had an old pool to fill in.  Win-win.  He filled in the old pool and graded the back yard for next to nothing.  I knocked down the sides with a sledgehammer.  It literally cost me almost nothing to fill in the pool.  I see craigslist adds all the time for pool contractors looking to get rid of fill.  I had another project where I did the same thing.  Be careful to be on-site when they are dumping.  Ask to inspect the load before they dump.  That way you know you are getting clean fill.  Check with your local building inspector first.  In our town you needed a permit to build a new pool but not to get rid of one.

First thing to do is call your building department.  In most cities you need a demolition permit.  I highly recommend you do what your city requires so that when you go to sell, you have a clear record with no question marks that might deter a buyer.

Now I'll tell you about my experience.  We have a rental that had an old pool.  The previous owner had turned it into a raised bed vegetable garden by jacking up the bottom and filling the pool.  He left the pool sides exposed and untouched.  We didn't want the liability of the structure (potential falls/trip hazard) plus it looked awful.  So we pulled a permit for demo with our city and hired a guy with a backhoe to tear out.  It cost about $2000 but I think we got a deal with the backhoe operator.  We already had the majority of the fill on site from it being inside the pool from the garden.  It also wasn't a huge pool.  So bottom line is plan to spend around $4k or more depending on size unless you can call in some favors.  And I agree with you about pools and rentals.  Even in Florida, I would hesitate to have a rental with a private pool unless I was doing high end rentals.  Too much liability. 

It depends on if you want to do it right or do it cheap. The cheap way is just knocking it all apart and burying it. The right way is removing all the debris, removing the wires/plumbing and only filling with dirt. Contact your local building permit office to ask what is required by law.

I used to have a Pool Contractor license in Cali. @Dan Heuschele and @Account Closed are correct.

You need a permit, and the costs will be what they said. You don't want to do this illegally and have the pool 'float'.....ever seen a pool float? I have. Then you have the liability and the entire pool must be demolished and hauled away.

Just do things right....why do so many people want to do things cheap, easy and wrong?

@Bruce Woodruff Now that's interesting about refurb cost being less than demo. I thought it would be the other way around given how dilapidated the pool (if we can call it a pool) has become due to years of neglect. I am going to get some quotes for demo vs refurbing and see what's cost effective. Of course, as someone else has said the cost of maintaining can be quite expensive. Incur the expense of refurb and have a forever cost of maintaining the pool is a big deterrent as it adds absolutely zero dollars to what I can charge for rent and there is always that legal liability of an accidental drowning or some accident where the liability insurance may not cover or claim exclusion. 

I would think you could get a pool re-plastered and re-tiled for around $6000. New equipment would be extra. Maintenance is not as bad as you would think.....$75 mo or so...?

There will be someone out there that will pay more (rent or buy) for a pool.....

Cheaper to keep her......

Originally posted by @Maksu Ize:

Call up land removal companies, and tell them you want them to dump their load of scrap dirt in your back yard

 That's not the problem. You have to bash holes in the bottom shell and demo the walls down 2 ft, then compact layers of dirt..... Expensive and time consuming.......