Get ideas for bringing new life to an outdated swimming pool
Old homes have older pools, and when remodeling the site or adding a new landscape, upgrading the pool is a major part of the project. The simplest approach may be new pool decks and waterline tile which transform a dated pool. More expansive remodels may require replacement of part or all of the pool shell or bond beam due to leaking or rusted out steel reinforcement. Just be prepared for sticker shock, because an older pool can cost as much to remodel as it does to build a new pool from scratch.
Landscape architect, Ive Haugeland of Shades of Green Landscape Architecture in Sausalito, California specializes in giving older homes a sleek new modern look. "A lot of older pools have funky shapes and variations on the kidney pool with those old precast coping units. Often just getting rid of that part can make a big difference. Older pool coping is an element that dates the pool so we remove that and and the result looks far more contemporary. Sometimes we change the shape but that's as expensive as building a whole new pool. Far less expensive is changing coping and waterline and plaster. Just keep the original shape to save. We are often adding under coping pool covers to rectangular pools."
Why Remodel Your Pool?Pools are redone for various reasons, the primary one is to bring its look and feel up to contemporary standards. Secondly, old pools may require repairs to equipment, masonry and mechanical if they are to remain reliably trouble free. Thirdly, new technology can add fresh features and energy conservation to a pool's maintenance and operation.
Ask any architect and they'll agree that it's always easier to build a new house than to draw up plans for a remodel. The reason is that existing conditions must be inspected, verified and measured in order to accurately develop a plan from which estimating may be done. With a swimming pool, the evaluation of existing conditions of the shell, decks and mechanical is a challenge, particularly when it comes to underground wiring and plumbing. Often problems are not visible until the pool is drained or major demolition reveals that actual condition of what's going on underneath.
Demolition is also a significant issue itself. The removal of old plaster, the pool shell if necessary, and old concrete decking must be broken up and hauled off site. Such a process requires heavy equipment to cope with the weight. This may prove time and labor intensive, particularly if access to the site is limited. A great proportion of the remodel cost is devoted to simply doing away with remnants of the old pool. As demolition exposes underground mechanical, often corrosion, damage and other problems can force you to replace more of this unseen infrastructure than you anticipated.
Older pools usually require replacement of the aging filters and pumps to more contemporary energy and water efficient upgrades. High capacity filters eliminate backwashing and require filter clean out just once a year. Variable speed pumps reduce energy and save money. Salt water pools eliminate the need to add chlorine often. LED lighting is far superior to the old costly bulbs and add color options for exotic underwater lighting. Energy efficient heating systems use far less gas or electricity than older models.
Pool remodeling is a specialty which takes experience and know how. Seek out a contractor that does a lot of remodels in your area. This ensures he is familiar with the age of local pools and their unique problems. A local contractor also knows to expect certain problems such as soil conditions and water quality, and he'll know how to work with the challenges from day one. Experienced contractors also help you avoid unexpected surprises which inevitably lead to additional costs and extra services.
Maureen Gilmer, contributing writer for Landscaping Network, author and syndicated columnist