I. Not Everyone Wants a Pool in Their Backyard
At first, having your very own beautiful private swimming pool in your backyard seems like a dream. You and your family will have a ball. But after the kids are grown, or the expenses become too much for comfort, the pool is less of a ball and more of a ball and chain. Maybe it has been there so long it has begun to crumble. Repairs are expensive. You may even be ready to sell the house but your real estate agent told you that homes with pools are harder to sell, especially pools that are old and ugly. Or maybe you are thinking of buying a house with a pool already there – you love the house but hate the pool. What can you do?
II. Options for Getting Rid of an Inground Swimming Pool
You have several options. Let’s review a few, beginning with the least expensive.
1. Convert the Pool into a Garden Pond.
Converting the pool to a peaceful garden pond is probably the least expensive option. It allows you to avoid the expense of removal. If the mechanical equipment is still operational you can put it to use. The cost of converting the pool to a pond will be minimal compared to complete pool removal, but it is not free. You will need a contractor to help you with the conversion. You may need to repair leaks and partially fill the pool with rocks and gravel. Some removal of decking and landscaping around the edges may be necessary. The reality is that you will still have a pool of water in your yard and the ongoing responsibility of pond maintenance.
2. Install a Sunken Patio.
One brilliant way to gain usable space without a lot of demolition is to convert your pool into a sunken patio. Concrete bench seating can be installed, and the pool walls can make a cozy private outdoor room. Maybe your pool is large enough to hold an outdoor kitchen or fire pit, too. This option will allow you to avoid the cost of demolition and removal while making the outdoor space usable and inviting.
If you choose this option, your cost will depend on how elaborate your design is. You likely will incur the cost of some filling with concrete and gravel to bring it up to the depth you desire, and you will face some costs associated with providing adequate drainage, making repairs and doing any resurfacing. The cost depends on the condition of the pool surface and the materials you use for resurfacing. The possibilities are not limited to just paint and concrete—consider stone or brick veneer.
An alternative to installing a sunken living space is building a deck platform across the top. Perhaps you can use some of the space underneath for outdoor storage. Adequate drainage must be addressed by drilling holes in the pool bottom. You will likely also need to partially fill in the pool with gravel to prevent heaving and cracking.
Partial removal is less expensive than complete removal. Partial removal is sometimes described as filling in the pool. With partial removal, your contractor will drill adequate drainage holes in the pool bottom. He will remove the decking and the top of the pool walls and place the debris in the empty pool along with gravel and dirt fill. At the surface, the contractor will cover it with soil if you want to reclaim it as yard space. Alternatively, your plans may include yard space with a new patio. Your contractor can probably help you with that as well. When the job is finished, you should not know that a pool was once there. Depending on the size of the pool and the difficulty of access by heavy demolition equipment, you should expect to pay at least $5,000, and much more if the pool is large and site access is difficult.
When you sell the house, you may have to disclose the existence of the debris filled pool. You should discuss this with your real estate agent and make sure to comply with applicable laws concerning disclosure.
Complete removal is the most expensive option. Complete removal means that the entire pool is demolished and removed. The hole is then filled with gravel and soil. When the job is completed, nothing of the pool will be left in the ground. Most building codes require full removal if a new structure will be built on or near the site. Expect to pay at least $10,000 for complete removal of a small or medium sized pool with easy access to the site.
III. Working With a Pool Removal Contractor
Whichever option you choose, you will need a contractor to help you. You may be able to save a little money by doing some of the prep work yourself, however, unless you are a building contractor with access to heavy equipment, you will need professional to do the job properly.
In selecting a pool removal contractor, take time to meet with the project manager and discuss the services his company can provide in your case. Perhaps the contractor can do the heavy lifting for your planned landscaping, but if not, make sure the contractor can coordinate with the landscape contractor you plan to use.
Most importantly, make sure the contractor is experienced, licensed and insured, and knows the local codes that govern pool removal. Most counties require permits and inspections to insure compliance with the local codes that you must follow. Find out how long he thinks the job may take to complete. Get references so that you can be assured that the contractor will get the job done well. With a qualified contractor, your pool removal can be quick, professional, and hassle-free. You can then rest easy knowing that the pool is no longer an eyesore or a liability risk for you or your family members.