Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Beware of the floating pool!

Pool Floated 3 feet out of ground
    Soon the rains will start coming and it will be time to deflate the water wings, put away the margarita machine, and retire it for the season....But one word of warning....  Many of my customers have decided to defer maintenance on their swimming pool and drain it in the mean time.  The often unforeseen consequence is that a swimming pool with no water can also be a boat.  As the water table rises during the rainy season or water seeps in from the sides, the pool can lift out of the ground. I have seen them as little as 6" to as much as 5 feet out of the ground. 
     If the plan was to remodel the pool, it will now have to be removed completely, back filled and then re-dug in the shape of the new pool. A BIG mistake.  Alternately, if your plan had been to remove the swimming pool using the partial removal technique it changes the process significantly and would include an increase in price.  On the flip side, if you had planned on a full removal it makes no difference exept that we may need to wait a few days in between demolition and backfill to allow the cavity to dry.
Click Here to watch what happened when I poked some holes in the bottom of the above pool....
It actually surprised me that so much water was still under this pool because it was late July but due to the clay type soil in the area it held the water for months.
    If you must drain your pool I would suggest the following to avoid this problem:
1.  Break 2 holes. One in the deep end and one in the shallow end. The holes should be broken at least 2 ft. X 2 ft.  Do not cut the holes with a concrete saw because you will cut the rebar and the repair will be more difficult. Use a small jack hammer and break small bits of concrete and remove all of the rubble leaving dirt and rebar exposed.
BEWARE: Do not drain your pool completely all at once during the rainy season. It is best to drain it until the shallow end is exposed. Break your first hole in the shallow end. Then drain the rest and break the hole in the deep end.  This process does not guarantee that your pool will not move but will reduce the likelyhood.
    Swimming Pools are designed to hold water and that is what is best for them. If at all possible do not drain your pool until you are ready to act on your remodel or removal.  If you have any questions regarding your swimming pool removal or draining feel free to call me.
Ryan Crownholm

Monday, April 5, 2010

Is your swimming pool half full or half empty?

The Argument of Remodel or Removal...
This is the starting point for most of my customers. The pool is 30 years old and something must be done. But what? Can you justify the cost of remodel with the frequency in which you use your pool? Is keeping the pool going to help the value of your home? Perhaps you have always dreamed about having a backyard garden full of tomatoes and squash and the only space is right over the old swimming pool. Over the years, I have seen hundreds of homeowners in this dilemma and have seen them go both ways including one incident when a client went with a remodel and then called me back three years later to remove the remodeled swimming pool! If you are in this situation and need some advice please give me a call. I can come by and give you a no cost estimate as well as refer you to a remodeling contractor.
Below is a list of what some of my clients have done over their old swimming pool:
1. Vegetable Garden
2. Koi pond
3. Basketball Court
4. Worm Farm
5. Landscape
6. Artificial Grass
7. RV Parking

Saturday, March 20, 2010

"If I remove my pool, what is the effect on the value of my home?"

This is one of the most common questions I get from clients that are undecided on whether or not to remove their pool. I am by no means a real estate professional but I have read several articles on this topic and have seen the effects that removing a pool can have on selling a property first hand. Here is my attempt to answer that question...
Most people would like to have a definitive answer regarding this question. Unfortunately, like many other factors in real estate, it depends. Below are some of the issues I have seen that affected property value in relation to swimming pools.

This is a list of factors that may have a flat or negative effect on your home's value.

1. If the pool takes up 30% or more of the backyard.
2. If the pool is over 30 years old and is in need of repair
3. If the pool does not have a safety gate around it.
4. If the pool is made from a vinyl liner.
5. If the geographic area the pool is in has less than 3 months of "swimming weather"
6. If the pool is the only one in the neighborhood.
7. If your area is currently experiencing a drought

This is a list of factors that may have a positive effect on your homes value.

1. The pool is less than 15 years old.
2. The pool takes up less than 10% of your backyard.
3. Most of your neighbors have pools.
4. The pool equipment is relatively new and energy efficient.
5. The geographic area the pool is in has more than 6 months of "swimming weather"
6. The pool is completely enclosed by a safety gate.
7. If your home is considered a "luxury home"

Supply and Demand:
The current economic downturn has reduced the pool of buyers substatially over the past couple of years. According to real estate professionals the best way to get offers on your home is to appeal to as many possible buyers as possible. In general, most families that do not want a swimming pool are less likely to look at a home that has one due to the cost of removal. Whereas, a family that does want a swimming pool will likely look at homes that have existing swimming pools or enough space to install one. Another factor to keep in mind is that if you have a swimming pool and are selling your house, it may benefit you to sell during the summer time when swimming pools are the most attractive to buyers.

Repair or Removal:
If your pool is in need of repair and you are selling your house these are some suggestions that may be helpful.
1. Talk to your real estate agent and ask their professional opinion on the effect of having a swimming pool on your property.
2. Review the above list of positives and negatives and see which you fall into.
3. Get 3 estimates on repairing your pool.
4. Get 3 estimates on removing your pool.
5. Compare the middle 2 estimates of removing compared to repairing and figure the difference.

Example where repair would be the appropriate action:
Base home value: $500,000 Value added for pool: 3%= $15,000
Cost of Removal: $10,000
Cost of Repair: $12,000
If Repaired the total value would be $503,000 (500,000+15,000-12,000)
If Removed the total value would be $490,000 (500,000-10,000)

Example where removal would be the appropriate action.
Base home value: $500,000 Value added for pool: -2%= (-$10,000)
Cost of Removal: $9,000
Cost of Repair: $7,000
If repaired the total value would be $483,000 (500,000-10,000-7,000)
If removed the total value would be $491,000 (500,000-9,000)

Other factors such as landscaping and time factors such as maintenance and mortgage should also be taken into account.

Personal Experience
A large portion of pools that I have removed are related to real estate transactions. Here are a couple of examples that I have experienced after removing swimming pools.
1. A home in Moraga was on the market for 6 months, prospective buyers generally felt the same about the pool, that it was poorly placed and undesireable. I removed the pool and the house was in escrow within 2 weeks.
2. A home in Walnut Creek where the owners needed to move for work purposes was unable to sell their house because of the decreased value due to the real estate slump. In order to rent the home the insurance company wanted to increase the premium drastically and install a gate that was going to cost $3,500. In addition, several renters expressed hesitation due to the pool and the homeowners would be responsible for maintenance and repair. They decided the best course of action was to remove the pool. The homeowners had far more interest from potential renters once the pool was removed. The majority of the applicants had children and wanted to be in the Walnut Creek school district but didn't want the hazards or liability of a pool.
3. An elderly couple in Danville had lived in their home for 40 years. They enjoyed their swimming pool for years but the cost had gotten so high for maintenance that they were considering selling their house and buying one without a pool. The equipment was over 30 years old and very inefficient and they had to pay a maintenance company $120/month to clean it. The total cost monthly was $250. They had never even considered removing the pool until their real estate agent introduced me to them. I removed their pool and they were able to stay in the home that they loved so much.

If you ever have any real estate questions relating to you swimming pool please call me. I would be happy to refer you to a professional real estate agent in your area. The above article is based on my practical experience in the industry and I hope you find it helpful.

Ryan Crownholm
Dig & Demo
General Engineering Contractor

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Couple of Top 10's To Consider When Removing Your Swimming Pool

If you are reading this blog right now, you are most likely among the thousands of Americans who are fed up with the maintenance, repairs, and liability of having a Swimming Pool. I have personally removed hundreds of swimming pools in the San Francisco Bay Area, and thought I would share some of my clients' experiences and how they came to the final decision to hire Dig & Demo to get rid of it.

Top 10 Reasons Most people remove their Swimming Pool.
1. "The kids used it for years and now they have moved out and it never gets used"
2. "The pool is in desperate need of a remodel but the cost of the remodel is too high to justify"
3. "The pool is leaking and the cost of repair is more than the cost of removal."
4. "We are moving out and renting the property and don't want the liability of a pool."
5. "We never wanted a pool but the home of our dreams already had one."
6. "The pool takes up our whole yard and we want room for the kids, dogs, us to play"
7. "We want a pool more suiting of the house (make my round pool square)."
8. "We want to put an addition on our existing home and the pool is in the way."
9. "I drained my pool to save water and it popped 2 feet out of the ground!" True story
10. "I'm greening my home and want to save water and engergy."

Top 10 Things to Consider When Hiring a Pool Removal Contractor.
1. Check the contractors license number at http://www.cslb.ca.gov/ or by calling 1-800-321-2752.
2. Get at least 3 bids from quality swimming pool removal contractors
3. Get a minimum of 10 references and call at least 3 of them.
4. Make sure all project expectations are in writing and only sign the contract if you understand the terms. There should be NO change orders or up charges for a pool removal if bid is done properly.
5. Confirm that your pool removal contractor has general liabilitiy insurance and workers compensation.  Also, make sure they will not be using any subcontractors without your knowledge.
6. Never pay more than 10% or $1000, which ever is less, for a deposit. Additionally, never let the payments get ahead of the work.
7. Before work commences, make sure your contractor has pulled the proper permits.
8. Ask your contractor what techniques they will use for compaction and ensure it is appropriate for the soil type.
9. Whoever you decide to hire, it is important that they have substantial experience in removing pools. If the process is done incorrectly, the cost to correct the mistakes will be more than the original cost of the removal.
10. Do NOT make your final payment until all work is done to your satisfaction and all items in the contract have been fulfilled. (This includes the city permit being finalized)

Thank you for reading and I hope you find this helpful. I would be happy to answer any questions you might have. Please feel free to call me.

Ryan Crownholm
Dig & Demo
General Engineering Contractor
lic # 834630