Friday, March 25, 2011

Full or Partial Removal? Engineered or Non-Engineered? What is best for YOU?

   So, you have finally decided to take the plunge and dive-in head first into your swimming pool removal.   Suddenly, you are faced with a whole new set of questions.  How will your pool removal be handled?  Most cities allow a partial collapse and fill, where others require a full removal of all concrete and rebar and then backfilled under the supervision of a licensed Geotechnical soils engineer.  There are many options that fall between these two ends of the spectrum and I will do my best to describe each techniques and the pros and cons of each.

The Partial Removal and Non-Engineered Fill (Sides Broken down)
    The process:
    This is the most common type of removal that we see.  This technique involves punching holes in the bottom of the swimming pool, breaking the sides (bond beam) down 18"-36" from grade and then backfilling and compacting with no engineering oversight.
     Suitable future use:
    Most cities will consider the area of the former pool non-buildable (no additions or dwellings) but the area will be perfectly acceptable for landscaping, sheds, concrete, plants or trees.
     Advantages:
    The main advantage to this type of pool removal is cost savings and the speed at which it can be removed (2-5 days)
     Disadvantages:
    There are a few disadvantages to this technique.  The main disadvantage is that it will be something you will have to disclose to future buyers of the property and could affect the value of your home becasue it is considered non-buildable.  On the other hand, you should check with the city building depatment and see what the property setbacks are to see whether it is a buildable area in the first place.
    Another disadvantage is that if someday someone wanted to install a new swimming pool the old one would have to be dug up, broken out, recompacted and re-dug to the shape of the new pool.
    Also, if this technique is performed incorrectly you may have an increased chance of sinkage, swelling, or a lack of proper seepage. Refer to How to hire a contractor blog to make sure your contractor measures up.

Partial Removal and Engineered Fill
      The Process:    
      This technique is the same as above except that the backfill would be monitored by an engineer technician who would perform density testing during backfill and then submit a senior engineer letter.  This technique is typically only used when required by the city but if you are unsure of your contractors abilities it might be a good idea.
      Suitable future use:
     Most cities will consider the area of the former pool non-buildable (no additions or dwellings) but the area will be perfectly acceptable for landscaping, sheds, concrete, plants or trees.
      Advantages:
      The advantages to this type of pool removal is cost savings and the speed at which it can be removed (4-5 days).  Another advantage would be that you have verification that the area has been properly compacted.
       Disadvantages:


      There are a few disadvantages to this technique.  The main disadvantage is that it will be something you will have to disclose to future buyers of the property and could affect the value of your home becasue it is considered non-buildable.  On the other hand, you should check with the city building depatment and see what the property setbacks are to see whether it is a buildable area in the first place.
    Another disadvantage is that if someday someone wanted to install a new swimming pool the old one would have to be dug up, broken out, recompacted and re-dug to the shape of the new pool.

Full Removal with Non-Engineered backfill
       The Process:
       All concrete (Gunnite), fiberglass, liner, re-bar, etc. is removed from pool cavity and hauled off-site. The area is filled and compacted.
       Suitable future use:
      Most cities will consider the area of the former pool non-buildable (no additions or dwellings) but the area will be perfectly acceptable for landscaping, sheds, concrete, plants, trees or new swimming pool.
       Advantages:
      When you sell your home your disclosure will state that the entire pool was removed which may have less impact than if you had performed a partial removal.  If your property setbacks would not allow building in the area regardless of the former pool there should be little or no impact on home value.  Another advantage of removing the entire pool is that with no concrete burried in the pool it leaves less room for error in the backfill process.  If a contractor doesn't know how to properly layer the concrete chunks during backfill it can leave air spaces that over time can cause sinkage in the former pool area.  This process also eliminates any concerns of seepage as with the partial removal.  In my opinion, if you are going to go through the expense and effort of a full removal it is usually worth it the spend the extra money to have it engineered. The cost is typically about 10% more.

Full Removal with Engineered Backfill
       The Process:
       All concrete (Gunnite), fiberglass, liner, re-bar, etc. is removed from pool cavity and hauled off-site. The area is filled and compacted.  Provide a demolition and compaction plan wet stamped by a state licensed Engineer, perform density testing and oversight during backfill, and submit a final engineer review declaring the area "buildable"
        Advantages:
      Although this is the most expensive option, it is the absolute best process.  In the eyes of real estate and building departments it is as if the pool never existed.
        Disadvantage:
        Cost

     This should give you an overall idea of your options. Keep in mind that there are some variations in between these that may fit your special situation.  I tried to simplify "the process" just to give you an idea of what would be done in each scenario but I would be happy to talk to you in more depth about our specialized process for removing swimming pools.  I hope you find this helpful and I wish you the best on your upcoming project!

Ryan Crownholm
925-933-4448
http://www.ihatemyswimmingpool.com/

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