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Let’s Give the Backyard a Facelift!

Renovation of an existing pool is a great way to bring new ideas, new technology and added enjoyment to your backyard. It can also bring the pool into being a user-friendly pool also.

Many times pools are first installed to be for family enjoyment. This was done with the thought of a herd of children happily playing and making memories for a lifetime. However, children grow up and leave home, also leaving a large body of water that still needs to be maintained. Energy and maintenance costs have increased as well with parents looking to future years on a fixed budget. Technology has advanced to make pools easier to maintain. A discussion of what purpose the pool and area around the pool now serves will be a starting point to the final renovation of the old swimming hole.

First of all, do your homework. The first lesson is to research the companies willing to do the work involved. Check references. Ask your friends that have pools. Check the Better Business Bureau and check to see if your contractor belongs to his/her industry’s organization. Many states require that a licensed contractor do the work. The contractor should apply for all permitting. If you have to sign off on the permit for insurance purposes, you may be responsible if anyone gets hurt on the job. It is desirable to have a contractor that can manage all aspects of the project from start till swim. Get a detailed quote on all work to be performed and ask what is not included.

In your first discussion with your designer or renovation contractor you need to address the following:

  • Future maintenance costs on a seasonal, yearly and long-range timeline
  • Use of the pool for casual enjoyment, exercise and entertaining
  • Hardscapes and landscaping ideas
  • Lighting ideas for security, ambience and safety

Plan your ultimate pool idea and then you can work with a budget and existing items that can be incorporated into a workable plan.

When discussing future costs of the pool, take into consideration the resurfacing and upkeep of the pool’s surface. Many older pool owners like the idea of a fiberglass pool, which will need no further surface maintenance. This works well with fixed incomes. At this time, you may find by upgrading to energy-efficient equipment you can pay for the new equipment in energy cost savings, as opposed to what the existing equipment uses. If a smaller pool is desired but an aquatic workout is wanted, look into the use of a swim-against-the-current system being installed or a tether system. You can update the look by using pavers and adding a fire pit or barbeque to match the new deck.  Pavers give a long life of little maintenance and are easy to add more entertainment area to at a later date, if desired.

After discussing your wants and needs, a field survey would be required. Meeting with a landscape architect and also an electrician would be required also for the overall plan. If you have a larger pool and want to downsize, it is common to place a pool within a pool. Using a smaller pool enables the existing excavation to be used and built upon. Also, the maintenance costs will be less for less water to be maintained. However, it is easy to incorporate walls with fountains, tanning ledges and shapes to benefit the landscaping and make a new look. This all depends on the site and existing elevations, as well as storm water drainage.

Electrical, water and gas lines are marked, as well as irrigation capped off for future installation into the new plan. Existing electrical and automation need to be discussed at this time to determine what upgrades need to be incorporated into the budget. Building permits may also be required for this work, so be sure to check with your local code office. There are now many energy codes in place, and you want to renovate with these new codes in mind.

Preliminary plans are next drawn up to show areas where pool structure renovation or new depths are marked as well as other additions, such as a fountains, tanning ledge area for chairs and ankle-deep walk through. This plan to scale is then used to survey elevations and in turn calculate the amount of materials and labor needed to perform the renovation. This is done for the surrounding deck areas and landscaping as well. Most important is to plan on the electrical and irrigation at this time. This can save major headaches and money later.

Renovation work can take longer than the initial build of the pool. Weather, inspections and waiting for the next trade person of specific work can delay a construction job. Stay in communication with your contractor and call with any questions you may have.

Sit back and enjoy the new backyard you have.