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Swimming Pool Costs (Long)

Post in 'The Green Room' started by Mo Heat, Apr 2, 2007.

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  1. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    I'm starting this in the Green Room, but will move it to the Ash Can if it degrades or anyone complains. Even though this is obviously an energy consumption issue, I'm asking for primarily personal reasons. Please read on.

    My house is on a hill. The hill seems to be moving. The patio slabs are spreading and the deck supports are splaying. I think I may need a retaining wall, or more. So while I'm mentally and emotionally flailing myself down into the depths of permits, contractors of unknown skill and other things, denied insurance claims (moving earth damage? I may be the only person in Missouri with earthquake insurance since I moved here from San Francisco. :) ), disruption of an otherwise peaceful life, and writing big checks (whew), Mrs. Mo Heat piles on and suggests that this might be a good time to consolidate those headaches with the installation of a swimming pool. Uhhhh, thanks Mrs. Mo! Great suggestion!? Where did I put the Mylanta? ;(

    Some of my cost questions for current and previous pool owners are:

    How much does a swimming pool really cost? Chlorinator, pump(s), pump house(?), plumbing, water heater, slip-proof apron edging, etc., etc., etc.

    Here are some of the expenses I've thought up off the top of my head.

    How much for the pool itself? We're probably looking at a smallish elongated type that would run horizontal to the back patio. We envision it a bit wider than a lap pool, but long enough to do some laps, but only about 3.5 - 4 feet deep.

    Then there's the pavestone or concrete work.

    Land movement and the already mentioned retaining wall that will likely be needed in any event.

    A general contractor, architect, or some sort of knowledgeable landscape or hydraulic engineer that understands ALL the aspects of putting a lot more dirt next to the house. My main sewer line will be further buried, along with about 4 or 5 black corrugated plastic pipe diverter tubes that discharge the roof downspout water below the main grade below the fill the house sits upon.

    Cost of extra water.

    Cost of energy to heat extra water (thus, the green room post :) ).

    Cost of pool supplies. Chemical, vacuum, filters, poles, gadgets, etc. Anybody have a ballpark figure? Say, per month, or per year?

    Increased homeowners' insurance premiums.

    Property tax increase on top of the 28% that occurred last week.

    A new fence that meets neighborhood standards (likely one of those black metal ones) to prevent neighborhood kids from drowning in my attractive nuisance (legal term for swimming pool). 4x danger of death on property compared to keeping guns in the house. Possibility of someone drowning, and if a non-family member, the cost of a big lawsuit, win or lose. But I guess insurance is supposed to cover that, but it would be horrible if my next door neighbor's children, times 3, who are very precocious, might be injured or worse, one day when Mo was off on an extended and relaxing vacation in Florida... or something.

    Additional mosquito abatement so we can use it in the summer. Although my current Mosquito Magnet Liberty might be enough if I changed the Octenol attractant cartridge as often as suggested.

    Beefy pool drain to get pool water down the hill and out of the yard to prevent horrible erosion of the fragile, ridge-side topsoil (as my city charter calls it), or chlorine contamination of the soil, when the pool is drained. How often do you have to drain a pool? Ever? Man, that's a lot of water! If so, I guess all that water just goes down the hill and into my mostly dry creek bed. Does that chlorine or bromine (or the newest fad, salt!) damage the ecosystem much?

    Additional maintenance time needed for Mo to tend the pool, since he won't trust most people to do things right and hates strangers wandering around in his yard.

    And perhaps most important of all, and maybe enough to justify this being on hearthnet (hehehe), lost real estate that would otherwise be used for processing firewood. ;)

    So, that was long, but let me finish with one single question for you existing and previous pool owners. I ask this because a friend of mine with a pool once said to me, "Never again. Too much money and hassle!" Short and sweet from the one homeowner who volunteered that information many years back. Anyway, my final question if you don't feel like detailing your expenses from the bullets above:

    If you have owned, or currently own, a swimming pool, is the joy equal to the expense and hassle? Would you do it again? Any big expenses I missed?

    If a pool is to be installed, who should do it, and how many pro's should be involved to assure the house is on stable ground and well drained, the plumbing doesn't get screwed up, the pool won't move and crack the apron stone work or the pool itself, and all the things I'm probably not thinking about? Do I need a general contractor, an architect, a landscape engineer, a hydrologist, an ecologist (hehehe), or who else?

    (Please, don't copy this entire post into yours... ;) )

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  2. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    Well, that post was one Rhonemas could be proud of (length). :) Anyway, We've had a pool now for about 4 years, and it became quickly apparent that the non-chlorine system was seriously expensive. Now I only use about 2/3 of one of the (guessing here) 25lb containers of hockey puck size tablets a year. I just put a couple in the filter basket and a floater that hangs around in the pool. We went with a 52" as then you do not need a fence. (the reason pool companies now push the 52" is that it's cheaper in the long run to install only a 52" pool vs a 48" pool and a 10k fence)

    I'm not sure what the pump adds to electric costs, but you should seriously consider a timer. Also, the more out pool is used the cleaner it stays. let it sit for a week, and it gets dirty. Kids swimming = a clean pool.

    Once it gets dirty, it takes time to vacuum and if really dirty, you need to add an algicide. That's about 10 bucks a bottle. I know people who really like salt water pools. Claim they use almost no chemicals, and it's easier on the eyes. Up front cost is very high for the equipment compared to just a filter. Also, get a DE filter. I can clean up my pool in about 1 day vs many many days for a sand filter. And a bag of DE is pretty cheap.

    Heater? Isn't that what the Sun is for? If it's not warm enough for the pool water to be comfortable, it's not worth swimming.
  3. slowzuki

    slowzuki Feeling the Heat

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    Solar heating is the way to go if you have any south exposure. Insulate the ground next to the liner and below. Earlier and later swimming seasons.

    I've only ever removed pools for people who just bought a house or are trying to sell one. It really reduces the sale price of the average home. I personally would like to try on of these new pond liner companies setups. It looks like a backyard coy pond but it is really a small pool. Don't know what the insurance companies think of those.

    I've been in salt pools before, I think they have to be kept cooler for some reason, growth maybe, at least the one I was in was freezing. It is neat how high you float and the water smells mucho better.
  4. keyman512us

    keyman512us Member

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    MO:
    Better find the Mylanta...just out of curiousity..."How much 'socializing' do you and the Mrs. do?" (Good place to start a pool discussion). Having a pool from scratch is not only pricey...but often times not all that good of an 'investment'...9 out of 10 people I've talked to have said if they had to do it over again...they wouldn't bother...not because of the initial cost...or even the maint. and up-keep...just the simple fact...they don't get used all that much (Might have something to do with the fact most people have little free time these days?)
  5. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Well, so far I've written more than all the responses combined, but there is some GOOD info in those terse replies. Thanks y'all.

    Me and the Mrs. don't socialize much. We are essentially suburban hermits. The world just seems too harsh for our delicate natures. ;)

    It is surprising to me that a pool would actually reduce the value of a property, but that tells me a lot. Like there is a significant liability somewhere. Maybe insurance, upkeep, or something else. This is really good information.

    I am also surprised that so many have even heard of the salt pool thing, let alone that they have tried it. One of my neighbors does that an when she had to drain her pool, her neighbor started complaining to anyone who would listen, including lawyers, who seem always interested as long as you are feeding coins into their slots. Seems her water gushes down into the rear of his yard. Salt water can't be too good for the landscaping!

    Maintenance info is good. Thanks Warren.

    I don't have much southern exposure. That was one of the things that I viewed as a negative. No solar heater, which seems like the only way to heat.

    The "if I had it to do over again" is just what I was looking for. Thanks.

    Keep those replies coming pool people. All other info is welcome. Thanks in advance.
  6. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Think Hot Tub - and if you really want it hot (and don't like to spend $40 a month), a little wood water heater can fix that.

    My opinion is that pools are perfect for someone else....my parents install one when I was 7 and we had many happy times with our friends and neighbors. But I didn't have to do anything except jump in.

    I think most folks "do it for the kids".

    If you live in Fl. its another thing.....but given the short season and high cost.....

    I'd say - calculate the total money cost per year - offer Ms. Mo to spend 1/2 of that on vacations (to VERY delicate places), and you'll be a winner in the game of life!

    Webwidow is from the city - and when it was hot in NJ, she wanted me to get one of those $100 K-Mart things and put it in the backyard so that she and the dog would sit in it. In a rare display of male dominance, I put my foot down........I was NOT going to have my family seen wading in 5 foot diameter and 2 foot deep K-Mart plastic tub. Call me spoiled, call me high brow......but there is a line in the sand, and I draw it there.
  7. slowzuki

    slowzuki Feeling the Heat

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    To be fair the salt water pool I swam in was not privately owned, it was part of a resort/park thing. Salt is cheap though, a few $ a ton delivered by dumptruck. Maybe put so much in it is precipitating out on the bottom so nothing grows in the pool. Pickles anyone who gets in hehe.

    Only guy I know who kept his pool only preps it for one weekend a year to have a party. He got tired of all the work after 5 years.
  8. Andre B.

    Andre B. New Member

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    I am guessing this idea is out.
    http://www.cathy-moore.com/house/tub.html
  9. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Andre, That's hilarious. I like this sentence the best:

    If it gets too hot, I squirt in cold water from the garden hose for some classy jet action.

    Craig, That's funny... But, uh, the kiddy pool idea was my plan 'b'.

    Actually, I offered up a compromise plan of installing a hot tub on what might be a newly expanded patch of ground between the patio and where the potential new retaining wall might wind up. Strangely, Mrs. Mo has little interest in hot tubs. She likes the coolish water environment. And slowly, she seems to be succumbing to reason. Not an everyday event at the Mo Heat household.

    In a flash of mental brilliance, I turned around one of her own admonishments to me from a week or two ago that seemed apropos. She had said to me, "Mo, do you realize we won't be living here forever. So you should start thinking of lightening the load. Meaning all the stuff you collected in the basement." She is a notorius anti-pack rat. After I reminded her of what she had said to me, I could almost see a light bulb switch on inside her brain. I think I got the best of that exchange and she may be coming to accept that a pool may not be in our future, and it might actually be the right decision for both of us.

    Still, keep those ideas coming. The more the merrier.
  10. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, we have it for the kids. if no kids... I'd NEVER have a pool.
  11. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I'm not trying to encourage or discourage the pool idea, but I am curious what the added insurance costs are. Some companies might consider them a serious liability. What will the investment do to your property value and taxes? How do local realtor's (really) consider them? Do they make the home easier or harder to sell?
    How long has the earth moving been happening? Have your neighbor's noticed it too?
  12. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    Insurance (Liberty Mutual) hardly budged. For me I think it was 60 bucks a year. That's in case a tree falls on it or something. Around here a pool is a n asset, although an above ground is not a big one. Even if I sold the place after about 7 grand of output for the pool I'd say a 1k increase in property value. At and estimated 400k value, the pool is not even interesting.
  13. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    the long and short of it pools are a lot of work. fishing leaved ont finally getting the water clear and swimmable $250 in chemicles every year,
    Add $20 to your electric bill for the pump then the cover last only 3 years All for an occasional dip my Kids have grown up and none live here
    ITS a lot of work for floating around in it occasionally. I think pools are best for the kids. the pool cost less that $ 5000 12 years ago but the deck all the way around it the landscaping and stone walls fence cost me too many hours to fathom going threw that again I could have cut and split a lot of wood if I used that time All told probably cost me 25k
    Wopuld have been a lot more if I hired everything out and that includes the excavating done by me. At this point in life it is a PITA.

    I prepare it every year as it is the center piece fo my wife"s herd and flower gardens. Now I am looking at replacing the fence Whiuch I custom built due to the terreced ground.

    To answer some of your questions there are a lot of additional cost and a lot of work involved.
  14. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Warren and elk, Thanks for the info.

    BG, Insurance? Don't know. Prop value and taxes? Don't know. Realtors? I wouldn't believe what they told me.

    Earth moving? I just noticed it affecting the deck (see: photo) this Spring, but it might have been happening for 3 years before that since I noticed the patio slabs moving for the last 3 years. Neighbors also moving? Don't know, but I don't think so. Their houses aren't quite as close to the edge of their hills (more fill) as mine. And each of them already has at least some sort of retaining wall. One has a nice one in an arc shape with a swingset in it. The other has at least 3 flower boxes: one about 15 feet long of RR ties, and two smaller ones of pavestone (windsor style). I suspect this is helping both of them. I have nothing like that where the house is moving. However, I do have some flower boxes behind the garage, but I haven't noticed anything moving over there. Of course, I haven't really been looking. I guess I'll give it a peak soon.

    Why do you ask if they are moving, too? I mean, what would be the significance if we were all moving.

    This is my first house. I've always been a renter. So this is kind of freaking me out. I'm not really sure what the next step is. I mean, who should I contact first? A landscape architect, or maybe some sort of engineer, for a really informed opinion? And after that, assuming I get a retaining wall, what to do about the deck? Can it be repaired without disassembly, re-footing the posts, and so forth?

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  15. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    I finally posted the photo in the previous post. It shows the nails separating from the deck joists (or whatever you call them).

    Hey Elk, I wish you lived closer to me.
  16. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    We probably have a lot more earth movement that some areas. So when it moves, it's good to pay attention. Out here we get two types. The common one is mudslides. The soil starts liquifying there is clay substrata, it can give way quickly. The other thing is that we are in a geologically active area. If on a fault zone or near one, you want to pay attention to earth movement as it may get much worse, sometimes very quickly.

    But is that deck shot the only thing you are seeing? Could that possibly be wood shrinkage or are there other similar issues? And why isn't that joist sitting on a ledger or strapped in? I'm not a carpenter, but that doesn't look correctly done to me. Maybe Elk or Sandor will be able to give you a professional opinion.
  17. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    I can't picture if what's vertical and what's horizontal in the picture. I'd at least get a joist hanger on that asap, and use screws not nails. The fact that it's nails proves nothing about what is moving. Can you back up a little and retake the picture?
  18. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    I'll try to get another photo a bit farther back.

    Good suggestion on the hangers, too.
  19. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Okay. Here's a bit farther back. You're looking up at the bottom of the deck. The shot farthest back includes the middle post of the deck. Is that better?

    (Dang it! I made them too big. The second photo will be in the next post.)

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  20. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Second photo. A bit more zoomed in, and taken from the same spot as the last one.

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  21. Andre B.

    Andre B. New Member

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    Are the posts still vertical?
    I am guessing not.

    At the very least I would prefer to see joust hangers. If I built it there would be 2x12s on the edge with ledger plates for the 2x6 jousts to sit on, don't like those metal brackets where you can see them, they do not hold stain like wood. ;)
  22. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Mo PM Elk and take more shots of the other end of those joists too. How is the outboard end of the deck supported? Have the piers sunk at all?

    It could be this is just poor construction. That would be a bummer, but remediable and a lot better than dealing with earth movement.
  23. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Andre, I wish I knew what you were talking about. Sounds like a good idea. The posts don't look vertical to me. I'll try to take a pic of them.

    BG, Maybe bad construction and earth movement as the patio slabs are spreading, too. I'll try to get a pic. I'm not sure how to tell if the piers have sunk. I'll also try to get pics of the other end of the deck. Is that the outboard end? Or is the outboard end where the posts are, farthest away from the house? More pics coming...
  24. Andre B.

    Andre B. New Member

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    Last deck I helped a guy build was something like this. He complained a bit that it was going to cost a bit more then the big box store super computer generated construction plans version. But he come around when I told him he could build it by himself any way he wanted. ;)
    He also seemed to think using a chisel was old fashioned!!

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  25. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    The outboard end is the furthest away from the house. I'd like to see how the deck joists are attached at the house side. What I am wondering is if the contractor put in the deck and patio on crappy fill without compacting the earth beneath it first. This is just speculation, but there is some evidence of corners being cut in the pictures so far.
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