Question: Our kids are grown and have moved away, and we no longer have any use for our backyard pool. We’d prefer to stop paying for its upkeep and get rid of it altogether. Do people do that?
Answer: Yes, they do. But just filling the pool with a couple dump-truck loads of dirt is not sufficient. In fact, without providing a way for rainwater to drain, you will have the makings of a backyard swamp. And don’t forget that with the high water table found in parts of Houston, the below-grade pressure could cause an empty gunite or fiberglass shell to pop right out of the ground — so don’t even think about just putting a wood deck over it and calling it a day. At the minimum, you will need to punch large holes in the pool’s shell and tear out the decking and top couple of feet of the shell. Then you can bring in rubble and fill dirt.
And it’s not cheap: Plan on budgeting $6,500 to $15,000 (or even more) for pool demolition. One agent in our Greenwood King Properties office on Kirby has clients whose four-year-old pool has begun shifting and sinking in the ground. The quotes: $40,000 to repair, $16,000 to remove and $7,000 to fill it in.
We reached out to Lanson B. Jones & Co., the Houston landscaping company, to get their thoughts on removing a pool. The first issue is to always consider city approval and permit costs, plus backfill requirements. They remind homeowners that there needs to be access for large earth-moving equipment, as it typically takes large equipment to rip out a full-size pool and decking. You will need to have the ground compacted to minimize settling. Nevertheless, the area will probably become a low spot no matter what you do, so be sure to install drainage. And the company recommends planning your post-pool landscape before you begin demolition. If you want a loggia, for example, plan to have the heavy work done while the backyard is still torn up from the pool removal.
Here’s another idea for an unwanted swimming pool: Convert it to a concrete koi or goldfish pond. If your pond is quite deep, you may want to add a couple feet of gravel to the bottom. With a little care (though considerably less than for a swimming pool), you can have a beautiful and tranquil feature in your backyard that is an attraction to birds, dragonflies and other wildlife.
Finally, keep in mind that should you decide to sell your house in the future, you will need to disclose that there was once a pool. To read more about pool removal, click here.