Learn how to retire an unused pool without the need for excavation.
Prescott member Jeffrey Soltis estimates that he spent more than $1,000 a year on a pool he never used during the cooler months at his winter home in Goodyear. “It’s warmer there, but you can’t swim during that time,” he says. Faced with ongoing maintenance costs, he searched for a better option, which led him to call highly rated Deckover Pool Retirement of Phoenix to build a deck over an existing pool.
Deckover’s process for retiring a pool takes the company about two to three days and involves draining the pool and building a sturdy deck on top that blends perfectly with the pool shape and structure.
Company owner Jeff Getz opened the business in 2001 as a home remodeling company, but started Deckover after a request from a client to cover a pool that they rarely used. “I thought: ‘I really don’t like my pool either and there have to be people who feel the same way,’” Getz says. It turns out there were, and the company switched its focus to building decks in 2007.
Soltis says he now enjoys relaxing at the table and chairs on his new deckover, making the approximately $7,000 he spent well worth it. “I’m glad to be rid of it,” he says.
Cost to build a deck over a pool
Deckover marketing director Mike Buckles says the company typically uses composite materials for the deck, but will use wood if the client prefers. Technicians also install a pump in the pool to extract water that falls through the deck cracks. Most deckovers cost between $10,000 and $12,000, or $20 to $30 per square foot, and can vary depending on factors such as engineering requirements, various asthetic considerations and optional features.
Thousands of homes in the Valley have swimming pools, according to Buckles, and many of those pools are more than 15 years old. Experts say pools come with a high price that includes electricity, chemicals, water, maintenance and more.
Clay Westmoreland owns highly rated Westmoreland Pool Service and Repair in Gilbert, where he says there are 6,000 pools in a 5-mile radius.
Westmoreland charges $100 a month for pool maintenance, which doesn’t include additional repairs that may come up. While many enjoy their pools, Buckles says Deckover offers a unique service to those who see them as money pits.
“A lot of these pools belong to empty nesters,” he says. “The children have gone, the grandchildren use their own pools. Grandma and grandpa don’t need them anymore.” He also says some families with young children don’t want the risks associated with having a pool in their yard.
Alternative pool removal methods
Besides building a deck over the pool, alternatives exist for transforming aging pools, including remodeling and upgrading it or hiring an excavator for demolition.
Justin Suhr, construction manager for highly rated Imperial Excavating in Phoenix, says there are three methods an excavator can use to get rid of an unwanted pool. The first pool removal method involves filling the pool with dirt, which costs between $2,500 and $5,000, he says. The second and most popular option — a “fill-in” — involves using heavy equipment to hammer the pool into the ground, and then covering it with dirt, removing all traces a pool was there, Suhr says. Fill-ins range from $3,500 to $6,000.
The third option involves completely removing the pool, which costs anywhere from $6,000 to $12,000 and allows homeowners to build over the spot.
Steve Rensch of Mesa says he wanted to get rid of his pool, due to the dangers it posed to his grandchildren. He preferred the flexibility of installing a deck over the pool instead of hiring an excavation company. “It’s much cheaper and we like the idea of having the pool there if we want it down the road.” Buckles says the deck could be removed in about a day and it would cost around $1,000, depending on the cost of labor.
Westmoreland says a handful of customers admit to not using their pools anymore, but keep it to maintain the value it adds to their home.
Pools in Phoenix add value to homes
According to Realtor Alyssa Samuelson of highly rated Success Real Estate Group in Scottsdale, appraisers normally estimate that a pool adds $5,000 to $10,000 in value, depending on the type of pool and its condition. “Given that we live in Arizona and it is so hot, I would estimate that 50 to 60 percent of buyers would prefer a pool,” she says. “I’ve had many clients who bought homes with pools without the intent to use it, but looking further down the road to salability.”
Westmoreland agrees that Arizona buyers often look for homes with pools and adds that the deck could cost more down the line if the homeowner decides to sell the house. He prefers homeowners keep their pools, but believes Deckover offers a good option for someone deciding to retire their pool. “It’s clever,” he says. “It definitely gives the homeowner the option to have a pool down the road.”
Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article that originally posted Sept. 9, 2013.