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pool makeover

Since we mentioned that the pool was a deciding factor in purchasing this home, we’ll move onto what we did to bring it back to life.

The first step was checking for leaks to be sure the foundation was solid. This unfortunately was not the case for us. After several tests we found that our huge pool was losing huge amounts of water every day, approximately 600 gallons. Now as many of you may know, buying a fixer upper can certainly come with some risks hiding under the surface and around every corner but finding out something like this can be a game changer.

The pool was now our first big project outside of our budget AND our construction loan! But how do you go about fixing a 600 gallon-a-day leak? Well first you get your checkbook out. Then, if you are Brandon you go about getting a dozen plus quotes, leveraging other neighbors possible projects and conveniently arranging appointment times so that the pool contractors coming out to bid accidentally show up at the same time or bump into each other on their way out. After that you make a spread sheet of all of the bids: the work they plan to include, their reputations (included a BBB search), quality of plaster and again price. Then…go with the lowest bidder and pray.

We decided as part of this big decision to rip up all the old plaster and find the crack to repair it, that we should also fill in the deep end of the pool to make a play pool.  This was crucial and would allow us to restart our weekly pool volleyball games we used to have back at Brandon’s parents’ house during the summers.  The slight savings in the new plaster and the fact that we had to rip everything up anyways helped us justify this – but do not take this as a recommendation because again filling in half of a pool will cost upwards of $5,000 no matter where you are.

When we were done, after waiting 3 months for the contractor to finish it (I won’t mention any names here) we had a brand new pool floor, in a nice dark blue color, with new lighting and a working pump but what to do about that ugly cool decking? Luckily we had an easy and inexpensive plan for that.

We had seen these east coast types of pools in a lot of the magazines we looked through for inspiration on other areas of our house (very Restoration Hardware) and thought that given the age of our home it might be more appropriate to try and come up with a way to make the pool look more in period with the rest of the house. Cool decking is probably suitable for most of the houses in AZ being built after 1980 but for a house built in 1916 it just didn’t look right.

Our first attempt was to try and cover the decking in thin pavers to match the front porch and new carport but as much as we tried to rub two pennies together to cover this it just wasn’t affordable with everything else going on. I think Brandon may have even looked into buying his own paver molds and pouring his own paver copings (did I mention he’s crazy).

But at last we came up with a great solution. Concrete – just like all of those awesome photos we liked so much from our inspirational magazines. We simply got a cement saw, a few of our “independent contractors” and we went about cutting off half of the surrounding pool decking taking it from 4’ to 2’. Next we got a thinned cement mix and covered the entire remaining pool deck with new concrete and finally we stained it to give it a weathered looked.

We topped it all off by having two of our favorite new contractor brothers pour a couple new pads to match and we were all done for under $1200. Not too shabby.


This is definitely Brandon’s “white picket fence” and glad that it turned out so well.
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