Having a backyard pool is one of those luxuries a lot of people dream of. But a growing business exists in removing them. Besides the cost of repairs and maintenance, people sometimes remove a pool out of concern that it might be a turnoff to homebuyers.
Mike Eckman’s backyard swimming pool was “a good friend” for years, but with his children now grown it was hardly being used. And it needed costly repairs.
So he and his family decided to have it removed, instead. “The pool served its life,” said Eckman, of Bridgewater, N.J. He hired All Pool Demolition in Midland Park, N.J., to do the job. Owner John Panariello says people often cite the same reasons as Eckman in choosing to get rid of pools.
“They have to fix them and they’re very expensive,” he said.
Having a backyard pool is one of those luxuries a lot of people dream of. But a growing business exists in removing them. Besides the cost of repairs and maintenance, people sometimes remove a pool out of concern that it might be a turnoff to homebuyers. Some parents with young children worry about safety. Other homeowners want to reclaim their backyards.
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All told, there are about 5 million in-ground residential pools in the United States, according to Kirstin Pires, spokeswoman for the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals. As the housing market has declined, so has the installation of new residential pools, by 58 percent last year and nearly 12 percent in 2008, Pires said.
There are no such statistics on pool removal, she said, but anecdotally “it’s pretty unusual.”
Nevertheless, Panariello has found demand increasing for his pool-removal services. He estimates that his company has removed between 900 and 1,100 pools since the 1980s.
The process takes about three working days over a three-week period. Permits have to be obtained, utilities disconnected and water pumped out. The liner must be removed and the deck broken down.
There’s nothing left — except a big hole.
The concrete is broken up and either carted away or buried. But most of the other materials are recycled, Panariello said.
After an inspection, the hole is backfilled with clean dirt and the area is graded. Two weeks later, the company covers the area with top soil and seeds it.
Pool removal costs $5,000 to $8,000, Panariello said. That sum can be recouped within one to three years, he said, if you consider the cost of maintaining a pool.
Barbara Rowan, of Emerson, N.J., paid All Pool Demolition about $8,000 to remove her pool last year. She said a broken pipe had caused erosion damage, leading to structural concerns. It would have cost about $30,000 to rebuild the pool, she said. Instead, she had it filled in, and put in a new patio and hot tub.
Rowan and her husband hope to retire in a couple of years. “A pool isn’t always a selling feature in our area,” she said, even though it was important in their decision to buy the house in the first place.
“It was an expensive toy,” she said. “We do miss it.”
California leads the nation in the number of in-ground pools, followed by Florida, Texas and Arizona, according to statistics compiled by P.K. Data.
Homebuyers have fairly firm ideas about whether they want a home with a pool, said Ann Pettijohn, vice president of the National Association of Realtors for the region that includes California and Hawaii.
Often, the type of pool can matter too. “In Southern California, you can’t just have a square pool,” she said. Buyers want a waterfall, a spa, “all the good things.”
In New England, where the outdoor-swimming season is much shorter, “you want to put a pool in for your enjoyment, not investment potential,” said Ron Phipps, of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I.
Eckman said one factor in his decision to remove his pool was that it would “broaden our market for resale.”
It also would mean less work and lower insurance costs and property taxes.
Still, he struggled with the decision, as did his children. His daughter posted a message on her Facebook page: “Rest in peace pool.”