Pool Project Update: Analysis Paralysis and The Big Draining

To sum up the state of our pool remodel in one word: Aaaghhhh! After three contractor quotes, with three different approaches and much study and comparison, I'm suffering a positively ferocious case of analysis paralysis. For one reason or another, I'm not comfortable pulling the trigger with any of them. I'm stuck spinning in circles.

For the most part, the defining issue for our preference in contractors is the pool deck. The three solutions we got were completely different from one another:

  1. Tear off the surface stone, mechanically grind the concrete / grout residue down and re-coat it with an acrylic "cool deck" type deck coating.
  2. Tear off the surface stone and install nice, concrete paver bricks. 
  3. Demolish the deck completely, form and pour new concrete, and coat it with an acrylic "cool deck" type coating.
Other than the complete demo, there were positively going to be some ugly unknowns lurking beneath that God-awful stone surface. After my hammer-drill / grinder assault, at least we know it's possible to remove it without destroying the deck below. But, there's is also a drainage issue, where water pools against the house. We'd like to fix that. Surprisingly, all three solutions were in the same price range, so naturally, we're leaning towards the complete demo and re-do.

Ugly Pool Deck
It's gotta go.
Interior renovation proposals are virtually identical in scope, while the pricing is only somewhat close. I had to build a spreadsheet to compare it, because the quotes came in so varied in layout, inclusions, and item-by-item price.

I even compared Better Business Bureau ratings and Registrar of Contractors, along with Yelp and Ripoff Report too. I felt good about all three of the guys that came to do the estimate, despite the fact that all three of them missed their appointment time and arrived significantly late. 

The Official Analysis Paralysis Spreadsheet

The problem with our favorite proposal (the one with the demo and new deck), was a huge demolition charge for the pool interior that the others didn't have. The others included demo in their price. Each line item varied in cost between the three, but this one charge took the price about $1400 higher than the others, not chump change. They  appear to be a very new company, but have little or no complaints. (Highest Cost)

Our second favorite guy, the tear off, grind down, and re-coat guy had good ideas and I liked him, but his contract was spooky scary; it was not consumer friendly at all. He also had the most complaints on the ratings sites. They were nearly all marked resolved, but I got the impression he wielded his contract like a hammer. He also volunteered a lot of negative views about  other contractors. I really want to use him, but my radar is going off. (Lowest Cost)

The third guy's pricing was in the middle, he seemed trustworthy, but he was the one with the pavers. We're just not loving that idea. (Middle Cost)

How can we spend enough to buy a nice used car when we're not comfortable with the plan? So we're stuck.

Well, not entirely.

One of the contractors had a good idea. Why was I paying to run the pool equipment when we were not using the pool. Why not drain it? We're not using it. So what if the plaster cracks in the heat, we're tearing it out anyway.

So we drain. I turned off the equipment for a week before the big drain, so naturally, the pool returned to it's favorite state of full Dagobah mode again, a delightful swampy-green.

I rented up a pump and hose from my local Ace Hardware store for 24 hours. They had an incredible amount of stuff crammed in that rental room. I'm going to go back and check it out when I have more time.

Renting a submersible pool pump

These pumps are a piece of cake to use. You hook up a hose, plug it in, and ker-plunk. It turns on and starts flowing as soon as it submerges and an attached float switch engages. 

Renting a submersible pool pump
Depth Charges Away.

Rather than draining into the street or sewer clean-out, which probably would have sent this water on a path to some treatment station somewhere foreign and far away, like Texas, I gave it back to our local environment, really local, the back yard. It was also cheaper to rent just 50' of hose rather than the 250' I would have needed to make it out front.

Renting a submersible pool pump

That little pump quietly gulped from the pool and spat a steady stream of water out. I wasn't worried about chemicals or salt water because the content was so low. The trees and weeds should love it.

The birds sure did.

Pumping the swimming pool into the yard
"Saaaay,... I wouldn't mind a quick drink and a little bath"
- Mr. Bird
A swampy pool doesn't interest anyone around here, it has no pull against the siren song of toys and video games. But start flooding the yard, all manner of creatures emerge.

Pumping the swimming pool into the yard

Yep, there's nothing like the novelty of a deep algae-covered cement hole in the ground to lure them from their cave.

Nasty Swimming Pool with Algae
Catching some rays out by the pool
These kids are definitely taking baths tonight. Definitely. 

Nasty Swimming Pool with Algae
Sitting Down on the Job
After several hours, it was done. We are now the proud owners of an ugly cement pit. 

Empty Swimming Pool with Yellow and Black Algae

There is absolutely no doubt, this pit needs to be resurfaced. The surface is so rough and pitted that it's no wonder the ongoing fight with black algae was futile. It had sunk it's roots in too deep.

Empty Swimming Pool with Yellow and Black Algae

So what do do with a big empty pool on a beautiful weekend?

Diving Board over an Empty Pool
"CANNON!,..ummmm.... ball ?"

We're not skate boarders around here, but we had some other good ideas. If you follow on Facebook, you might have seen some of this, but the nighttime Colosseum of Battle Ball is probably the best. 


Review: Keen Utility Work Boots - All Terrain / All the Time

If you've been following this blog for any length of time you've noticed that my standard, weekend-warrior formal-wear consists of a t-shirt, cargo shorts, and a pair of work boots. I've been a work boot wearing dude for years. Heck, I don't even own a decent pair of athletic shoes, anymore. Maybe that's what the people from KEEN noticed when they contacted me to ask if I'd like to take one of their new utility footwear products out for a spin.

I jumped at the chance. I was familiar with Keen's footwear and loved the pair I already owned. The difference is, my original pair wasn't for working. (I didn't even know Keen made work wear.) You see, if I'm not wearing casual/dress shoes at work or not not climbing ladders and making sawdust on the weekend, I'm likely to be wearing Keen sandals. Admittedly, I've done some projects wearing sandals, mostly little DIY handy projects around the house or completely do-nothing projects around the beaches of San Diego or the red rocks and forests of Sedona in one of our rare leisure trips.

There's Always a Bigger Hammer - The Paving Stone Demolition Experiment

I'm trying to remove the cemented-in mystery stone from our pool deck. The same stuff is on our patio, so if I'm successful, I may go after that area too. Why would I do that? Cause it's ugly, bad stuff.

You can read about this delightful stone in my last post about our upcoming swimming pool renovation if you like, or you can stay here for the hard-core, hammer-slammin' action.

To update progress on the renovation, I've had two pool contractors give renovation options and quotes for a total pool re-do / repair. The first contractor thought we could remove the mystery stone from the original deck, and cover it with brick pavers. The second promoted jack-hammering the deck down to dirt and starting from scratch, with a new acrylic coated concrete cool-deck.

We're considering both approaches, but the paver idea hinges on successfully removing the stone, and they want $2,000 to do that. Just to remove the stone, not to buy or install the pavers. Holy crap! I decided to see if I could do it myself.

The Next Big Thing - Swimming Pool Renovation

Necessity has once again led us to fail in keeping to our Strategic Doctrine of Inside-Out Home Renovation. The swimming pool continues to be unusable. First world problems right?

Wrong. Access to a swimming pool is a requirement here in the fierce desert southwest. In fact, when you get off an airplane, they check your luggage, just to make sure you have your suit with you. The Border Patrol prowls the edges of the state, making sure anyone attempting to enter without towels, inflatable float toys, squirt guns, and a pair of swim goggles is promptly sent back the other direction. God forbid you try to bring children here in the summer without intending to routinely hurl them into the cool, refreshing embrace of a sparkling, chlorinated aquatic wonder at least once a day.

Whist most of the country is emerging, bleary-eyed, from their winter hibernation homes, blinking at the sunlight like pale zombies, basking in temperatures approaching 60 degrees, we're eyeballing the pool, with temperatures already tickling the low 90's. Oh, it's time.

Shadow Mounting Small Art Pieces

My wife has had this beautiful heirloom crucifix for years. It is something beloved family members who have long since passed brought back from a trip to Rome.  We had it hanging, on a simple nail. in the living room over the entry to the kitchen / dining area before the remodel. After the remodel, with the crown molding and trim around the entry, it just wouldn't fit anymore.

I came up with this this little trick that I thought worked out quite nicely. For a change, I have a quick, little post to share instead of my normal monstrosities.

Using the magical powers of JB Weld, I affixed a large, flat headed screw to the back of the crucifix, roughly dead center.