Pool Project Update: Analysis Paralysis and The Big Draining

To sum up the state of our pool remodel in one word:


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


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 Official Analysis Paralysis Spreadsheet

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


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 night time Colosseum of Battle Ball  is probably the best. 


UPDATE: After this experience with hiring a contractor, I was invited to return to the Thumb and Hammer Home Improvement Podcast. Check it out here: 012: The AZ DIY Guy returns to discuss contracts, contractors and pool repair