Q: I found a house I would love to buy, but the problem is it has a pool. I would love to get rid of the pool and just plant trees in the back, but friends tell me the value of the house would fall.
I don’t care; I had a pool once and it took too much effort to take care of — and nobody used it. My husband says it is so easy — he would just put dirt in the huge hole. Is it that easy? –Zein G.
A: You certainly can fill in the pool, but it’s a little more involved than just filling it with dirt. First, you need to disconnect all of the plumbing and electrical wiring associated with the pool and its support equipment. This is something that should be done by licensed professionals — especially the electrical wiring.
From there, you would want to break off the upper portion of the pool itself — the tile, concrete, etc. — down a couple of feet. That will get any of the hard surface around the top and upper edge of the pool out of the way so that it doesn’t eventually begin to show above ground again. Now you can proceed with filling in the pool itself.
To prevent dangerous settling, filling in the pool needs to be done in a succession of layers, known as "lifts." Dirt and rock would be placed in a layer on the bottom of the pool, then compacted. Another lift of dirt and rock would be added and compacted, etc. The final lift would be all topsoil, allowing for the placement of new landscaping.
You will definitely want to talk with an experienced, licensed excavator about the exact steps required for your particular situation, and also get a bid for the cost of the work — preferably before you make your final purchase decision. You’ll also need to check with your local city building department to determine what permits might be required.
As to the purchase and the value of the house, you stand to take a hit in three different areas. You’ll be buying the house based on its value with a pool, a value that will then typically decrease when the pool is removed.
And, you have the expense of the removal and the new landscaping. I would discuss this with a real estate professional who’s experienced with your area, and make sure this makes financial sense.
Finally, be aware that the removal and filling of the pool is something that will need to be disclosed to a future buyer when you go to sell the home, and could have a potential impact on a future sale.
Q: Any suggestions on cleaning a composite deck material? I have two decks finished with composite decking and I have notice black dots forming after only one year. Also, can composite decks be sealed or need to be sealed? –John M.
A: For routine cleaning of a composite deck, just use soap and water. I would suggest a powdered detergent with a degreaser, such as Spic and Span, mixed with warm water, and applied with a nylon scrub brush or push broom. Rinse with cold water. You can also apply the soap and then do the rinsing with a pressure washer set on a wide fan spray. Stubborn spots should come clean by mixing up a paste of water and detergent and scrubbing with a nylon brush.
The tiny black dots you are seeing are probably mildew, which is not uncommon. There are now several deck cleaners formulated specifically for use on composite decks, and many of them say that they’ll take care of mildew problems.
Before doing that, however, if you know the manufacturer of the decking material I would either check out their website or give them a call and ask for their specific recommendations for dealing with mildew.
And no, composite decks should not be sealed.