This Old House: Pool-Patio Makeover

The money shot for the realty listing of our new house was clearly this pic of the backyard pool. Dean was instantly sold. I had some concerns about Juliette’s safety and the work that goes into caring for a pool, but the idea of sipping margaritas by said pool eventually won me over.

lab23a543-m0xOnce we moved in, we were dazzled by our first few swims in the pool but were less than impressed by the lack of functionality of the seating area. You might remember a previous post in which I griped about a few off them. Our main complaints were:

  • No railing on upper patio. Plantar boxes with overgrown bushes served as pseudo railings.
  • Large sweeping staircase that terminated within a foot of the pool. Railing was lacking here as well.
  • Pool plaster was showing its age with exposed gunite in areas.
  • Lower seating area was on two levels due to a spa that was removed a long time ago.
  • Feature palm tree met its demise years ago and its skeleton was just hanging around.
  • Narrow walk ways around pool perimeter and very little room for seating.
  • Fountain leaked out the back and looked like a pile of turds (no exaggeration).
  • Landscaping was non-existent in some areas, overgrown in others.
  • Decking material was exposed aggregate, popular because it is nonskid but not our taste.

Here are some BEFORE pictures to back me up:

We had a parade of contractors out to look at the pool- pool builders, patio & landscape companies and stone masons. We thought the job would be as easy as covering the old cement surface with a new flagstone surface. Unfortunately, the way the flagstone coping had been incorporated into the cement surround, it would need to be saw cut out and pretty much all the decking except for that anchoring the pool needed to be ripped out. In addition, to make it all one level and still maintain drainage away from the pool, we needed to raise the skimmers up by a few inches. We ended up choosing a stone mason we trusted (and who is most highly recommended by the place where we purchase our stone) who also has had experience working with two local pool builders. It is a bit of a no, no to go with someone other than a pool builder. There are many, many things that can go wrong with your pool and repairs can be costly. So we crossed our fingers and they broke ground at the end of June. Hello hot summer. Bye, bye pool to refresh in.

Here are some of the DURING shots. This project was supposed to take 4 wks and ended up taking nearly 8. Oye!

At the end of August, while J and I were in New England, all was finished and Dean started filling the pool. Here is where we ran into a few problems:

  • Pump did not work. Likely some cement got into it during the demo. Needed to replace pump ASAP.
  • Skimmers were not pulling. Turns out a tree branch had grown into one of the skimmer lines and a large leak became apparent once we began trouble shooting it.
  • Pebble looked a little mottled. This is an issue we hope goes away over time with brushing and managing our pH. Perhaps we should have gone with Pebble Tec. Hind sight is 20/20.
  • Fountain still leaks out the back. Looks like it is an issue with the original plumbing and something we will address next season.

I must admit I still curse this pool on a weekly basis. Keeping our chemistry in balance with new plaster has been challenging. I am always worried that we have a leak somewhere, and the frog population living around our pool has jumped from 1 frog to 10. Seriously! But we now have our own back yard oasis. We still have some landscaping to do, but overall we are pleased with the results. Sadly, we only had the chance to enjoy swimming in the pool for a month before pool season ended but we are really looking forward to next year. And the weather is nice here in Austin so you can sip margaritas on the patio nearly year round.


Pool party anyone?


One thought on “This Old House: Pool-Patio Makeover

  1. Pingback: Blighted | While Everyone Else Is Sleeping

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