top of page

Filling in a pool? London Free Press Article

For the Newton family, there was no emotional tie to the pool at their Carling Heights-area home they bought nearly 22 years ago.

They bought the home on a cul-de-sac “because we loved the house. We didn’t buy the house for the pool,” Rob Newton says.

“It was just a progression in our lives. We were coming to a point where we had to put a lot of money into it for a liner, pump and sand filter. We were getting older and it’s a lot of work to start it in the spring and put it away in the fall.”

They added up the cost of the required repair work and contacted SPM Landscaping of London for a quote on the cost of removing it.

They learned that the price of removal was about the same as the repair bills would have been.

“If I was 25 again we would have got it going. The only thing I miss is the water. I used to have a swim before bedtime,” Newton says.

Instead, they plan to get a hot tub.

Bonna Bryan, who had her pool removed in September, faced a combination of circumstances that made the pool removal decision the most logical option.

Her husband had died and maintaining the pool “was a huge issue for me, as well as safety. There were also issues with the underground plumbing that would be expensive to fix.

“Once I made the decision, I waited two months. I did my own research and learned that if and when I decide to sell the house, taking out the pool was the sensible thing to do,” Bryan says, explaining that pools, especially older ones, usually don’t add much equity to a home.

The removal, also done by SPM Landscaping, was about one-third as much as the repair work would have cost.

“I was very fortunate. Our pool was close to the road. The farther back from the road the more expensive it becomes. For me it was absolutely the right thing to do.”

When they bought their home in east London, “we wanted a pool. We didn’t have any children. It (the pool) was fairly small but was big enough for two adults,” says Bryan, adding that her husband liked the pool “more so than me. He was out there from early spring to the last day (of the season).”

Safety of her pets was also a concern. They had lost a cat in the pool years ago and her former dog that was going blind had fallen into the water and had to be rescued.

Bryan and her husband had talked about removing the pool for about a year, but when he died and pool season was approaching she looked into the process.

She contacted SPM Landscaping, owned by brothers Michael and Jeremy Stone and managed by Michael’s wife, Tanya. She talked to Michael Stone in the spring and decided to wait until the fall.

“I’m glad I did. The weather was so hot in the summer the sod may not have taken.”

Michael Stone says SPM Landscaping got into pool removals as an offshoot of its landscaping business. They have found that life’s circumstances are the usual factors in a homeowner’s decision to remove a pool.

The age of their children is a common reason. If they are very young, safety reasons may prompt them to fill in the pool. Conversely, if their children are older, have moved out and seldom swim there anymore, a couple may feel it is expendable.

There are also liability issues and stricter fencing bylaws implemented by the city. Others have found their dream home but a pool wasn’t part of that picture so it has to go. Older people with physical disabilities may no longer be able to maintain it. Cost factors, such as hydro bills for operating pumps and pool heaters, as well as repairs can come into play. For some people it might be environmental issues, such as a wish to conserve water.

Michael Stone says pool removal can be an emotional decision for people who bought the pool for their children.

Most people delay the removal until fall because they want to get one more summer of use from the pool. A few will do it in the spring, usually if there is a costly repair that must be made before the pool is opened. Removing an in-ground pool involves a lot more than just filling it in.

“If you just dump dirt into a small hole with no way for water to escape, you have a swamp,” Michael Stone says.

A major step in the process, he adds, is cutting steel, concrete and everything else in the structure at least 60 cm (two feet) below ground level. This is to guard against pool materials poking out of the ground as the earth shifts. Leaving steel in the ground is allowed if it is at least 60 cm below grade level. On all the galvanized pools his company has done there is pegging every 90 cm to 1.2 m (36 to 48 inches) that has to be removed.

Four holes are drilled in each of the deep and shallow ends and cuts are made across the width of the pool bottom where it slopes down. This allows the ground to break up.

Vinyl sides and debris are removed and concrete decks are broken up and used as fill in the pool’s deep end. In the filling process, it is important to give it time to settle in order to get a flat surface, Michael Stone says. Waiting for a rainstorm and then tamping it down is a good idea. Clean fill is dumped into the hole and halfway through this process it is tamped down to ensure compaction. The remaining fill is added and a final tamping will take place before a layer of topsoil rich in nutrients is added. Finally, it will be seeded or sod will be laid and the area is cleaned up. The homeowner is urged to water the area.

Michael Stone says the cost of the job begins at about $4,500 and goes up to $10,000. An average price, including sod, is about $6,000.

It is not a job most people would want to do for themselves. One client told Michael Stone it took 156 wheel barrow loads to move just 20 cubic yards of fill to the pool. An average pool needs about 100 cubic yards to fill.

Brent-Reg Construction of Dorchester is another company that does pool removals. Marty Smith, who co-owns the company along with his brother Reg, says they have removed pools for 10 to 15 years  — their excavation company has been in business for 41 years.

“You have to take out the concrete, the liner and the steel and then backfill with fill and top soil,” Marty Smith says. “It’s a day to a day-and-a-half job. You take it all out, pipes and everything.”

The price varies with the size, depth, type of construction (all-concrete pools are more costly to remove) and accessibility of the pool, he says. A smaller pool with a liner may cost $3,500 to $4,500 to remove, while an all-concrete pool could cost up to $14,000.

After the pool is removed, homeowners need to think about what they will do with the extra space in their backyards.

Bryan has already decided her approach, aided by a friend who is good at gardening. “I would like to put some raised garden beds around the edge and just enjoy it.”

Her friend will map out the plan, which will include vegetables and flowers, as well as flower pots.

She has no regrets: “I’m very happy I got it done and don’t have to worry about the dog falling in. I don’t miss it.”

The relief, she says, is huge. “I felt the weight lifting off my shoulders.”

Burt Dowsett is a London writer.

3 views0 comments


bottom of page