Ask The Expert

Dear Robert,

Thank you so much for your column. I am a retired homeowner with a swimming pool that rarely is used (less than once a year). It costs over $100 per month to maintain. Is there anyway to eliminate the swimming pool or must I just sell my home of over 40 years? I cannot afford to even this much for maintenance. My son suggested I fill it with sand and make a Zen garden? Please help!

Thank you,
Mary H.

Hi Mary,

It basically comes down to a matter of choice and economics. If you can’t afford it, don’t enjoy it and don’t use it – and hypothetically have paid the house off, then yes one option would be to fill it in.

If you are considering selling, the equation they use is an average sized swimming pool adds about $5,000 to your home’s value.

Have you considered what it going to cost to fill in your pool?

Are you going to demo the minimum three feet of concrete all the way around your pool? Then haul away and dispose? How accessible is your backyard?

Will they have to remove a fence to bring trucks in? Will dirt be brought in one wheelbarrow at a time? This adds up quickly in labor costs. Any damages to the landscape getting the fill back there?

After it’s filled, it will need to be compacted. These steps all take time, and time is money. Once you have a better understanding of those costs, it may make more sense to stay in your home of 40 years. It may be cheaper to keep the pool. You’re also going to need permits for something like this – one for moving the soil and one for the demo work.

Or, after considering all of the costs, you may discover it’s best to sell your home, taking advantage of the extra $5,000 and moving into a place without a pool. You would first need to find out how much is your home worth on today’s market, investigate what type of property you could move into after you sell, and decide would you be happy with the alternative.

Mary, maybe some pool guys out there could save you some money. If it’s alright with you, I will forward you all of the contacts we receive.

Hi Robert,

My home faces south, which I always heard was bad for wooden doors, and now I’ve noticed termites and a crack through it. Unfortunately I am a senior on a very tight budget and would like to repair it instead of buying a new one. Could you recommend the best procedure, and the best glue?

Thank you, Lee R.

Hi Lee,

Sometimes you have to bite the bullet. If your entry door has split, that’s it. It’s over. It should be replaced. There are some things that you shouldn’t skimp on and your front door, your safety and home security, is one of them.

If I were you, I would look into the metal skin doors. They have stamped doors, made of metal, with a wood-grained looking finish. They come with a fiberglass frame and two metal skins. They’re nice. You won’t have to worry about cracks or termites and they are reasonably priced.

Robert Lamoureux of IMS Construction in Valencia, CA, has 30 years experience as commercial General, Electrical and Plumbing contractor. The opinions expressed in “Ask the Expert” are not to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after a thorough visual inspection has been made. Submit questions to: robert@imsconstruction.com.

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