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The Facts About Swimming Pool Removal: An Interview with Veronica Gonzalez of NOECON

By Veronica Gonzalez

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Founded in 2010 by general engineering contractor Noe Gonzalez, NOECON specializes in in-ground swimming pool and/or spa removal and backfill. We are also a small and family-owned company that is dedicated to our commitment to deliver customer satisfaction at its fullest through our detail-orientation, safe job practices and equal treatment for all.

What are the most common reasons that local homeowners decide to remove or demolish their swimming pools?

Having a swimming pool can be an inconvenience for pool owners. There are high costs to repair, remodel or simply maintain a pool. Not to mention the liability factor, insurance and property taxes. The question that homeowners ask themselves when making the decision of having a pool or not is whether the benefits outweigh the cons. Homeowners that have made the decision to remove their pool have reached a point where they no longer feel that it's worth it.

The most prominent reason among my clients for getting rid of their pool is that they no longer have any use for it (the elderly or parents who have children leaving to go to college, etc.), so why continue to pay for the high costs and be liable for an accident that could occur? Another reason that has recently come about is the drought in Northern California. Aside from feeling guilty for using water during a time of drought, the water costs have increased to outrageous numbers and this hinders people from keeping their pool.

Can you briefly list the basic steps for a typical swimming pool demolition?

Pre-removal:
a. Shop for a contractor
b. Receive an estimate
c. Sign contract and make first payment
d. Contractor issues permit

Removal process:
1. Clear access
2. Drain pool
3. Disconnect utilities (water, electrical and gas)
4. Remove all pool equipment (pump, filters and all other related)
5. Puncture holes in the bottom of pool per city requirements
6. Break bond beam per city requirements
7. Fill in with soil
8. Compact
9. Grade area
10. Clean any debris

What are the qualifications that people should look for when they're hiring a contractor to remove their pool?

When hiring a contractor to remove their pool, homeowners should look for the following things:

-Active license. This can be verified in two minutes by using the Contractors' State License Board website under the "check license" tab.
-Some contractors have a license to do some projects but they are not licensed to remove a pool. Make sure they have either a General Engineering Contractor License or a C-21 license (some contractors have both but either one is sufficient).
-Contractors should be able to provide clients a copy of their insurance and have a bond.
-Contractor should take a look at your pool before providing you with an estimate.
-Homeowner's should also be suspicious of contractors that ask more than 10% as the first payment.
-And last but not least try to avoid contractors that say "I will beat any price" because this usually indicates that they are willing to do anything, including a bad job, just to get the bid.

Are there any safety or legal concerns that homeowners should be aware of?

A swimming pool should be removed legally, which means that before any work is done to the pool the city and/or county (varies per region) should be notified through the issuance of a permit. Each city or county has different and specific requirements of how to remove the pool and again, before any work is done, whoever is removing the pool should do research on the requirements and abide by these requirements that correspond to them.

What advice do you have for someone who has an in-ground swimming pool that they no longer use?

It's usually the older homeowners that make the right decision to hire an expert to get their pool removed. A lot of the young homeowners usually turn this into a DIY project to save a little cash and I would not recommend homeowners take matters into their own hands. The reason for this is because instead of saving money, they often end up paying more than it would cost to get an expert to do it. The DIY homeowners do one of two things. They either (1) fill up the pool with dirt and pretend it was never there in the first place or (2) they simply drain the water out and ignore the giant hole in their backyard. The first solution doesn't allow rainwater to flow and will eventually cause a mud pit. The second is also problematic because the pool will rise up off the ground, float, break beam, leak and damage the drainage system beyond repair almost immediately. These two methods are not acceptable by any county or city and when the local government finds out that this was done, the homeowner will be mandated to have it done again, properly. Hence, in the long-run, it's cheaper to just hire an expert to do it right the first time.

Another piece of advice is to conduct research on the two types of pool removal before getting any work done. A partial removal is often cheaper than a full removal but nothing can be built on top of the land in a partial removal. Since nothing can be built on top of the land in a partial removal, the value of the home doesn't depreciate as much with a full removal as opposed to a partial removal.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you and your company?

NOECON General Engineering Contractor can be reached via email at noe@noecon.net or via phone at 510-435-0829 to schedule a time to have the contractor look at a pool. For other inquiries, we can be reached at info@noecon.net.

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