Pool renovation market on the upswing

The past year and a half has brought some major changes in the pool and spa industry, including the growing popularity of renovations. AQUA spoke with a couple of builders to get a better understanding of the role renovations play in the market and how the industry is adapting.

Island Pools & Spas | Edgartown, Mass.

Ted Rosbeck, owner of Island Pools & Spas, helped build this pool nearly 20 years ago, back when his father was running the company. He says he's beginning to notice that many renovation calls are coming from Island's original customers.

"Our first generation of pools are about 20 to 30 years old," Rosbeck says, "and they are starting to turn over. It's interesting to be rebuilding pools because we're a small market here on Martha's Vineyard and the competition has become a lot more difficult on each pool bid. Fortunately, we like to stand by our product, so we have a good reputation and history when it comes to new pools."

Oxx 410 AqRosbeck says the company has been looking to increase renovation jobs since new builds are slightly down, and he's finding that rather than straight replastering, he's more or less rebuilding entire pools.

"We went into this project and found that their pool was starting to have some issues with the decking and the coping, and it was starting to get a little older so they wanted to do something different. We were going to just replaster and work on the decking, and when we started to do that, we uncovered some more issues.

"We kind of had to change the game plan throughout construction. They were very open to just getting a very good finished product that was going to last them another 20 years."

As Rosbeck began chipping away the old plaster he found that it had delaminated itself from the surface leaving numerous voids, and over time, the voids deteriorated the gunite leaving too many gaps to fix.

"When we uncovered that problem, we went back to the drawing board and thought about what to do next. Our options were take the whole shell out and start from scratch or, what we decided to do, use the shell because it was intact enough that it would remain and wasn't going to deteriorate further."

The crew decided to basically use the old shell as a form, and they shot a new shell, leaving the clients with a 4-inch loss. "We didn't change the shape of the pool that much," says Rosbeck, "We switched the [placement] of the spa so it's a little higher and spills into the pool, so it gives it a nice effect."

In the end, the clients also went with a multi-color bluestone deck for "something a little different" and brought in a new baluster fence, leaving the project slightly elevated from its original position, as well as allowing access to the waterfront.

Artesian Pools | Orlando, Fla.

"It seems like we are getting a lot of renovation calls," says Keith Cooper, owner of Artesian Pools in Orlando, Fla. "We've been around for 33 years, and we've built 9,000-plus pools, so we get a lot of our customers 20 years later calling us back, as well as others.

"It seems as if people who aren't moving from their homes are deciding to put money into their backyards," he says. "Maybe they are tired of not spending money. People are really looking to spruce up some things."

Cooper says a lot of his renovation jobs include refinishing, some new waterline tile and every once and a while a new deck. "I'll tell you what, though, it seems like a lot of people are talking about pebble interior finishes. They have been around a long time, but it seems like the awareness is out there more.

"Every person that walked in the door before used to want the normal quartz finishes. But now you are starting to hear about a lot of pebble finishes. There is just more awareness now, and people like the longer warranty associated with those."

On the project shown on page 72, Cooper and his team refinished the pool, replaced the waterline tile and redid the deck.

"His deck was in bad shape and it was small, his tile was outdated and his interior was an old Marcite," says Cooper. "We went and did those three things, and it just totally changed what he had out there."

The new deck was especially important to the wheelchair-bound client.

"What we did with his deck and how we expanded it and how we have ramps going up to his house has really created a whole backyard environment for him because he couldn't get around the thing before without quite a bit of a challenge.

"When that thing was done and you watched him wheel around there just ecstatic, it was priceless to see something like that."

Cooper says Artesian is taking on more of the smaller renovation jobs at the moment, leaving extravagant makeovers to other local builders.

"[Artesian] got involved in renovations just a couple of years ago just because as the economy came down a little bit, we weren't building as many pools. So to get other revenue streams, we were going to start renovating pools, especially going after our old clientele.

"We thought that would be the best place to start. Let's reach out to everyone we built a pool for 10 to 15 years ago and go after that source of old business and try to generate new business out of it."

And just in case the old pools have new owners, Artesian sends out letters to all the households that are home to its pools, garnering a good response. "They were very appreciative to know who built it," says Cooper.

Breaking into the renovation market has given Artesian a chance to expand its business and stay busy, says Cooper.

"It seems like renovations are helping to fill in the downtime when we're not overly busy building new pools. We were so busy before it wasn't, for our type of company, worth sending a superintendent out to watch this little job when there were so many larger jobs that required his attention. But now as you have more time, it makes sense.

Comments or thoughts on this article? Please e-mail [email protected].

Continued Education

Genesis 3 launches pool renovation course

In March, Genesis 3 expanded its educational offerings to include a renovation track, something the company thinks will benefit more than just builders.

"The remodel class component is valid both to the service industry as well as the contractors," says Skip Phillips, co-founder of Genesis 3 and president of Questar Pools. "I would also suggest it to people who own retail stores. My premise on that is I used to have three retail stores, and I can't imagine anything less fulfilling than trying to go head-to-head with big-box merchants on the price of chlorine. What an opportunity to be able to have the intellectual property that none of the big-box people have, which is the design and execution capability of this remodel process."

One of the reasons Genesis 3 initiated a renovations course is that the principals at the company felt they were having a hard time finding people in the service industry that were really qualified to work on completed projects, says Phillips.

"We thought we could get a group of people in the service industry that saw value in increasing their educational stature so when they show up at one of these advanced projects, they don't just start cutting things out," says Phillips.

Phillips says Genesis 3 wants service companies to understand the way a pool is built and thinks that acquiring remodeling techniques will put those service professionals ahead of the competition.

"If you see value in the intellectual property that comes with these educational systems and you can draw a straight line between that educational system and increasing your income, then [take the course]. We are not trying to be all things to all people."

David Tisherman, G3 co-founder and founder of David Tisherman Visuals, and Dave Peterson, G3 platinum member and president of Watershape Consulting, will teach the two-part seminar, with Tisherman focusing on "Options and Design" and Peterson focusing on "Engineering and Construction."

For more information, visit www.genesis3.com/education.

- J.D.

Buyer's Guide
Find manufacturers and suppliers in the most extensive searchable database in the industry.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide
Content Library
Dig through our best stories from the magazine, all sorted by category for easy surfing.
Read More
Content Library