Swimming Pool Blog

How to remove or fill-in a swimming pool

How to remove or fill-in a swimming pool

by Guest Blogger Michael Kern, January 24, 2012

How to remove or fill-in a swimming pool

filled-in swimming pool

Many people joke about it (filling in their pool), but few people ever do. This writer has hopes that you won't fill in your inground pool, but I do understand that in some cases it sounds like a good idea. Huge restoration costs could be a reason. Especially for those who never use their pool. The cost of filling in an inground pool might be more than you think, especially for larger, gunite and plaster finished pools.

Whether you chose to fill in your pool or completely remove it, you are required to get a permit from your local town hall or municipality. Some towns will not allow you to fill it in, they require you to remove it completely. Most towns charge between $75.00 and $150.00 to pull the permit. If you are hiring a company to do the work, your contract should state who is responsible for pulling the permit. 

Removing vs. Filling In a Cement or Gunite Pool

Most people choose to fill-in their cement or gunite pool where allowed, rather than completely removing it. The cost to completely remove a gunite or cement pool is in the range of $9,000.00 - $19,000.00 depending on the size and location. The cost includes what you might expect, completely removing the pool, cement deck, dumping fee's, cost of fill and grading, everything.

Just the cost to fill in a cement pool is in the range of $6,000.00 - $7,500.00. Filling in a pool includes knocking holes in the bottom of the pool to allow for percolation. Some towns require holes to be two feet in circumference that are filled with crushed stone, while others allow you to punch out a grid of holes throughout the floor of a concrete pool.

After the floor is prepped, and the inspector has a look at it, the surrounding concrete deck can be broken up and thrown in the deep end. The top two feet of the pool wall, from the coping stones down, is also broken off and thrown in the pool. Usually, you are not required to "stratify" the fill that follows, with layers of gravel, but can use many truckloads of fill dirt to fill the rest of the pool. The rubble and dirt should be well tamped, as it's filled, to avoid settling later on. After it's been filled with 5-10 dump trucks full of dirt, it's graded to meet the other parts of the yard. Planting the grass is usually left to the homeowner.

If you are planning to build a structure on the location, including tennis courts or sport courts, expect local building codes to require a complete removal. If you are planning to build within two years of your pool removal, the fill will have to be compacted every 8 inches, as you fill, and the inspectors may require stratified layers of aggregate in the fill, depending on the structure. It's best to permit both the pool removal and the building structure at the same time.

Removing Pools With Vinyl Liners

Vinyl liner pools are built with walls made of cement, wood, or steel. The floors are generally shaped with sand, or vermiculite (type of cement). Pools with steel walls can not be filled in without removing the walls first. Most towns don't have a problem with burying cement, but all have rules against burying steel. Steel and wood wall pools also have a cement and or steel collar that has to be broken up and removed. Steel walls, plastic steps and vinyl liners will be taken to the county disposal facility, where the items can be recycled.

Removing or filling in a wood or steel walled vinyl pool costs in the range of $3,600.00 - $7,000.00. Completely removing a vinyl pool with cement walls, when necessary is in the range of $6,000.00 - $11,000.00. Fill in cost of cement walled pool is approximately 5k, with larger pools running proportionally more.

Pool Removal Planning

Excavation equipment and the trucks used to haul away rubble are heavy; plan their route away from septic systems and leeching fields. In some cases, trees or fencing needs to be removed to allow access for the equipment. The heavy equipment used (loaders, dump trucks, excavators) are big and dirty, and sometimes make a mess of your driveway or street, and the route to the pool area.

If you live in an area with a cold season, consider waiting to remove your pool till the ground freezes, this may also help if you have a high ground water table issues. Make sure electricity and gas services are shut off and or disconnected. Either you or your contractor will need to contact "Miss Utility" or "Dig Safe" in your area to have underground lines marked in the area of disturbance.

Why you want to keep your pool (and not fill it in)

  • Fun for kids, if you share it with neighbors, you'll enjoy the backyard laughter
  • Fitness. You should try some new forms of aquatic exercise. Cleaning the pool is a great one!
  • Family togetherness. A pool is a great attraction for having the event at your house!
  • Aesthetic. Pools are beautiful. OK, maybe yours isn't - but how about sprucing up the backyard and pool instead of creating a drab patch of grass. Trim some trees, plant some bushes, add a bench. Get some pool toys! :-)

Written by Mike Kern - Pool Service MA A Massachusetts swimming pool service company