Adventures In The Fetid Hellswamp

Brooke here:

If “busy” means “four hours of sleep,” then we’ve been rather busy.  There are a few deadlines looming on many of the house projects and those have to be completed on schedule or we are screwed.  However, we are finally entering the sunlit lands of Hiring People To Do Stuff, which is awesome.  Brown and I don’t like paying for services we can do ourselves so when we reach the Hired Dudes phase, it is delightful.

On Saturday, some Hired Dudes were already going at it; our hardscape guy and his crew were ripping out thirty years of trees and ivy overgrowth to check for potential drainage issues.  His carpenter (you remember, the one who was supposed to build us a deck over the ruined concrete pad) had never seen the pad before and was staring at the concrete as though it had punched him in the face.  The carpenter said that, yes, he could build a deck over the concrete but it wouldn’t be worth the cost of labor and materials, so in the long term it will be less expensive to rip up the concrete and pour a new slab.  As we cannot afford anything close to what that will cost, we’ll pressure-wash the cement, putty over the cracks with resin, and keep fresh paint on the thing until we strike it rich in the lottery or whatever.

The pool tiles are cleaning up great, though.

pool tiles 1960s Roman spa classic
Closeup of the pool tiles, after cleaning.

There’s no way I’ll be able to save all of them.  The ones along the waterline are permanently stained and whoever did the most recent pool repair slathered a layer of rubber over them; the ones along the lower row have been cemented in place and break in half when removed.  I’ll keep trying to save as many as I can, and then figure out a way to keep them as part of the tile trim.  The tiles will probably work well as accent pieces to complement newer tiles in the same general color scheme.

Once you get behind the tiles, there’s some … um … worrisome decay:

Well here's yer problem, lady! You've got hellmouths.

We don’t even want to think about this right now.

Last but certainly not least, the pool is all but clean.  See?

What's ridiculous is that this is the "After" photo.

The gunk has been hauled away, the brick debris removed, and the only thing left to do is wait for the inch of water left at the bottom to evaporate.  Then the last residue will be shoveled up and swept out, and a final power-wash will take care of the rest.  After that, we’re done.  The pool will then be in the hands of Hired Dudes.

Godspeed, Hired Dudes.

12 thoughts on “Adventures In The Fetid Hellswamp

  1. I pity the Hired Dudes. I would pity you two as well, but you bought the place. How much would a new slab cost, if you tear up the old one yourself?

    I should point out that the rot you have there can come from both the pool wall and the slab cover. Depending on the glaze on the tiles you may use a weak acid mix to remove/weaken the cement of the tiles on the lower rows (use a syringe to spray it behind them) The rubber cement may fall to gentle heating (relatively) with a kitchen glaze burner, or alternatively:

    If it is real lrubber, gentle heat should work.

    Anyway, good luck, and I hope you finde a nice matching tile!

    1. Bare-bones cost for a new slab is around $6k, and that’s if we do the tear-down and haul-away ourselves. It’s a large deck (about 600sq ft) and it’s in a location where it would be difficult to reach by truck. Bad, bad combination of events all the way around.

  2. As regards the deck, would you consider doing it in brick? That’s what my folks wound up doing with theirs. It’s a pain in the ass (and the back, and the legs, and…) but you can do it all yourself. I don’t know if the bricks are cheaper than cement or not, but you can buy them by the pallet, and you can easily figure out how many you would need.

    Brick patios don’t need to be mortared or anything, so they’re dead simple to install, and usually pretty. It saves you the labor costs, anyway…

    1. A previous owner had that same thought but the concrete underneath is in such bad shape that the brick didn’t sit right and was damaged. We cleaned six tons of brick off of the deck just to reach the place we are now.

      1. Ah, well- have you already thrown out the old brick?

        The way we did it for my mother’s place, was to strip out the old brick deck. Re-grade everything, and pour in sand where needed. Tamp down the sand, and then buy enough new bricks to mix in with the old to cover the area (a lot of the old bricks were salvageable, but not enough to cover the whole project).
        Laying the bricks is just a matter of using a line and stakes to make sure you stay straight, and then laying them out. A rubber mallet is useful for coaxing them into place as well. When done, you pour more sand over top of it all and sweep it into the cracks and crevices, to prevent the bricks from shifting. If you need more half-bricks for the edges, you can rent a wet saw (water saw? brick saw?) from the hardware store.

        It takes a while to do yourself, like, weeks… But my mother’s deck has remained level (discounting an area where the retaining wall has sifted) for the past fourteen or fifteen years or so.

        1. It really wouldn’t help as the pad looks solid but the gradient is all over the place. Fifteen years from now, we’d have to do the same thing over again. We might as well just save our time and money and do it right.

  3. Or what about ripping out all the concrete, and just redoing the pool ‘skirt’ in concrete, and the rest as a deck?

  4. Oy otter! This is your new home you mentioned? It appears to be pretty restoreable from what I can see in the Pictures. Lots of work tho- Looks like you and brown have your work cut out for you. I absolutely LOVE the Projectile Vomiting Cherub (PVC) that you have (Snicker). Good luck! it looks like it’s worth the investment in time and money to me. Jay

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