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  • Writer's pictureAlyce Lopez


Updated: Dec 9, 2022

If you've been following along for quite some time you know that we had plans to build a pool a few years ago. Unfortunately, we hit some major road blocks from the get go. I thought it may be helpful to share the journey. What we encountered, how we navigated unexpected costs and what you all REALLY want to know, how much does a renovation of this size cost?

Let's start with a before of our yard...

The size of our yard was a huge selling point on our home. We purchased back in 2013 and the market was saturated with cash buyers and investors so it took quite a while to find something that fit "most" of our criteria. We learned there is no perfect house in the perfect neighborhood. We loved that our home had original hardwood under the well loved shag carpet. We loved the large front yard and backyard so we went for it. I'm thinking no one else saw the vision and so we got lucky and closed escrow September of 2013. We cleaned up the yard by staining the fence and painting the patio cover to hold us over.

Here are photos of the original backyard just for kicks...

Can we say fixer? In 2017 we decided to get serious and started pulling pool quotes. We have always loved entertaining and had always said we wanted to be the "party house" as the kids got older. After reviewing quotes from three different pool builders we considered buying a new house, haha. Unfortunately, finding a single-story home with a spacious backyard and a pool is not easy. So we sat on the quotes and gave it a little more thought.

We eventually decided we DID want to go for it! The plan was to phase out the renovation. We would build the pool and jacuzzi and then landscape after we recouped the expenses. We took the kids to Walmart and bought them pool floats and celebrated! We finalized and approved plans with the city in May of 2019, scheduled our dig and met with the pool builder to approve the final location of the pool before dig day.

Here's Where it Gets Juicy...

Our pool builder measured from the front sidewalk pins. Fun fact: your sidewalk likely has metal pins (surveyor's pins) and that's where your property line starts. See below.

Once the pool builder got to the backyard he marked the starting point of the pool and something wasn't adding up. Based on the surveyor pins on the sidewalk, our yard was showing the backyard property line was ending about two-thirds down the actual yard. In other words, about 30% of our yard was on someone else's property and we had no idea whose. Our backyard fence was outside of our property line. WHAT?! Yes you read that correctly. We didn't own a substantial portion of our yard even though the fence had been there for over 50 years.

You can imagine our denial when they halted everything and said they could not build us a pool since it wasn't our property to begin with. We spent months contacting individuals in the city including city planning and public works with everyone confirming it was our property. We literally went into city planning twice and they just said you can hire your own surveyor to figure out whose land it is. Great, ya, thanks. Our pool company said "no way", we aren't building a pool in your backyard because it's definitely not yours. Fun times right? So no one wants to claim this land? But we are sure it's not ours? What a mess. I finally contacted our local city councilmember and that's when the ball started rolling. The city finally sent out their surveyor and discovered that the land we were on was indeed theirs and they had no idea that since 1958 we were "encroaching on city property". Doesn't that just sound delightful? It got dicey for a second there until we came to a resolution. I'll keep some of the juicy details to myself to protect all parties involved. But let's just say after a pretty penny and almost an entire year, we were able to claim the land we believed to be ours all along.

This whole mess had us contemplating whether or not it was the best idea to move forward with the pool build. And once again we considered moving. But, once again, single story homes with a pool are a dime a dozen. After a year of back and forth, we decided to move forward with the pool build in 2019 but were waiting for proper documentation from the city in order to break ground...and then the pandemic hit which REALLY slowed things down as we all know. For a moment there it felt like we hit a dead end and our dreams of building a pool were squashed. Thankfully, we got the green light and by June of 2020 we were digging! We were sooooo excited to finally get started on the backyard of our dreams.

Let me tell you our story doesn't end there. The SAGA continues....We didn't make it past noon on our dig day when everything came to a screeching halt. Stay tuned as we unwrap this nightmare renovation in our Part 2 blog post. I promise the ending makes it all worthwhile. ;)

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