For the first time in more than 40 years, just as many people are renovating pools as they are building new ones.

In a flat property market, just as homeowners are reluctant to sell and are opting to renovate their homes, more are choosing to renovate their pools. Brisbane’s own spike in pool renovations – out of every 2000 to 3000 new pools being built a year, at least 1500 pools are being renovated, according to owner of Norfolk Pools Jim Vansleve – is largely due to the aftermath of the 2011 floods which damaged hundreds of homes and pools in Brisbane.

Vansleve, winner of this year’s Swimming Pool and Spa Association Awards for Pool Renovations over $25,000, says Norfolk Pools receives up to five renovation enquiries a week. “While complete renovations are only marginally less expensive than demolishing an old pool and starting again, it’s far less intrusive,” he says. “You don’t have big machinery digging up your yard and destroying gardens and footpaths, as most of the work can be carried out by hand.”

By the time a pool is 20 years old, like a home, it will look dated. While the structural design of pools hasn’t changed over the past 40 years and shapes have only changed slightly, there are a plethora of new products available to improve the look of a pool and its surrounds, including coping and tiles, and the addition of feature walls, waterfalls or spas.

Economically-friendly filtration systems and energy-saving pumps can save between $700 and $1000 a year in running costs and it is likely to cost around $700 to upgrade an old system, but rebates are available to encourage pool owners to make the switch. For example, Energex offers up to $250 (in the form of a gift card) for changing to an energy-efficient pool pump or for connecting to its Economy Tariff 33.

Renovations can start from around $2000 for new coping or around $6000 to $8000 for resurfacing an average-sized pool, while a complete makeover can cost between $15,000 and $30,000.

Old pools can be made larger or smaller, and part of the shell even can be removed for the installation of glass windows. Sometimes just updating the landscaping around the pool, or the installation of coloured pool lights can give it that “wow” factor.

While renovations of fibreglass pools might be restricted to new waterline tiles, copings and surrounds, concrete pools can be given a new look with an interior lining of aggregate pebble, quartz or glass tiles, or vacuum-fitted vinyl coloured to your choice and tailor-made to fit the existing pool.

While concrete and fibreglass pools are the easiest to renovate, just about any pool can be modernised, but there are important factors to consider before renovating.

Have a design in mind

See a pool builder, landscape architect or pool designer to discuss a plan in detail and to get a good understanding of what’s involved in the renovation process so you are not surprised by any unexpected costs.

Check council regulations

“If you are adding decks, changing fences or putting in a gazebo at the end of the pool, it needs to comply with council regulations,” says Vansleve, and you will need council approval. You also need to know what’s in your backyard such as sewer and stormwater pipes that could affect building work.

Shop around and seek expect advice

Rather than just diving straight into the deep end, it pays to shop around and obtain several quotes based on exactly the same type and amount of work to be done.

Swimming Pool and Spa Association (SPASA) of Queensland CEO Adrian Hart, says: “Don’t be afraid to check the credentials of the people you’re talking to, and ask for the names of satisfied customers. Ring some of the referrals and ask if they were satisfied with the work.”

Modern filtration systems

Modern filtration systems can be installed in older pools. Automatic and saltwater chlorinators and other techniques for keeping a pool bacteria-free were not readily available in the past but can be installed in an existing pool. Care must be taken to ensure the existing reticulation system is adequate for the new equipment. For increased efficiency, water pipes may need to be replaced. Seek advice from a SPASA member.

Know your pool

The more you know about your pool, the better. Old drawings, even the name of the original manufacturer or builder, help the renovator when quoting and carrying out the work.


For information contact SPASA on 3252 6777 or email