Tom, Dick and Harry
Not every Tom, Dick and Harry can build one of these complex pools. On many expansive estate development projects, the general contractor insists on controlling everything on the site.
While they are entitled to earn a living managing the overall project, certain specialty trades are best left to those with decades of experience. A general contractor is a generalist - much like a family practitioner doctor. But construction, like medicine, contains many specialties. If you were sick, wouldn't you insist on the best specialist available?
So why leave the construction of a $250,000 - $1,000,000 to a general practitioner???
Swimming Pool contractors, designers and consultants who specialize in complex infinity edge or hillside pools should have countless hours of training in geology, engineering (though they are not structural engineers), hydraulics, waterproofing, architectural and landscape design and construction methodologies.
Their decades of experience on various prior projects oftentimes involved a team of experts. Soils engineers, structural engineers, world-class architects, landscape designers and interior designers often collaborate on complex projects.
The experiences gleaned from being a member of these world-class design teams, can oftentimes save a property owner tens of thousands of dollars.
The soils report on a recent project specified drilled caissons and a mat slab or grade beam foundation for the swimming pool, due to an overlaying layer of expansive clay soils. The structural engineer was already in the process of designing an expensive foundation system, when I was retained to consult on the project.
Upon reviewing the soils report, I noted that the clay soils were only 4-6 feet deep. Seeing that the pool varied in depth from 4-9 feet in depth, there was a good chance that most of the clay soil would be removed from the pool area merely through the process of excavating the swimming pool.
I raised this point and suggested that the complex and expensive foundation be abandoned. Instead I suggested that any deeper pockets of clay soils be over excavated and back filled with a suitable material. It would be less expensive to over excavate the pool & to build it with vertical free-standing walls. The areas around the completed pool could be back filled with other suitable excavation spoils from around the site.
The soils and structural said, "Ah, ha" when the lights suddenly went on. Though I am not trained in either of their specialties, I have the experiences to draw upon. Those experiences saved the client $50-60,000 - 10X my initial consulting fee!
Another Case Study:
On a hillside project, the top 4-5 feet of the site was overlaid with organic material and lose soils that could not support a pool. The existing pool was cracked in 5-6 places and was rotating out of level. A geotechnical investigation revealed that this top layer of material was actually sliding down the hillside.
The soils engineer and structural engineer both initially recommended a drilled caissons and gradebeam foundation. Having worked on prior projects with similar conditions, I suggested that they explore a deepened step foundation. Again, the hillside could be over excavated, removing all of the incompetent material.
The hillside would then be "benched," like a series of large steps, though with a slight backwards slant. The downhill wall of the pool would be constructed on a trenched foundation. The void behind the wall would be filled with an engineered fill, consisting of a cement slurry. This engineered fill would have a bearing capacity over 100,000 times the minimum required to support the pool. The installation of the slurry would be faster and less expensive than importing and compacting soil in 2-4 inch lifts.
Again, the client would have realized a savings of $60-80,000 on the foundation design alone!
Experience has Value
This prior experience can only benefit the client. It brings a sense of reason to the engineers, balanced by the logic of the "person who has to build it." Efficiency and economy are not sacrificed for quality. Rather, unexplored viable options are presented that serve the project needs and benefit the client's budget.
The Long Haul
Yes, though I work on a "cost plus" basis, saving the client money means that I make less profit on a job. However, this newly found money might allow the client to upgrade the finish materials or include design elements that were previously deleted from the project.
Being able to demonstrate to a client that I am willing to forgo a quick profit, to gain their long term trust, is what it my business all about. Oftentimes as a result, I find that they will broaden my scope of work, refer me to their friends and include me in future projects.
Now, that's really the BIG PICTURE!
Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist
"Creating water as art."™
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa