Anyone who can draw the shape of a kidney bean can call themselves a "pool designer." Before you retain the services of someone to design your swimming pool or aquatic center, you need to consider the "designer" background.
They should be well versed in art, history, architecture, modern construction methods and material science. They should charge for their time and experience.
You Get What You Pay For
Are you willing to pay someone to create a thoughtful design that incorporates your desires and anticipates your future needs? Face it, anyone with a computer program, template or a pencil and paper can draw a swimming pool.
But, will that person create a design that actually WORKS with your site? Will they draw inappropriate circular patterns for a site that has nothing but linear lines and angles? Is the "designer" the salesman who has a vested interest in loading your pool with every option imaginable?
For a first class design, you need to be willing to spend a few thousand dollars. Some designers that also build pools, offer a partial credit of the design fees, against construction costs if you do not put the plans "out to bid." This is the "licensing fee" for the plans. When the client is not going to disseminate the designers plans and ideas to the competition, then the client should be entitled to a credit.
However, if the client is using a designer/builder to create construction documents for bidding purposes, then the client should pay full price - regardless of who is eventually hired to construct the project. After all, they exercised their licensed rights.
Is that salesman or "designer" going to jamb the largest pool that they can into you yard?
The design must consider the lines of sight - what you will see from the various vantage points. Its' scale must be appropriate to the size of the space.
The perspectives of the finished project should not focus on the pool, but rather the entire scene. The pool is but one element of the outdoor environment. The pool must work harmoniously with the rest of the yard - retaining walls, stairs, sitting areas, patios, plantings, trees and shrubs.
Life today is hectic. Most people do not relax and unwind until the end of the day. Does the design take that into account? When come home will you be looking into a vast dark wasteland out the back window?
Was your designer trained in landscape lighting and techniques? Did they incorporate lighting effects to create a dramatic scene after dark?
Face it, you will spend more time looking at your pool than actually swimming in it. So shouldn't it be aesthetically pleasing to look at at well?
Training and Education
Designers and contractors alike must stay abreast of the current trends, materials and construction practices. The building codes change annually, as to construction methods.
What is your designer doing to stay current on their education? Or are they still doing things the way they did three decades ago?
There are only a dozen or so people in the entire world that have completed the planet's only accredited swimming pool design program. A Society of Watershape Designer has earned the right to use the S.W.D. title after their name. Continuing educational requirements ensure that they stay current on their training and education.
You're investing thousands of dollars having your landscape designed... why wouldn't you spend an equivalent amount (or more) to have the single largest element in your yard professionally designed and engineered?
Paolo Benedetti, S.W.D. - Aquatic Artist
"Creating water as art."™
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa