Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa, "Creating Water as Art."™

Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa, "Creating Water as Art."™
Pools as an art form - the way it should be!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

How do HIGHER design cost save me money?

Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa
Paolo Benedetti

Hiring an qualified aquatic architect or aquatic designer can save the client money over the cost of the project. But you ask, "how can it be, that if I spend more on consultants and designers up front of my project, I can save even more later?"

There are many answers...

First of all, many architects & landscape architects have great vision & creativity. Yet, because they lack practical construction experience, they don't get the details "quite right." They insist on drawing cross sections (that might work, but may not be practical, energy efficient, or may have high recurring operating or maintenance expenses).

Case in point... a client asked the Landscape Architect to design a water feature for the front entry of their new estate. 3 walls of varying heights, intersect with shallow reflecting pools. 1 singular spout, would spill water off of each of the walls & into the pools. While the concept was fine (a Legoretta inspired design - though the Landscape Architect would not admit it), the ensuing cross sections were a nightmare. The homeowner, not knowing any different, insisted that the drawings go out "to bid, as is."

The Landscape Architect had designed a fountain, with 12" of water BENEATH a fiberglass grate, and a few inches above it. The grating was to have a layer of tumbled pebbles spread across it. This fountain was to be hundreds of square feet in size.

The Landscape Architect went on to explain, how he needed to maintain 12" of water below the grate to allow for "water in transit." I asked him what did he mean by "water in transit?" He explained that a quantity of water needed to be kept in reserve, to allow for the proper circulation & operation of the fountains. "AND," he proudly exclaimed, "we've done it this way before & it works wonderfully."

I almost broke out in laughter... here he has proposed the design for a fountain that required all but 20 or 30 gallons per minute, and he in intent on storing 100 times that much - and hidden under a bunch of rocks & fiberglass grating.

When I asked how the fountain was to be maintained, they all looked at me like I was from another planet.

"What do you mean?" asked the Landscape Architect.

"Who is going to remove 1000 pounds of rocks, lift out a few hundred pounds of fiberglass grating, vacuum the dirt from the floor, replace the grating, wash & clean all of the rocks, & replace the fiberglass grating and the 1000+ pounds of rocks, just to keep the area under the grate free of dirt, algae and bacterial growth? And this has to occur as frequently as, say every few months?," I replied. "And, I might add, this is not going to occur for free."

The Landscape Architect just looked at me with that "deer in the headlights look."

I politely, reminded them that I was on the design team, and that water features, pools & spas are my area of expertise. "This is exactly why within a year, 90% of all fountains & water features are filled with dirt & planted with pansies!," I stated, "No one ever thinks about the on-going maintenance, the maintenance process, and how the fountain is actually going to function & stay clean - beyond the day it is filled with water & everyone goes AHHH, OOOOH, AHHHH, before the clients eventually says OOOPS!."

There were a lot of questions to be asked: "Who is responsible for paying for this on-going maintenance program & cleaning? Who is going to be responsible for adding water when the client's are traveling? Or going out into a storm, to remove excess water before it floods the surrounding landscaping? How are you going to prevent the falling water from splashing on the surrounding masonry & plaster walls (creating unsightly white calcium deposits & mineral stains)? How is the water going to stay clean & clear? Are there any lights? High voltage or low voltage? How do you intend to keep requisite 18" of water ABOVE high voltage light fixtures?"

The Landscape Architect was "bent out of shape," that this lowly "pool builder" had the audacity to speak out in a team meeting (in front of the client), about his design. I didn't say that his design was flawed - OH, though it was! I merely stated that improvements would make it a lot more user friendly & appealing (by controlling algae & slime), improve the cost effectiveness of on-going operation & maintenance, and most importantly maintain the intended purpose AND the integrity of HIS DESIGN!

In my re-design, I removed the grating, mortared the pebbles & cobbles directly to the floor, and increased the volume of water above the rocks to 8". With the net water depth at 8", a standard pool vacuum head & hose can function correctly without "sucking air." The floors' surface can be vacuumed without sucking rocks into the vacuum head and the rocks will remain permanently in place. There is now no need to move hundreds of pounds of rocks, every time the fountain needs to be cleaned!

Multiple skimmers will now draw in the 99.9% of the debris that enter a vessel from the atmosphere and environment (hey, the debris doesn't permeate through the walls, now does it!?). Deepened drain sumps in the floor will prevent air ingestion from vortexing - due to the shallow depths. A balancing pipe between the drain sumps will keep the water equalized between the pools, as the vessels that comprise this fountain vary in size. An auto-fill device and a built-in over-flow line will maintain the optimum water level for proper skimming action. Filtration & chemical injection systems will keep the water clear, clean, algae & bacteria free. And, through it all, I was able to maintain a shallow depth, that will still be safe for the clients' young family.

Best of all, I was able to maintain the Landscape Architect's intended design, with only very slight modifications. Through it all, he "never got it."

I don't think that the client ever "got it" either ...though the cost of the fountain increased by $30,000, I had kept the fountain from turning into a planter. And, that the reoccurring maintenance expenses on this fountain has been reduced by thousands of dollars annually...hundreds of thousands of dollars over the life of the property.

The client and Landscape Architect both missed the fact. That I did possess the skills & experience necessary, to not only identify major design & operational flaws, but that the solutions will save the client hundreds of thousands of dollars. Additionally, I was able to maintain the intended visual effect and client's demand for safety. The net result will ensure that this design element will remain in place for years to come! I was able to guarantee the integrity of the Landscape Architect's design!

This is the definition of VALUE ENGINEERING. Spend a little more money now, to save a lot more money in the future!

Though I bit my tongue, I really wanted to say my piece to the Landscape Architect. First, I am much more that a mere lowly "pool builder." My resume alone, is 4 pages longer than anyone in my field. I guarantee you that I have studied more fountains, pools, hydraulic & construction design details that any architect. I am college educated, and the 1000's of hours of post graduate studies in the field of design, construction, material sciences, and aquatics alone, would have earned me a couple of PhD's (if there was such a degree).

Most importantly, weren't we all in that room together as a team, to deliver the best possible design for the client? Regardless of who's ego takes the credit....

I saw the "ego clash" coming, when I mentioned that his design had a Legoretta inspiration & he got upset. So, I am supposed to apologize for being educated enough to recognize his inspiration, whether a conscience influence or not, yet am publicly chastised for it? His design was as Legoretta as it gets.... straight walls, intersecting pools of water, with a singular spout of water of falling water. I can quote a dozen Legoretta projects with this design element, as far back as the 1960's.

But the Landscape Architect got me... he kept faxing & emailing pool designs, redesigns, and "his ideas" for the pool to the client. " I kept asking myself, "what the hell am I even here for, if this guy is going to keep railroading the design??"

Now, before all of the pool details & engineering has been completed, he's sent "his" flat plan of the landscape out to his usual menagerie of landscape contractors... and has instructed them to "bid" the pool as a part of their overall scope of work.

We know where this is going..... it is already half way down the yellow brick road, with the entire population of Munchkin land in tow.


Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist
"Creating water as art."™
Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa

Monday, November 3, 2008

When should I hire an Aquatic Designer?

Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa
Paolo Benedetti

When should I get an aquatic architect or swimming pool designer involved on my design team for the swimming pool at my new luxury high-end multi-million dollar estate?

EASY ANSWER: AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. This is for a number of reasons...

First & foremost, you want your project to be thoroughly thought through. The more time allowed for the design team to consult with one another, the increased likelihood that the actual construction will occur more efficiently.

Secondly, you want to be able to hire the best that you can afford. THE BEST in any industry or trade are always busy, regardless of the economy. The sooner you retain their services, the more apt you are to find their schedules available to you.

Next, the sooner you have your "dream team" together, the sooner they can begin assembling their collective thoughts. The Aquatic Designer will have a lot of the same questions that your architect has...

Budget - So they can try to design within your budget. No need designing something spectacular, to be way out of the client's budget. Some clients want "ART," and as such, have to be a little looser with the budget. There will be some R&D (Research & Development AND Rework & Demolition) in creating unusual & unique effects.

Lines of sight - what do you want to see & hear from various locations??

Where & how the various angles of the site & proposed structures work together.

Selecting compatible materials... visually to each other, compatible for the intended use, and the compatible lifespan/performance.

How the controls will interface seamlessly.... Doing this after the fact is never easy, nor seamless. It is best that all of the installers of the various control systems on the estate, start early to identify incompatibility issues. There are a myriad of systems to consider & it all depends on how seamless the client wants them to be [HVAC, Security, CCTV, Audio/Video, Lighting (interior, exterior, low voltage & High voltage), telephone, LAN/WAN, landscape controls (pool/spa functions, landscape lighting, fountains, etc.].

Future growth on the site - I call this the "DREAM STATE." If the client built out the estate exactly as they envision, regardless of the time frame, how would it finish? This is where the term "VALUE ENGINEERING," originates from. Plan ahead & spend a little more money now, to save a lot more money in the future. Example: A client desires additional buildings on the estate in the future. It is best to plan for those buildings now, by installing electrical, data, & phone conduits through the foundation, roughing in gas, sewer & water lines beyond the current construction, etc. This is value engineering - planning for growth. This is all so the client does not have to tear out portions of the current project (in todays dollars) to install the infrastructure needs for a future project. And repair the torn out sections with tomorrow's dollars.

ROI - How long will the client really be in this property? We can oftentimes be the voice of reason, when making decisions. However, sometimes there are particular facets that the client just must have for intrinsic reasons, or because they are pleasing to them. Equipment, material, & finish selections and installation practices can all be based upon these criteria. If the client is only going to own the residence for a few years, does it make sense to build to a 100 year standard? Sometimes, the answer is yes, because they want to build a legacy, create something that will stand the test of time.

Engineering - once the engineering has been completed, the design oftentimes has to be reworked (plumbing, electrical, design elevations, etc.) to allow for the structural elements (reinforcing steel & proper concrete thicknesses). The Aquatic Designer knows the engineers that specialize in swimming pools & speaks their "lingo." The Aquatic Designer will know how the layers of the pool will be built & how to plan for the various stages. This is critical when performing the structural engineering.

Schedule - the sooner the team is assembled, the more likely that the plans will be completed on time. Waiting until the house is under construction to begin the landscaping & pool designs is way too late. Oftentimes, getting involved at this point, we are left trying to shoehorn an elephant into a gopher hole. Sometimes the design has become way too complicated & intricate, without the input of someone who actually knows how to dig it, frame it, plumb it, & build it. Trying to get involved at this stage, involves a lot of reworking, realigning, and redrawing. The static loads of a swimming pool are incredible. Once they start bearing upon other structures, something in the design has to give.

Creative Collaboration - Many Aquatic Designers have an extensive background in architecture, art, color theory, spatial relationships, material science, as well as construction & "water." They can lend ideas to refine elements of the design, drawing on their experience with water, their world travels, and even experience on other design teams. It make sense to capitalize upon that experience - gained from working with International Renown Architects, Designers, and Experts that other people assembled for their projects?

Get an Aquatic Designer involved early on, so the project is as seamless as possible... after all isn't it the goal to have water elements that are part of the scene... belonging seamlessly to the architecture or landscape, as if something was missing if they were not there?

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist
"Creating water as art."™
Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act

Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa
Paolo Benedetti

Graeme Baker Safety Act (GMSA) is quickly becoming the trojan horse for more pork barrel legislation. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is set to begin hearings on the Graeme Baker Safety Act.

If passed as it is currently written, you will be required to use a SVRS device (Vac Alert, Stingl Switch, etc.), dual drains (which should always be done anyway), and other MANDATED precautions. This will result in an more expensive swimming pool.

Because the swimming pool industry has been lead by morons for so long, the government is stepping in and mandating that we incorporate devices for the public safety.

Special Interests (people out to make a buck) have seized upon these unfortunate series of events, to utilize impending legislation as their "TROJAN HORSE." They are sneaking in the back door, having their company's devices MANDATED upon us.

The morons that run the largest swimming pool trade associations, were not bright enough to see this coming. Nor did they possess the intellect to counter these special interest arguments with one very simple irrefutable fact...


Larger pipes, smaller pumps, and balanced dual suctions will solve the issue FOREVER. No special devices needed. What should be mandated, is lower line velocities... PERIOD! And as a side benefit, the consumers will benefit through lower energy use and less pump noise. Additionally, this will assist in meeting all of the new wave of energy legislation, such as CA's new title 24 energy regulations.

By the way, no mention was made of line velocities in the new Title 24 regulations either. So, I bet that some builder will jump at the chance to use 1" pipe on a 3/4 HP pump. "It's a smaller pump, so why not use a smaller pipe too?"

Safe & Green... hmm, wonder if we can get Al Gore to claim this as his bright idea and shout it from the international podium!

This is why the Genesis 3 Design Group was founded.... smarter pool designers & builders, doing it smarter. This is why I am a ardent supporter of Genesis 3, am one of the Platinum members, am one of the first to receive certification from the Society of Water Shape Designers, and why I teach at their construction courses. This is also why I am blamed for using "over-sized pipes."

It is time to place pressure upon your state legislator, trade association, industry lobby, & ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers - of which, I also happen to be a member).

I was very disappointed to see an organization such as ASME, not stand up to these special interest groups when they were writing the standards. The ASME standards were later adopted by the UBC (Uniform Building Code), and will find themselves into many local & state building departments (if they have not already). The ASME guys are mechanicals engineers, and there is NO MENTION of line velocities. Makes you wonder if there was a pay-off somewhere... to keep the ASME M.E.'s from even mentioning what they spent 4 years learning about in college! Engineers forgetting the basics of their education....

You can read about the testing they performed to validate their premises.... such as 3 H.P. pumps on 2 inch lines, to illustrate the dangers of improper mechanical design. Go to:

Read the dual drain/vent limitation testing. You can read about how they fabricated such outrageous tests (like the 3 HP/2" pipe) to validate their products and defeat alternatives. These were fabricated tests, utilized to falsely justify the need for special interest SVRS devices.

You will notice that in none of the standards, impending legislation, or in their "PAID FOR TESTS," did anyone have the brains to say:


The line velocity could be so low that even if the drain cover was missing... guess what? Maybe a stubbed toe, but NO ENTRAPMENT HAZARD!

Come on everyone, it's time for the SMART & SILENT MAJORITY GET PISSED OFF AND TO SPEAK UP!

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist
"Creating water as art."™
Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa

Saturday, August 2, 2008

What is a designer??

Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa
Paolo Benedetti

A qualified aquatic designer (swimming pool designer) is diametrically opposed from the pool builders found in the yellow pages or "," type of website. They possess a true sense of design & architectural knowledge. Specifying the shape & placement of a pool on one's property, cannot be done with a tracing template or the modern version of the same... "pool design software."

Both the tracing templates and design software immediately place limits on the available options. The templates limit the design, by the few templates the salesman possesses.

Design software places as many limits, but in another manner... the knowledge of the computer user, the features of the software, the details of the software, and the creativity of person who wrote the software. Additionally, the computer programs tend to lack a sense of scale, perspective angles, lighting and shadows, knowledge of materials, and the tend to render false colors.

To be able to be a true designer, one has to have personal knowledge of the "elements of design." How can someone be relied upon to design a project, who does not personally possess basic artistic talents?

Scope and Scale

Probably the biggest mistake made by the landscape architects, landscape designers and the swimming pool industry at large.... is the lack of proper scope & scale.

A 50 acre estate will look foolish with a small 36' long kidney pool placed 10 feet from the house. By contrast, a small zero-lot line house with a 25 foot deep yard, will seemed cramped and the space unusable, with a pool that occupies a majority of the space.

A case in point...

I met with a client who had a home in an upscale neighborhood of $1.5-2M homes. The house had a small backyard, not what I would EVEN consider big enough for a pool. Yet, when I sat down at their kitchen table, they presented me with 3 different designs, from 3 different "yellow page" swimming pool companies.

I snickered, and they immediately picked up on it & asked, "what wrong?" I proceeded to explain that they would have difficulty selling this house in a few years, if they put in a pool that occupied 85% of what little backyard they had. The pool designs that they had, left 3 feet between the house & pool and 5 feet between the pool & back fence.

After being hired to consult on the design of their yard, I interviewed them. I discovered that they really just wanted "water" to cool off in, and in which they could perform water therapy exercises on their prize dog, a boxer who had arthritis. I suggested a spa, designed as a water feature. It would maximize the value for the money. Visually, when unoccupied, would lend interest to the scene and the sounds of water to the yard. The spa could be left cold, to cool off in, or heated to enjoy hot water therapy. The thought immediately intrigued them.

I proceeded to inquire as to how they entertain, and discovered that they like to host barbecues in the summer months. I told them that "a pool then, is out of the question," "there would be no place left for chairs, let alone a table, BBQ, or people!"

I designed elevated planters, which could function as bench seating during a party. I also raised the spa out of the ground. Watching the way that people interact with water, they love to wipe their hands or dip their toes into the cool liquid. How many times have you seen a woman slide off her heels at a party, just to dip a toe into the water? Being able to sit on the edge of the water would allow visitors to "interact" with the water, by bringing the elevation up to the observer. Visitors could sit on the edge, and easily run their hands through the water.

Elevating the spa & attached water features, would also provide additional seating for larger gathering, since the space would not lend itself to a lot of chairs. The raised edge, also would help prevent small visitors from "accidentally" falling in.

The additional space available from the smaller spa & water features, opened up the perfect location for an outdoor kitchen... equipped with a granite counter tops, a refrigerator, beer tap/cooler, a sink with hot/cold water, a 48" gas barbecue, and gas side burner. None of this would have even been possible with a pool occupying the entire space.

The process of design is not just doing a drawing & layout, but more about the process of getting to know the clients, how they will use the project, how they entertain, and most importantly... scope and scale.... AND...

Color, Texture, & Material Selections

I subscribe to literally a ton of magazines. My family asks," how can you possibly read all of those magazines." I answer them, "I don't! I just look at the pictures." And they laugh... While that is not 100% correct, it illustrates the fact that we as people are visual.

When we see someone wearing plaids, with stripes & solids, and white socks, we naturally cringe. When we enter a space that is too busy we feel claustrophobic, a space that is too sparse & we feel "cold," are you starting to get the picture? While these spaces are around us everyday, most people do not "put their finger" on it consciously, rather, their subconscious mind tells them to avoid that space. The space has to work visually, for us to feel good about the space and thereby wanting to spend time in it. Done correctly the space should be designed to illicit the sought after emotions & feelings.... to feel relaxed in a spa bathroom, to feel energized in a home gym, etc.

This is where the knowledge of colors, their interaction with each other, & their interaction with the environment comes into play. Primary colors usually do not work well next to each other - they seem to "clash." While secondary colors & complimentary colors seem to work magically together. Yet, many architects, landscape architects, and swimming pool companies do not "get it."

Red bricks next to green grass has always "bothered" my design sense... why? Because they are primary colors next to each other. Softening the color of the bricks, makes the scene work wonderfully.... again it is the knowledge of colors & their relationship to each other.

Knowing how the environment will change colors is something that does not come naturally. Okay, there are a gifted few, to whom this talent comes naturally... naturally my good friend David Tisherman and Mexican Architect Ricardo Legorreta come to mind. They both have an innate ability to "know" how the changing environment will change the colors that we see (there's that visual thing again).

Legorreta has an amazing ability to use natural light to change the color we perceive, as the sun cast shadows or sunlight on colored surfaces. He further enhances this "play with sunlight" by strategically placing openings (windows, skylights, openings, etc.) to use the seasonal & daily tracking of the sun through the sky, to shine beams of light or cast shadows on planes of color. An example is a violet wall, with rays of light & rectangles of shadow cast across it's surface... the wall looks alternately dark purple & light pink, though in reality it is violet.

Though I have never told him, I admire David Tisherman's ability to perform the same. Though he has not made this his goal in life like Legorreta, he consciously uses light to "create a scene." A case in point, wherein Tisherman showed his creative genius, was on a red plaster pool. While most of the industry berated him for his choice in color, personally, "I got it!"

Most people do not know (or recognize) that red is the weakest color of the light spectrum & is filtered out first. Therefore, as light enters water, the red light is filtered out first... the stronger blue light spectrum continued into the deeper water. Ever wonder why Lake Tahoe is sooo blue??

Tisherman realized that the red pool would appear red in the shallow end, but purple in the deep end (remember, when you mix red (plaster) & blue (light) you get purple?). This ability to "play" with perceived colors is very important. Knowing how colors will change in appearance, once introduced into a project is very important. Colors in a showroom will look different in the shadows of a tree, in the direct sunlight of summer, or in the filtered blue light of the deep end of the pool.

Knowing how textures absorb or reflect light is also very important. Polished surfaces reflect light, thereby giving off "true colors." Matte finished or those with small amount of texture will absorb light, thereby imparting a softness to the color. Polished black granite verses flamed black granite is a good example of this.

Our eyes see reflected light... so knowing how a material, color, or surface will handle, treat, and reflect the light that falls upon, it is crucial in forecasting how it will look in the "scene." Most human beings, simply do not understand this phenomenon. Most architects, designers, and interior designers do not consciously understand this either. To some it comes naturally, & to others it is just "dumb luck." They just "feel" what works, but they don't know or understand why it works.

A person who knows and understands why this works, who possesses a sense of scope & scale, and can express their ideas so that their client can understand (and "get the picture") is someone who can truly call themselves...

a Designer!

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist
"Creating water as art."™
Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa

Friday, July 4, 2008

What is a Luxury or High-end Pool?

Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa
Paolo Benedetti
Aquatic Designer, Aquatic Artist, Custom Swimming Pool Designer

Almost every pool ad in the yellow pages says "custom pools." So what is the difference between "custom," "high-end," "luxury pools," and an architectural swimming pool or aquatic art?

Since the term custom has been so over abused, it really doesn't mean much anymore. It just means that you visited the buffet. You piled those things onto your plate that were offered (take it or leave it!) & paid the cashier. Not much in the way of service, design or material options, or personalization. People who call themselves "high-end" or "luxury pool" designers or builders may just sell expensive pools.

The client wants a designer who approaches the project as an "aquatic architect." They need get inside the clients' head, find out what motivates them, where their interests lie, and the intended use of the facilities. They then investigate the site & it's architecture, to determine how best to fit the clients desires into the site.

From their vast background and knowledge of world history, international travels, material science, and product sourcing, they offer the client an assortment of concepts that are unique to that client. Ideas and methodologies that have not been combined or utilized before.

Oftentimes a landscape or structural architect will do the layout of an aquatic environment. However, they more than likely lack the knowledge as to how to "pull it all together to work." Having an aquatic consultant or aquatic designer involved from the beginning, will smooth out a lot of the architectural, structural, materials, control system, and visual integration issues.

This does not mean that the aquatic designer always has to INVENT something new. Rather it means being able to innovate or adapt elements that they have observed during their life experiences, and apply them to different scenarios.

I have taken small details that I have seen in my international travels and enlarged them to 100x the original application. The element may be used for an entirely different purpose. It is the ability to think about how things that are observed may be tweaked or modified for a different purpose. This is also a form of innovation...

Having clients that are willing to be the "first one" to have a particular element is also important. That they are willing to finance the R&D, is even more important. By R&D I mean, Rework & Demolition, should the element not function exactly as desired. But for their risk, they are rewarded with the bragging rights. Some clients, in order to reduce the risk, are even willing to pay for us to create mock-ups or models to help ensure that the risks are minimized as much as possible.

But, given the new found knowledge, I will twist it a little an incorporate another variation on the original idea. Again, another form of innovation.

Given that everyone is calling themselves a "custom pool builder," "luxury pool designer," or "high-end pool builder," isn't an "Aquatic Artisan" what you're really looking for?

In order for your aquatic environment to truly be custom, luxurious, and high-end... they must be works of art. Like the Masters... though each artist has their style, each painting or sculpture is unique unto itself.

That's the definition of custom... your's and your's alone!

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist
"Creating water as art."™
Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Do it the Right Way

Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa
Paolo Benedetti

Building a quality swimming pool takes time. Quality & perfection cannot be rushed. An infinity edge swimming pool & spa simply cannot be made out of level - not even 1/16th of an inch!

All too often, property owners are in a rush to begin their pool construction in the spring and be swimming by June, when the kids are out of school. The commissioned pool salesman will tell them ANYTHING to get them to sign on the dotted line... even blatantly lie as to the projected finish date.

And guess what, the property owners become upset & angered. The pool becomes a nightmare, consuming their every waking moment. Mostly it's because the deadline was not met... but also because they foolishly planned a pool party, months in advance, relying on that finish date. And the entire pool industry gets a bad reputation.

These false expectations are because both parties are out of touch with reality.

To build a pool properly takes time. Various trade industry standards apply to the construction of a swimming pool... concrete, gunite/shotcrete, masonry, tile, & plaster to name a few. While these are not government enforceable "building codes," they are the installation practices for the given trades.

The gunite/shotcrete needs to be installed in a particular manner. The nozzleman needs to be knowledgeable & adequately trained to ensure that he's acquiring the proper encapsulation of the reinforcing steel. A "blow pipe" needs to be utilized to discharge the rebound. Trimmings & rebound can not be allowed to accumulate in the pool. Foot traffic on the floor needs to be minimal, to ensure a structurally sound finish. The waste products & trimmings can not be shoveled into the steps & benches, as they have no structural value. They will only crumble later!

The gunite/shotcrete needs to cure at least 28 days before any coating is applied to the interior (plaster, browncoat, membrane, etc.), in order to allow it to cure properly. Most pool builders rely on the property owner to "water down" the shell in order to keep it hydrated. This is one of the most important aspects of the project & they are pushing the responsibility onto the client???!!! How many multi-millionaire clients are going to water the cement 3 times a day??? NOT!!!

There are a myriad of standards for the installation of the finish materials. These are the specific trades' "how to's." Certain aspects of the installation need to cure for a prescribed number of days. Uncoupling, isolation, waterproof, or crack control membranes need to be installed under certain layers of materials. Vertical & horizontal planes of material need to be isolated. Underlayments need to meed certain load bearing & flexural requirements.

Isolation joints need to separate different materials, as they all have differential rates of expansion & contraction. Control joints need to be installed in an attempt to "control" the direction of concrete's cracking. As needed, mastic needs to be installed in isolation joints to seal out moisture.

Thinsets & mortars need to be allowed to cure prior to grouting. All to often, the leveling bed, tile, and grout are all installed on the same day. That's because they hired a "production builder."

Also know as a "Yellow Page" builder, because they compete with others in their market by trying to place the biggest yellow page ad possible. The true craftsmen, rarely are found in the yellow pages. They don't want to be bothered with the "tire kickers," who are looking for a "free design" or a free construction bid.

Because the production builder's business model is driven by low margins, it takes mass quantities produced to generate the profits desired. Quality becomes the first thing thrown out of the window. You can not have speed and quality, it is an oxymoron. Hmm, morons... ironic how some things seem to be attracted to each other.

A lot of these builders ignore these various industry standards, "because they are not law." But in a way they are.... because when the tile starts to crack, the structure begins to crumble, layers begin to delaminate, or the pool slides down the hill, the property owner's attorney will retain an industry expert, such as myself.

The first questions I ask is "what standards did you follow during your installation." I ask them which year standard did they perform to, of the: ANSI, ASME, TCNA, ACI, ASA, NPC, ASPS, etc...

Just because these are not law, does not mean that they are to be ignored. These standards are the minimum "level of care" that must be followed in the given aspect of the project. These are the standards that the builder will be held to when the wheels fall off. In a civil case, these "become law."

But in order to have a project completed in a few months, something has to give. It is usually the proper way of doing things, the correct curing times & waiting periods, and prudent installation practices that are the first to be sacrificed.

After all, the party must not be delayed!

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist
"Creating water as art."™
Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa

Saturday, May 3, 2008


Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa
Paolo Benedetti

Custom high-end luxury swimming pools and spas should have "engineered" plumbing systems (hydraulics). Not only infinity edge, vanishing edge, and perimeter overflow pools, but every singe vessel.

The hydraulic systems for the vessels need to be calculated, to stay below the MAXIMUM flowrates through the pipes. Flowrates (line velocities) are the most mis-understood component of swimming pools & spas.

It was estimated by the NSPI that over 95% of the swimming pools built do not comply with the industry standards for flowrates & line velocities.

This is why there have been evisceration cases, suction entrapment deaths, and hair entanglement drownings. This is not to say that these would not have occurred, but the severity of the injuries would have been significantly less, if there was merely less suction!

Now you're saying, but I need suction??!! You're correct, but a larger diameter pipe moving the same flowrate (gallons per minute) as a smaller diameter pipe, has a slower line velocity & therefore less suction.

We can still move the same amount of water (gallons per minute), but we can make the bather environment safer, ALL BY JUST USING A LARGER DIAMETER PIPE.

After the entire lengths of pipe, elbows, fittings, and equipment are calculated, the systems restriction to flow (friction) is determined. The maximum line velocities of specific pipe diameters are established by the standards & physics. However, a prudent mechanical engineer will strive for a lower line velocity than the standard. It is easier on the piping system, pumps don't have to work as hard, there is less noise, it provides a margin of safety if the system is modified, and smaller pumps can be used (ENERGY SAVINGS!).

A larger diameter pipe provides less restrictions than a smaller diameter pipe. Sized properly, the need for sweep elbows or specialty fittings to reduce restrictions are eliminated. The need for specialized anti-entrapment devices & plumbing methodology are eliminated.... merely by understanding physics.

So why don't pool builders use larger pipes??? Good question... lazy, added cost, ignorance, indifference, difficulty in plumbing - take your pick. I have had other pool builders attempt to build my designs, only to down size the pipes ("they are TOO big"), shorten beach entrances (there is a minimum design standard for a 7:1 slope), replace expensive stainless steel or galvanized rebar with regular rebar, or eliminate other details as "unnecessary" or "over-kill."

When I get a call that something wrong with my design, a gravity drain is not flowing properly (remember, it was downsized because it was "too big" ?), the beach is too steep (they shortened it & thereby increased the slope), or are experiencing rebar rusting through an element (because they deleted the corrosion resistant rebar), I point out how they chose to go with the low bidder. They were the low bidder for a reason...

The manufacturer of an anti-entrapment device (a vacuum release widgit) has been lobbying legislators in many states, trying to make it a law that their device (or ones like it) are installed on every pool. But if the legislators & building officials understood the physics & fluid dynamics of mechanical systems, these entrapment issues could be avoided with simple math.

The benefit of a properly designed system, is that the pumps are actually chosen LAST! After all of the systems' design parameters have been established, then a pump is chosen. The pump is selected to fit the need based upon the pumps' optimum efficiency range (pump curve).

An "engineered" or designed hydraulic system results in the use of smaller horsepower pumps, saves energy, moving more water, pumps make less noise, and resulting in a safer bather environment.

As you can see, a properly designed project will make the vessels operate correctly, without all of the faults that have inherently dogged the swimming pool industry.

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist
"Creating water as art."™
Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Plan Inclusions

Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa
Paolo Benedetti

Swimming pool plans are incomplete with merely a site plan, generic mail order structural engineering, and no plumbing schematic, electrical schematic, equipment layout, construction details, and construction specifications.

Exactly how is the project going to come together? What is the clients' level of expectation?

Without complete plans and drawings, there simply can not be ANY attention to detail.

Cross sections of the project & surrounding area are essential in establishing the proper elevations during the grading process. The grading occurs BEFORE the actual digging of the "hole." It helps to know at this stage if there are going to be inches or feet of base rock under the concrete decking.

Are the main drainage trunk lines to be installed at this time? Are there utility lines (current needs & future site expansion) that need to be installed?

Is the coping or stone on the pool bondbeam going to be 2 inches or 6 inches thick?

While this may all seem trivial, errors in establishing the correct elevations can result in water flowing towards the house, concrete above the stucco weep screed, steps of various heights, etc.

An experienced designer knows what questions to ask during the planning stage. While anyone can call themselves a designer, it is their design experience and education that are critical. Creative problem solving is the key... do they come up with solutions to conceal objects that the project must have, but that people don't NEED or WANT to see?

A true designer will be focused on BOTH the design and the clients needs. The design should work with the site & the buildings'... as if something was missing if it wasn't there.

Sometimes the clients don't know what they want. By that I mean that they might even be insistent that they have a particular feature... but they do not know WHY they want it. A good designer will be able to find out what they are "REALLY" looking for... the large grotto may have been a "must have" to block out the neighbors view of the pool or to provide a jumping platform.

The underlying WHY is so critical, as it then allows the designer to offer alternatives that will then work with the site & design. The client gets the true function of the element they were after, while the design integrity is maintained.

It DOES NOT HURT TO ASK QUESTIONS DURING THE PLANNING PROCESS.... the worst that can happen, is that the client can say "no." That's better than later hearing, "would have, could have, should have," or "why didn't anyone tell me?"

Complete plans for the permitting process may be as simple as a site plan, a few cross sections to illustrate relative elevations, and the structural engineering. In fact the least amount of details provided to the building & planning department, the better.

However, the construction plans need to be detailed.

There need to be cross sections of the spa seating, showing steps, seat, floor & water depths. Cross sections of the pool showing benches, steps, and other key elevations.

Cross sections and plan views of design details need to be provided, so that the installers can anticipate & effectively bid their scope of work. Electrical, plumbing, low voltage, data, lighting, and drainage schematics need to be provided.

The locations of the junction boxes for lighting, sound, data/communications will all need to be specified. Plumbing lines might need to be brought up above grade to provide air-gaps or loops. While absolutely necessary for the proper operation of the vessel, these elements can be placed almost anywhere with the proper amount of planning. Where are the lights going, at what elevations & angles, and what wattages?

The equipment pad and area should be laid out to scale, justifying & illustrating to the design team the need for such a large area. oftentimes, the pool equipment area is grossly undersized.... because people just don't know.

Laying out the equipment area, allows the plumbers to place the pipes in the proper location, ensuring an efficient mechanical system - both operationally & for future service needs.

What are the forms going to be made of? 3" bender board tied to rebar or dimensional lumber with stakes & kickers for support? How will the tile be installed? What are the setting materials? What standards are being followed?

What details are being incorporated? Concealed deck drains, skimmer lids, spaside remote controls??? These need to be identified, so that the client knows what is going to be delivered & how it is going to be built. What depths are the spa benches? Where will the waterline be on the clients' body? Benches & backs sloped & reclining? What are the heights of the various steps?

These and hundreds of other detail type questions are what make custom projects, truly custom.

Vessels can be made into works of art.... with the proper questions, planning & forethought.

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist
"Creating water as art."™
Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Proper planning equals stellar performance

Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa
Paolo Benedetti

Not just vanishing edge, infinity edge, knife edge, slot or perimeter overflow pools require extensive & detailed plans. The extent of the typical plans & details for a swimming pool, only includes a "flat plan" and the generic structural engineering.

A flat plan is a "birdeye view" plot plan that shows where the pool and equipment are to be placed. That is it....

There is no direction provided to the sub-contractors as to the plumbing configuration, pipe sizing, the high & low voltage electrical schematics, elevations of the various elements, layout of the pool equipment, the position of the pipes at the equipment pad, the schematics of the equipment pad.

Left to their own methodology, you know that the plumbing & electrical will be the shortest runs possible. Afterall, do you expect them to dig trenches an extra 10 feet to hide something in a less obtrusive location? A return manifold will not be looped around the pool to balance the flow at each return fitting. The pipes rising up at the equipment pad will be placed haphazardly, necessitating excess elbows and an inefficient layout of the pumps & filters. You know the drill...

The electrical & lighting junction boxes, will be placed where they are "convenient" for the electricans, not where they can be hidden from view. Goodness, they might have to buy a light fixture with another 10 - 50 feet of cord... and install some additional conduit.

A few years ago, I prepared a proposal for an acquaintances' project. The project was a rectangular pool with an inside spa & an automatic pool safety cover. These are the ONLY pools that I build on a fixed price contract. Another builder was $35,000 less than us, so they went with the other firm.

I had the pleasure (& humor) of visiting the finished project shortly after the pool was completed. The spa dam wall was set too low, so that the operating level of the pool had to be kept below that which the skimmers required to operate properly. In other words, they had to keep the pool level low, so that the cold pool water would not spill over the spa dam & into the spa.

Since the waterlevel had to be kept low to use the spa, the skimmers could not function. There simply wasn't enough volume of water to keep the skimmers full. The pump would continuously lose prime & eventually fail.

The auto-fill was set at the wrong elevation. Because it was too high, it kept wanting to fill the pool to an elevation where the pool would flood the spa dam wall. If the client operated the waterlevel in the pool at the correct height, then the skimmers would operate properly, but the spa could not be heated. Imagine, having to pump water out of your pool (dump it to waste), just so that you could heat your spa. So much for that $3,000 automation system! Oh, and the auto-fill that wants to raise the level back up...

The dam wall that separated the pool from the dry pool cover vault (where the pool cover rolls up when not in use), was installed just slightly above the pools' optimum operating level. This meant that when people swam in the pool - people are supposed to swim in them aren't they?? - waves from bather displacement would spill into the cover box. This would waste hundreds of gallons each time the pool was used.

The final insult, was that the builder did not understand how the masonry cover trays were to be fitted. Masonry trays are Stainless Steel trays that hold concrete or stone over the pool cover vault. They are also called walk-on trays, as they are solid enough to support a persons' weight. Properly installed, it conceals the presence of the pool cover when the cover is open. The end pans, sat 1/2" above the decking at each end. A great toe-stubber if I ever saw one.

The homeowner was so proud that he was able to negotiate a glass mosaic waterline tile. The brand that was selected had a warranty that stated "The Company warrants that its Products, if properly stored and transported, will be free from defects in materials and workmanship from the date of sale until the date the product is installed ("Warranty Period")." Can you believe that??? (

Who in their right mind would buy anything that says in effect, "we'll warrant it, until you use it??" HELLOOOOO, get a clue here...!!! They should have ran for the hills!

And guess what... the tile started falling off of the pool walls a few months later. I do not know if it was due to improper installation or faulty materials. But in any case neither the builder nor the tile manufacturer would warranty the installation.

I was asked if I knew why the tile was falling off the walls. I asked to review the specifications for the installation crew, that the pool builder had prepared (knowing full well that they did not exist). Guess what... they didn't!

How was the installation crew supposed to know: what setting materials to use? What curing times were required of the browncoat (the leveling bed)? the correct crack control membrane? the curing time of the thinset before grouting? the type of grout to use? how long to let the grout cure prior to filling the pool? where to place the expansion joints in the tile? what to clean the tile with?

Again, with proper planning and specifications, these grave errors could have been avoided. A little time, money, and proper planning in advance can avoid pitfalls in the execution phase.

The problem is now the property owners have a pool that does not operate correctly. They will have to disclose this at the time of sale, as it will be observed by a home inspector. And they'll have to make financial concessions to the buyers.

How does that car repair ad go??? "Pay me now or pay me MORE later."

And the worst part is.... all of these mistakes could have been avoided, as these details are readily available on the web, in articles by yours truely.

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist
"Creating water as art."™

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Architects' & General Building Contractors' construction budgets

Volume builders will freely provide quotes to build a project, based upon a flat "square feet" or "perimeter foot" calculation. They are usually provided a "flat plan" or "architectural rendering" (pretty picture) from which to prepare a bid. Keep in mind that these builders construct to the lowest standards that the markets will tolerate.

Architects and Custom Home Builders then rely on these figures when preparing construction budgets for the client. No structural engineering has been performed. No hydraulic calculations or plumbing schematics have been designed. No equipment has been defined. The finish materials & installation practices to be employed have not been specified. Tile and material mock-ups have not been approved. The fine details have not been worked out, nor has any scope of work been defined.

Show a custom home builder a picture of a house & ask him EXACTLY how much to build it... THEY WILL LAUGH HYSTERICALLY!! Then they'll rattle off a small portion of a larger list of questions... at best they can provide a price range - say, $100 to $1,000 per square foot. Or they may graciously provide "allowances" for line items. This is great for the budget, that is, until the property owners realize that they must shop at flea markets and second-hand stores to stay within the "allowances."

Because the property owners are insisting on a budgetary figure for the pool, these false and arbitrary figures get placed into the construction budget. These fictitious figures are then quoted to the property owner. This is how they become the gospel. The property owners are relying on it & think that they can actually have the vessels built for that price. Never mind that they were envisioning hand cut imported glass tile mosaic murals inside the vessels and Bellagio Hotel style interactive water features that dance to music.

Only later, as the change orders pile up, does everyone involved realize that the figures are invalid. Sometimes the property owner NEVER comes to grip with this reality. Reality usually starts to set in once the structural engineering & geotechnical reports are completed, and the finish materials start to be defined. Suddenly the pool is "way over budget." And, it it always the pool contractor's fault.

So guess what??? The lowest bidder wins again. The Home Builder only has a limited amount budgeted for the pool (based upon those invalid budgetary figures). They award the project to the lowest bidder to maintain their profit margins. And in the end, the project gets built by the pool contractor who can degrade the project the most, to satisfy these fictitious budgetary constraints.

It is best to get an aquatic designer involved during the design phase of the home. They will know the correct questions to ask, usually working around a "predefined budget." After all doesn't the architect start & work around this premise? How much do you want to spend? What do you expect for that money & can we get there from here? Before contacting a general contractor to price the construction of the buildings, all of the engineering & preliminary specifications have been determined.

All of the general contractor's subcontractors are bidding on SPECIFICATIONS... XYZ roofing materials, ABC wall veneers, etc. So why then, is the swimming pool contractor being asked to provide construction pricing based upon a pretty picture or flat plan? Why aren't detailed structural engineering, plumbing schematics, equipment specifications, finish materials, and installation specifications defined for the bidders?

Again, it is the "alignment of reality with the clients' expectations," that is the most important in keeping these projects on budget. Quoting invalid or fictitious budgetary construction figures only serves to undermine the clients faith in the Architect or General Building Contractor. It also gives the appearance that the valid construction figures from the competent pool builders are just "gold diggers," who are padding their bids. When, in fact these are the very builders that the clients needs to hire! Honest, forthright, and not willing to partake in the degradation of swimming pool construction as an art form.

Another method to "find" additional funds, is for the property owner to remove the pool construction from the General Contractors' "scope of work." This frees up the additional profit margin that the General Contractor would charge on top of the pool construction costs, as funds for the construction of the pool. But oftentimes this is still not enough to build what the property owners were envisioning.

This is another positive argument for "cost plus % gross mark-up" construction.

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist
"Creating water as art."™

Structural Engineering & Geotechnical Reports

Now here's the dilemma... a volume pool builder provides a bid based upon a structure of MINIMUM specifications. They usually have not reviewed any geo-technical reports (aka: soils report) to ascertain just how strong the structure needs to be.

Pools are designed (usually) to hold the "forces of the earth out" & not the "weight of the water in." THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO WAY to determine the engineering requirements of the structure without defining the soil conditions on a site.

But most swimming pools are built with generic engineering, purchased in volume from a production mill engineering firm. These plans are valid, ONLY if the engineering used from the plan meets or exceeds the soil conditions of the site. It is the structural engineer's responsibility to review the soils report to determine what plans are required. IT IS NOT the pool contractor or salesman's job to define the strength of the structure. You're lucky if the contractor is a college graduate. And I doubt that they will possess an engineering degree or have an on-staff structural engineer (though there are a few out there!).

"Standard library engineering" is a cost effective & acceptable means of designing structures. However, the use of these type of plans is only valid if their selection and use is based upon the structural engineer's review of the soil & site conditions.

Some municipal planning & building departments are starting to become educated. Many are now requiring a geo-technical review of a proposed site. They are also requiring that the geo-technical engineer review the structural engineering to determine it's adequacy. Often times an inspection of the open excavation is performed to verify that the soil conditions are no worse than anticipated by the preliminary geo-technical investigation. Some municipalities may only require a geo-technical report in predefined "geo-hazard zones."

Bear in mind that the soils report is usually based upon a boring or test trench. The report is based upon this small sample of space upon the property. Oftentimes the test trench or boring will just barely miss (and therefore fail to identify in advance) an obstruction, large rock, incompetent pocket of material, or other deficiency. Yes, sometimes a project has to be halted while the experts (geo-technical & structural engineer) regroup to redesign the engineering.

The builder & geo-technical engineer CAN NOT be held responsible for these unforeseen obstacles. After all, it is the property owner's land... If buried treasure was unearthed, the property owner would surely be out in the yard laying claim to the bounty. So why are they not also the owners of any negative finds?

The foundation for a building has to be designed to meet the soil and site conditions. So why shouldn't a pool, which is built ENTIRELY in the ground, meet those same requirements?? Alas, IT IS! It is in the building codes (Uniform & California) that structures be engineered for the site & soil conditions..... and a pool is a structure!

When the pool cracks, goes out of level, sinks, or slides down the hillside, this generic boilerplate engineering will be invalid, if it was not selected by a structural engineer with the site and soil conditions as the determining factors.

In California, geo-technical investigations begin at around $5,000. When volume pool builders are competing on who has the lowest price, the requirement for the property owner providing a geo-technical report can "over price" their bid. Therefore, few will ever ask if a soils report is even available.

That should be the first criteria when selecting a builder - Does he take the initiative to inquire if a soils report is even available? If there is one available is he going to provide it to the structural engineer to review? Will the structural engineer issue documentation (plan notes, invoice, letter) that he has ACTUALLY reviewed the soils report?

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist
"Creating water as art."™

Fixed Price is not always the "Best Price"

A commissioned salesman works on just that... a commission. They have a "book price," the price schedule that is established by their firm which is the MINIMUM that they can sell items from their "menu."

If the salesman thinks that he can gouge you for some money above the book price of your project, that gets figured into the project as "overage." The salesman gets to split the overage with the company 50/50. Problem is, you don't get to see the "book price," just the bid.

Now, if he under bids the project & the property owner has signed a contract, then they dumb down the project as much as they can to increase their margins to come out profitable.

Working on a "cost + % gross mark-up" basis is fair to both the consumer & builder. The property owner is guaranteed a quality job and the builder is guaranteed a fair profit. The builder is not forced to "pad" the job for unforeseen items or for minor cost overruns.

The builder then has no excuse for not properly supervising the project, following proper installation techniques, or allowing the sub-contractors to perform quality work. This process also allows the builder to take proactive steps to correct issues, before the property owner raises them.

Out of the builders' gross profit, they will be expected to cover insurance (general liability) and their general & administrative overhead (office staff & expenses, advertising, vehicle expenses & insurance, management salaries, travel expenses, etc.). What is left over is their "net profit." Gross profit can run from 25-40% depending on the overhead associated with a project. Net profits in construction companies are usually around 10-15%.

Expect to pay on the higher end of the scales for "boutique" or "premium" builders. They usually take on fewer projects, deliver higher levels of supervision, quality & craftsmanship. They posses a higher level of construction skills and are more readily available for their clients. This equates to a smoother project with less hassles, and a finer finished product.

Another method, is to hire a "consultant" to manage local contractors, who in turn actually builds the project. In this scenario, the property owner needs to be prepared to actually pay more than if they contracted directly for the project. The property owner needs to be prepared for a lot of conflicts and to "back the play" of the consultant.

Constant conflicts arise, because the local contractor (and their subcontractors) do not possess the skills to build the project on their own. The consultant ends up having to "teach" the local contractor how to waterproof, set tile, place concrete - basically how to build a pool properly. This is where the conflicts begin...

The local contractor (who is working on a fixed price contract) refuses to perform aspects of the project as specified, and insists on "doing things the way we have always done." This is because they are not familiar with all of the various industry trade standards - and they bid the job, based upon their own evil ways. When they are "called on the carpet" the feud begins, change orders appear, owners get upset, and the project budget gets blown out of the water.

Isn't this exactly why the local pool builder was not a "direct hire" in the first place... because the owners did not have faith in their abilities, knowledge, and skills??

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist
"Creating water as art."™

Why you're the loser with the "low bidder."

For an off-the-shelf consumer product, one might be satisfied with merely "shopping price." However, when it comes to construction, shopping on price alone is the consumer's pitfall. Here's why...

A property owner desires the best that they can afford. They thumb through the yellow pages or surf the web, and select 4 or 5 pretty ads that appeal to them. They telephone and set up appointments.

A commissioned salesman comes to their house. This person routinely has limited "design sense," and is merely motivated by "making the sale." The product offerings that they feature are limited by those that their company has on it's menu.

The property owner is provided with a "free design" from each of the companies. Some are created from pre-defined tracing templates and others using "pre-packaged swimming pool design software." The "designs" are limited by the templates or by the offerings of the software program.

The salesman touts how he'll save the client money by utilizing 1 pump to perform multiple functions. They can complete the entire construction process in a few months & have the family swimming before "school's out."

The low bidder with the fastest installation schedule is awarded the project.

Will the property owner really get what they expect? You know the answer.... they are expecting customer service, yet how can the low bidder cover the overhead of staff to provide customer service?

The property owner will expect someone to be on the job supervising the sub-contractors... but how can they have a supervisor assigned to manage their job with such little profit margins?

Left to their own devices, the construction of the pool becomes a parade of unsupervised sub-contractors, who take the path of least resistance in everything they do. They will be "back-charged" by the pool builder, if they exceed the budgeted allotment for any aspect of the job.

To that end, the expectations of the property owner & the reality of the finances of the "low bidder" pool builder quickly collide.

Remember the saying, "You get what you pay for" ??

Over the years I have been involved in many construction defect litigations. Most of these are a direct result of the a misalignment of the property owner's expectations and the reality of hiring the low bidder. While we'd all love to have a Bentley for the price of a Yugo, face it.... it isn't going to happen.

A quality project simply CAN NOT be built cheaply. There are minumum standards that must be met. Established concrete curing times must be followed. Masonry drying times are dictated by industry standards. And these are the MINIMUMS. To finish a project in a few months, means that something is being shortchanged. And you can bet that it is the quality.

"Good isn't cheap & cheap isn't good!"

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist
"Creating water as art."™

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Welcome Note:

Welcome to my BLOG where I'll discuss the creation of some of the worlds' most complex water shapes & swimming pools.

My projects are works of art, commissioned by clients who appreciate the knowledge and education that I have acquired, the money & time spent acquiring that knowledge, and the application of those skills to a design that is uniquely theirs.

This is how I have chosen to make my living... selling those skills that my clients do not have the time, energy, or inclination to acquire on their own. I in turn reward them with a project that exceeds their wildest expectations... in form, function, and execution.

Therefore, this will not become a "how to" blog.... for that you'll have to pay!