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!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Expert Swimming Pool & Watershape Consulting Design and Engineering

Why do I need a Swimming Pool Design Expert?

Human nature being what it is, people simply do not want to admit that they do not know something.  Ignorance being what it is, people do not know what they do not know.

Ignorance is bliss!

Pride and ego's are the reasons many people refrain from asking for help.  They want to be something that they are not and are afraid to admit it - especially to a client.

Thoughtful Design

Design professionals know what questions to ask the clients.  Without the right information, a project simply cannot be designed for a client.  Anyone can ask for the elements that a client desires in their project.

An insightful designer will know what detailed questions to ask to ensure that the clients do not outgrow the project in future years.  This will save the clients tens of thousands of dollars in the future, by not having to remodel the project to fit those future lifestyle needs.

Knowledge is Power!

Because a designer works on projects around the world, they are constantly exposed to new technologies, construction practices, materials and design trends.

Their exposure to cutting edge technologies on high-end projects ensures that they are familiar with the latest and greatest construction methods and products available.  These could translate into a major cost savings on your project!

Their multinational and regional travel, advanced and continuing education and training ensures that they are familiar with the ever changing and evolving building codes, industry regulations and trade standards.

Installation technologies and methodologies are evolving as quickly as electronics technology.  Many of the new products and methods offer extended warranties and labor savings.

Industry Involvement

Most design professionals are actively involved in the industry at a national or international level.  This keeps them abreast of the proposed and pending changes to codes and regulations.  By designing ahead of the code changes, your project is surely to breeze through the plan check phase of your local building department.

All, simply because your project was design to codes that won't be adopted and enforced for a few years.  This also ensures that you will not run into an inspector or official who will misinterpret or apply the codes - your project is already ahead of the curve!

Cutting Edge

The lead designers in the field are always involved with state of the art projects.  This exposes them to the latest design trends, ideas and material applications.

Your project can only benefit because of the depth of their knowledge and the resources available to them.

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

Vanishing & Infinity Edge Swimming Pool Expert Witness, Watershape Consulting

Why would I need an Expert or Consultant?

There are actually many reasons... but, plan review, contractor competency evaluation and quality control are the primary reasons.

Plan Review

The more complex a project, the greater the need for an independent expert consultant.  The consultant will bring an objective voice to the evaluation of the plans and design.  The primary designer may have spent months developing a project plan.  Small details are easily overlooked on complex projects.  It simply avoids costly errors in the future by having the plans reviewed by a second set of "fresh eyes."

An evaluation of the plans can actually save the client money.   More economical methods or practices may be suggested that can save time and money.  The expert may have actually constructed or consulted on a project with similar details.  They can lend valuable insight and experience that will avoid cost overruns and delays.

Contractor Evaluation

The plans for many complex projects are developed by teams of designers and consultants.  The selection of the swimming pool contractor is usually left up to the general contractor on the project.  They will have their usual cast of characters, whom they will have bid on the project.  However, they may not have the competency to actually build the project.

An outside expert can evaluate the skills of potential contractors before contracts are signed.  If there are no local contractors who possess the necessary skills, then there are alternatives...

Ongoing Construction Consultation

The consultant can assist and guide the local contractor through the processes of construction where they lack the requisite skills.  The consultant is in effect, "teaching as they go."  The client has a local builder, yet the builder has the resource to guide them through the project.

Most don't know what they don't know... and the owner's of many failed or substandard swimming pools are living proof of contractor incompetence and ignorance.

Quality Assurance - Owner's Representative

As the  "Owner's Rep" (OR) the consultant ensures that the project is actually constructed as per the plans and contracts.  The OR ensures that the best industry and trade practices are adhered to.  The consultant documents the progress of the construction through digital imaging and written reports.

The OR will also ensure that the required independent inspections and materials testing are performed.  Since most owners do not know how to build a pool properly, the OR will ensure that their interests are protected.

Investing in an expert consultant to oversee the construction of your complex swimming pool project can actually save you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in future litigation, repairs, loss of property value and lost sleep.

Paolo Benedetti -  Consultant, Expert Witness, Construction Management
"Creating water as art."™
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa

Why INDUSTRIAL DESIGN? Infinity Edge swimming Pools and Spas

Italian Swimming Pool Designer Paolo Benedetti on "What is Swimming Pool Design?"


Industrial design is the formulation of an aesthetic and functional plan that considers the humanistic interaction with an object over it's lifespan.

Simply stated, it is the creation of a unique object with purpose, that evokes emotion and a sense of desire.

Why is industrial design important to your swimming pool?

Anyone can draw a shape on a piece of paper and then place manufactured products into the plan.  Simply arranging manufactured products around within a space does not take any talent.

Buying manufactured fire features, fountains, spillways or water spouts and placing them into a project is not design.  It is simply product placement.  And a monkey can do it.

Industrial design incorporates ergonomics, how the space will be utilized, lines of sight, color theory, both daily and seasonal natural lighting, shadows and highlights, demographics of the users and many other factors.

Evoking Emotion and Desire

A well designed project will seamlessly integrate with the architecture of the space and structures.  It will automatically evoke a sense of belonging... as if something would be missing if the elements were not there.

The selected colors and materials will evoke a sense of welcoming and warmth.  The viewer should want to become a part of the space.  It should silently extend an invitation to the viewer to want to investigate and explore the space.

The configuration and features of the space should slowly reveal themselves as the viewer meanders along.  The explorer should discover a new secret with each change in direction or view.

The elements should not be "in your face," over-whelming the viewer with sensory overload.  It should not be so busy, so as to confuse the viewer as to where to look next and where to go.

Confusion and Conflict

The improper use of color and materials can easily cause mental confusion.  The scene will become busy and conflicted... creating a space that makes the viewer feel uneasy.  Though they may not be able to "put their finger on it," something about the space makes them feel uneasy.

Colors that conflict with one another are the most common visual ulcers.  Bright red bricks or terracotta adjacent to green grass and plantings are the most commonly culprits.  But the use of any complementary colors near each other will cause this this same visual conflict.  Complementary colors are any colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel:

Yet, most people who design and build swimming pools do not understand these basic principals of design.  Busy red brick patterns abut white precast coping stones.  Bright green plantings, furniture or umbrellas stand as a stark contrast against the bricks.  It quickly becomes visual vomit... yet the viewer does not know why.

Designing with a Mission

Again, anyone can select products from a catalog and arrange them within a space.  But to be able to understand the client, what is emotional to them and what is of importance to them is the basis for the creation of the space.

Many clients are not even conscientiously aware of what is important to them.  By that I do not mean the inclusions of a pool, patio, bbq or fireplace... but rather the sense of emotion that they want the space to say about themselves.  A designer has got to get to know the clients, their interests and what "pushes their emotional buttons."

Additionally, the details incorporated into the project need to support the clients use of the space.  And the use of the space changes by the day of the week and the season of the year.

During the week, most residential spaces are not physically utilized.  They are however viewed...  Yet, on a weekend, the space comes alive with physical activity, parties, bbq's, children and the associated toys, umbrellas, chaises and chairs.

The seasonal use of a space should also be considered as well.  The type and placement of trees & shrubs may need to create privacy during the swim season.  Yet, during the winter months they may need to "open up" to allow light and sunshine.

Cast shadows and lines change with the seasons as well.  The strategic placement and angles of structures or elements of the design can create unique shadows.  Shadow also change the colors that we perceive as well.  These can all be used to create dynamic changes to the seasonal perspective.

Your designer and builder has to got to know a lot more about design, than merely drawing shapes and specifying parts from a catalog.

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

Thursday, May 24, 2012

This is pool construction - UNFORTUNATELY!

Globally renown Paris, France swimming pool & spa designer and builder, Paolo Benedetti, analyzes the "state of swimming pool construction" in America.

Unfortunately, this is what the world has come to expect... And sadly this is what 99% of the swimming pool industry thinks is an acceptable level of performance...

NOTE: The images below are not from any of our projects. They are images that were provided to me of a vanishing edge pool that was under construction. If your firm is responsible for this negative edge swimming pool project, please contact me.  I'll see that you get the requisite credit you deserve.


I don't mean an assassination - though if this was my pool I would be in the planning stages.

It's all in the execution of the details. I have always said, "It is the things that YOU DON'T SEE that make an exemplary project."  This does not just apply to the finish details.   Many of the details - from the development of construction drawings and documents, establishing elevations, building strong and sturdy forms, geotechnical investigation, engineered plans, correct steel reinforcement installation, proper hydraulics and plumbing practices, correct concrete placement and finishing, waterproofing and a possession of common sense - no one will ever see.  But those hidden details will forecast the eventual success and longevity of a project.


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

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Infinity & Vanishing Edge Pools - Preventing Leaky Weir Walls

Infinity and Vanishing Edge Pool Walls - Stopping the drips

I've had a number of requests for the addition of some graphics to help readers visualize the infinity edge weir wall and basin relationships.

The graphics will be hand drawings and not our usual computer drawings.  It is our intent to help you understand the concepts and not to provide a "cut and paste" work product on the Internet.

Where does the waterproofing go?

Since the vanishing edge wall is in effect a freestanding dam, it makes sense to incorporate waterproofing within the cement of the wall.  No matter what remodeling or work occurs in the future, there will always be that non-corruptible layer of protection.

I specify an additional layer of protection on the both surfaces of the wall, as well as inside the entire basin.  Any tile or stonework on the "dry side" of the vanishing edge wall or lining the catch basin, should extend down and into the minimum operating level of water that always remains (MOL).  Because the water level in the basin is constantly changing, the walls above the MOL are subject to constant wetting & drying.   Therefore any plaster based finish will be subject to shrinkage cracking.

The yellow highlighted area illustrates the minimum areas that should receive a topical waterproofing.  I prefer an elastomeric membrane topped with a compatible skimcoat of thinset (products from the same manufacturer).  This will ensure that the plaster will bond on the inside of the pool.  This membrane also prevents any moisture from intruding into the wall, since plaster is not waterproof.  Yes, you read that correctly, plaster is not waterproof.  It is after all, just cement and sand - and water does wick through cement based products.

 The yellow highlights indicate the minimal areas of waterproofing required.

Which way to tilt the weir?

It is a matter of preference.  I prefer to tilt the weir down and into the pool.  It creates the illusion that the pool is slightly larger than it actually is.

It is a fact of physics that water will always seek level.  It is also true that water will migrate via capillary action through cement.  If no waterproofing is employed on the vanishing edge wall, then water (2 large arrows on left) will quickly begin to seep through the mortar bed (green).

No matter which way the weir tilts, since the water level in the pool is higher than the potential exit point on the dry side, hydraulic pressure (weight) and gravity will force the water to pass through the mortar.  Left unchecked, over time the water in the pool would equalize with the exit point on the dry side of the wall (indicated by the blue line & double headed arrows to the right of the weir). 

Purple -  Granite tiles/slab
Green -   Mortar leveling bed
Pink -     Interior plaster/tile finish
Yellow - Dry side VE wall tile
Blue -     Water & migration paths
Blue Line - Equalization level

The water then migrates through the mortar bed, behind the dry side tiles.  As the water discovers cracks in the grout, some exits carrying with it dissolved salts (efflorescence).  The water will continue to flow through this mortar or in hollow areas behind the tiles, until it either encounters a dense area of mortar or a sound area of tile.  The remaining water will exit at this lower elevation, carrying with it a majority of the dissolved salts (hence a greater build up of efflorescence). (see the prior article on efflorescence).

By incorporating waterproof additives into the mortar bed, one can effectively seal the capillaries in the mortar, thereby retarding water migration.  The addition of a membrane a top the mortar bed, only leaves the layer of thinset (under the granite and tiles) as a possible migration path for the water.


The reinforcing shown in the drawings is not intended to represent the actual steel schedules one would utilize.  Instead, they are shown so that you understand how this all goes together.  However, the actual vanishing edge wall should never be less than 12 inches thick with double curtains of steel.  The exact wall thickness, steel size, spacing and placement is determined by the structural engineer.

The catch basin elevations were drawn arbitrarily.  Based upon a projects needs, the catch basin could be above, below or even with the pool floor.  The catch basin could even cantilever in mid-air.

Deepened keyway footings are shown in a drawing, but not every vanishing edge pool requires them.  Some require more elaborate foundations and others no specialized foundation.  The geotechnical engineer will outline this in his soils report for the structural engineer.

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

Monday, May 21, 2012

Reverse Osmosis Swimming Pool Water Purification

Swimming Pool Water Purification with Reverse Osmosis - Playing with Fire

Sanitizing your vanishing, negative or infinity edge swimming pool or spa with a Reverse Osmosis filtration system can have potentially devastating effects on any product that contains cement, minerals or metals.

Understand Water Chemistry

People who market "gimmicks" to the swimming pool industry, oftentimes come from other industries.  They have a "brainstorm" about how they might enlarge their markets, and enter new markets without "doing their homework."

The manufacturers of Reverse Osmosis filtration systems who market to the swimming pool industry and pool owners, simply did not understand the complex dynamics of swimming pool water chemistry. 

It's all about "the Balance"

Swimming pool water needs to be maintained in a complex balance of sanitizers, pH, alkalinity, and minerals.  If any of these get out of balance with the others, the water will seek to create it's own balance.

Potential damage to cements, thinsets, grouts or plaster can easily occur, even though the water chemistry readings appear normal.

It's Got to Come from Somewhere

Let's assume that a new pool had the water balanced prior to a Reverse Osmosis system being activated.  The water contained 300 parts per million (ppm) of calcium.

When the Reverse Osmosis system is brought on-line, it immediately attempts to remove EVERYTHING from the water.  This includes anything dissolved in the water: sanitizer (chlorine/bromine), minerals, metals, calcium...

Eventually, the calcium level drops in the pool water to the equilibrium point.  At this point, if the calcium level drops any lower, the water will begin to seek alternative sources of calcium to maintain that equilibrium.

So, begins the degradation of any material in constant contact with the water that contains calcium, minerals or metals.  Testing the water will indicate that the levels are okay.  What the test cannot and does not indicate, is the SOURCE of the calcium, minerals or metals.

As make up water is introduced to the pool from the fill line, alternative minerals are introduced.  These may be drawn out of the make-up water & into the plaster.  The plaster is attempting to re-balance itself with alternative minerals... and the plaster begins to degrade.  The plaster may begin to stain, soften, crumble or dust.

Metallic objects in contact with the water may also be "attacked" by this imbalance. The copper within the pool heater, heat pump or solar panels may begin to corrode.  The soft copper is easily attacked by aggressive water.  These components will begin to get thinner & thinner until they begin to leak.  This is why R.O. systems within a house are plumbed with only plastic tubing... the R.O. treated water will actually eat copper lines.

Issue caused by the Builder/Specifier

The responsibility of any resulting damage belongs to the pool builder or party that specified or installed the Reverse Osmosis Purification System.  A pool service company has no means to verify the source of balancing components of the pool water.  It simply is not a "service company" problem.

These units are installed as a side-stream purification system.  They work in parallel with the primary filtration system.  So, they are removing minerals from the water faster that the minerals are being replaced.  Eventually the equilibrium point is reached & the water begins to extract minerals from any alternative source it can.

NO TEST exists that can determine the SOURCE of the minerals present in the water, so the damage continues unchecked... until visible damage has already occurred.   The first sign is usually mineral staining or crumbling grout.

If the system only treated the fill (make-up) water, then the dilution of the pool water may never reach the equilibrium point.  This is because as water evaporates, the minerals are left behind.  The mineral concentration increases from evaporation, while the R.O. treated water with zero minerals, dilutes the remaining water.  This is not to say that the equilibrium point would never be reached.  It all depends on how fast the minerals concentrated & how fast they were removed.

But, because the R.O. system is only treating the make-up water and not treating the entire pool when ever the filtration system is running, the calcium levels tend to stay high.

This same situation can occur by installing a water softener on the make-up water line.  In areas with extremely high mineral levels in the drinking water, a water softener on the fill line will help keep the pool water from becoming so hard that calcium deposits develop everywhere (hard water spots or a line on the waterline tiles).

Don't buy into a program because of a company or salesman's pitch.  A builder or specifier needs to understand how the system works, how it effects the water chemistry and any potential detrimental effects it may cause to the project.

One way to enjoy Reverse Osmosis water

The only way to safely enjoy reverse osmosis water in your swimming pool... is to drink a glass of it while floating in the pool.

It is virtually impossible to create a pool that does not contain SOME metal components.  Even a vinyl liner pool with plastic pipes & pumps would contain metal in the heaters, fixture screws, handrails and pump shaft seals - there is going to be metal in contact with the water.  And water without ANY MINERALS is like a giant wild hog... constantly looking for something to eat.  And it will not stop until is is satisfied...

R.O. systems utilized for drinking water in a household are fabricated with plastic tubing, fittings and ceramic faucet seals.  No metal is in contact with the R.O. water until it actually passes through the faucet spout... the last 3-4 inches before entering your glass (not long enough to dissolve the faucet).

You sold it... you own it!  

Any damages cause by this type of equipment is the responsibility of the builder/specifier and manufacturer.  The pool builder/specifier will need to repair any resulting damages and the manufacturer will be financially liable for those repairs.

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


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

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tile and Masonry Efflorescence - An unavoidable cancer

Efflorescence is virtually unavoidable in construction that includes cement products that are exposed to water.  Place these materials in water or run water over them for hours each day and you are bound to develop these white crystalline growths.

Construction Defect?
Well, not exactly... and maybe so.  Why the ambiguity?  While efflorescence cannot be totally eliminated, sound construction practices can surely reduce it's development.  Sloppy and lazy construction practices that do not employ protections from moisture intrusion are to blame for most cases of severe efflorescence.

Understanding the Cause
Clients always complain about the development of efflorescence.  Many mistakenly see the efflorescence as an indication that something is leaking.  In most instances, the moisture is not migrating through a structure for the efflorescence to develop.  The water is merely saturating the surface and activating the salts.

Most efflorescence develops from moisture that penetrates through the grout, cracks in the grout, stucco or mortar.  This water can be from irrigation, rain, or merely water spilling over a vanishing edge wall.  Once the water gets under the surface veneer, whether it be tile, stone, stucco or plaster, gravity takes over.  The water will flow down behind the veneer until is reaches a point of maximum saturation or a point where the veneer is soundly attached.

At this point the water will work it's way towards the surface that offers the least resistance.  As is does, it activates the salts in the cement products.  These salts can be chlorides, sulphates or bicarbonates.  These little crystals travel in the water, and as the water dries, the crystals harden.  Just like the hard water spots on the glasses in your dishwasher.

As these salts dry and harden, they develop a white salty crust, or efflorescence.  Since it is a chemical reaction between the cement products, water and air, the development of efflorescence will eventually stop.  But when it will stop is any one's guess.  It may continue for decades.

 An Ounce of Prevention...
Since all cement products require some calcium, that component of the equation cannot be eliminated.  Keeping air away from the cement products is virtually impossible.  That leaves the management of the intrusion of water.... preventing the water from entering the cement and activating the calcium salts.

Most property owners hire contractors based upon their bids... the bottom line.  And these "bottom line" guys are not including the safeguards and measures required to minimize the development of efflorescence.  You can't have it both ways.... pay for the prevention or live with the consequences (sounds a a lot like a talk my dad had with me as a teenager).

Stop the Migration
The prevention of moisture migration begins with the structure.  Cements can be fortified with a variety of additives that can make the cement denser, activate the calcium salts or close the microscopic capillaries that allow water to dampen the cement.  Manufactured cement products such as mortars can also be fortified in this manner.

Concrete based building materials, such as CMU blocks, prefabricated concrete panels or tilt-up walls can be sprayed with penetrating chemicals that react with these salts, binding them to the cement.  This prevents water from activating the salts and creating efflorescence.  The resulting matrix of the concrete is oftentimes water resistant as well, as the capillaries have been closed up.

 Surface barriers that prevent water from entering the concrete can also be applied to the concrete structure.  These barriers can be cementitious, clay, petroleum or latex based products.  The more flexible the barrier is, the more it will be able to span small fissures and cracks in the underlying concrete structure.

Even structural engineers do not understand the principals behind efflorescence. Many see efflorescence and immediately assume that a vessel is leaking.  However, the totality of the situation must be investigated.

If the exposed side of a vanishing edge wall is developing efflorescence, I would not immediately jump to the conclusion that the wall is leaking.  Since the wall is saturated for 2-4 hours per day, the tile is in effect flooded with water.  The water infiltrates the grout and the underlying thinset.  When the water stops flowing, the water begins to evaporate & the crystals begin to activate.  If the water level above the wall did not show signs of loss (a bucket or dye test), then the wall is probably not leaking.

A keen indication of this, is if there are vertical indications of efflorescence.  These will usually follow hairline cracks in the grout or tiles.  As the water evaporates from these small fissures, efflorescence also develops.  The heaviest build up of efflorescence will usually be at the bottom of the fissure, or the point where the water met resistance to further downward flow.  At this point, the water can only go outward towards the surface... bringing with it efflorescence - and hence the heavier build up.
Most of the time, the lack of expansion joints on these large expanses of tile causes them to delaminate from the wall.  The hollow space behind the tiles is a perfect freeway for the water to travel on.  Tapping on the tile with the handle of a screwdriver will identify hollow sounding areas of delamination.

The water usually enters through small cracks at the top of the wall & travels behind the tile through these delaminated areas.  Large layers of mortar a top the vanishing edge wall can also allow water to migrate across the top of the wall & leak behind the tile veneer.

If the water was leaking through the wall, cracks would be clearly visible on the water side of the wall.  Additionally, if the water was migrating through the wall, then iron oxides (rust) would be visible as well from the corroding reinforcing steel.  Saline pools would experience an accelerated level of corrosion from the presence of the salt water.

Use High Quality Materials
Besides subscribing to a waterproofing program prior to and during construction, one must utilize high quality materials.  Mortars that are site mixed by masons seem to be the worst offenders.

Factory mixed and bagged setting materials undergo quality control inspections as to their blend, particle sizes and purities.  Generic home improvement store brands do not perform as well as name brand products with warranties.

While these extra measures cannot guarantee that a project will not develop efflorescence, they will minimize the effects and reoccurring maintenance associated with cleaning efflorescence from the surface veneers.  The results are that the surface veneers will look better and last longer, as they will not be subject constant aggressive cleaning chemicals, acids and abrasives.

Even epoxy grouts contain a disclaimer against the development of efflorescence.  The epoxy compounds only replace a portion of the cements... therefore the remaining cements (with lime/calcium salts) can develop efflorescence.

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

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Aquatic Design Watershape Consultant Engineering Paolo Benedetti - Know the Law!

In many states individuals or businesses are not allowed to provide aquatic"design services" without proper licensing.  California is one such state.

Know the Law
In California only licensed design professionals - that means only CA State Licensed architects, landscape architects and engineers may design swimming pools  in California.  State Licensed swimming pool contractors are also allowed to design projects that they propose to construct.  The Business and Professions Code does not recognize any other groups as being allowed to design swimming pools.

Out of State Firms
Though that out of state firm may have a great looking website, be sure to check on their license status in the State where you live.  That firm in Arizona or Florida that designs swimming pools is not allowed to perform design services in California, if they are not California licensed design professionals or swimming pool contractor.

Why is does this matter?
Let's say you hire a local contractor to build the out of state firms' design.  After construction, to everyone's dismay and surprise, the project does not function properly (actually, this is a really common occurrence!).

Everyone begins to sue everyone else.  And guess who gets to sit idly by and watch the festivities?  You guessed it, the out of state entity that was the root cause of the design defects.

Licensed design professionals carry "E&O" insurance (errors and omissions).  Licensed contractors carry liability insurance.  These exist to protect you from a careless or faulty design.

Reciprocal Licensing
States that require licensing of design professionals, usually have reciprocal agreements with other states that also require licensing.  If you are set on hiring an out of state designer, architect or engineer for your next project, inquire if they are licensed in your state.  If not, it usually only requires the payment of a small fee and a short application.

National Licensing
While there are a number of professional organizations that certify design professionals, none has been recognized across all 50 states.  Therefore, a certified/licensed member of any national or international professional design organization (e.g. SWD, AIA, ASLA, APLD, etc.) is still required to hold the requisite license in the states in which they do business.

It's for YOUR protection
Design professionals that maintain licenses in the state where they do business, illustrate that they are professional and responsible.  They respect the laws and abide by the licensing requirements.  Your state passed licensing requirements to protect the public from faulty designs and construction (let's face it, a lot of contractors cannot fight their way out of wet paper sack).  Laws are passed because there was an issue that needed to be addressed.....

Hire only properly licensed parties and say no thanks to unlicensed firms!

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