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A behind the scenes look at a pool and landscape project in Ontario’s Muskoka region

By Barry Justus, Baldo Gucciardi, and Michael Flint

pool final- favorite
Careful co-ordination and scheduling was required to ensure the project was completed without going over budget.

During the winter of 2013, Poolscape Inc., was referred by International Landscaping Inc., to a soon-to-be-built large residential estate project in Ontario’s Muskoka region. The project was a new build, a luxurious cottage with impressive sightlines and an elegant modern design overlooking Lake Rosseau. The client’s vision for the landscape was to capture the natural feel of the surroundings, but also blend this with a sense of luxury and sophistication the new residence provided.

That said, special consideration had to be given to the following:

  • The design, which had a compressed initial timeframe that would be ongoing throughout the course of construction.
  • Site preparation, which would involve blasting, surveying, set-up, and logistics.
  • Structural concrete, which would include a pool, spa, bunker, cantilevered decks, and sports court/garage.
  • Landscape, which would include all softscaping (e.g. soil, trees, plants, etc.), hardscaping (retaining walls, stonework, etc.), drainage systems, boat dock, and sports court.
  • Project management, which would involve handling all trades, utilities, site logistics, permits, environmental management, and co-ordinating with neighbours.

As with many projects, there was an initial landscape plan to contend with and bid on. However, after meeting with the client and explaining the deficiencies in the original plan, the greenlight was given to go ahead and start from scratch. After an intense period of design work, the new concept plan was presented to the client, along with a pricing proposal. As a result, Poolscape and International Landscaping were chosen to build this large-scale project.


1_pool sequence early conceptual design
On this project, 3-D renderings were used to guide the engineering firm(s) through the proposed installation method.

For projects with vast grade changes that are very difficult to show in a standard two-dimensional computer-aided design (CAD) drawing, 3-D presentations are a much more effective selling tool.

Most clients, and quite a few designers, have difficulty visualizing a concept in 2-D. Clients become immersed in the design process when they can visualize the finished result—even in a basic 3-D design.

On this project, 3-D renderings were used to guide the engineering firm(s) through the proposed installation method. For instance, the pool, spa, and cantilevered shallow-lounging area were fully suspended and built directly over top of the mechanical room and lounge area.

The property’s varying elevations were also used as a design advantage, whereby incorporating a dual-side vanishing edge pool, which would allow the client to see the water ‘vanish’ from the cottage perspective, as well as from the traditional pool deck vantage point.

At the opposite end of the property, a unique sports court, suspended above a sports utility garage, was also incorporated into the design. Once again, 3-D design was imperative to this part of the project, as the client did not want the sports court to dominate the view when passing through the gated entrance to the cottage.

The landscape plan was completed at the same time as the structural and engineering plans. The sheer scope of the project combined with the steep-sloped property and the overriding environmental concerns made this an exceptionally challenging undertaking. The level of detail in the design work was staggering. Every light, drain, electrical conduit, and stone pattern needed to be plotted, installed, and checked. Sample mock-ups were created at the landscaping firm’s indoor showroom for the customer to choose pool and deck tiles, lights, pillar caps, stonework patterns, as well as make a myriad of other decisions.

Standard 2-D CAD drawings were used for permit acquisition and detailed working and construction drawings for the project.

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