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How to keep projects in line with the client’s vision and budget

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To create a backyard retreat that co-ordinates with the client’s lifestyle, home, budget, and surrounding environment, a number of items must be considered.

By Barry Justus, SWD

It can be extremely difficult for potential pool owners these days when it comes to selecting a builder to create their backyard oasis. The terms custom, unique, design, designer, and experience are possibly the most overused expressions in the pool and landscape industry. Further, a quick glance at the vast majority of pool and landscape vendor websites reveals virtually the same product. As a result, it can be challenging for the consumer to differentiate between the various companies and sort through all of the marketing hype, and big promises.

Obviously, there are exceptions to this as there are a number of companies across the country capable of installing very innovative well-built projects; however, do homeowners really want a ‘cookie-cutter’ pool with a small surrounding deck, ladder, and diving board? Or, do they want a backyard retreat that co-ordinates with their lifestyle, home, budget, and surrounding environment? To do the latter successfully, there are a number of items to consider when meeting a client and reviewing their property for a potential project.t can be extremely difficult for potential pool owners these days when it comes to selecting a builder to create their backyard oasis. The terms custom, unique, design, designer, and experience are possibly the most overused expressions in the pool and landscape industry. Further, a quick glance at the vast majority of pool and landscape vendor websites reveals virtually the same product. As a result, it can be challenging for the consumer to differentiate between the various companies and sort through all of the marketing hype, and big promises.

Budget

Without a doubt, budget will dictate material choices, design elements, and the overall feel of a project. That said, this figure needs to be established prior to discussing the project. Most clients may have spoken to their friends about ‘ballpark’ pool pricing, and few will understand the nuances of design that can dramatically alter the pricing structure.

Designing a space without a budget can be an exasperating experience for all involved. One idea is to show the client a portfolio of past projects and outlining various line item costs to give them a good sense of what value can be placed on the different options. A client who says they do not have a budget can only mean one of two things: they are truly wealthy or they have no idea what the true cost will be.

Another useful approach is to design the same space with various finishes. Pricing the base structure without a finish allows the client to control budget, while giving them a well-thought-out plan. For example, walls can be clad in stone or stucco, pools can be concrete, vinyl, plaster, or all tile. It is more important to get the design elements correct by sacrificing some of the finishing materials than having a poor design with high-end finishes.

Intended use

Some clients may even have very clear ideas in mind with regard to how they plan to use the space. For example:

  • They like to entertain (bar, swim-up bar, seating areas, fire pits, large patios, outdoor kitchens, bathrooms, sound systems);
  • Child friendly (safety, depth, swim jets, splash pads, raised walls for jumping, automated pool covers, chemical free);
  • They want to impress (fire features, all-tile pools, perimeter overflow, outdoor TV and audio systems, lighting effects, water features, custom spas, elaborate, exclusive designs and finishes);
  • Fitness (large commercial style swim jets, lap pools, chill therapy pools, hot spas, climbing walls over water, sports equipment); or
  • Art (highly interested in the visual component, fine finish levels, lighting, unique design elements, open to extraordinary materials and designs).
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