The design team
The key to creating a true backyard masterpiece is having the right design team. These projects typically involve many different professionals, such as architects, house designers, structural engineers, interior designers, landscape designers, landscape architects, and aquatic designers.
The design team should also communicate directly with the general contractor, pool contractor, landscape contractor, and other key sub-trades for the duration of the project. Constant interaction, communication, and collaboration amongst the entire team are a must to keep the project on schedule, on budget and, in the end, more productive and profitable for everyone. The design phase can be separated into four segments:
- The conceptual design
- The house design
- The aquatic design
- The landscape design
1. The conceptual design
An initial conceptual design should be created to illustrate how key project components will coincide with one another. This concept should include a layout of the complete property with the location of the house, pool, patio, decks, terraces, etc. Details and sketches of ideas relating to the project should be included as well.
Narrowing down what a client envisions with a concept design can eliminate wasted time and money towards revisions of plans and engineered drawings. A concept design usually will provide enough information to establish a rough project budget for the client. Some may have a budget in mind beforehand, but seldom do they understand what the true cost of their project will be. With a budget in place, an initial estimate can be prepared based on the features that are described in the concept design. This estimate should be solely for budgetary purposes since concepts usually lack sufficient detail to provide an accurate final estimate or quotation.
2. The house design
The house is typically designed and drafted by an architect or house designer. The plans will comprise the necessary details to construct the house. A typical set of house plans will include many details such as the foundation, framing, utilities (e.g. electrical, plumbing, gas), heating and ventilation (HVAC), floor plans, and room dimensions.
Plans will also include many construction details and cross sections to illustrate engineer-specified detail, construction techniques, and installation methods. Most plans are two-dimensional computer aided designs (CAD) from an overhead perspective. Today, 3D renderings have become prevalent for most upscale projects and are highly recommended. Most homeowners cannot visualize or associate a flat 2D drawing to what is being proposed and ultimately created. The design and construction process can be simplified for all involved if the client understands exactly what the end product will look like. This not only helps the client to visualize the project, but also aids the associated trades in understanding the vision of the design team. With most details completed, the house design is submitted to the municipality for approval and issue of permits associated with the project.
3. The aquatic design
An aquatic designer or pool builder has the knowledge to prepare a proper design which will include structural details, hydraulic engineering, equipment/mechanical specifications, utilities/ conduit locations, and material options/selections. Generally, a pool is the main component of this design, but it may also include a spa, water feature, or pond. The extent of details in the design will vary greatly depending on the design and type of pool.
A concrete pool (e.g. gunite, shotcrete, or cast-in place) requires a more detailed design and engineering compared to a pre-fabricated kit pool (e.g. vinyl liner or fibreglass). Suspended pools or those that share a foundation or other structural details with the home require substantial structural engineering. Proper expansion joints and isolation between the house and pool is important to protect the two structures from any damage that could be caused by seasonal expansion and contraction.
Since concrete is permeable, proper waterproofing of the entire pool structure should also be completed to protect the home from potential seepage and leaking of the pool shell. Indoor pools require many of the same construction details as an outdoor pool, but in addition will have significant mechanical, HVAC drawings produced. These details are required to properly handle the concerns of moisture and dehumidification within the indoor pool area.
Any watershape with complicated edge details such as an infinity pool, or perimeter overflow pool may require significant cross sections and 3D renderings to convey the vision. It is also advisable to use 3D renderings for any project involving multiple pool levels and grade changes.