By Bruce Riley
Fire is mesmerizing; for some it brings them inner peace and tranquility. Water has a similar effect—especially the sound of moving water—as it creates a serene, relaxing environment. Therefore, builders who have the ability to combine these features on a pool project will be able to heighten the client’s attraction to their new outdoor oasis and, as a result, get more enjoyment out of their backyard.
The trend of incorporating fire and water elements in and around pools is on the rise. In fact, there are many options available (natural gas and propane units) which combine fire and water features for use on pools. Fire (and light) also enhances the effect of water elements—especially at night; therefore, it is important pool builders take the time to present two sides to every project—daytime and nighttime pool use. By doing so, builders will find themselves selling more accessory-related products and, as a result, increase profits while ensuring customers are happy with their backyard investment.
Day versus nighttime pools
Naturally, pool builders discuss the details of the client’s project (e.g. the pool’s shape and surrounding landscape elements) during the day; however, it is important not to forget what the finished project will look like at night.
“You have to help the homeowner visualize and plan how they will be able to use their pool and outdoor living space at night,” says Glen MacGillivray of Aqua-Tech Pools Ltd., in Winnipeg. “For instance, if you do not plan to include pool lighting, the homeowner will have a big black hole in their backyard, which will not be inviting, nor will it be safe.”
Some homeowners often neglect to think about how their pool and backyard will function at night so this becomes the job of the builder or backyard designer to add strategic nighttime lighting and other effects that draw the client outside even after the sun has gone down.
“Even if the homeowner does not think they will be swimming at night, they will likely say they plan to sit outside and enjoy conversation or entertain nearby the pool, close to a warming element,” says MacGillivray.
It does not matter whether the project is a new build or a renovation, pool builders and landscapers should take the time to include a warming element (e.g. fire pit, fire table, or fireplace) in the design.
Homeowners look to their backyard professional to incorporate these fire features so they get more enjoyment out of their pool and outdoor living space at night.
In the past, builders exclusively provided lighting options around the pool to illuminate the backyard for nighttime use. However, fire features have become much more economical over the last five to eight years, many of which now include integral water features that allow pool builders to capitalize on the mesmerizing effects of fire and water around a pool.
Whether natural gas or propane-fired, there are numerous sizes and designs available at multiple price points. This makes it easy for today’s builders to incorporate a combination of fire and lighting features to accentuate water elements from various angles.
Installing fire features around water elements, whether on or near a waterfall or grotto, creates a striking visual, as the dancing flames reflect off the water’s surface. The addition of fire also adds function and dramatic ambiance when entertaining or enjoying the pool at night.
“When fire features for pools were not as prevalent, we used, and continue to use, lighting built into the water features,” says MacGillivray. “Not only do we include underwater pool lights, but we also insert colour-changing fibreoptic light bars into the artificial rock water features by cutting out a slot and tucking them inside to heighten the dramatic effect.”
Traditional fire features that require the installation of gas lines are more expensive and tend to be easier to sell on new construction projects. That said, fire features are not for everyone, but overall they are an excellent sales tool.
“When we do a sales presentation for a potential client, we always use 3D design software to illustrate our proposal and the fire elements we include get the client excited about the project—even if they do not end up having one installed,” says Dan Lenz of All Seasons Pool & Spa in Orland Park, Ill.
From a sales perspective, fire features tend to pull the client into the proposal, even if they are the first thing they cut from the project when they start to budget how much they want to spend. Fortunately, today, there are also low-cost fire features (fuelled by propane tanks), which can be easier to sell to clients not only on new pools, but also renovation projects. The propane tanks are hidden within the unit and are capable of operating for at least six hours.