Project Planning & Tips, Lifestyle & Seasonal

Taking the Plunge- Adding a Backyard Patio or Pool

CW: Almost all of my customers welcome my suggestions when it comes time to picking out style and color. It’s hard for them to picture different combinations, so a lot of the time, they rely on my expertise in choosing what to go with.

EPH: Do you use software to help them visualize your concept?

CW: I have been using Sketch Up to design our pool and hardscape projects for seven years now.  It is an absolutely invaluable tool to communicate my ideas to the customers.  When I go to an initial meeting with a customer, we talk about different ideas and concepts and most are not able to visualize what I am trying to tell them.  They also may have ideas but are not exactly sure how to lay it out.  This is where Sketch Up comes into play.  I am able to take those ideas and turn them into a realistic visualization of the project.  We are then able to sit down and actually discuss a retaining wall in a certain location, upsize a patio if it appears too small or see lounge chairs or patio furniture in place to see if there is enough room.  The nice thing about Sketch Up is that I am able to scale the project very accurately.  This helps in figuring square footages, estimating the job and laying out the project when it is sold. This way I am not ordering too much or too little material, or constructing the project too big or small.

I’ve found that Sketch Up is very easy to use after some training and practice; and there are numerous training videos online to help beginners.  Additionally, it lets you download models from other users to upload into your design.

EPH: In the past, a pool was either a rectangle or kidney shaped? What’s changed so that almost any shape can be made these days?

CW: Customer preference has changed the way we design and build pools. Most want a natural or free form pool and want to get away from the simple rectangle. Especially in the past 5-10 years, Hardscaping has become immensely popular around pools. Pool pavers are replacing concrete, bullnose pavers or other coping stones are replacing the traditional aluminum coping, free standing walls are providing more seating around the pool and fire has taken its place next to water. Swimming pools aren’t the simple “cookie cutter” pools with a little concrete decking poured around them anymore, they are outdoor paradises.

EPH: Each year, more and more families turn their backyards into unique and entertaining patio paradises. We think it’s safe to say, outdoor living has transformed from a trend into a way of life.

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