Posts Tagged ‘landscape architect’

NJ Swimming Pool Architecture-How Landscape Architects Can Kill Your Pool

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Let me start by saying I have a tremendous respect for landscape architects and their dedication and valuable contributions to the swimming pool industry. My goal here is to bring attention to companies that advertise as swimming pool architects who overlook best management practices that can compromise swimming pool structures.

Yes, it’s very important for a landscape architect to know municipal ordinances and where the sun rises and sets when designing a swimming pool.  It’s also important to know where the swim-out and the dive rock should be placed. But shouldn’t you expect more from your landscape architect or pool designer? What about safety, proper equipment function, and construction techniques? Just because a landscape architecture firm has designed a lot of properties that included a swimming pool doesn’t necessarily make them experts who can manage or build your luxury swimming pool.

This 20K Pebble Tec Plaster Upgrade is Ruined After Only 5 Years

There are some NJ landscape architecture firms who claim that they can save clients money by managing their swimming pool project. They tell the client that they can send the job out to bid, get them the best price, and manage the construction for a percentage of the swimming pool construction costs. In many instances, the low bid pool builders (who will give the landscape architect that “best price”) sub contracts most of the construction out to smaller companies. So that means the sub contractor of the low bidder is being managed by a landscape architect who more than likely has no construction experience. Does anyone else see the problem with this?

If you’re going to spend fifty thousand dollars on a swimming pool and then add a fifteen thousand dollar waterfall or a twenty thousand dollar vanishing edge, I’m sure you want to enjoy it for many years to come. That’s questionable at best, given this scenario, As the degree of difficulty in luxury pool building continues to rise and the economy continues to remain weak, it has created the perfect storm in the luxury swimming pool market. Low and mid-market pool builders now claim to be high-end builders. They are running to the luxury pool market (because it’s the only pool market left) despite lacking the necessary skills to build these extremely involved structures! In addition to that there are certain landscape architects who claim to have experience managing swimming pool construction. It’s become confusing for the consumer, and unfortunately the end result is a lot of failing pools.

Swimming pools have been the dominant feature in back yard designs for many years. Over the last ten years we have built some of the most intricate structures garnished with some of the most lavish finishes. Unfortunately, we have also seen a larger number of failures in structures and finishes due to poor construction techniques. Here are five of the thirty issues that will ruin your swimming pool which most landscape architects fail to address in their design specifications:

Soil Stability – The failure of many pools and patios stems from the soil on which the structures are built. On all the landscape architecture plans we have bid on in the last ten years, I have yet to see one plan with any specifications regarding poor soil conditions.

Rebound – What is rebound and why will it destroy your pool?  During the gunite installation material is pneumatically applied to create the pool shell. During the application, material that does not bond accumulates on the floor of the pool. This material is called rebound. Rebound should be discarded because it no longer contains structural qualities, but many pool companies don’t discard this material. They simply shovel the loose material into the walls and “flash” over it with fresh gunite. Once the material hardens it forms weak nonstructural pockets which can compromise the structural integrity of the pool vessel. This practice is against best management practices, but it is still a widespread problem in the industry.

This Vanishing Edge Swimming Pool Has Sever Structural Damage

Groundwater – How can groundwater compromise the inground swimming pool vessel?  Gunite needs 28 days to properly cure, but the first 48 hours are the most crucial. Fresh gunite that is exposed to groundwater can be structurally compromised. As the water infiltrates the newly applied gunite, it basically washes out the concrete and leaves the weakened aggregate behind. The problem with this usually becomes apparent several years down the road when the homeowner decides to upgrade the pool plaster and drains the pool. Once the pool is drained, the pressure relief plugs which normally allow the groundwater to enter the pool vessel and reduce the pressure on the pool shell are rendered useless. If the groundwater reaches weakened gunite before the pressure relief plugs, the pool will crack under pressure where the groundwater compromised the gunite during installation. In other words, a cosmetic upgrade becomes a difficult structural repair.

Improper Sealing- Most companies don’t properly seal their pools, and some don’t seal at all. Some use generic sealers that only deal with positive water flow but fail to address the negative flow of water through the gunite shell. This can lead to plaster or tile damage or, even worse, the structural failure of the gunite.

Pump Size and Function – Undersized pumps in a spa will ruin the whole experience. What’s the right size pool pump for your spa? Spas are getting larger and more elaborate, and there isn’t much worse than getting in your spa and having weak jets. Ok, a cold spa would definitely be worse, but you can easily fix a heater. For pumps, it’s very expensive to have to redo the plumbing if the pump and piping is undersized.

The economy is still hurting and the mid and low swimming pool markets have been annihilated, so everyone wants to build luxury pools. Meanwhile these luxury swimming pools are getting more intricate and harder to build, and your everyday pool company is not capable of building these extravagant structures. Given the climate of this perfect storm, it’s extremely dangerous to let landscape architects who don’t have the proper build experience manage your swimming pool construction. While having a landscape architect is so very important (that’s why we have one on-staff), someone with the proper pool building experience must oversee construction to ensure the safety, durability and reliability of the pool. In my years in the pool industry I have never seen specifications come out of a landscape architecture office that address essential best management practices. Without these specifications, it’s easy for swimming pool contractors and subcontractors to make mistakes or drop their price, earn a bid, and do a half-hearted, poor job without the landscape architect ever realizing what’s going on. It’s a scary situation, and these 5 issues are just the tip of the iceberg. To find out the solutions to these 5 issues and the 25 other critical specifications not addressed by most landscape architects, email me at chris@plantnj.com.

NJ Landscape Architects – Avoid Free Landscaping Plans at “All Costs”!

Friday, March 11th, 2011

NJ Landscape Architects – Avoid Free Landscaping Plans at “All Costs”!

 

Starting a great landscaping project with limited funds?  Here are five hardscape and planting suggestions that are GUARANTEED to save you THOUSANDS.

1.     Always start with a landscape plan (blueprint) prepared by a licensed landscape architect. This will ensure a balanced design and will allow you to phase the work as budgets permit.

2.     Pick materials and plants that will work within your budget. You can cut the cost of a project in half with the right choices in material. For instance, if natural stone isn’t in your budget, try pavers and save about 50%.  Larger trees and shrubs cost significantly more than smaller ones. Reduce the size and save 20 – 50%.

3.     Start the construction process by focusing on your main areas of concern, your focal point, and your most valuable asset. In general, focus on the areas you’re going to enjoy the most.

4.      When phasing a project, always look ahead to future portions of the project. Be sure to include any infrastructure components like conduit or irrigation lines early in the process so you don’t have to disturb your completed areas. An experienced landscape architect will help prevent you from doing things twice!

5.     At the start of every landscaping or swimming pool project, the best investment is a great set of plans prepared by a licensed landscape architect. A well thought-out set of plans takes a considerable amount of time to prepare, but they will help avoid hidden costs and minimize overruns in your custom landscape or swimming pool project. Don’t waste time with anyone offering you free landscaping or swimming pool plans. It’s a gimmick used to trap you into a situation where you never know the true value or cost of your project. Pay for the plans, and you will own the exclusive rights to them. Once they are in your hands, you can get an apples to apples comparison through a bidding process.

Please remember only a Licensed Landscape Architect can offer landscape architecture services. Anyone offering landscape architecture services must post their landscape architect’s name and license number issued by the state in which they practice. If any firm is advertising landscape architecture services and fails to post the proper credentials, please contact your state’s Board of Architects or your state’s Attorney General.

Bill Moore, Certified New Jersey Landscape Architect of Cipriano Landscape Design Goes Four for Four in Zoning Approvals for Custom Landscaping & Swimming Pool Projects.

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

RIDGEWOOD, NJ: The design = a modest-sized swimming pool for a small suburban lot.

The property = Special Flood Hazard Area (flood plain) in Ridgewood, NJ.

Cipriano Landscape Design is working within the New Jersey DEP guidelines to create a project with no additional fill in the flood plain. According to owner Chris Cipriano, “Re-vegetation of the disturbance area is also required while municipal guidelines dictate the design. Our team studied setbacks, percentage of impervious area on the lot and total percentage of above grade structures. We found that the percentage of above-grade structures seeking variance relief was over the maximum limit. Our lot was actually undersized for the zone it was in so if the lot actually met the minimum size, there would be no variance.”

Bill Moore, a Certified New Jersey Landscape Architect on the Cipriano Landscape Design team, created the design. A comprehensive site plan was devised by Cipriano Landscape Design’s site engineer. An application was presented to the DEP and a well-crafted and persuasive introduction by an attorney was part of the plan that was approved by the Ridgewood zoning board of adjustment.

Furthermore, Bill Moore received an approval for a variance from the Borough of Franklin Lakes to construct a temporary access road through a non-disturbance buffer. Moore worked with the site engineer to address the site drainage in formulating a cohesive plan. Cipriano Landscape Design also worked with the Borough of Franklin Lakes’ municipal engineer, municipal shade tree commission, neighbors and health officer.

In November 2008, Moore received approvals from the Borough of Saddle River for a soil moving plan for a newly constructed estate with a resort-like swimming pool complete with waterfalls and a grotto, multi-tiered patios, outdoor kitchen, and a full service cabana. The NJ landscape architecture firm’s biggest design challenge faced in this approval was getting an 8 foot waterfall within the 4 foot grade change limit.

Bill also contributed a landscape master plan for the Allendale Plaza “C” variance application granted in September 2008. The project started as an expansion to existing retail space. The Allendale zoning required a minimum number of parking stalls per square footage of retail space which the site could not accommodate. As part of seeking relief for the parking ordinance, the applicant proposed to make additional improvements to the property to benefit the neighboring businesses and residents. The role of Cipriano Landscape Design was to supplement the additional improvements portion of the application. Various parking island plant beds and perimeter plantings were carefully designed to create year ‘round interest with seasonal flower displays. Planting also included shade and flowering trees within the parking areas.