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Ushering a full-featured backyard design through to final form can be complicated, observes Kurt Kraisinger. That's why, as he writes in the third article in this four-part series, he guides his clients through an interactive process he credits with smoothing the pathway to success.
Ushering a full-featured backyard design through to final form can be complicated, observes Kurt Kraisinger.  That's why, as he writes in the third article in this four-part series, he guides his clients through an interactive process he credits with smoothing the pathway to success.
By Kurt Kraisinger

Most successful designers have a bit of show business in them. Whether you play the sophisticated artiste or radiate a quiet competence, it’s all about making a connection with a client who is asking you to participate in a significant project, whatever your personality or approach.

I’ve always wondered how those at the extremes of the personal-style spectrum find work, but the fact of the matter is that all of us, designers and clients alike, are individuals who respond in different ways to different triggers – and I know for a fact that the way I work isn’t for everyone simply based on the fact that we don’t win every contract we pursue.

For all that, however, we at Lorax Design Group (Overland Park, Kans.) have developed our own pattern and have found that it works for us often enough to

Building a project to another designer's plan can be awkward when you notice flaws you might have helped address. In this case, notes Tanr Ross, the results were truly spectacular -- but assessing the 'deficiencies' taught him valuable lessons he'll always carry with him.
Building a project to another designer's plan can be awkward when you notice flaws you might have helped address.  In this case, notes Tanr Ross, the results were truly spectacular -- but assessing the 'deficiencies' taught him valuable lessons he'll always carry with him.
By Tanr Ross

As a pool designer, my preference is to sit down with prospective clients, listen to what they have to say about a pending project and, working with their ideas, the site and the budget, come up with a program that makes all of us happy and proud. For the most part, that’s the way things go for me these days.

But I also know that, on certain occasions, it’s necessary to go with the flow.

In the project covered here, for example, a super-affluent property owner had called on a respected architect to

In the second part of his series on the design process, Kurt Kraisinger takes us through the initial stages -- client contact, site visits, design meetings and more -- as the pieces of the puzzle scattered across Part 1 begin to coalesce into a coherent, workable design scheme.
In the second part of his series on the design process, Kurt Kraisinger takes us through the initial stages -- client contact, site visits, design meetings and more -- as the pieces of the puzzle scattered across Part 1 begin to coalesce into a coherent, workable design scheme.
By Kurt Kraisinger

Each custom design project is, of course, different from any other. The client may be a known quantity, but the site and the budget won’t be and, as professionals, we always end up responding to unique sets of variables with eyes wide open.

In the first part of this series, we looked at the disembodied details and components that made up one of these unique design packages. Starting with this part and continuing into the next, we’ll examine at what was involved in assembling that particular set of features and, in this article, look specifically at how my collaboration with the client proceeded from initial contact to acceptance of a preliminary design.

Obviously, what I’ll describe here is

0Long known for his advocacy of the power of positive thinking, Brian Van Bower explains why he's also done all he can as a watershaper to get involved, stay involved and become part of social communities that have helped him advance his professional agenda for decades.

 

Instead of using soils and structural engineers to prepare plans tailored to a site's specific needs, builders sometimes order generic engineering plans and hope everything will work out for the best. That's a debatable decision, writes Paolo Benedetti, for reasons he lays out here.
Instead of using soils and structural engineers to prepare plans tailored to a site's specific needs, builders sometimes order generic engineering plans and hope everything will work out for the best.  That's a debatable decision, writes Paolo Benedetti, for reasons he lays out here.
By Paolo Benedetti

In recent years, I’ve witnessed or participated in enjoyable conversations about the fact that pools, spas, fountains and other waterfeatures are now more complex than they’ve ever been. What I’ve heard and seen less often, however, is equivalent bantering about the fact that engineering plans for such projects must keep pace if these elaborate watershapes are to perform – as they should – well into the future.

In this context of progress and success, it should trouble watershapers that large numbers of builders persist in relying on generic structural plans when it’s time to break ground on their projects – even on those that

Words matter, says Paolo Benedetti, so he asks everyone to stop referring to 'waterproof concrete.' Yes, you can coat it or add things to the mix to make it impermeable, but no, without help, not even the best-formulated, densest batch will be able to keep water at bay -- and here's why.
Words matter, says Paolo Benedetti, so he asks everyone to stop referring to 'waterproof concrete.'  Yes, you can coat it or add things to the mix to make it impermeable, but no, without help, not even the best-formulated, densest batch will be able to keep water at bay -- and here's why.
By Paolo Benedetti

No matter the method by which it is applied, concrete is a fascinating material.

The history books tell us that it’s been in use for thousands of years – as far back as 6500 BC, when it was used by Bedouins to make cisterns in which they collected and kept water underground in desert climates.  

The ancient Greeks used concrete, too, as did the Assyrians and especially

1 24 18KS0Taking control of the plastering process is within reach of any quality-oriented designer or builder, declares Kim Skinner.  To help you on your way, he offers this step-by-step guide to managing what should happen on site before, during and after plaster application takes place.

 

 

 

0After years of serving as an expert witness in construction-defect cases, Paolo Benedetti knows what can happen when contractors fail to deliver the expected results.  Here, he covers a set of practices aimed at keeping builders on the right path -- and out of the courtroom.

10-year logoBy Brian Van Bower

‘When I teach seminars on watershape design,’ wrote Brian Van Bower in opening his Aqua Culture column ten years ago, ‘I always emphasize the importance of having a list of questions to ask prospective clients during initial conversations.  It’s a point that always seems to ignite discussion – and it usually ends up with someone in the audience asking me to provide such a document for general use.

‘I always refuse to do so, not because I

10-year logoBy Brian Van Bower

‘Anyone who runs a good business knows that day-to-day operations are so all-consuming that it’s difficult to step back and scope out where you fit within your corner of the industry.’

‘We can’t give those daily details short shrift,’ wrote Brian Van Bower in opening his Aqua Culture column in the December 2006 issue of WaterShapes.  ‘Still, it occurs to me that . . . our daily endeavors need to be

10-year logoBy Brian Van Bower

‘If you’ve been paying any attention to the media lately,’ wrote Brian Van Bower at the start of his Aqua Culture column in WaterShapes’ November 2006 edition, ‘you may have noticed that watershaping is “in” as a big-time topic for television, books, magazines, newspapers and other forms of mass communication.’  

‘Never in all my years as part of this industry can I recall a time during which the subject of

15yearsagoBy Brian Van Bower

‘I’ve always been excited by innovation.  I place creativity high on my list of aspirations and priorities in my own business, and I think my life gets most interesting when I’m involved with people who are similarly attuned to this desire to do and try new and interesting things.’

That’s how Brian Van Bower opened his

5-yrsBy Bruce Zaretsky

‘We water and landscape professionals literally shape the outdoor environments in which we work – cutting grades, building walls, planting trees, installing pools, ponds and fountains and preparing patios, decks, planting beds and lighting systems.’

‘In designing these outdoor-living spaces,’ noted Bruce Zaretsky in kicking off his On the Level column in

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