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200003BVB0By Brian Van Bower

I’ve been paying attention to what goes on in this industry for a long time, and I’d have to say that these times are better than any I’ve ever witnessed.  And it’s not just me:  I talk all the time with people all over the country, and it’s probably not going out on much of a limb to say that most of us are having the best times we’ve ever had.

Everywhere you look, people are pressing as hard as they can to keep up with the demands being placed on them.  And it’s true even in

When concrete shells crack, trouble is near at hand: The emerging cracks are sure to grow, and water will eventually leak out of the watershape to create a cascade of additional problems. Unfortunately for the homeowner, the options here are few and can be very costly. In this feature, an expert in crack remediation and shell repair explores those options and discusses the techniques he uses to shore up severe structural cracks in a reliable and permanent way.
When concrete shells crack, trouble is near at hand: The emerging cracks are sure to grow, and water will eventually leak out of the watershape to create a cascade of additional problems. Unfortunately for the homeowner, the options here are few and can be very costly. In this feature, an expert in crack remediation and shell repair explores those options and discusses the techniques he uses to shore up severe structural cracks in a reliable and permanent way.
By Mike Gravenmier

Despite everyone’s best intentions, concrete structures sometimes crack.  If those cracks occur in the shell of a pool, spa or other watershape and are big enough, they’ll eventually leak – which often leads to development of even bigger cracks and far larger headaches for everyone involved.

In many cases, nobody is to blame.  You might have worked under the guidance of a geologist or engineer and used good construction practices in building a structure meant to withstand the tests of soils that expand, contract, shift, settle and occasionally quake, but structural cracks are a fact of life.  You can

200001JM0By Jim McNicol

Last month we covered the “hows” of grounding pretty well.  Using the definitions from the National Electrical Code (NEC) for guidance, we saw that in order to be considered effectively grounded, the non-current-carrying metal parts of all equipment associated with a watershape must be connected to the system grounding bus at the electrical service panel.  

This is accomplished by installing a green-colored (or green with a yellow stripe), minimum No. 12 AWG insulated copper conductor between the equipment’s grounding terminal and the system grounding bus.  This conductor is

200001BVB0By Brian Van Bower

Throughout my entire working life, I’ve never moved too far away from the water.  From my early days as a pool manager (beach bum) at a resort hotel in Miami Beach through many years in pool service and still today, I’ve always worked and played in and around water.

Whatever it is about bodies of water that infects people’s spirits and pushes their internal fun buttons, I have it bad:  I love to sail, fish and snorkel, I like living near bodies of water and I just love to look at water.  On top of all that, I’m a Pisces.

If there’s one thing I find that I tend to have in common with my customers, it’s this passion for things aquatic and the pleasures that come along with them.  This is powerful stuff, and I’ve come to believe that our innate fascination rises to an even higher level of drama and interest when

200111DT0By David Tisherman

People who know me are aware of the fact that I can be quite outspoken.  They know I’ve been extremely critical of the pool and spa industry and have made it my crusade to argue that, as an industry, we need to elevate our game.  My particular concern lately has to do with the areas of design and presentation.  

Before I get started, please note that what I’m about to say is directed mainly to readers who come to WaterShapes through what is traditionally labeled as the pool and spa industry.  (To be sure, this information should also be of interest to those of you who come to watershaping from the landscape industry because it

200110BVB0By 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.  

Fortunately, I’ve had the benefit of associating with highly innovative people through the years who’ve shared the creative process with me, taught me a lot and made the ride extremely enjoyable – and fruitful.  These experiences have filled me with a desire to be out front myself with innovative and creative ideas.

I often wonder where we would all be if some of us weren’t willing to

It’s a given that watershapers need to maintain close control over design, engineering and construction, especially when they’re working on complex projects and/or challenging sites. That control, says landscape architect and pool builder Mark Holden, can only begin with a clear understanding of the site in topographical and geological terms – an understanding that calls for familiarity with surveys and all the valuable information they offer.
It’s a given that watershapers need to maintain close control over design, engineering and construction, especially when they’re working on complex projects and/or challenging sites.  That control, says landscape architect and pool builder Mark Holden, can only begin with a clear understanding of the site in topographical and geological terms – an understanding that calls for familiarity with surveys and all the valuable information they offer.
By Mark Holden

Whether it’s done using only a tape measure and a pair of experienced eyeballs or requires the help of satellites orbiting the planet, every construction project is surveyed before the work begins.  In fact, surveyors have been plying their trade for thousands of years, and their services have been valued for one simple reason:  It’s really a good idea to measure the size and shape of the ground before you try to build on it.  

In today’s terms, surveying is defined as the process of taking accurate measurements of the land on the X-, Y- and Z axes (that is, in three dimensions) and then translating that data into a usable (usually printed) format.  There are several different surveying methods used to measure, process and communicate this critical information, and choosing the right one is essential to getting any watershaping project off to a sound start.

So how do you determine the level of detail required and communicate your need to the surveyor so he or she can give you the appropriate level of information?  Let’s take a look at the different types of surveys in common use and review what those options mean in terms of creating a truly useful array of

200106BVB0By Brian Van Bower

I started my May 2001 column by expressing the belief that watershape designers should be paid for their designs in the same way interior designers and landscape designers are paid for theirs – and by indicating that lots of watershapers I’ve met are interested in knowing more about the mechanics of how this works.

I put off addressing those issues last time because I saw a need to establish criteria for offering such services in the first place.  In other words, there’s much more to being a watershape designer than simply declaring yourself to be one, and I set up two dozen questions intended to clarify what I meant.

Once you’ve answered those questions predominantly in the affirmative, once you’ve determined, through

15yearsagoBy Brian Van Bower

‘Exceptional projects for outstanding clients don’t fall off trees:  You need to reach these people somehow,’ declared Brian Van Bower in his Aqua Culture column for March 2004, ‘and make your presence known.

‘There are numbers of ways of achieving this contact, and I’d argue that

200105BVB0By Brian Van Bower

In October 1999, I wrote an Aqua Culture column titled “Value by Design” in which I explained my belief that watershape designers should be paid for their designs in the same way interior designers and landscape designers are paid for theirs.

Since then, I’ve been contacted by lots of people who are interested in knowing more about how this works; I’ve also had the privilege of traveling throughout the United States and abroad to talk about watershape design and construction and have met hundreds of people with the same need for information.

On the one hand, it’s exciting to see the notion of a watershape-design specialty catching on:  It isn’t a foreign idea to people the way it used to be, and

200104DT0By David Tisherman

In the past few issues of WaterShapes, I’ve used this column to share some very specific construction techniques with you – each one a special detail that I’ve used to add value and interest to my work.  Before I did the first in the series, however, I probably should have laid down an important ground rule:  Everything that you’ve seen in this column – and in the other articles and columns I’ve written and will write in the future – requires both constant and competent on-site supervision.

It’s a fact of life:  The best design feature in the world isn’t worth anything if it isn’t executed properly.  And no matter how good your in-house staff or subcontractors are, they need

200103BVB0By Brian Van Bower

During the past few years, I’ve come to the stark realization that there are too few quality craftspeople in most geographical areas of our country.  And it’s not just the watershaping trades:  The same holds true for most

When it comes to watershaping technology, there’s nothing more elemental than pumps. In fact, says hydraulics expert Steve Gutai, it’s fair to say that an understanding of pumps, how they work and, most important, how they differ may be the biggest factor in achieving desired effects in any aquatic system. Here, he explains how these key distinctions can be used to prime the character, efficiency and reliability of any watershape.
When it comes to watershaping technology, there’s nothing more elemental than pumps.  In fact, says hydraulics expert Steve Gutai, it’s fair to say that an understanding of pumps, how they work and, most important, how they differ may be the biggest factor in achieving desired effects in any aquatic system.  Here, he explains how these key distinctions can be used to prime the character, efficiency and reliability of any watershape.
By Steve Gutai

Whether you build fountains, streams or Olympic-size swimming pools, you need to install a pump of some kind to make these watershapes work.  As fundamental and essential as pumps really are, however, it’s amazing to think how casual many of us in the trade are when it comes to knowing about how they  work and how their performance characteristics differ.

We’ve all heard and used terms like “energy efficient,” “high head” and “self-priming,” but for the most part, the real meanings of those words get lost in the competitive marketing blizzard that surrounds these products.  Without a clear understanding of how pumps are designed and how they do their job, these distinctions are no more than words on a label – and that’s not the way it should be.

As watershapes become ever more complex and hydraulically challenging, cutting through the hype to find out what truly makes pumps work becomes even more important:  No matter how beautiful a design may be, without a properly selected and installed pump working at the heart of the system, the best work will fall short in

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