There’s an important point about this magazine that I’d like to clarify: A small number of readers have commented that because this magazine tends to cover projects that are on the “high end” of the spectrum in terms of cost, the concepts we encompass somehow do not apply to the work they do.
Glad you brought it up!
Frankly, I’ve noticed a perception among watershapers that there’s some sort of Great Divide out there between those working with wealthy clients and those who work with middle-class customers. This unfairly lumps mid-range contractors in with the cookie-cutter corps, and I agree that’s a bad rap. There’s also the perception that, by working with prospects who cannot pay $100,000 for their watershapes, you mid-rangers are somehow not allowed to use your imagination or add value to the work you do.
To that in particular I say, “Bunk!”
The fact is many of the ideas that are presented in the pages of WaterShapes can be applied to projects across a broad swath of price levels. You don’t have to be building at the so-called “high end” to present your customers with creative ideas that lend interest, efficiency or beauty to the work. You don’t need to work for zillionaires to employ classic design influences or apply sound hydraulic designs.
Let me get specific: In our January issue, columnist Brian Bower described in some detail a variety of mostly small waterfeatures he offers to clients as part of larger pool/spa projects. As he described them in his “Aqua Culture” column, these features often amount to little more than an arcing stream of water or two mounted in the deck, or a small sheeting waterfall pouring into one end of a pool.
Often, the cost to the customer is just a few hundred bucks, but the value in terms of interest and enjoyment can be immeasurable.
Another example: Way back in our second issue, April 1999, landscape designer Roger Hopkins discussed his love of using real rock in his installations. Although some of the profiled projects were truly massive, others were quite compact and could easily be placed in a backyard setting in conjunction with a swimming pool or spa. For the most part, the artistry isn’t in apt placement of tons and tons of stone. Rather, it’s all about brilliant placement of a handful of well-chosen pieces – modest increases in costs balanced against extraordinary gains in aesthetic value.
Taking pride in your work does not require million-dollar budgets, exotic materials or intricate design detail. Quite the contrary: Making the most of the project at hand by finding ways to add value within the customer’s budget is the key to elevating your craft. Sure, these value-adding items will often raise the price of a watershape, but when the client understands what’s going on and is willing to pay, then you’ve succeeded in doing what so many people say they want to do: You’ve “raised the bar.”