You are invited to a pool some point in the future
May 6, 2013 12:23 PM   Subscribe

Last Fall, we bought an awesome house. Now we want a pool, hot tub and new landscaping. Who is the correct professional to help us design a multi-year project that involves some construction, a lot of landscaping (both hard and soft) and a pool?

Here are the things that need to happen -
• A new fence. This is is urgent because there's been some damage to the fence which I share with my neighbor. The fence is on my property and I'll be paying for fence replacement in the next month.
• We need to plant some privacy plants so they'll have some time to grow by the time we get a pool. I'd like to plant these right after we finish the new fence. Also, I need to find a landscape crew to come maintain the existing plants a few times a month.
• We need to design a deck and install some French Doors from my office to the deck. (The French Doors might happen at a later time).
• We need to figure out where to move the trash cans because right now they're sitting near the spot for the pool. (And who doesn't want to swim in a garbage scented environment.) That sounds trivial, but I need some sort of hardscape path to roll the bins to the street.

What I want is a buildable plan that leaves me with a nice yard for next few years while we chip away at the project. I don't want to start working on the project and later find that I can't put a pool where we planned because that's where the sewer line is or we put in the wrong fence. I also want to be able to plan the cash flows of the project so we have enough cash to cover each year's work.

I'm willing to pay for this plan. Who is the right professional to create such a plan? How do I know the plan is really buildable? How much will it cost? FWIW I have a fantastic General Contractor, but she was very honest and told me that she's not an expert in the kind of design we'd need.

If it matters, we're in San Diego.

(Set aside concerns about the cost of ongoing pool maintenance and impact to the home's resale value.)
posted by 26.2 to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

If you are starting with a fence... start with a fencing contractor, get multiple bids. Fence people bust it out quickly. You shouldn't have to pay a general contractor who will just sub it out.

most will have good photos of their work.

For the rest...

Shop around for landscape architects in your area.

they design outdoor spaces and usually have a pool contractor thy work with and gardener etc...

Ask for exactly what you want and you will get it. Someone good will work with you on design ideas, challenges, budget etc...

I started here for my project.
posted by bobdow at 12:45 PM on May 6, 2013

In a similar situation, we contacted an architect who could do a site plan. He in turn roped in a landscape architect and pool guy. The fence was done by a carpenter.

If you don't have complicated land usage rule (in our case, we had to do a large revegetation project, and it's a beach house so there were other environmental concerns), you might be able to go straight to a landscape architect.
posted by snickerdoodle at 12:47 PM on May 6, 2013

I'd get with a landscape architect, this professional can design something that you can do in installments.

I would say though, be aware not to landscape parts that will, in years hense, when that pool is ready to be dug, will be destroyed by the heavy equipment needed to do this job (back hoe, dump truck, cement mixer, rock deliveries....)

Paying for a good architectural plan is well worth it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:57 PM on May 6, 2013

snickerdoodle brings up a good point about environmental regulations, which may be concern for you in San Diego depending on where you're located. I work in architecture in San Diego, so I have some familiarity with those regs - the tough ones kick in if you're on a hillside or your backyard borders the beach or a canyon. If you're out in Mira Mesa or something it's probably not a big deal.

I'd agree with the people saying to get a landscape architect. Since you already know a contractor, I'd ask them for recommendations first - the contractor will be very invested in recommending someone who produces buildable drawings. All the stuff you're looking for is pretty 'duh' stuff, but might require bringing in more professionals than just a landscape architect. A landscape architect may also know and work with pool builders on a frequent basis.

At some point, if you do install French doors, you'll need to deal with permitting for that. If there's already a wall opening of the width you'll need, that simplifies matters. If you don't, you'll need to present plans to the city that show the beam over the door, how shear will be handled in the adjacent walls, and what the effect will be on the energy consumption for your home. If your contractor has a drafter on staff, they may be able to pull this off, possibly with the additional hiring of an energy consultant, which will cost something like $200 to run the calcs for you.

If you have some major utilities running through your backyard, there will be an easement for them, which will be listed in your property information or deed or something. It is highly unlikely that there's anything back there unless you back up onto an alley. Locating stuff can be as easy as calling digalert, but a civil engineer or surveyor could get the information and give you a drawing for it.
posted by LionIndex at 1:12 PM on May 6, 2013

Landscape architect! They'll be able to take into account your budget and deal with the planning over time. Pool companies often have architects they can recommend (better than the in-house ones). It's well worth the cost.
posted by jeather at 1:12 PM on May 6, 2013

Landscape architect here. Here is a link to the American Society of Landscape Architect's Firm Finder. I did a quick search for landscape architects in San Diego that specialize in residential projects and got a list of eight potential firms.

When you contact the landscape architect (LA), it will be important to communicate the following:

- you are on a tight timeline and require a fence replacement within a month
- you are looking for recommendations for a residential maintenance service (they may or may not provide referrals)
- you would like to build a pool in the future and need utility information from the city
- you want to design a deck and create access from your office
- site storage for refuse, recycling, as well as future pool accessories maintenance equipment will be required

Most importantly:
- you would like to implement the project in phases and need the budget to reflect this

To be recognized and registered with the ASLA, a landscape architect must posess a university degree in landscape architecture. An LA specializing in residential work will have plenty of experience in working with clients to provide these and other services.

For a project of this size, feel free to ask your LA for client references to get a feel for their project management style. They will also have a list of preferred vendors and contractors that they feel comfortable working with.
posted by nathaole at 1:19 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the advice on the proper professional. I couldn't get my head around how to start this job.

I looked at the websites/portfolios of the landscape architects from the Firm Finder. Looking at the portfolios, there are several who have a design aesthetic that doesn't match looking to create. (I think people can do more than one type of design, but if every design in your portfolio has a similar look and it's not the look I'm going for we probably aren't a match.)

I also found one or two that had portfolio projects that where similar to mine in scale/design. Those will probably be my first calls.

Thanks for the help.
posted by 26.2 at 7:43 AM on May 7, 2013

Best of luck with the project 26.2 - feel free to MeMail me if you have questions mid-process. I'll do my best to help.
posted by nathaole at 9:52 AM on May 7, 2013

If you start with the fence make sure to add a second gate that is 8+ feet wide on a side of the property where trucks can drive into your backyard. Where we live many people have a normal gate on one side and a super gate on the other that is not frequently used but there or party rentals etc.
posted by saradarlin at 10:45 AM on May 8, 2013

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