Pool Renovations … Tips, Trends, and Money Saving Ideas
The recession of 2008/2009 has dramatically changed the “landscape” of home improvements. There are many homeowners having second thoughts about investing money into their home to beautify, improve and increase value or most importantly to allow for more quality family time due to perceived high cost. We have seen a shift in buying patterns in the landscape field from extreme and lavish spending to more value-based improvements. Don’t get me wrong, we still do some pretty exciting projects, but these are the things that many clients are asking for. When it comes to the outdoors, the best way to add value to your home is to renovate. This is a huge trend right now; many people already own a pool, patio, deck or bbq area. The following are value based ideas to spruce up these areas.
Inground pools: Whether your pool is gunite or vinyl, there is one easy way to upgrade and save big money. Consider changing you current one speed filter pump to an energy efficient variable speed pump. These pumps are so efficient that they can cut your energy costs to 1/6th of what they currently are. There are several manufactures that offer these pumps including Pentair, Sta-rite and Jandy. They will cost about $1,000-$1,500 but pay back time will be three years or less.
Other ideas would be to simply change the coping, tile and color of your pool. In gunite, there are many color options in marbledusts, pebble finishes and even all-tile pools. In vinyl pools you can change a staircase, add a bench or swimout, change the coping and of course change your old liner. The choices in liner are almost limitless and it is amazing what a new liner does to an old faded pool! There are even pebbled colored liners in a tan tone that make them look more like a gunite pool.
More involved pool area renovations have become popular recently because the total cost of the job is significantly reduced due to the existence of a pool. This type of renovation usually goes smoother when there is a plan, a landscape contractor and a pool builder working together. Some examples of add-on renovations to the pool would be to redo the liner or marbledust, repiping the pool (especially on older pools or ones with leaks), upgrading pool equipment to newer more efficient models, insulating walls, adding stairs, benches, swimouts, water features, a slide, a campfire and spillover spas to an existing pool.
Pool surrounds: Renovating around a pool is sometimes easier than renovating the pool itself. It could be something as easy as fixing a settled or damaged patio. Other ideas for renovating around a pool might be upgrading to a new patio material like Techo Bloc “Inca” pavers. Be sure to compact and install enough base to
prevent future settling.
Another popular upgrade is adding a waterfall. Insist on a rubber liner under the waterfall to ensure that it will be leak free for a long time.
Patio sizes can be reduced and adding stepping stones can be cost effective way of creating a pathway around your pool. Boulders set in the landscape and used for retaining steps are yet another way to reduce the cost of retaining walls and adding beauty.
Written by: Bill Renter
Deck and Patio Company Offers Budget-friendly Options for Beautiful Landscape Design
In the following interview, Bill Renter, owner of The Deck and Patio Company, in Huntington Station, suggests some interesting ideas for operating within a modest landscape design budget.
Q: There are a lot of outdoor lovers wanting to create an oasis on their property but are concerned about costs. Can you give them a reason for hope?
A: I understand their passion. As an avid skier and hiker, experiencing nature is a life to me. As long as you include nature’s major elements: land, water, air, and fire, there is a wide range of options open. So, yes, there definitely is hope. In fact, much of our work at Deck and Patio is done in regular backyards, in phases, and within a modest budget. One way to keep costs down is to work from a scaled sketch and photos of the products, rather than have homeowners invest in a formal and intricate plan.
Q: Can you give me an example?
A: Budget pergola and fireplace kits can be half the price of custom ones and you can get a clear picture of what they will look like before hand. Such kits can produce a beautiful outdoor stage for a Great Room – the perfect spot for star gazing and sharing good times with family and friends.
Q: Can you recommend a cost effective alterative to an in-ground pool?
A: A hot tub can be an ideal budget option to a pool. In addition, by surrounding it with rocks and a small garden, it suggests that “in-ground” look even if it’s not.
Q: What type of fire pits do you recommend?
A: I prefer gas fire pits over wood-burning ones because they are smoke-free and sparks and embers don’t blow around whenever there is a puff of wind. A nice budget-conscious option is the “Inspiration” gas fireplace, with Venturi flame technology. It has only one flame but gives and intense tornado-type appearance through use of mirrors.
Q: Do you have any other favorite products or equipment?
A: Well we often use Bullfrog Spas because they have less plumbing than others. In addition, their removable jetted hot tub seats, called JetPaks, allow them to be individually selected by the customer for a perfect massage to relieve stress and increase flexibility.
Q: What about cost-friendly paver areas?
A: Instead of a brick or masonry pavers, we often create a meandering natural path with bluestone stepping stones. Each stone is about three or four feet wide and long. They give a more natural aged look as they invite guests to go from one spot to another, sometimes through a garden.
Q: Any last thoughts?
A: Don’t feel because you aren’t ready for a large or expensive landscape project that you can’t have an outdoor oasis. There’s more than hope. There really are options available for every budget. It just takes a little creativity.
Written By: June Sullivan
The Deck and Patio Company Updates this Backyard for a Truly Relaxing Environment
When the owners of this Huntington home decided to update their backyard, they researched magazines and websites to find a qualified pool area remodeler. The same name came up again and again. They chose The Deck and Patio Company in Huntington Station because of their many awards, magazine articles and website that was loaded with helpful photos.
They met with Bill Renter and Ronnie Brown to discuss their ideas. The plan was to keep the existing gunite swimming pool and remove the small and confining patios to open up the space and show off their spectacular water view of Long Island sound.
After the first meeting ended the design team went to work. They used autocad and 3-D animation to show how this multilevel pool area would change. “We used what the client described as a problem area as a feature” described Brown. “We enlarged the upper area where the client liked to sit in the shade and enjoy the view.” The lower area was expanded for sunning and an outdoor kitchen was added for entertaining.
Boulders and a waterfall were added to the spillover spa. The spa patio was enlarged by the master bedroom. The side of the house has a secret garden path that leads to clients private bbq patio and pondless water feature.
The landscaping was arranged to screen out unwanted views and enhance the water views and enhance the water view with colorful plants and flowers.
The result of this transformation is breathtaking views and space from all areas. The clients’ ideas were turned into reality with the blending of the old pool and new patios, waterfalls, boulders and of course landscaping.
Photos of this project will be submitted for local, regional and international awards this fall.
Deck and Patio Company 3-D Animation Comforts Clients and Helps Envision Finished Design
The Deck and Patio Company came highly recommended to this client as a top notch design/build firm with a great reputation for creating breathtaking poolscapes and outdoor living area. After the initial meetings and design consultations, the client was very enthusiastic about the spectacular design and forward thinking idea the design staff at Deck and Patio had presented to them. The only issue was that the client was having a hard time envisioning what the finished product would look like.
Bill Renter, owner of the Deck and Patio Company, had his design team create a 3d digital animation of the entire project. This 3d animation allowed the client to view every aspect of the project from any angle they wanted. The client was absolutely ecstatic and was more excited than ever to get started on the project. “We have always taken pride in our commitment to technology” said Mr. Renter “This project afforded us the opportunity to truly test the limits of design and helped us to showcase our skills in 3d animation which ultimately gave the client a tremendous comfort level. By utilizing this technology we are able to display a very accurate approximation of what the finished product will look like. The 3d technology also allows us to make changes during the project which gives the client confidences that last minute changes will fit the overall look we are trying to achieve.”
This particular project had a large variety of details and was far from ordinary. The main feature in the new design was a striking geometric pool with a raised spa surrounded by a multi-level patio. The patio was built with Cambridge Ledgestone 3 pavers, a product that invokes thoughts of old time European plazas with classic looks and style that complements the lines of the geometric pool. A major part of the project was a custom designed pool house, complete with all the amenities of home. The pool house has a bathroom, changing room and living room with internet access, phone, flat screen TV and a spectacular view over looking the pool area.
Stepping out of the pool house, the client walks under a 25 foot wide shade pergola that shelters guests from the hot summer sun and is a main component to successful entertaining. Under the custom built shade pergola there is also a stunning bar area complete with a sink and all the components necessary to keep the client and their guests supplied with fresh beverages throughout the day and evening. The bar and raised spa are faced with matching cultured stone which ties the areas together from a design standpoint.
“Our carpentry crew and masons worked tirelessly on this project and the results are outstanding. From the 25 foot long microlam beam on the pergola to the smallest detail and door stop on the pool house, everything was built from scratch,” comments Renter. “To have this level of craftsmanship in a project like this is priceless.”
Starting with a design idea and working hand in hand with the client, The Deck and Patio Company was able to produce an end result that is absolutely breathtaking. The use of technology from AutoCad to 3D animation helped the client articulate their dreams and made those dreams come true on a computer and in reality. This reality was recognized by the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP) with a Gold Award for geometric pool design.
Anything is Possible…
Under the stillness of this water feature’s vanishing edge upper pond and lower pond, as well as under the rush of its waterfalls and the gentle trickling of its stream, exists and extremely high tech and complex natural biological filtration system that is continuously maintaining the feature’s crystal clear water. Even more extraordinary than the water feature itself, however, is that all this was an afterthought.
“We first approached Bill Renter of The Deck and Patio Company [in Huntington Station] to landscape the front of our new vacation home, on a bluff in Eatons Neck,” says the wife.
Renter adds that, one day, when looking at the old deck in their back yard and the majestic westerly views beyond it of Long Island Sound, he suggested that a vanishing edge swimming pool would create a beautiful effect there.
“But when we went for the permits,” says Renter, “we learned that the regulations for swimming pools that close to the bluff would not allow a pool. As I thought about it, I remembered my long-held desire to build a vanishing edge pond, which, in this case would be regulated differently, and I approached them with the idea.”
Beyond the promise of glorious Long Island Sound water views appearing to connect through a pond right up to their back door, what inspired the homeowners most was Renter’s ideas for how it all could be maintained naturally, without chemicals of any kind. But, while Renter had abundant experience in creating natural ponds, as well as vanishing edge swimming pools, only one other vanishing edge pond had ever been created in the United States before.
“We had seen a good deal of Deck and Patio’s work in House magazine, and knew he was very creative,” says the wife. “So we took a leap of faith. And as the project continued, his excitement was infectious.”
His final plans for this water feature included three bodies of water: two ponds at two different levels, and a 3,000-gallon underground storage vault of water – all kept clear and clean with “biological filtration” through the use of beneficial bacteria, plants and other filter media.
The vanishing edge upper pond is raised in front of the bluff, says Renter. Water spills from it into a connecting stream to the lower pond, which is located at the side of the house.
“Water is pumped from the underground vault to both ponds through variable energy efficient speed pumps,” he says. “In the upper pond, water enters from its floor. In the lower, it enters through a separate bog – a natural filtering system – and continues through a waterfall into that pond. Except for what is pumped in from below, everything works through gravity along gradations we created in the landscape,” says Renter.
Renter adds that every part of the water feature has a reason and purpose and works together in an ecologically friendly way. “In autumn, leaves from the trees fall into the water and are pushed along the stream where they are caught in a bed of gravel and are easy to remove, like emptying a skimmer basket in a pool,” he says. Considering the energy efficient pumps, which only ramp up when the homeowners arrive, as well as the fact that the system harvests rain water to help sustain its underground water reserve, it’s a project to delight the heart of any green enthusiast.
However, the water feature is not all that The Deck and Patio Company did to help create the ideal vacation spot for these clients. They also build two tumble stone patios on either side of the main vanishing edge pond, that connect through stepping stones along the edge of the house. Wide Techo-Bloc Rocka steps were also installed to lead from the property’s driveway up to the main house.
“Working with Bill was great,” says the wife. “This was a new idea but we were certain he would do it right and wouldn’t stop until it was perfect, including being up to code and regulations. He also took careful, and very technical, measurements for water levels that I didn’t always understand, but he was always confident that he did.”
She adds that their vacation home has become a favorite spot for friends and family who begin “making reservations” well before summer. What she most loves, however, is that the whole feature is chemical free. “While the lower pond is not intended for swimming either, we occasionally find the kids snorkeling with the koi. We understand why it’s so tempting. When you dip in to it, you feel so fresh. Someday, we’d like to add a hot tub as well – if it can be done naturally. If there’s any way it can be done, Bill Renter will be the one to figure it out.”
Written By: June Sullivan