Monthly Archives: March 2013

3 Steps To Pouring the Pond For Your Backyard Waterfall

Before you start hanging the panels for your backyard waterfall you and your team will have to pour the catch basin. This step can be completed quite fast so attention to detail is important. Excavation should take a couple of hours including installing steel and plumbing. Make sure to have equipment, rebar, plumbing, and frames on site as you will need them for the prep.

First on the list is digging the pond. Be sure to remove all organic material when excavating. You will want to keep the sides of the pond at a slope and not straight up and down, this will help when you are stacking the mud and also help with the freeze/thaw cycle when the pond has pressure on it. Keep the area where your pump is going, the lowest point so that water will drain towards it when cleaning or winterizing.

preparing to pour a pond for a backyard waterfall

Tying the rebar will be the next step. Bend and shape rebar along the contours of the pond in a 12” x 12” grid. Tie off each intersection so that there are no loose ends to worry about. Candy cane the ends off the rebar up over the edge if the pond for reinforcement of the borders rocks. Once you have all the steel tied you can put broken bricks or stones under the cage to lift it off the ground about 3-4 inches to allow the concrete encompass the steel. You can also set your frames and plumbing in at this point. Be sure to tape any open ends of the pipe so no mud gets in. Set the frames according to your design and you can tie some rebar into them for sturdiness during the pour.

building a waterfall pond

Now for the fun part! The pour. You will be pouring a 4500 psi grout mix for the pond. Ideally you will want to get the ready mix truck right next to the pond. A majority of the pouring will be into the bottom of the pond and you will shovel it into place. Work up the slopes and onto the edge of the pond with the mud. You will want to make sure you put enough concrete on the edge to carve your rocks out when the mud has set up some. While some of the crew is taking care to carve and texture the outside stones someone in the pond will be making sure to have a depth of about 8” everywhere.

Be sure to keep the pitch in the bottom heading towards where the pump will be. Pile up concrete around the frames as well and make sure to lift them up into the middle of the concrete. Let it set up some and then add any additional you need for a good footing around the frames. Once you have cut and textured all the edge stones, Plaster the inside making sure to close up all the pores while you work your way out of the pond. After you have poured all the mud you need and everything is textured spend time with a brush detailing the joints and textures.

carving a backyard waterfall pond

Once you have cleaned up all the excess mud and all detail work is done let the pond cure overnight before doing any more work on it. By the next morning you will be ready to start tying rebar around the frames and hanging panels!

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8 Ways Facebook Can Help Grow Your Swimming Pool Waterfall Business

By Jonathan Allard

Facebook is a phenomenon that has grown drastically in a very short time, and continues to do so. It was originally used mostly by college students to keep in touch with high school friends. Recent statistics prove that it has moved beyond its original use and become an incredibly powerful business networking platform. A Facebook Fan Page is a profile for a business or organization rather than an individual, and is used to build brand recognition. Even if members have no intention of buying anything on Facebook, the relationships you establish and community you build can benefit your business in countless ways. Here, I reveal 8 ways a Facebook Fan Page can help grow your business. If you’re still not sold on this (not entirely convinced that Facebook networking offers great potential to help your company grow and reach new business contacts), here are some reasons why you can’t afford to ignore Facebook as a networking tool.

1. Establishes Another Outpost for Your Business on the Web

Creating a Fan Page provides your business with another branding platform where prospects, customers, future employees, vendors, and even the media can find information about your company and the services you provide. Unlike Facebook’s personal profiles, which are member-only accessible, Fan Pages are public by default. This means that even the individuals who are not logged into Facebook can view your business page, therefore more people have access to the information you post.

Tip: If you are looking to set-up a Facebook Fan Page, Social Media Examiner does a great article on How to Set Up a Facebook Page for Business’

2. Drives Traffic to Your Website and Other Platforms

Fan Pages have no restrictions on driving Facebook traffic to websites. In fact, Facebook encourages you to link your website to your business’s Fan Page. Redirecting even a small portion of Facebook’s huge amount of daily traffic to your website could significantly improve the amount of qualified leads on your site.

Tip: Turn Facebook members into Fans, Fans into customers, and customers into Fans by cross-promoting your Fan Page and website. Link your Fan Page to your website and insert a Facebook Widget on your site to link back to your Fan Page.

3. Improves Your SEO

Google, through its new Social Search feature, and other search and decision engines are now indexing content created on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. This means your Fan Page content has the potential to generate favorable search engine results for your business and brand. By linking your Fan Page to your website, you can leverage Social Search to drive even more Facebook traffic back to your site.

 

4. Allows You to Engage with Your Community Easily and for Free

 A Facebook Fan Page provides an inexpensive (free) alternative to implementing customer engagement on your own site. In minutes, you can have a branded Fan Page where customers and other brand advocates can post to your Facebook Wall, share photos and video, ask and answer questions, and interact with you and one another. Creating and managing a Fan Page, complete with a Discussion tab, is easier than launching and monitoring discussion forums or message boards on your own domain. A Fan Page also gives you a direct pipeline to your Fans. You can send messages to Fans all at once or target individuals by country, state, city, gender, and even age range. Using the Events App, you can even schedule special events or promotions and then send invitations to only those Fans who live in or near the town where the event is scheduled to take place. All of this and more is available free of charge to any business or brand using Facebook.

5. Provides a Breeding Ground and Platform for Brand Evangelists

Only 25 percent of Facebook members want to be sold to, but a much higher percentage are apt to sing the praises of a quality company, brand, or product to their Facebook Friends. Establish strong relationships with a number of influential members who have plenty of connections, and you gain valuable brand promoters who authentically market and sell on your behalf.

Tip: As you post updates to your Page’s Wall, or as Fans interact with your Page, these interactions appear in the Fan’s News Feed, reaching even more potential Fans (i.e., your Fan’s Facebook Friends), making Facebook the ultimate opt-in, permission-based marketing tool available online today.

6. Listening and Observing Has the Potential to Improve Your Business

In a social setting like Facebook, customers and prospects are likely to let down their guard and share information with you and others about products and services they like, good and bad experiences they have had with your business or your competitors, and their unfulfilled needs. Each time a Fan interacts with your Page, you are presented with a wealth of information.

Tip: By default, Facebook Fan Pages include the Discussion tab. Encourage discussions to cultivate valuable market data and ideas on how to improve your business.

7. ROI-Related Metrics are Readily Available

Facebook’s Page Insights dashboard facilitates the analysis of marketing and communication by revealing data related to interactions (Comments, Wall posts, and “Likes”); discussed posts, reviews, and mentions; Fan demographics (gender, ages, geographic location/distribution); and so on. These tools improve your ability to identify and target specific demographics and gauge ROI.

Tip: Use Facebook’s powerful metrics, along with information you gather from your Fan Page, to develop custom messages and talking points that speak directly to your Fans’ needs, are suited for your community’s style of engagement, and support your business’s word-of-mouth goals and objectives.

8. Allows You to Keep Pace with the Competition, Free of Charge

Still not convinced a Fan Page is worth setting up? Then consider the competition. Even if only one of your competitors launches a successful Fan Page, that competitor can corner the market on Facebook and build a following long before you do. Stake your free claim early to establish your business as the industry leader before the competition has a chance.

Take a minute right now to do a Google search on some of your top competitors and see whether or not they have a Facebook Fan Page, and are using it successfully. If nothing comes up, do not hesitate, create a Fan Page now and become a dominator in your niche. If your competitors do come up in search, study their page and see what they are doing right and wrong to better your Facebook Fan Page.

Do you have any additional questions regarding Facebook?

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5 Reasons To Blog About Your Backyard Waterfall Business

waterfall business blog

The revolution in social media has changed the landscape for how businesses interact with their customers.  The foundation for any social media strategy is your blog.  While it may seem like a daunting task, a blog is basically an online journal.  It’s a great way to share the uniqueness of your business with your customers.  So why should your backyard water feature business keep a blog?

I’d like to use an example of fiberglass swimming pool company that was struggling to attract customers.  After battling for a few years to build their company, in November 2008 River Pools and Spas had finally begun to see the light and the economy turned downward.  Faced with the prospect of closing their doors, they stumbled across a concept called inbound marketing in March 2009.  So how did they use their blog to move to the top of Google search results for fiberglass swimming pools?  Here are 5 reasons to consider:

  1. Little To No Cost:  Establishing a blog is basically free, or extremely cheap to do.  Sites such as WordPress can provide you with instructions on how to set the platform up on your own site.
  2. Educate Your Customer:  When a customer is considering a swimming pool waterfall or backyard water feature, where is the first place they’re going to start for information?  Chances are it’s with an online search.  This helps answer the question of” what do I write about?” that business owners ask.  Answer the questions your customers will be asking.  You become the authority by providing them answers to the common questions like property disruption, time to complete a project, options and styles available, etc.  Make a list of questions you’re asked and answer them.
  3. Showcase Your Work:  Chances are that you’ve done some projects your proud of and highlight your talent.  Tell the story of those projects.  The challenges you overcame, how you arrived at the design you used, what the customer specifically wanted and how you provided that.
  4. Provide Customer Testimonials:  One thing that successful businesses do is constantly seek out testimonials from their satisfied clients.  What better way to highlight the quality of your work than through stories of happy customers.
  5. Use Long-tail Keywords:  What is a long tail keyword?  Rather than use a term to write about such as swimming pool waterfalls, how about using your city and write about “swimming pool waterfalls in Boston”?  The longer the tail, the easier it is to rank in Google and the other search engines for that particular keyword phrase.  This will make it easier for customers to find you and give you the first shot at providing them with your services.

That swimming pool company I spoke about earlier?  One of the owners, Marcus Sheridan, writes about his experiences and teaches blogging practices in his blog, The Sales Lion.  He also offers a free ebook for download that talks about best practices for business blogging and how to get your business found on the web.  It’s definitely worth checking out.

Blogging for your business requires a commitment, and it’s not a quick fix to drive new leads.  But through consistent writing, you’ll make it easier for your new customers to find you.  Do you have any success with blogging you can share?

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How To Design A Backyard Waterfall

how to design a backyard waterfall

 

So you have decided to build a water feature to enhance your client’s outdoor living area. The concept of a backyard waterfall has your customer intrigued and excited but now you have to come up with a design. Following a few simple procedures you will have a design that will functionally and aesthetically be pleasing to the consumer.

Step 1. Planning and Layout

Take a look at your surroundings and see what is workable and what isn’t. Take advantage of slopes or existing rocks that can be incorporated. Look at the size and height you are planning on and see where it will fit best. Is it a feature that you want people to be up close and personal with? Or is it simply for viewing and background noise? Try to use the environment to your advantage.

Step 2. The Spillway

Your spillway will play a big part in the entire design for the waterfall. The flow of water will impact the visual attributes of the feature greatly. If you are looking for a quieter and less dramatic fall then a cascading effect should be the goal. For a more emotional and breathtaking fall you will want to have sheer cliff faces and cantilevered design. Find out which side you are leaning to or somewhere in between that compliments the desired outcome.

Step 3. Catch Basin (Pond)

The ponds shape and design will coincide with the flow of water and size of the feature. Usually the most popular design is the pond less design. This helps when children are present or even family pets as the pond is filled with a decorative aggregate close to the water surface. Kidney shapes are also quite common as they break things up from being perfectly circular. Depending on the height of your falls you will need to keep in mind how far out the spill will hit and how much splash will go over the edge

Step 4. Aesthetics

4. This can be very important as there are several things that can be easily overlooked. The loudness of your feature can be very relaxing but also turn a beautiful waterfall into an area where people can not kick back and conversate because of the noise. Splash is another key thing to be aware of. If your feature is a butting a patio or hang out spot you don’t want water splashing all over admiring guests. Being situation-ally aware is also very important. Where can the backyard waterfall be seen from? Is it going to be enjoyed from more than one spot in the yard? Keeping these in mind will keep you project much more visually pleasing and functional.

Step 5. Special Circumstances

You will want to know how your client intends to use the feature. If they are planning on fish or any habitats then you will need special filters and chemicals and be sure to make sure the sun will not be an issue. If nighttime is a big use for them you may need electrical conduit for accent lighting. Take into consideration everything beforehand so that you are properly setup and not dealing with after thoughts that can be very costly and time consuming.

waterfall design for garden

As always, being innovative will set you apart from the competition, just don’t forget the basics and you can take your design in any direction you wish.

 

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Top 15 Swimming Pool Waterfalls

By Jonathan Allard

Last week we compiled a list of the 10 Swimming Pools You Don’t Want to Miss, and in response wanted to put together a list of swimming pool accents. These accents can be anything from water-slides to stained wood platform decking. This week we are going to focus on water features, and more importantly waterfalls.  This list of the Top 15 Swimming Pool Waterfalls will take you through some great ideas of how one can turn a pool area into a Water Wonderland, for all types of budgets.

 

15. Simple Yet Soothing.

14. Waterfalls Are Great For Indoor Pools Too!

13. Multi-Tiered Waterfall.

12. Blending in With the Surroundings.

11. Even a Waterfall Can Have Greenery.

10. Great Focal Point!

9. Waterfall With Multiple Functions.

8. Water, Water, and More Water!

7. Natural Flow.

6. Over the Wall Waterfall.

5. Grottoes, Slides, Waterfalls, OH MY!

4. Roof-Top Waterfall.

3. Waterfall at Every Corner!

2. Tropical Grotto With an Amazing Waterfall Accent.

 

And number 1 on our countdown for the Top 15 Swimming Pool Waterfalls is…

1. The Waterfall Creates the Space.

 

As you can see there are some great ways a swimming pool can be accented to create a relaxing and tropical feel by adding a waterfall(s). Some used the waterfall as the main focal point to define the space, and others used it for more of an ambiance and aesthetic.

This list was compiled a little different than the others because as with a lot of water features, they can be built using real(natural) stone vs. Artificial Rock. We wanted to see if there were some that were obvious in which method was used, and ones that were a little more tough to spot.

Which numbers on the list were made from Natural Stone? Which numbers were made from Artificial Stone?

Let us know what you think!

 

Swimming Pool Waterfalls: Creating A Backyard Resort

backyard swimming pool waterfall

Swimming pool waterfalls continue to grow in popularity amongst homeowners. With the right planning and execution, creating a resort style vacation spot right in their own backyard is within reach. Advances in materials and methods of installation are turning new swimming pools into oasis retreats and injecting new life into older pools.
According to the latest ASLA (American Society Of Landscape Architects) study, backyard water features are high on the list of customers remodeling their outdoor living areas. Here’s a list of 9 reasons for the continued demand:

1. Outdoing the neighbors; let’s face it, being able to one up the neighbors and have the coolest backyard is a motivating factor. Who doesn’t want the most extreme backyard on the block?
2. Family fun: What kid doesn’t love frolicking in the cascading water flowing from the waterfall?
3. Beautiful scenery; What’s better than enjoying a cup of coffee poolside first thing in the morning and looking out at the water dropping into the pool?
4. Entertaining; It’s a perfect spot for hosting a birthday bash or 4th of July party.
5. Vacation spot; Every day can be a mini vacation just by stepping out your back door
6. Peaceful focus; the sites and sound offer a peaceful focus as you unwind from a long day
7. Sound of flowing water; there’s a meditative quality to the harmonious sound of the consistent flow of water
8. Turning the ordinary into the extraordinary; a plain swimming pool or a backyard paradise? Which do you prefer?
9. Adding value to the home; a recent study by Clemson University and the University of Maryland sowed that buyers of existing homes will pay up to 11% more than the asking price for a hhome that features a well-designed landscape.

Everyone has their own reason to invest in a backyard oasis. What’s yours?

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How Strong are Neptune Panels?

strength of gfrc panels

As the world of GFRC has progressed, there has always been the demand for lighter, thinner, and stronger panels. These demands start with the mix and even know all GFRC is somewhat similar in design, subtle differences can create varied results in the end product.

GFRC is as defined: Glass fiber reinforced composite materials consist of high strength glass fiber embedded in a cementitious matrix. In this form, both fibers and matrix retain their physical and chemical identities, yet they produce a combination of properties that cannot be achieved with either of the components acting alone. In general fibers are the principal load-carrying members, while the surrounding matrix keeps them in the desired locations and orientation, acting as a load transfer medium between them, and protects them from environmental damage. In fact, the fibers provide reinforcement for the matrix and other useful functions in fiber-reinforced composite materials. Glass fibers can be incorporated into a matrix either in continuous lengths or in discontinuous (chopped) lengths.

HPIM0846

At Concrete Developments we wanted the same thing; lighter, thinner, and stronger. To get there we have countless hours experimenting with different mixes aimed at creating a panel that would hold up to the standards we had set in place.  As we are largely in the business of producing resort style water features, we know that these projects will be played and climbed upon and need to be able to support this and whatever mother nature has to throw at us as well. With the results came the birth of Neptune Panels.

We now have a panel mix that cures out at 8500-9000+psi, accompanied by a flexural strength of 1675 psi. This creates one of the strongest systems on the market, including architectural GFRC systems used in commercial buildings. It contains a proprietary blend of fibers and is used in conjunction with an all acrylic, co-polymer dispersion (51%) specifically formulated for GFRC production. This drastically improves long-term durability of the GFRC composite, especially in the maintenance of the long-term flexural strain.

Strength being one of the key components to GFRC, it is a common goal of designers to find the right ratios of size and composition of the fibers added to maximize the flexural strength. We continually are looking to keep innovating and designing along with the rest of the industry to further advance the possibilities of GFRC.

Please feel free to comment or share with us your GFRC project!

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10 Swimming Pools You Don’t Want to Miss

By Jonathan Allard

In light of spring being right around the corner, and the weather is starting to warm up (in most areas). We have compiled a list of the top 10 swimming pool designs we thought you should see. This list ranges from a design fit for a musician, to a pool that you can sleep on, literally. These unique designs are sure to impress any swimming pool extraordinaire that compares aesthetics to functionality. Here is the Top 10 Swimming Pools You Don’t Want to Miss.

10. Enclosed Functionality.

swimming pool, swimming pools, pool, pool design, waterfalls, water features, ponds, aquascapes, hardscapes

Number 10 may be deceiving to the eye, and may not seem very unique, but it serves multiple functions. The green house style enclosure provides not only natural light to the pool, but also doubles has a heat source. Simple yet functional. Great Design!

9. Oh the Flow!

swimming pool, swimming pools, pool, pool design, waterfalls, water features, ponds, aquascapes, hardscapes

This swimming pool made it on our countdown because the design is flawless. From the trickling waterfall from the jacuzzi into the pool, to the cozy fireplace setting. The outdoor bar scene, to the surrounding landscape, this design just flows. The connection between each space is segregated enough to make it peaceful, but close enough to where every feature is integrated , and you don’t lose the purpose of this design.

8. Is it a Boat?

swimming pool, swimming pools, pool, pool design, waterfalls, water features, ponds, aquascapes, hardscapes

Can you tell whether this swimming pool is on a boat or land? Well if you thought it was a boat, sorry you were wrong, but what is great about this beach house is it gives the perception as if you are sea bound. This made it to number 8 because of its surreal perception of imagination vs. realism.

7. Play Me a Tune.

swimming pool, swimming pools, pool, pool design, waterfalls, water features, ponds, aquascapes, hardscapes

As you can see this pool design is for the music lover or the guitar god. What makes this design so great is not only is it shaped after an actual guitar, but it even has key features to one such as; strings, the bridge, fret board, and turning pegs. This pool is number 7 because not only does it make you want to swim, but it makes you also want to play a tune.

6. Over the Edge.

swimming pool, swimming pools, pool, pool design, waterfalls, water features, ponds, aquascapes, hardscapes

Number 9 on the countdown is a swimming pool that overlooks the beautiful cityscape. This design incorporates a walking bridge from the main structure to the patio on the roof to the lower half. What tops off this design is the waterfall that flows directly off the roof onto the lower section of the house. This is a great design because it integrates great city features, but offers enough privacy to where it’s relaxing.

5. Tired of Swimming?

swimming pool, swimming pools, pool, pool design, waterfalls, water features, ponds, aquascapes, hardscapes

Imagine waking up in your pajamas and hopping directly into your heated swimming pool, or vice versa, after a long day at work you jump into the pool and relax before bedtime. This made number 5 because of its creativity and uniqueness with its use of space, and the fact that it’s not seen very often.

4. Here Fishy Fishy!

swimming pool, swimming pools, pool, pool design, waterfalls, water features, ponds, aquascapes, hardscapes

Number 4 on the countdown involves swimming with the fishes. Not literally, but basically integrating an outdoor aquarium into an indoor space. This pool design created a disco like ambiance with a strange yet settling focal point. The whole design is very out of the box, and therefore deserves this spot on the countdown.

3. Poolside Drive-In.

swimming pool, swimming pools, pool, pool design, waterfalls, water features, ponds, aquascapes, hardscapes

This duel home theatre and swimming pool is a great way to beat the summer heat, and avoid those long lines at the movies. This design is great if you are hosting a party for friends and family. Whether you need a space to keep guests entertained, or you need to stay cool during those summer heat waves. Kick back, and watch your favorite flick, just try not to fall in!

2. Come Swimming on My Balcony!

swimming pool, swimming pools, pool, pool design, waterfalls, water features, ponds, aquascapes, hardscapes

Could you imagine staying in a hotel or complex that not only offers a swimming pool, but your own personal balcony pool. Typically balconies are dull and unused, but in this case it makes a valuable solution to an otherwise useless space. I think this type of design will be utilized more often in the future of contemporary architecture.

And the top pool design you couldn’t do without is…

1. Can I Get a Pool to Go?

swimming pool, swimming pools, pool, pool design, waterfalls, water features, ponds, aquascapes, hardscapes

Number 1 is exactly what it looks like, a pool you can literally take anywhere, at any time. This unique design utilizes a mack truck for the base, and when the retractable roof is removed, it becomes this amazing swimming pool. It can be moved anywhere, and used for many applications like; kids birthday parties, cookouts, fairs, promotional events, family gatherings, and just plain swimming. I guess when it comes down to it, no matter where this guy goes, there will always be a pool, and always people curious about this crazy pool design.

There you have it folks the Top 10 pools we thought you should check out because they pushed the limits when it comes to creativity and functionality. Thought outside the box with ways each design can be integrated into its surroundings, whether that is your own personal lazy river movie theatre, or a traveling water wonderland, the possibilities are truly endless.

Which numbers on the countdown did you like the most? and What would you have done differently?

Any suggestions on some Top 10’s you would like to see Neptune Styled? Post Below!!!

How To Price Backyard Water Features: A Contractors Guide

pricing backyard water features

There are certain items every contractor needs to consider to adequately and fairly place a value on any potential water feature project design.  As with any other project, properly pricing a water feature installation is critical to the success of your business.

There is one thing contractors should never do; this important issue can single handedly destroy this industry.   Never underbid a job just to get that job. Remember, underbidding a project may get you the job but cost you in the end.   Every time contractors underbid a project, they hurt themselves, their business and the industry as a whole.

By pricing your projects fairly and competitively without gouging your customers, you can be successful without having to undercut your competitors.  By offering higher quality materials and components, better service and attention to detail you’ll be able to meet the demands and wishes of your client.

When pricing a project, here are some of the basic items to consider:

  • The type of water feature desired – Each type, style and size of feature has different costs associated with its installation and has its own set of pros and cons regarding cost.
  • Client wants and needs – Many times a client will tell you exactly what they want. If you ask the correct questions you might discover that what they want is not exactly what they need. As a professional, this is your responsibility to point this out to them.
  • Site selection – Where is the best location for the particular project for maintenance, visibility, enjoyment and use? Selecting the correct location for a water feature project can make a big difference in the overall cost of the structure.
  • Excavation – How easy or difficult is the excavation site?  Is there access for heavy equipment or will it need to be dug by hand? Can you use all the excavated soil onsite or will you spend valuable resources and labor hauling it off? Installers often must pay to dump excess soil somewhere. Watch out for underground utilities; call ahead and have them marked or you might spend a lot of cash making costly repairs.
  • Proper component selection and placement – Selecting and installing the correct equipment and components for a practical and functional water feature can be critical for the end satisfaction of your client. Make sure you select equipment designed to perform as needed under the present environmental conditions.
  • Aesthetics – Choosing the correct types, sizes and amounts of materials can be essential in the end appearance of your project design. Making one small mistake can ruin the best of intentions. Do not cut corners when selecting your materials. Choose the right materials that will result in the appearance the client wishes to achieve.
  • Labor – Calculating the number of man-hours needed on a particular project is the single most expensive issue we are faced with on most projects. Knowing how many people you will need on the job and how many hours each man will work each day is an expensive endeavor that can cost you dearly if miscalculated.

Several water feature installation companies have used this formula successfully for many years: Calculate your total out-of-pocket expenses for the proposed project, and then triple the amount. If a project costs you $2,000 to install, charge the client $6,000. If the project costs you $7,256 to install, charge the client $21,768.

Here is how this amount breaks down:

The first third is your actual out-of-pocket costs. It is gone. You used this amount to pay for everything you needed to make the project materialize – your design work, employee labor, materials, components, supplies, specialized equipment, everything.

The second third is for your business operating expenses, such as office space, office furniture, computer, printer, ink and paper, pens and pencils, Internet access, separate laptop or tablet, business insurance, digital camera, unemployment insurance, business license and permits, telephone service and equipment, cellular phone service and a cell phone, business cards, brochures, advertising, website, website hosting, vehicles, vehicle signage, tools and other work-related equipment, employee hats and shirts, professional association memberships, attending business-related educational events or conventions, and more.

The third portion of the amount charged to your client is your profit. This allows your business to grow and advance in the future to keep you viable in the marketplace. Without profit, your business is dead in the water.

There are many other items to consider, but always make sure that you adequately price the project so you and your business profit from your efforts. Otherwise, you might find yourself looking for another line of work.

Many thanks to Rick Bartell for putting together this list.  Rick is one of the foremost experts in water feature design/build with over 30 years of experience..  You can visit his site at http://rickbartel.com/.

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How To Build Caves And Grottoes With The Neptune Panels System

The trend in outdoor living areas continues to grow as homeowners seek to make the most use of their property.  Resort style features like backyard waterfalls, caves and grottoes are becoming accessible to these customers as new and advanced systems are being developed to replicate the look and feel of these elements found in nature.

swimming pool grotto

The Neptune Panels system is a new system that enables contractors to help homeowners realize their resort fantasy in their own backyard.

Neptune panels have a wide diversity of uses, and one great example is constructing grottoes and caves. These methods can take your water feature or outdoor living area design to a whole new level. Using some of the basic methods for creating a Neptune water feature with a few additional steps you can produce a gorgeous, resort style feature right in your own backyard.

building a swimming pool grotto

  1. Start by making your Neptune panels from your molds while you are working on other phases of you project so that when it is start time you can work in a productive manner and there is no wasted time. Remember by using the molds to make different shapes in the panels it will be easier to find the “fitting” piece when building and help in making a more powerful feature.
  2. Depending where your grotto is being built will determine the amount of time needed for prep work. Generally you will need at least a day min. and quite a bit of steel with a varying amount of gauges. Typically sonotubes are used with rebar inserted and concrete poured inside for a structural base. Using higher gauge steel where needed continue to bend and tie your rebar together to create a structural steel grid.
  3. Once you have secured all of your rebar and poured any footers/sonotubes required for your project you can begin to attach your panels to the grid. Start and complete the inside before moving to the outer panels. This will allow you to cover the backs of the panels with concrete to give the extra structural strength needed. Continue with the same method for the outer panels.
  4. With all the panels tied and secured you can mud and seam all the joints and openings. Be sure to texture the fresh mud and brush in all seams. You will want to hydraulic cement all areas that will be covered by flowing water. It is also smart to do the same to the entire top even where water will not be, this will help seal out any rain or weather from seeping in and causing drips below.
  5. Now it is time to color your feature. Using Neptune stains and a color scheme in mind spray and brush on stains. When you have completed coloring, be sure that you and your client are happy with the look before sealing as it is very difficult to fix the color after it has been sealed. Once you have agreed on the look go ahead and apply a coat of sealer to finish up your project!

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neptune panels installers