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3D Pool Design
Using 3D Design to Connect Landscape Contractors to Pool Builders

By Lori Hawkins, RLA, ASLA

Since many pool builders use 3D landscape design software, contractors can facilitate stronger partnerships with them by doing the same. Use of this technology will also help contractors differentiate themselves from competitors and can be used as a marketing tool to customers they deal with directly.


After a pool builder completes a pool design, they can share the file with the landscape contractor who adds plant material, lighting, furniture and other site features to complete the outdoor living space.

In the current highly competitive landscape industry, attracting new customers is always a challenge. Forming strategic partnerships with other professionals can create long-term company growth, but are also a challenge to create. Landscape architects and contractors are increasingly leveraging the power of technology to make their businesses more efficient and to tap into new markets. For instance, 3D landscape design software will allow contractors to further differentiate themselves from their competitors and secure, long-lasting partnerships with another industry partner- the pool builder.

Currently, in the US, pool construction is a $9 billion industry employing approximately 48,000 people in over 13,000 businesses. In 2018, 19 million people in the US reported owning a pool, spa or hot tub. According to IBIS Research, although the pool construction industry was in decline during the economic recovery after the recession, demand for swimming pools is now trending upward. Further, their research showed that as market conditions in the residential construction industry rebounded, demand for new swimming pools by homeowners also increased. The rise in home values during the recovery has also encouraged homeowners to further invest in their home's value by adding a swimming pool. The current status of the pool construction industry for 2018-2019 is strong, given the thriving economy.

Many pool builders, who are also trying to streamline their process and provide value to their customers, are turning to strategic partnerships to accomplish that goal. A recent survey from Aqua Magazine showed that, 80% of pool builders who collaborate with other professionals, do so with landscape contractors, and 70% with landscape architects. It is to these professionals' benefit to create an environment that allows this collaboration to flourish.

3D landscape design software is one technology that could facilitate this partnership. Since this technology is used by most pool builders for pool design and construction drawings, it creates a unique opportunity. The use of this technology by landscape architects and contractors creates a distinct selling proposition that allows them to form strategic partnerships with pool builders. The most widely used software, "Pool Studio" by Structure Studios, is currently used by 48 out of the 50 top pool builders in the US.

Other landscape and pool design software includes Pro Contractor Studio by Software Republic, Realtime Landscaping Architect by Idea Spectrum and PoolDraw by BHoldings, LLC.


Another advantage of 3D design software is Automatic Smart Data, which not only calculates all of the measurements but also the quantities of materials needed for the build. Besides saving time in the planning stage, this lets contractors make adjustments and create change orders more quickly.


In the author's experience, the impact of fly-through video presentations, which can include night views to accent lighting and fire features, help mitigate customer sticker shock.

There are many additional reasons that 3D imaging software can benefit the landscape architect and contractor in their new partnership with the pool builder:
• 3D design software offers automated tools that streamline the design process and speed up design time. Changes to designs can be made much easier and in much less time.
• Utilizing the same software as the pool builders creates a free-flowing environment of collaboration. Once the pool builder completes their pool design, the design file can be sent to the landscape architect or contractor to design the outdoor living space and add plant material, lighting, furniture and other site features. This ease of sharing information facilitates and fosters the professional relationship and partnership.
• Automatic Smart Data does the calculations for the contractor instantly. This includes not just all of the measurements but also all of the materials necessary to plan, measure, and build the swimming pool. The quick access to quantities of materials also allows the contractor to create proposals more efficiently and make changes, or create change orders, in a quicker time frame.
• Intuitive, user-friendly tools designed specifically for pool designers and landscape architects means progressing from design to presentation to construction is seamless. Presentations are simple, beautiful and impactful- whether presenting in the office, in the field, using virtual reality or sharing a fly-through video on social media. The applications are endless.
• Presentations create the 'Wow' factor with customers and creates excitement for the project. Program easily toggles from day to night views to accent lighting and other features. Once the customer has complete buy-in to the project, other factors such as price alone take a back seat to their excitement.

3D landscape imaging software can also assist the landscape contractor rise above their competition in their local market. Research has shown that many homeowners are requesting 3D design for their landscape and outdoor projects. Currently, many landscape contractors do not use 3D design technology of any kind for their designs. The use of this technology, or hiring an outside source that does, would present many new selling opportunities to the landscape contractor.

Further, use of this technology differentiates the contractor from their competition and raises them to a higher level. This creates an environment that leaves less room for the customer to consider price alone when selecting the contractor for their project.

In the quest to rise above the competition: Investigate 3D design technology and see how it could open up new opportunities for your company!


Lori Hawkins, RLA, ASLA has been a registered landscape architect for over 30 years. She is registered in both N.C. and S.C. and has her own private practice design firm in the Greensboro, N.C. area.

As seen in LC/DBM magazine, July 2018.

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October 17, 2019, 6:56 am PDT

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