The Poolside Experience

With almost 30 years of industry experience, Ray Holt, President of Baker Pool Construction, gives us an insight into design both in and out of the water.

Edited by Moe Godat   

Photography by PMP Images


Expert Consultations: We do our best to be a bit more of a consultative/educational sales process in lieu of trying to sell the benefits of any particular product, so clients can expect candor. This process is completely immersive. It takes time, effort, energy and money. It is our intent and purpose to best educate our clients so they may make the best decisions for the future use of their backyard. With marketing, advertising and a bit of spin, it can be difficult as a consumer to differentiate reality from painted reality.  We do our very best to confront that.

Shape and Size Considerations: The shape and size of a pool becomes a clear picture in time based on a plethora of inputs.  Desired use will always carry the most weight, but beyond that there are a multitude of considerations. The architectural style of the home, the natural environment surrounding the home and the natural grades of land that exist in the yard all play a role in the ultimate shape and size.

Fire and Water: Fire and water belong together, in the right circumstances. In a four-season environment, it can extend the enjoyment of an outdoor area by months. Adding a firepit near your pool area almost seems like a no-brainer.

Soaking it Up: Hot tubs can be amazing, but the intricate understanding of all of the pros and cons is again highly important. Concrete hot tubs have become a main staple along with a concrete pool. Self-contained hot tubs have been in the industry for ages. This can be perhaps the singular hardest decision between form and function. Concrete hot tubs are manufactured on site and can be stunning additions to a pool environment. They do give way slightly to the function of a self-contained hot tub, not only in its efficiency, but in its ergonomics. A self-contained hot tub, while slightly winning the race of efficiency and function, loses by a nose in the aesthetic environment.

Dive In: In our own personal experience, a diving board was a great source of entertainment for our children and their friends with hours upon hours of use. However, a diving board requires certain elements of depth and dimension. It is important to remember the majority of the time most people spend in a pool is typically wading in the shallow end. As a result, in order to maintain an ample shallow area, diving pools by nature are considerably larger.

Adding Slides: There have been some newer options come to market over the last decade that lend themselves to a bit more appealing slide versus the traditional freestanding slides that were a staple for years. Most modern slides we install are to achieve a bit more of a built-in look.

Outside Structures: Structures such as pool houses and pavilions can vary significantly in price. Some can be, perhaps, just a roof with a fireplace and television on one end with a seating area in the middle. Some can be versions of a small home with a kitchen, bathroom, living rooms, etc. Depending on the complexity of intended use, we provide the names of a few local architects. If/when a second designer gets involved in the form of an architect, there can often be some back and forth between the architect and our company on final design. The single most important factor is the timing required to complete all of the initial design work.

Setting the Landscape: I would certainlyencourage homeowners to work with a professional landscape designer. Over the course of the last 15 years, we have developed our own landscape design and installation services in an attempt to keep the process as streamlined as possible. A landscape designer may have an amazing vision for an area of the pool decking that can completely enhance a project. Or vice versa, our design team may give some great insight into an area outside of the pool and deck that can be highly unique. Collaboration certainly achieves the very best results when the design professionals take pride in what they do.

Taming Technology: I believe technology is a double-edged, very sharp sword. It has certainly had some positive influence in our industry. Automation, for instance, allows for calibrating the necessary run time to keep a pool clean and clear, saving a significant amount of energy if done appropriately, all while controlling your pool and features from your phone, which leads to the other side of the blade. The disposable psychology in which that device alone has influenced manufacturing in our culture is far from insignificant. I walked up on a 16-17-year-old pool just a couple of weeks back, and it was obvious to me the pool still had the original pump. Most appliances were built to last back then. Now, we consider ourselves quite lucky if we can get a seven year average for a pool pump.  As a steward for our industry, our lives and our culture, I feel it would be remiss to avoid the truth of this.