Embracing Site Restrictions & Client Requests

By John Martese

My son suggested, “Dad before you talk about your topic you should let the readers know your story in the swimming pool industry before becoming a designer”

My family and I relocated to Arizona in the early 2000’s. I started On Demand Pool Service, a pool service and repair business and had enjoyed that career for 12 years. In the scope of my work, I have seen many pools, some breathtaking and some not! I could tell you my favorite builder was Paddock. Why? There in-floor cleaning system was the best. Nothing was better than a Pentair WhisperFlow® filter pump teamed up with a Pentair WhisperFlow® booster pump, powering a PCC2000 in-floor cleaning system. WOW! The water that would move through that pool was perfection. I have also seen “pretty” pools that were troublesome. Why? No room to work on the equipment, undersized filters, pool failures, same ole kidney bean pool and inexperienced pool owners. When it was time to build my own pool, I discovered Structure Studios®. I was on the mend from ankle surgery requiring a 12-month recovery before I could get back to the daily grind of cleaning pools. This is when I discovered the next chapter of my career in the swimming pool industry.


“A plan or drawing produced to show the look and function or workings of a building, garment, or other object before it is built or made.”

One of the most rewarding aspects about designing pools and outdoor living spaces, is seeing the creative ideas transfer from my mind and come to life on the computer. At first, I was fairly conservative, I would design concept projects that were safe and “normal͟.” These were the same concepts you would see in mailers from high-volume builders to market to the masses. I just prettied them up with more details and different finish materials.

As I continued to study and concept design, I found MY style of designing and I realized my true passion was designing pools and outdoor living spaces.

My journey into pool design definitely had some rough patches though. When I started out, I landed a pool sales/design job with the 3rd largest high-volume pool builder in the Phoenix, AZ market. I hated it and lasted 5 weeks and went back to freelance designing. My road twisted again, and I accepted a pool sales/design job. I stayed with that company for 4 months, not a good fit, and I happily excepted that I am a designer not a salesman. So back to freelance where I continued honing and refining my design skills. I eventually started designing pools and outdoor spaces for clients/builders throughout the US, and still do to this day.

Right about this time, Tributary Revelation was rolled out. It was exciting to see a designer/builder in my local market co-create an organization that isfocused on making OUR industry better. A network of professionals consisting of some of the industry’s leading Architects, Designers and Craftsmen who love sharing Knowledge, Education, and Passion. I reached out to Co-Founder Jeromey Naugle. He said “go to the website and fill out an inquiry” which I did. The best thing that happened is that I never heard back. I knew I wasn’t ready, didn’t have the experience, or more importantly, I didn’t have the passion, YET!

So now, “what’s next?”

Tributary Revelation

A group of passionate members which are driven through knowledge, problem solving, collaboration, and the willingness to continue to learn and make the swimming pool and outdoor living environment better. Working to fix known issues through educating clients. As well as others in the industry, that have the willingness to learn and grow.

Now on to my topic.

Embracing Site Restrictions

In early 2018, my friends (David & Aaron, The Twins) in the pool supply industry had sold their pool supply chain and were General Contracting a custom home in Apache Junction, AZ. They invited me out and asked me to design their pool and outdoor living space. I was pumped, until I heard all their ideas. Aaron wanted a pool that looked like a guitar, ahhh, no thanks. David wanted water features because he loves the sound of water. After all the conversations, I received their site plan.

Site Restrictions:

  • Natural wash to the left with a 25’ setback.
  • Septic tank to the right of patio with a large ͞no build zone͟.
  • Perimeter wall to the right with a 15’ setback.

Client Request List:

  • Push the pool out 24’ from the covered patio column, to allow plenty of room for entertaining, lounging, and weddings.
  • Modern style swimming pool with water features.
  • Plenty of room for entertaining.
  • Destination areas, BBQ Inland/Bar, fire features, putting greens, and desert landscape with lighting.
  • Capitalize on views. This property has beautiful views of Superstition Mountain and Silly Mountain, which is a perfect back drop for weddings.
  • Shade structure.
  • Final request, there is a beautiful Saguaro Cactus right where we discussed placing the pool. Embracing Site Restrictions.

Bringing a client’s wish list to life is where the fun and frustration lies. This requires patience, problem solving and creativity. My process is to think and reflect before I go to the computer. I was ready to tackle the site restrictions along with the client’s “must haves” utilizing the Structure Studios® VIP3D software. I came up with a couple of workable layouts, but I kept looking at the restrictions. Determined to come up with something unique, functional and the perfect fit for the architecture of the home, as well as matching the Twins personalities. I started to embrace the site restrictions and used them as a template that has become one of the most progressive looking projects I have ever designed. I knew I was on to something, but the true test would be the client’s reaction.

I continued the pool design process with a large tanning ledge, Baja Bench, a full-length bench along back side of pool, steps, benches, stools, and in pool table. I finished up the designing the outdoor living spaces with a shade structure, two large fire features, a BBQ island as well as incorporating a few putting greens and as desert-landscape and lighting package. So now I was ready to create the design presentation, but it couldn’t be just a normal presentation. It had to be a knockout presentation. I reached out to Thai Tran, an amazing video game designer, outdoor living designer, and I think one of the best video editors for the style of designs and presentation I create. I asked him to create a ͞Thai Tran masterpiece.”

After Thai worked his magic and I saw the video edit, my mouth dropped. I still remember the feeling of “Hell, Yes” when Thai was done. I was excited to present the Twins their design. I sent them over the video link, 5 minutes later I get the call. “Get it ready for permits!!!”

Don’t be afraid to push the limits or challenge yourself. If you are always playing it safe, you may never grow beyond your comfort zone or realize your true potential. More importantly, be a problem solver. Embrace Site Restrictions and Client Requests… they promote creativity, growth, and achievement.

-- John  Martese / On Demand Design Concepts