Friday, April 6, 2018

Backyard Oasis: The Alternative to the Expensive Vacation


Backyard Oasis:  The Alternative to the Expensive Vacation


Growing up in New England, I have many memories of my school summer vacations.  We were lucky enough to always have a week or two planned every summer in order to go away and I can remember some of the highlights of those vacations.  Rolling around in the back of the station wagon (because back then we could), breakfast at the Howard Johnson on the way down the east coast.  We had wonderful times visiting Hershey Park, Busch Gardens, and Disney World.  But the thing is, most of my memories of school summer vacations when I was a kid have nothing to do with the trips we took.  Why?  Because we had a pool and so every day was like a vacation.  I remember waiting hours for my mother to get us ready with sunblock and snacks etc. We would head out to the back yard (ok, so maybe it was more like 20 minutes but it felt like hours).  I remember my brother teaching me and my best friend how to dive in the deep end and wanting to be “cool” like my sister and her friends as they sunbathed in lounge chairs.  And the family parties!  Oh what a time!




Over the years, the trend of at home vacations seemed to fall by the wayside and be replaced with expensive trips to tropical islands.  Expensive and short lived, these trips may have given great photo ops and good memories, but also left behind little money and exhaustion from long airline travel.  In 2017, Forbes Magazine published an article that more than ever Americans are having to go into debt just to pay for a vacation.  On average, Americans who are taking annual vacations are spending 10 to more than 15% of their annual salaries on vacations.[1]  Given that Uncle Sam is taking approximately 30 to 35% of the average American’s paycheck that means that a person who is earning $70,000 per year is likely spending almost 25% of their income on vacations per year.





The fact is, if you want quality time with your family, relaxation by the water and a fancy drink in your hand, you can do all of that without leaving the house and without all of the hassle.
You may have heard the term “staycation” over the last several years.  It may be a newer term but the idea isn’t new, it just was lost for some time.  Recently, people are going back to the idea of staycations again.  This is due to many factors including the cost of travel, the state of unrest that many feel on planes and other public transportation, and a savvier generation of people realizing the money spent on one week of vacation isn’t always worth it. 

The trend today is not just throwing a hole in the backyard and filling it with water, it is so much more.  Today’s homeowners are turning their backyards into a place where they can vacation every day.  From gorgeous swimming pools with attached spas and features galore to outdoor kitchens, fire pits, and pizza ovens, the return on these investments exceed the financial, you just cannot put a price on family togetherness without the hassle of travel.  In fact, for many, the inclusion of a backyard oasis has become their own personal nightly therapy.  It has become a way to bring kids, grandkids, cousins, friends, and then some together.  Parents are realizing that they are creating a safe place where kids are excited to bring friends, and adults can socialize in a relaxed setting. 

While the upfront cost may be something of an eye popper, creating outdoor living space gives back financially over time, unlike a trip to Cabo, that money is recouped.  It is a true investment, regardless of whether this is your forever home or your “next ten years” home.  I recently spoke about the financial recoupment of investing in your backyard with Amy Farrell, owner of Amy Farrell Real Estate and a distinguished realtor specializing in home sales on the South Shore.  Amy often tells her clients “a well-planned backyard really adds to the value of any home.  When people can envision themselves using and relating there, it virtually adds to the living space.”[2]  Watch any show on HGTV these days and you will see that she is right.  With so many options and choices these days for outside embellishments, it is no wonder that dressing up your yard has become just as important as your kitchen. 

So the question is, what are you waiting for? 



[1] Learnvest, “Most Americans are Taking Vacations They Can’t Afford,” Forbes Magazine (2017).
[2] Amy Farrell of Amy Farrell Real Estate, 781-929-2985.





Aquaknot Pools, Inc. the South Shore's oldest family-owned gunite pool company.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

PREPARING FOR FALL SWIMMING

JUST KEEP SWIMMING....

Let's face it, New England summers are short.  Plagued with a horrible spring full of rain and cold weather, the season was even shorter this year; so, do you throw in the towel and call it a year?  No one wants to see summer end so if you want to spend a few more weeks enjoying the big investment in your backyard, here are some tips on how to do it.

Splurge on a Heater

We know they are expensive but heaters in New England are almost a must have if you really want to get your money's worth, it is definitely the way to go.   Heaters can provide you with an earlier start in the spring and later swimming in the fall.  Today's heaters are energy efficient and heat water quickly allowing for less down time.  In those hot summer months, conserve by leaving it off.  It is your best bet to keeping the water warm well into October.  Another bonus to heaters, use it just when you need it so if weekdays are busy, then turn that heater on Friday night and jump on in on Saturday morning.  

Solar covers

Not able to splurge on a heater?  Leaving a solar cover on when the pool is not in use during the day will allow the heat from the sun to be trapped allowing for a subtle increase in the pool temp.  While you may not have 80 degree water from a solar cover, it can surely take the edge off when taking that plunge.  Another bonus to solar covers is that it reduces evaporation.  With cold nights and warm days, water evaporation increases causing your pool to lose more water.  Solar covers prevent that evaporation reducing the amount of water you have to add to your pool and less water added means less balancing of chemicals and reduction in pool expenses.

Smart Shield by Bioguard

Heard the expression, "strike while the iron is hot"?  Well, this is one you want to use while the warm temps are still upon us.  Want to keep swimming the month of September?   Add Smart Shield to your water at the end of August.  Smart Shield's special formula creates an invisible coating on the water's surface that creates a barrier which maintains pool temps and reduces evaporation for up to 30 days after application. Throw another bottle in toward the end of September to keep the effect lasting.  


At the end of the day, if you are the original pool owner, you have gone through the expense of putting in the pool, why not make the season last as long as possible and enjoy!  When you are ready to close up, give us a call.  





Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Aquaknot Pools, Inc.: MOTHER NATURE, YOU HAVE LOST YOUR MIND

Aquaknot Pools, Inc.: MOTHER NATURE, YOU HAVE LOST YOUR MIND: MOTHER NATURE, YOU HAVE LOST YOUR MIND! Mother nature seems to be a little confused with the seasons this spring.  From cold and ra...

MOTHER NATURE, YOU HAVE LOST YOUR MIND

MOTHER NATURE, YOU HAVE LOST YOUR MIND!


Mother nature seems to be a little confused with the seasons this spring.  From cold and rainy for over a month (who has blue prints for the arch ready to go?) to blistering heat and humidity, this New England spring is giving all of us a run for our money.  I bet I am not the only one who hesitates putting the snow gear away.  Pool owners have been especially hit hard this spring with this crazy weather.  Rain that won't quit is causing balancing issues while the heavy pollen and hot sun is eating up chlorine as fast as it can be added.  Are you frustrated?  Of course.  90 + degree days after lots of rain = green green green and we have all had it.  

Does your pool remind you of this?  






Sooo... what can we do?

Well, if putting your pool indoors isn't an option, then let us give you our top four nuggets of advice for surviving the spring...

1.  When in doubt, chlorinate

Whether you are a salt pool or a straight chlorine pool, it doesn't matter on this one.  You need chlorine and you need a lot of it.  Why?  Because it kills algae which is the main cause of spring time problems with pools.  Regular shocking, add an extra stick to the basket, do whatever you can to keep the chlorine level ideal (1 - 3 ppm).  

A subset to this discussion on chlorinating is that not all chlorine is created equal.  We aren't naming names here but consider the sources and know that you get what you paid for.  Don't believe us?  Get small jug of cheap chlorine and get a small jug of a quality chlorine ahem Bioguard would be a good one, the first thing you are likely to notice is consistency.  Cheap chlorine will feel softer, maybe even crumble a bit in your hands.  What that means?  It will also likely disintegrate faster than its higher end counter part.  End of the day, you will spend just as much, if not more, for the cheap chlorine than the higher end because you will have to buy more.   

2.  Keep up with filter cleanings

Think of backwashing being the quick fix to clearing your filter on a daily basis.  The problem is that backwashing doesn't necessarily get all that gunky algae that sticks to the guts of your filter.  As time goes on that gunk gets thicker and covers the grids of your filter.  Before you know it, you are backwashing multiple times a day, the pool looks cloudy, and your returns are barely pumping out water.  What is happening is that your grids have so much algae and "gunk" that they are not filtering water through any more.  This can reduce your heater's efficiency, raise your filter pressure, cause water balancing issues, and make you pull out your hair when it comes to keeping your pool clear.  If this sounds like your situation, get out there and clean those grids.  Usually just hosing them off can work wonders.  If it is really caked on, see your local pool chemical dealer for cleaning solutions to get those grids good as new.  

3.  Brush, skim, empty, repeat

Tedious is a good word for this time of year with pool care.  Even if you are on a weekly service cleaning plan with a company, you are probably finding that you need to still do some work.  Maintaining the pool in the New England spring is NOT, I repeat NOT, a weekly job.  It is an everyday, maybe morning and night, job at this time of year.  At this time of year, pollen falls into the pool as fast as it can be scooped out.  Springtime flowers come with lots of extra debris, especially if you are a fan of the flowering trees.  Skimmers filled with pollen and flower petals block the chlorine from working and overload the system.   Algae grows on pool walls before you even see it and multiplies by the millions.  How many times have you gone to bed with a clear pool and woken to a green one?  Pollen, petals and leaves clog filters quickly, the more you can skim out before it goes into the skimmer the longer you will have between the filter cleanings.  

4.  Have you tried our Pool Complete?

Ok, so we are a pool company so we need to plug a few of our products :)  Pool Complete came out last year with a guaranteed satisfaction.  Not only does it pull phosphates (you know the chemicals often found in suntan lotions, lawn chemicals, etc), but has clarifying properties that leave your pool unbelievably crystal clear.  Don't believe us?  Check out this Pool Complete Drone Video

The good news

- The good news is that we are almost past the worst of it.  Soon the pollen will be gone, the trees all will have bloomed and pools will become more manageable every day.  As the old saying goes, "this too shall pass."   


Thursday, January 26, 2017

So, what do pool builders do in the winter?

SO, WHAT DO YOU ALL DO IN THE WINTERTIME?


So, what do you all do in the wintertime?  That may be the most asked question from about mid-December through early March.  It is also a valid question when one works in a swimming pool business in Massachusetts.  I am sure that some pool companies shut down and head south, but we have other ideas.  

First and foremost, we continue to work five days a week (barring holidays of course).  We continue to get phone calls for service for spas and indoor pools and we continue to meet with new customers to discuss new construction and renovations.  With the exception of the week after Christmas, you can count on Aquaknot to answer the phones.  In fact, we encourage you to call us to schedule your openings as spring is just around the corner.

Secondly, we are working on bettering ourselves.  The winter is the time to learn about new products, what is working, what isn't working, and what does the future hold.  Many of our team members attend seminars and schools to help move our company forward, providing our customers with the latest in pool technology and products.  

Thirdly, prepare.  Right now, we are beginning the hiring process for the opening season.  Some of our employees have been with us for over a decade, but each year, we also welcome new people to our team as our company grows. 


Lastly, we plan.  As we wait out the winter, we know that as soon as a shovel can sink into the dirt, we will be out there in backyards working against weather conditions and deadlines.  Our goal for the spring is to have as many people swimming as soon as possible without compromising quality.  As we start to book openings and take on weekly service clients, we will begin putting together our "master plan" to be sure that our customers' needs are 100% satisfied.  We will also be looking for ways to improve our customer service as we feel that as a business, there is always room to improve.  

So, yes, we are not digging pools and our service is limited from December through March, but we continue our goal to grow and improve throughout the winter months to remain one of Massachusetts leading swimming pool companies.  


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Trust the Professionals





INTERNET RESEARCH IS A GREAT WAY TO START BUT...

It is a running joke around here that if someone has a question, I will be the first to jump on google to get the answer.  This works when trying to find out if Brad Pitt is really reconciling with Angelina, or for how long to cook a 5 pound roast; however, when looking into building a custom gunite pool, internet research should only be your starting point.  

If I googled right now, "are chlorine pools better than salt," I would get a million and one answers.  I use this as an example because this is a very often asked question.  The irony of this example is that with a million and one answers online to this question, the answer from a professional is that salt water pools are chlorine pools.  The salt generates chlorine.  Why am I telling you this?  To prove my point.  You cannot just rely on what the internet tells you, but you already probably know that.


When we go out to your home and discuss a pool installation, we are always happy to hear that people have done some legwork, researched things they may want, and have an idea of what their goal is.  The problem is, that sometimes what you want and what will work are two very different things.  This is why you call in a professional.  Oftentimes, people want various extras or amenities when building a swimming pool but, as is the case with most electronics, the products have to be compatible.  Our salesperson has vast knowledge on the products on the market today.  She knows what works and how well it works.  As a family-owned business that has been installing custom gunite pools for thirty years, we have seen it all and we make a conscious effort to remain at the forefront of trends but to also know what is worth the cost and what is not.  Our business is built on trust and we are honest with our customers.  Other companies may push a high end product simply because it is popular and creates income.  We prefer that customers choose their products based on their wants of course, but also based on what will work properly with their overall project.   A lot of times we will come to a meeting and hear about the promises from another company about a "great product" or something that a potential customer's friend has or something someone found on the internet.  We believe it is our job to provide truthful information and to steer customers toward products that work and are compatible with what their overall desire is.  

So, please, continue to do your research, talk to friends, and present these ideas when meeting with our sales and design person but know that we will do our best to give you the pros and cons of these ideas as we feel it is our job to ensure not only that you receive the pool/spa that you so desire but one that will provide joy not extra money or headaches.  


Considering a project in the future, we continue to meet the needs of our current customers and future customers by maintaining operations all winter.  Call today to schedule an appointment to discuss a future product!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

SALE SALE SALE



You didn't think we would end the year too quiet, did you?  We know we know, it is only November and I promise you, we respect the Turkey but with the season winding down, we hope you will forgive us for giving you a push on some early Christmas Shopping.   So... Beginning Monday, November 7, 2016, take 20% off all of our pool floats and toys.  So what if it is November and you aren't swimming, this is a perfect gift to remind everyone when the weather is cold and dark that there is sunshine around the corner, or perhaps a great gift to someone down south, or maybe someone heading on vacation to someplace warm.  Whatever the reason, come in between November 7th and November 30th to take advantage of this special end of season promotion.

Offer applies to our Lakeville Store only - 54 Main Street, Lakeville, MA.  

Here is a glimpse of what is in store!