Communities responsible for the creation of a new swimming pool and natatorium are often faced with choosing between a conventional AIA protocol of design programming, schematic design, design development and construction documents, bidding and construction administration as compared to negotiating with a sole source package pool installer (design-build). One must be knowledgably about different manufacturers and their products that are somewhat different than each other as well as performance records in the field.
The development protocol that will be chosen will produce different results at different costs, both in first cost and in life cycle costs.
Frequently, life cycle costs are not taken into account during the construction phase because they will be met with other budgets. If these costs are examined, often they reveal a significant cash flow line item for the owner’s budget.
Some General Observations:
1. Competition among companies has been the basis for obtaining quality construction at the lowest reasonable price for the owner. To achieve this goal, experienced owners have retained professional architects and engineers to serve as the owners advocate to create a professional set of bid documents based upon experience, knowledge and technical skills.
2. Design firms will develop a plan based upon years of history in the industry which benefits from the experience from hundreds of other similar facilities.
3. The advantage of the contract bid documents is that it invites qualified swimming pool contractors and dealer installers to compete head to head so that the owner is given the benefit of seeing what a number of options exist and everyone is agreeing that their price is for the same basic project.
4. Competition is the foundation of the free market system in America. Yet, most entities whether business, athletes, research scientist and even universities prefer to dodge competition on occasions. People that build swimming pools or no different. When any builder can avoid competitive bidding and negotiate instead with a buyer that does not have in depth knowledge of the seller’s product or what is available in the marketplace, the builder has an advantage.
5. The most important benefit of utilizing a design firm is their responsibility to the owner in creating the best facility to meet the owners requirements:
a) Functionality to accommodate current activities, future activities, potential activities and feature activities.
b) A combination of structural systems and mechanical systems that will minimize:
1. Labor costs for operation and custodial tasks
2. Replacement cost and frequency of replacements
3. Flexibility of design that will accommodate changes in activities, rule and regulations and mechanical systems.
6. The goal of any engineer is to create a pool in natatorium which can be efficiently operated at a reasonable cost for the life of the complex.
In summary, no matter what direction the owner decides to go, knowledgeable planning is the most important phase of the entire process.