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Raoul van de Laak of Good Manors Garden, Pool and Landscape Design Sydney

With almost 40 years’ experience in the industry and as a founding director of Good Manors, there are few in such a position of authority to talk about swimming pools than Raoul van de Laak.

Meet the Poolmaster

Good Manors Garden, Pool and Landscape Design Sydney was established by Raoul van de Laak and fellow Dutch native David Buurma, who were both seeking a new adventure in Australia, all the way back in 1987.

Raoul and David identified an opportunity to change the typical Australian backyard into an outdoor entertainment space that could function as an extension of the home in order to take advantage of Sydney’s weather.

Despite shifting trends over the years and increased competition, Good Manors has never lost sight of its clear vision to remain client-focused and always maintain a strong emphasis on creating contextual, relevant outdoor living areas, gardens and pools.

Designing for the client is important for the success of the landscape

For Raoul, tailoring the designs to the specifications of clients’ needs and tastes is vital to the success of the design. He places great emphasis on working in collaboration with the clients to carry out the vision.

Raoul believes it is also important to consider the outdoor space in its entirety when designing a pool. “I think the most important area where people go wrong is that they don’t have an overall design of the whole garden when they’re thinking of a pool.”

'Roseville' garden and swimming pool by Good Manors
‘Roseville’ garden and swimming pool by Good Manors

Managing expectations around pool costs

As a member of SPASA, AILDM, Landscape Association of NSW & ACT, Raoul and Good Manors are always eager to manage expectations around cost and pricing for clients.

Raoul explains it’s important to be realistic about the costs associated with excavation, pool fencing, styling and pool internal finishes. While pools vary in price, Raoul says “…if you want a quality pool, you start looking at $60,000, $70,000 to $100,000 as a minimum. And then we start, and then you go easily to $150,000 or sometimes $200,000.”

But the thing is, people have to be more realistic about pools; what is included and what’s not included.

One of those realistic considerations for Raoul is swimming pool maintenance and how much time and money the owner is willing to commit longterm.

“Maintenance of a pool really comes down to where it is positioned in a garden. Like, if there’s a tree hanging over it, it’s a weekly, daily job sometimes”, he explains.

“So, it really depends on where the pool is positioned and that also can throw the balance of the water off. That actually requires more chemicals.”

For more pool advice from the experts, head to the pool section of our Learning Library.