AQUA Asks Kathy Marosz, President of Vision Design & Watershapes in San Diego, About Working On Big Projects

photo of Kathy Marosz, president and principal designer for Vision Design & Watershapes
Kathy Marosz is president and principal designer for Vision Design & Watershapes in San Diego. The company won the January, 2011 AQUA Choice award for an unusually large project that included 20 pumps, five heat pumps, five gas heaters, and five corona-discharge ozonators.

Q: Your AQUA Choice-winning pool in the January issue was a huge undertaking. What are some of the issues you run into with a really big project?

The most ominous of many issues on a complex and/or large-scale project is managing client expectations.

First and foremost, everyone involved in designing and building the project must agree that someone is in charge and respect the position of that person. That is not to say that all of those involved have no input — just the opposite. We all have opinions, some relevant to the project and some maybe not.

Collaboration among engineers, designers, contractors, the job site supervisor and material manufacturers and suppliers is paramount in the process and will often result in some sort of modification to the original specifications that improves the project. At the same time, scheduling challenges can be discussed and ironed out allowing a critical path schedule to be developed to help manage the construction process. Only through the person in charge should any changes, corrections or scheduling issues be communicated to the client.

The subcontractors should not be communicating with the client. I personally know several designer/builders in the industry who have fired subs on the spot the second they found out the sub had overstepped and expressed his/her opinion or a "better idea" to the client. It might seem harsh, and damage control and diplomacy might rectify the situation (both of which take time that shouldn't have to be wasted), but the reason this is so important is that you can't manage client expectations when this happens.

At the completion of the project if you (as the person in charge) haven't been fired, you did a good job of managing client expectations. If the client actually likes you, you did a great job of managing client expectations — not to mention you have a great deal of patience and tenacity as well as being a little crazy!

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