With obstacles like unpredictable weather and today’s even more unpredictable supply chain, unforeseen delays are sometimes a part of a hardscape project. But experienced contractors like Lonny Arter of Chester River Landscaping know how to make a silver lining out of that unexpected downtime.
In the build that clinched Arter’s fourth Hardscape Hero title, an almost year-long backlog with the project’s pool contractor gave Arter and the homeowner time to build out the patio and pool in phases, which ultimately made for a much stronger finished product.
When the homeowner asked Arter about installing part of the patio while waiting on the pool, he was all for it. “I think it’s actually a good idea,” he said at the time. “Lets go ahead and put this upper patio in, and get the fire pit in, so at least for the next year, you can enjoy that until the pool goes in.”
It turned out to be more than just a quick fix to get the homeowner some usable outdoor space – living with the incomplete plan for almost a year helped the client and Arter to get a better sense of how the space would be used, and what pool layout and features would work best for the family’s needs.
Arter remembers working through decisions like how much space to leave between the pool and the house, and how the pool itself should be oriented. “Do you want to run it parallel to the house,” he asked the homeowner, “or do you want to run it vertically, going away from the house?”
So what could have been a year lost in limbo turned into one with memories made on a new patio and an effective design process that helped the homeowner get a better feel for how her family would use their space. “I think that time really helped her, as far as vision to be able to see where the pool should go,” said Arter.
And after 25 years in the hardscape industry, he knows how to help a client to achieve their vision for a dream outdoor living space. Though he’s only been with his current company for about a year, many members of Arter’s crew have been with him for close to 15 years and he’s thrilled they’re all now at Chester River, saying, “We feel like we – found a good home here.”
Arter gives special credit to his longtime project foreman, German Lopez, for his team’s years of success and multiple Hardscape Hero wins. “Every job he’s on, customers praise his work ethic, his attention to detail, how the crew cleans up every day – everything about him,” says Arter, adding that Lopez is “good in all-around aspects.”
But even with a top-notch team on the job, this project – like most – wasn’t without its challenges. Once the long-awaited pool was finally installed, the Chester River team started to install the coping but quickly realized something wasn’t quite right. “When we went to do the bull nose coping around the pool,” explains Arter, “it had a bow in it, which happens on vinyl pools sometimes. I had to call the pool guy back out.”
With the coping issue solved, the pool project moved on to include a hot tub, which Arter’s team built from Belgard pavers surrounding a premade drop-in hot tub. “She had a raised hot tub coming out of the pool, which we wound up building,” said Arter. “We took Highland Wall and kind of boxed that in to make it all look like it was a waterfall.”
The Highland pavers coordinated seamlessly with the rest of the project – which, in addition to the multi-level patio and the pool, also included an outdoor kitchen – with the entire space finished in a mix of Belgard’s James River and Origins pavers.
Arter isn’t just a devotee of Belgard’s products; he also rates the service and the special perks and programs among the reasons that he chooses Belgard for project after project. “Belgard has helped me excel,” he says. “The Hardscape Hero program, the Contractors Club, the trainings that they do – all these things go hand in hand with what we do in the field. I would highly recommend it.”
And with Belgard awarding Arter his fourth title this month, it’s pretty clear that the admiration is mutual.