Aquavisions Creates Custom Gunite Spa with Outdoor Living Area

Project Highlight: Aquavisions Creates Custom Gunite Spa with Outdoor Living Area

It takes time to create a masterpiece. In fact, the concept for this Central Pennsylvania custom gunite pool was about seven years in the making! But as you can see, the end result was well worth the wait. The story behind this particular pool is quite interesting. By how natural the pool and hardscaping fit the backyard, you would likely never guess the various troubleshooting we had to do to make this space possible.

Aquavisions Creates Custom Gunite Spa with Outdoor Living Area

We first met this client when Aquavisions was contracted to complete some renovations on an extremely large pool that had been installed at the client’s residence at the time. During the planning process for the renovation project, the client had quickly mentioned that if they ever decided to move and “downsize,” they would want to build a very small pool - even just a large spa - that the family could enjoy year round. “Would you be able to do something like that?” was the question. “Of course. We can do anything you want!” was our answer.

The Inspiration

Fast forward to 2016. The renovation client had decided it was time for a change. They purchased a new home and called Aquavisions in to design the backyard oasis of their dreams. The idea was to create a small pool or spa and also incorporate outdoor living spaces. As we do with all clients, we listened carefully and helped to compile a “wish list” of features that were important to include in the final design.

On the list was a pool or spa that could be used year round, an outdoor fireplace, multiple components of a functional outdoor kitchen, as well as various seating and dining areas. Additionally, it was important to the client to have patios around the pool for lounging and a television and sound system to entertain. The list was pretty extensive!

Aquavisions Creates Custom Gunite Spa with Outdoor Living Area

The Challenge

Believe it or not, incorporating all of the features from the client’s wish list into the final design wasn’t the greatest challenge we faced. Rather, it was the size and shape of the lot that proved to be our biggest hurdle. Additionally, the grading in the backyard had quite a bit of sloping elevations. There were not many “flat” spots in the yard to make designing the project easy. Fortunately, we tend to look at things a little differently and view tricky yards as opportunities instead of challenges.

To our advantage, the client desired a small pool/large spa, which was conducive to the lot size. We were able to develop a multi-tiered design that incorporated all of their desired features into one comprehensive structure that worked with, not against, the grading of the yard.

After a few tweaks and changes to some of the details on the design, the client signed off and we were ready to get started. The design phase of this project alone took approximately 6 months. While this is not typical of all of our projects, it’s a testament to our commitment to put in as much time as it takes to get the job done right. We pride ourselves on giving clients exactly what they envision, even if it’s more challenging and time-intensive.

Aquavisions Creates Custom Gunite Spa with Outdoor Living Area

The Result

To achieve this end result, it took a village! There were multiple trades and craftsmen involved in this project to make it truly magnificent. We worked together with the client to coordinate, and in turn work beside all contractors that were selected for this project to ensure a seamless process. In about 6 months, what was once a bare backyard was transformed into the exact design we promised our client.

The finished product is a luxuriously oversized spa that can be used well beyond the typical open and close dates for pools in Central Pennsylvania. The spa has 8 jets and an automatic pool cover so that it can be used year round. There is a granite bar top that is shared by the spa and the living space. There are also heaters mounted under the roof of the structure to extend the useable season well into the fall. We checked off every item on the wish list, resulting another very happy client and another award winning pool. This project went on to receive NESPA's Gold Award/Judge's Best of Competition!

Aquavisions Creates Custom Gunite Spa with Outdoor Living Area

What’s your favorite feature of this pool? Better yet, what does your vision of a “dream pool” look like? If you’re ready to upgrade your backyard space to an outdoor oasis, let’s start a conversation. Every one of our designs is unique to our clients’ property and lifestyle. Let us help you envision the potential in your backyard!

When is the Best Time to Break Ground on a Pool?

When it comes time to break ground on your pool, is timing really everything? Many pool companies will agree that the time of year you choose to break ground will have a large impact on your pool building experience. Every season brings its own pros and cons to consider. Weather, demand for labor and when you’d ideally like to start using your pool are just a few of the factors to consider.

Let’s take a look, season by season, at the best (and worst) times to break ground on a pool in Central Pennsylvania. Regardless of when you choose to break ground on your pool, one thing’s for sure – you will wish you had done it sooner!


Spring is when most people prefer to break ground on their pool so that it’s finished in time to be used throughout all of summer that same year. In Pennsylvania, the ground is getting softer and so construction can be easier and more predictable than it is in the dead of winter. As you might imagine, because most people want to install their pool in the spring, pool companies are in high demand this time of year, often with schedules that are booked solid.
One of the battles that pool companies fight during the spring is the rain. Spring construction can sometimes be slow due to mud and saturated job sites. If you want to break ground on your pool in spring, our advice is to select your pool company and finalize your design well in advance of when you want to break ground. You will be able to select your desired start date and you will have enough time to fully work through the planning process and construction process to maximize your swim season.


Early to mid-summer is among the busiest times for pool companies who usually have their crew fully booked on multiple jobs. If you choose to break ground on your pool this time of year, you may struggle to find an available pool company, unless you have booked them well in advance. Additionally, pool construction can put your backyard out of commission for weeks or months. Summer is the time of year when people enjoy being outside in their backyard, so consider how this could impact your family’s activities.

On the flip side, if you wait until the end of summer, you may find that pool companies are eager to take on jobs to keep their crew working as their busy season winds down. While you may not get to fully enjoy your pool that same season, you will surely enjoy having it ready to go next summer!


The drawback to breaking ground on your pool in fall is obvious, you’ll need to wait until the following summer to fully enjoy this new investment. However, there are many other benefits you should consider. Starting your pool project in the fall is generally less stressful because you aren’t trying to hit the popular Memorial Day or Fourth of July party deadlines!

With weather that is usually drier than the spring, and cooler than the summer, a fall pool project also brings the opportunity to get all of your landscaping established and your grass re-planted and growing! Even though you may not get to dip into the pool in the fall, having everything done and ready to go on the first warm day of spring is a great option!


Breaking ground on a pool in winter, especially in Central Pennsylvania, can be challenging and offer little benefit to offset these challenges. Foremost, weather can impact breaking ground and may hold up construction. Even if you get your pool complete, the finishing touches, like landscaping will have to wait until the spring, making the project feel like it’s dragging on.

Unless there is a compelling reason to break ground on a pool in the winter months, we highly encourage customers to choose spring, summer or fall. Rather, winter is a great time to explore your dream pool design and to set other things in motion to make your vision a reality!

Are you ready to get serious about designing your backyard oasis? The best way to get started is with a conversation. Let’s talk!

What Are the Benefits of a Custom Gunite Swimming Pool?

Owning and maintaining a gunite swimming pool is different from any other type of swimming pool. As you research swimming pool options for your backyard, you’ll come across the main types of swimming pools and the materials and processes required for each. When it comes to gunite, you’ll quickly see how the structure and aesthetics of the finished product are remarkably different than a fiberglass or vinyl liner pool.

At Aquavisions, we exclusively design and construct custom gunite swimming pools for very clear reasons. The unique benefits of a gunite swimming pool, compared to other types of swimming pools, fall into three main categories. Let us explain!

Structural Strength

Gunite is a blend of sand, cement and water that is applied with a high-pressure hose. Once it dries, gunite becomes rock hard, forming a thick, solid structure. To further increase its dependable strength, gunite swimming pools use steel bars to create its cage-like frame. Unlike a vinyl cover, gunite is not a material that will rip or tear, which can be very stressful and costly to repair. With a steel backbone and a concrete blend holding everything firmly together, it’s easy to see why a gunite pool is extremely durable.

Limitless Design

Gunite pools can be completely customized. Unlike a fiberglass or vinyl liner pool, with gunite pools you are never limited to any standard shapes or sizes. Every gunite pool is carefully laid out in your backyard starting with a hole and steel cage. During the design process, you can change the shape of your pool, tweaking it to exactly fit your backyard. You can create beach entries, sun decks, benches and nooks within your pool to perfectly fit your lifestyle. One of the main reasons we exclusively work with gunite is because every pool we design is custom and we want to offer our clients infinite possibilities for the size and shape of their swimming pool.

Aesthetic Quality

Another fantastic feature of gunite swimming pools is its visually appealing nature. As the gunite is blown over the steel cage, you can create flowing lines, various contours, depths and shapes that blend together seamlessly. Another reason why gunite swimming pools have premiere aesthetic quality is due to the interior finish. Cement mixed with marble dust is combined to create plaster that covers the pool to provide its finished coat and to waterproof the gunite. This smooth coating is what people see and feel when they are in the pool. The finished coat may also contain colored quartz aggregate, giving the pool added durability and brilliant color.

For many reasons, you can see why Aquavisions chooses to exclusively work with gunite to create our custom swimming pools. The finished product is beautiful, durable and able to stand the test of time. Do you have a question about custom gunite swimming pools? Let us help!

The Vision Behind Aquavisions: Who We Are and What We Do

What was started more than a decade ago by two brothers with a shared vision, Aquavisions custom gunite pools, has transformed into Central Pennsylvania’s premiere provider of visually stunning, low maintenance backyard retreats that withstand the test of time.

Aquavisions was brought to life by a combination of talent, passion and fate. Co-owner Matt Lusk was living in California, job hunting while his wife attended grad school. Coincidentally a magazine was delivered to his apartment with a photo of a magnificent pool on the cover. As an art major at Penn State with an interest in building and creating things, this photo sparked Matt’s desire to create backyard masterpieces of his own. After calling various local pool companies, Matt ultimately connected with Gene Wells at Aquarius Pools whose company built custom pools like the one Matt saw on the magazine cover.

As fate would have it, Gene hired Matt and Matt’s brother Andy to work for his company. Together, Matt and Andy grew an expertise in the custom pool industry to the point at which they were ready to establish their own custom pool business on the east coast - and Aquavisions was born.

Since planting its roots in Central Pennsylvania 15 years ago, Aquavisions has continued to set the standard in custom gunite pools by using the best 3-D design software in the industry and the highest quality material to deliver a complete outdoor lifestyle that is uniquely tailored to each and every client.

Aquavisions gives clients a very personal experience and listens closely to what is most important to them. As a result, we are able to turn virtually every dream into reality! Our business is founded on the principles of giving honest advice and doing what we say we are going to do. Truly, it’s our employees that set us apart. We have a crew that genuinely cares about what they are building for our customers and that is invaluable!

What’s most important to Aquavisions is that we are known as a company that puts our customers and our employees first. We have always been loyal to our customers and in return they are loyal to us. We realize that our employees are the backbone of our company, so we are invested in them and their families. With great employees and great customers, Aquavisions is able to build projects that are truly one of a kind. At the end of the day, we want to be remembered as a company that treated people fairly and did things "the right way".

matt lusk andy lusk and aquavisions staffWhile our customer satisfaction is our greatest pride, we are also honored to be consistently recognized as an industry leader. Aquavisions is the recipient of NESPA’s Outstanding Achievement Awards Builder (2013, 2014, and 2015), People’s Choice Best of Competition Winner (2014) and Pebble Tecs World Greatest Pools (2015). Most recently, Aquavisions also received NESPA’s 2017 Gold Award/Judge's Best of Competition; 2017 Gold Award/People's Choice Best of Competition; 2017 Silver Award; and 2017 Merit Award.

From what started as a fateful inspiration from a magazine cover, has grown into Central PA’s top custom gunite pool company. The Aquavisions team is incredibly proud of what we have achieved so far – and we’re just getting started!