An outdoor oasis not without its challenges in Cranbourne East, Melbourne

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Experienced project management of a tricky outdoor renovation that involved COVID delays and a challenging swimming pool ensured a stellar result.

Before After
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A dream backyard

Nikki and her partner had arranged to install a pool on their Cranbourne East property. Their young children love to visit their grandparents’ home for a swim, so the couple wanted to create a backyard oasis of their own. 
They had an outdoor kitchen and, with the pool installation already in motion, the final task was to arrange bespoke landscaping to achieve the finished project. Nikki was already dealing with the swimming pool, so she wanted someone else to take the reins for the remainder of the work. Enter: Renovation Consultant Leigh McDonald.

An alternative approach

The process began with Leigh visiting Nikki’s home to assess the situation. It wasn’t the usual type of site visit as Nikki already had a team of pool builders who were engaged prior to Refresh coming on board. 
Nikki wasn’t sure what she was after and therefore didn’t have a set budget. Her main concern was executing a design that complemented the existing backyard and the new elements to come. 
Typically at this stage, a design is finalised and Leigh would provide a cost estimate. However, Nikki appreciated the work to come was complex and preferred the project remain fluid to allow maximum design flexibility. 

Cooperation is key

While their budget was flexible, Nikki and her partner wanted their project completed by Christmas (2021). Unfortunately, this goal was out of Leigh’s control; he and his team could only work as quickly as the pool builders. In the meantime, Leigh and the couple continued the design process, adapting when necessary to accommodate changes. 
The main challenge was integrating the new landscape with the existing elements while working around a swimming pool that had yet to be installed. To piggyback on that, Melbourne spent 99 days in lockdown throughout 2021, the longest being 78 days between August and October. This severely impeded the progress of Nikki’s backyard development. However, Leigh remained in constant communication with Nikki and, to the best of his ability, the pool builders to coordinate the crew accordingly.

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Worth the wait

The final project was delivered nearly a year later, ready in time for summer 2022. Supply chain issues and the pool build hindered Leigh’s team but once they were free to move they delivered fantastic results for a final cost of $65,000. The hardscape surrounding the pool is seamlessly integrated and ties the entire backyard together, encouraging flow and creating the social vibe Nikki was after. 
Tall bamboo stalks neatly planted in a row border the perimeter providing privacy to the family and camouflaging the old fence in the background. Leigh offered many suggestions during the design phase, one of which was the glass safety fence around the pool. Opting for a transparent balustrade allows uninterrupted sightlines from the edge of the pool straight into the home’s interior. 
Details such as laser-cut steel embellishments, bespoke water features, and a dup of hanging chairs are the perfect finishing touch on a beautiful backyard that was worth the wait. 

Parting words

Despite the challenges, Leigh is proud of the results and his team’s efforts. Thanks to his diligence and professionalism, Nikki and her family have a wonderful backyard where they can host loved ones and make memories. 
The couple is thrilled with their new oasis, but they have spoken for themselves: 
“We engaged Leigh McDonald and his team from Refresh Renovations Melbourne to assist us with the connection of pool equipment, installation of pool fencing, and landscaping. They were an absolute pleasure to work with. Leigh understood what was needed and managed to deliver a solution each time the pool builders moved the goalposts. A wonderful and honest professional with an excellent hard-working team.”

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This project was completed in
March 2023
Project description
An outdoor renovation, poolscape
Project duration
Cost estimate
Actual cost
COVID delays and working around another team
Interesting aspects
Smart details and a high-end finish
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Leigh McDonald is Renovation Consultant of 27 MAC Pty Ltd, a franchisee of Renovation Franchise , doing business in Melbourne

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