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.”

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‘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.



Dean: When choosing to install a pool, there’s a lot of inspiration out there now. Obviously with social media, and Instagram, and magazines, anything, you could really find a lot’a different inspirations. You’re gonna be attracted to different shapes, different water color. Look, find out what suits you, what you’re attracted to. You can bring that to the table and show your designer, and it’ll get you off and running in the right direction.

Raoul: I think the best thing is to go to the great websites, House, and Pinterest, and Instagram and things like that and then just select a variety of pools you like.

Matt: Award sites, Master Builders, Spaza, all have great award winners and pools that you can look at when considering your new design.

Raoul: Sometimes you like from one pool the coping, the other one the color. So once you get that together, then talk to an…kind of an landscape designer or landscape architect and…to design it all.

Matt: Take to your designer some amazing pictures that represent exactly what you want. But also consider what your house looks like, what your borrowed landscape, your neighbor’s houses look like, what are the trees around, what’s gonna influence the overall design.

Raoul: I think the most important that people go wrong is that they don’t have an overall design of the whole garden when they’re thinking of a pool.