Spring '24 Issue - Best Of Winners Announced & More  

Tuesday, April 4, 2023




By Valerie Coulman

Photography Provided by Paradise Custom Pools

When anticipating the coming summer skies and soaring temperatures, a pool is the perfect location for relief from the heat, for recreation, for loads of fun, or just as a place to let your troubles float away. Even the sound of water can relax and refresh, so what better way to keep those many benefits handy than having a pool or custom water feature in your own back yard?

Paradise Custom Pools in Phoenix, OR has been providing these home oases in Southern Oregon for over two decades now and they know the ins and outs of planning the perfect custom pool for your home and landscape. It’s been a family venture along the way, says Mack Gargus, current owner of Paradise Custom Pools, as they serve the homeowners of Southern Oregon.

Originally founded in 2000, Paradise Custom Pools began after Gargus’ father, Greg, then a custom home builder, was hit during the housing crash at the turn of the decade. An employee and friend who has been part of the company its entire existence, Paul Rowberry, suggested that pools might be a direction to move. Gargus’ father, Mack recalls, built their family pool as his first project, and Paradise Custom Pools was born. While working alongside his father “off and on” over the years, Gargus says, he personally earned his Biology degree from Southern Oregon University and then spent ten years in the field. But the growth of his own family meant that field work became more difficult, so Mack and his wife made the decision to join his father in business once again. After his father’s recent retirement, Gargus took on the leadership of the company and is, as he describes it, “at it full bore.”

Part of what Gargus enjoys about the job, he says, is “doing something different every day.” From being knee-deep in mud one day, he explains, to installing decorative tile work or taking on a more artistic element the next, Gargus and his crew work hard, and have a lot of fun, bringing each client’s dream pool, spa, or water feature into existence.

Each project starts with a conversation about three important elements he always needs to consider before beginning a custom design. “I like to get a feel initially for what they want to use the pool for [i.e. leisure or training], any ideas they have about their pool’s design, and I like to get eyes on the property.”

Just as each homeowner is unique in what they’d like their pool or water feature to add to their lifestyle and their property, each location is unique in Southern Oregon as well. “The pool is the centerpiece [of the yard] more often than not,” says Gargus. “We like to get as much as they want into the space they have.” Apart from the basic soil structure, things he can learn from the landscape include everything from how much light will reflect from the water back into the house, for instance, to some very practical considerations about how easily equipment will be able to access the proposed site.

From those first conversations, Gargus then draws up a plan and, with input from his clients, comes up with an initial design. “More often than not, I’m given quite a bit of creative freedom at that point. Then I can make suggestions as we throw the design back and forth.” He’s always on the lookout for inspiration from the work of others in the industry and keeps his eyes open for tips and tricks of the trade when working with other professionals or crews. And, Gargus says laughing, he’s still got Rowberry, nicknamed “Paul the Wizard,” to help with any challenges they may encounter. “Paul knows everything there is to know about pool installations and operation.”

In pool design recently, there’s been a return to the classic rectangle pool, says Gargus. “We still do style pools but the basic rectangle is current.” The simplistic shape and sharp edges give it a modern feel, he says, while still leaving lots of variables to customize each pool with benches, steps, lighting, infinite edges, fountain features, and more. With surface options to choose from in tile, stone, or concrete finishes, even a “basic” pool doesn’t have to look ordinary.

Where most of today’s innovations in pool or water feature designs are showing up, is in the technology. “Concrete is concrete and is pretty consistent,” Gargus says, but systems for automating heating systems, solar installations, or color-changing lights all provide design options that provide both a unique look and comfortable and more convenient operation.

A typical budget for a custom pool in Southern Oregon usually begins around $55,000 but averages around $80,000 for a custom in-ground pool that includes a heating system and a decking surround. Of course, “The sky is the limit on the upper end, but we can still do a beautiful project for a reasonable price. People don’t have to spend a fortune to get something functional and beautiful.”

And a beautiful spot to rest and be refreshed by the water is always the goal of Gargus and his crew. “We take a lot of pride in our work,” adding, “and we like to have fun on the job. It takes the right person to be knee-deep in mud on a regular basis and loving it.” But it’s the combination of getting gritty to provide something beautiful that keeps Gargus and his team on the jobsite every day as they bring homeowners’ dreams into the reality of a relaxing and beautiful pool.

“Rain or shine,” Gargus says, laughing, “we’re out here in the backyard making a mess.” 


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