The Unique Difference

What Separates Unique Companies from the rest….

WHY CHOOSE UNIQUE?

For over 10 years, UNIQUE has been involved in designing and building swimming pools.  We started as the subcontractor, working for the pool companies in aspects such as decking, water features and masonry. It became extremely apparent that the pool builder was completely dependent on the sub-contractor as they had very few employees and crews of their own to perform any of the tasks required to actually build the pool. All you had to do was have a cell phone and a truck, and you were a pool builder. The pools would take months to complete, and would sometimes sit for weeks waiting for someone to show up to do any work. And the landscape could not start until the pool was finished. Also, homeowners had to find another contact to build the pergola. In short, the pool builder had very little regard for the overall project. He just wanted to build the pool and that was it. There was no one person, other than the homeowner, who was attempting to coordinate the entire project, keep it moving in a timely fashion or keep it on budget. The process just did not make sense. As a result of observing the customers frustration, in 2005 UNIQUE started building our own pools, outdoor structures, and landscapes.  As one of the first landscape and pool general contractors in Phoenix, UNIQUE has set the precedence for full service outdoor construction.

Today, with hundreds of pools in the ground and more importantly hundreds of satisfied pool owners, we have mastered the integration of the swimming pool with the landscape and complete outdoor living environments.  UNIQUE is not set up as a “production” pool builder. This is a term given to some of the larger pool companies because of their “non-custom” approach to pool construction and their lack of integration for entire project.  “There are hundreds of pool companies in Phoenix who would love to come out and build your pool”, states Chris Griffin, owner of UNIQUE Companies, “but we are one of the ONLY companies who truly wants to integrate your pool, your patio, and your landscape into one UNIQUE outdoor living environment.  We don’t just build pools.  We design, plan, and manage outdoor projects, resulting in some incredible backyards.”  UNIQUE is happy to be known as this type of company.  We do not strive to build a cheap pool, we strive to design and build a great backyard for our clients. Many times, with this approach, we help our clients to see the big picture.  It also allows them to work on phases of the project, without fear of having to re-do something that was not planned properly.  Each phase is well-designed, and thought out. We can put together the parts of the project and it will add up to something incredible.

UNIQUE ranked in the TOP 10 landscape and pool companies since 2005 (Ranking Arizona – AZ Business Magazine), UNIQUE captured the #1 Ranking for 2010 and 2014 (Landscape Design/Build Category) and the #3 Ranking (Pool & Spa Builder). UNIQUE also continues to be praised on its nationally accredited website. Our site continues to rank among the top search engine results for landscaping and pool ideas on Google and Bing.  Here are more specific reasons why UNIQUE is superior to other swimming pool and landscape contractors in Arizona:

  1. Owner
    • BS – Civil Engineering from the University of New Mexico
    • Drafted in 1996 in the 6th round of the NFL Draft by the New England Patriots
    • Over 15 years of experience in the landscape and pool business
    • Involved in ALL projects, staff and crew – oversees quality, craftsmanship and construction
  2. Staff/Customer Service
    • Only employs experienced landscape and pool designers- our design team averages over 19 years of experience in the industry (most have been with UNIQUE for 5+ years)
    • Each project is assigned a project superintendent
    • Friendly office staff to assist with scheduling, accounting, and warranty issues; available from 6:30 am to 4:30 p.m. Monday thru Friday
    • Incredible website with projects, ideas, company information and a great pool and landscape general information resource
    • Easy communication by phone, fax, or e-mail
    • Post-Project Relationship – UNIQUE keeps in touch after your project is completed.  Our systems help us to remind you of pool and landscape care, prior notice is sent to you before your warranty expiration, and ongoing project support.
  3. Construction
    • UNIQUE Companies hold three contractors licenses: General Contractor, Landscape Contractor, and Pool Contractor.
    • All aspects of our projects have been meticulously designed, built, and tested over the years.  As an engineer, our owner has studied what works and what stands the test of time; and has re-designed the areas which do not.  The following are some examples of what we have discovered and how UNIQUE Landscapes constructs all of its projects:

Pavers Patios:  UNIQUE Landscapes by Griffin is one the only ICPI (International Concrete and Paver Institute) Company to hold all three Contracting Licenses (General Contractor, Landscape, and Pool).  We abide by strict installation practices which require a proper sub-base for all of our patios.  The soil preparation beneath all pavers is key to a long lasting, level patio.  UNIQUE uses 4” of compacted engineered backfill (ABC) and compacts it to 95% compaction.  Afterward, only ½” of sand is used to level each paver with 1/8” tolerance.  On driveway applications where heavy cars and trucks may drive and park, we prefer to use Portland cement w/ABC to increase compaction to 100%.

Flagstone:  Flagstone patios are one of the most expensive natural stone patios which our clients invest in.  We take necessary precautions and use time tested techniques to prevent cracking.  All precision cut flagstone patios are cut with a diamond blade allowing UNIQUE to use only ½” grout joints.  They are set with mortar on 3 ½” of concrete sub-base.  Prior to setting flagstone, our masons use concrete bond glue to ensure a 100% bond with the stone and mortar.  This method creates a patio with fewer cracks so you know it is BUILT TO LAST. UNIQUE guarantees its craftsmen. We have two flagstone crews with 3 members each who can install 250 square feet per day; 300 days a year. Don’t let inexperienced crew construct your masonry project.

BBQ’s:  UNIQUE Landscapes creates the ultimate outdoor kitchens by using footers, 12” re-bar grids and bond beams. Our installation of electric outlets and gas lines are all done by our qualified and licensed installers. Our outdoor kitchens come with many different countertop options, and our tile and granite countertops are professionally installed making our projects look like they belong “inside your home”.  We complete 100% of our own construction, in house, allowing our work to get done faster.   FACT:  Most landscape companies are not licensed to run gas or electric, and in fact, they are not even licensed to sub-contract this work to others. Don’ risk your family’s safety.

Fireplaces:  We specialize in the Manor and Traditional-Style Gas Fireplace. We believe our fireplaces are the anchor to all of our projects with solid footers, 8” CMU block, Bond beams, fire brick interiors, and a quick start gas log set.  Our fireplace will be an integral part of your outdoor oasis for years to come. Our crews have built hundreds of outdoor fireplaces, and UNIQUE continues to keep our dedicated fireplace and masonry crews busy year-round.  With hundreds of fireplaces completed for our customers, we have the experience and knowledge to design and build one which meets or exceeds the most meticulous standards.  FACT: While most landscape companies can build fireplaces, as mentioned above, they are not licensed to run gas to them. Yet they do it anyway, this is not legal and puts you at risk.

Masonry/Block: UNIQUE Landscapes takes tremendous pride in our all of our masonry work including walls, fireplaces, fire pits, bbq’s and more.  For this reason, we build all of our projects with extra concrete, extra rebar, and to higher professional standards.  It is easy for other companies to hide this quality initially, but it is quickly noticed in the months and years following completion as the cracks and defects begin to become noticeable.  UNIQUE uses bond beams in all of our masonry projects, along with re-bar. A bond beam is a structural element which carries the load in strength and reinforcement, and ties the structure into the footer. This ensures that your project is structurally sound and within code requirements for all municipalities.   FACT:  Most landscape companies do not use “bond beam” construction, vertical rebar, and a #4 rebar.  Because most of these structures do not require city inspections, it is the easiest way for our competitors to cut corners and reduce costs.  Are you willing to take that risk just to save a few dollars?

Stucco:  After many years in the business, it is easy to see the differences between the reliable, quality companies and the disreputable and dishonest companies. STUCCO is one surface which will quickly set a qualified company apart from one who is not. Most landscape companies are not experienced in stucco nor do not have the expertise to install stucco properly.  This is simply because they do not complete very many masonry or hardscape projects.  Stucco requires experience, proper mix ratios, and proper application, as well as adequate cure times. Our stucco applicators have years of experience, and have each stuccoed thousands of yards of stucco.  We guarantee our stucco to be the same quality, if not better, than the stucco finish on your home.  That is why UNIQUE Landscapes is a certified stucco applicator.   FACT: Most landscape companies have no idea the proper water/cement/lime/sand ratio for stucco application.  Also, their texture process can show an amateur very quickly.

Irrigation:  Sprinkler and irrigation systems are the life line for all landscape projects in the desert.  Without water, nothing will live.  With many years of experience, we have installed many commercial and residential irrigation systems, many of which have been professionally designed.  UNIQUE has taken the best design features and installation processes we have learned from installing commercial systems and tailored them to meet the UNIQUE needs of our residential customers. We install Hunter and Rainbird irrigation components which are top quality, commercial-grade parts. To be able to improve flow and overall pressure throughout the system, we use 1” schedule 40 PVC for main lines, 1” valves, and ¾” commercial drip tubing. Typical residential systems are designed and installed with only ½” tubing. Our oversized plumbing and drip tubing allows for more water flow, better pressure, and less potential for problems in the future.  The sprinkler heads we use have a ½” swing joint connection to the lateral piping in order to protect them from the cracking and breakage caused by mowers and traffic. This feature will save you money for the life of the system as it will greatly reduce the overall maintenance cost in the years to come.    FACT: Many landscape companies buy inferior products from local home improvement stores.  They also use smaller, cheaper pipe, which poses greater risk on homeowners with future pressure issues.

Drainage:  Proper drainage is one of UNIQUE Landscapes primary concerns. In fact, drainage is one of our specialties. We have many projects and references siting occasions when we have solved a homeowners most critical drainage problems. We continue to receive requests for our drainage expertise to correct issues which were beyond the scope of other landscape companies’ ability. All of our patios and projects are sloped properly to avoid puddling of water.  UNIQUE Landscapes will consult on more complicated drainage issues which may involve existing deck drains, drainage pipe, and sump pumps.  FACT:  Drainage can be one of the most complicated and challenging aspects in landscaping and pool projects.  UNIQUE corrects with many projects where the landscaper and pool builder do not work together thus creating a drainage nightmare for the homeowner.  Water can cause settling of soil, expansion and cracking of patios, and can damage your home very quickly.  Don’t take that risk, contact UNIQUE to be sure your drainage is done correctly the first time.

Tile:  Outdoor tile requires many precautionary measures which most indoor tile setters are not familiar with, such as the premium thin set required for a successful outdoor application. New sub-bases are also recommending and should consist of 3000 PSI concrete with rebar or wire mesh. To prevent possible cracking UNIQUE uses a special “crack guard” tape to help protect the tile from the concrete below. Only experienced tile setters who have been trained to our UNIQUE standards are permitted to install tile on our projects. Our BBQ countertops and pool tile installations look incredible because we use the best and most expensive thinset for our tile-setting, and our tile installers only install tile. This repetition and experience makes them true craftsmen.  FACT:  Outdoor tile is becoming less a standard practice after the introduction of the PAVER patio.  Our tile crew works strictly with tile and they are experts in our high standard process unlike the part time tile setters our competition uses.

Electrical/Gas:  As general contractors, we use our pool utility installers license to run outdoor electrical and gas on our jobsites. Landscape companies are not licensed to do electrical or gas work, nor are they licensed to subcontract that work to other contractors.  This creates a huge liability for homeowners. UNIQUE electricians have years of experience in the outdoor industry with pool and landscape integration.  Our gas lines are all permitted and up to today’s strictest CODES.  FACT:  It is ILLEGAL for landscape contractors to install or subcontract gas lines or electrical work.  This does not stop them. Ask to see current licensing before hiring and verify that the contractor is a general contractor with the AZ ROC.  Only qualified contractors should install gas and electric to ensure your safety and protect you from future financial liability.

Structures (Pergolas, Ramadas and Covered Patios):  As a general contractor, UNIQUE Landscapes holds the licenses required to build outdoor structures and to install electrical and gas service.  The typical landscape company is not licensed to build or subcontract anything other than plants, trees, and patios. If a landscape company provides work outside of these parameters, then they are putting their clients at risk for future liability.  However, this does not stop most landscape companies from illegally “providing” these services. Our suggestion, check on their license! If you have questions about what their licenses covers, then call or email the Arizona Registrar of Contractors.  UNIQUE Companies builds over 100 outdoor structures each year.  We have in-house crews who specialize in framing, roofing, lathe/stucco, and all other trades needed to provide our clients with complete integration of the pool, patio and landscape.  FACT: We use oversized lumber, which is why our structures look bigger, better, & more durable.

Lighting:  Over the past 10 years, we have learned that a lighting system can not only “make” a project but they can also “break” one as well.  UNIQUE Landscapes has chosen FX Lighting Systems for all of our lighting fixture and transformer requirements.  FX has a 10-year warranty and continually maintains itself as a leader in the lighting industry.  All systems are wired with 10/2 and 12/2 low voltage wire and each fixture is tested to maintain proper voltage. This ensures maximum bulb life and luminary output.  FACT:  All lighting systems are not equal.  We compete against many different companies and we have seen many different prices for lighting.  “You get what you pay for” holds true in professional lighting systems. We take the time to correctly design and install our systems.  Beware, it is easy to have a cheaper price for lighting but the result will be a cheap looking and less functional finished product.  Are you willing to pay a few dollars less for a system which might or might not work reliably and meet your needs, or do you want a system which will function trouble free for many years to come?

Swimming Pools & Spas: UNIQUE Custom Pools does not mass-produce swimming pools.  We focus on about 50 pools per year, all of which have some integration with our landscape and patio projects.  This allows us to have a greater focus on our swimming pool design and engineering than other companies.  Here is how we provide our customers with a superior swimming pool:

  • Overall design input and analysis by owner, Chris Griffin-most pool companies allow the designer this control, not the actual builder
  • NO sub-contractor work – as a landscape contractor, pool contractor and general contractor with employees, we actually do ALL of the work for our pools in-house. Most pool builders rely on sub-contractors and are forced to work within the time lines and construction standards of those subcontractors.  We install all of the tile, patios, water features, masonry, decking, plumbing, rebar and more because we are a full service outdoor contractor
  • In-house plumbing – UNIQUE has our own pool plumber.  Normally this would not be anything special, except our owner has spent many years working with and training our plumber to manage some of the best underground pool plumbing in the business.  Our over-sized plumbing, valve set-ups, and hydraulic designs allow our pools to clean and operate better than any other swimming pool.  Also, we have many other custom features for our ELITE pools which the “production” builder does not offer.
  • Many pool companies offer the following systems, but UNIQUE has perfected it’s integration with each- ask your UNIQUE designer to explain the benefits of each of these great pool features:
    • Venturi Skimmers
    • Automated & Remote Valves
    • Variable Speed Pumps
    • TRUE Pool & Spa Cleaning
    • Wireless & Remote Controls
    • Programming & Automation
    • Salt & Ozone Sanitization
    • Color LED Lighting
  • Lifetime Shell Warranty – it is required by the AZ Registrar of Contractors to provide a lifetime warranty on the swimming pool shell. UNIQUE goes above and beyond that requirement by using more steel, stronger shotcrete, and many additional upgraded materials and processes which allow our pools to last longer.
  • Landscape and Patio Integration – this is the single biggest advantage which we offer to our clients.  All of our pools are designed with your complete backyard in mind. Here’s a few things we consider:
    • Electrical sizing – making sure there is adequate power to your pool panel allows money savings when expanding and installing landscape lighting, barbecue outlets, pond pumps, ramada and patio lighting, mist systems, jacuzzi spas and more!
    • Drainage – integration and preservation of drainage water away from pool AND house. Keeping water away from foundations and swimming pools will keep warranties intact, and allow for long-lasting projects.
    • Remote Control – imagine being able to control your pool AND your landscape feature with one remote. Pool companies tend to always integrate these features but they do not consider capability to operate your other features such as water features, mist systems, landscape lighting, patio lighting and more.
    • Planning and Permitting – with one contractor in control, you can be sure that all your project is being planned and permitted accordingly. It happens far too often that a pool builder puts the pool in a location where the city will not allow you to add a Ramada in the future. With one plan and one company, we make sure these factors are figured out BEFORE you start!
    • Design – last but certainly not least. Planning your entire project before you install a pool is the best way to ensure that you have taken everything into consideration. Too many times we deal with projects where the pool builder has installed a pool in the wrong spot. Let our UNIQUE designers show you the BIG PICTURE, and help you understand the entire project before you make the investment of a swimming pool or spa. Integrating your pool and spa into your entire outdoor living space will create the perfect harmony for you to enjoy the Arizona outdoor lifestyle to its fullest.
  • Landscape & Patio Integration – probably our single biggest asset! All of our pools are designed with your complete backyard in mind. Here’s a few things we consider:
    • Electrical sizing – making sure there is adequate power to your pool panel allows money savings when expanding & installing landscape lighting, barbecue outlets, pond pumps, ramada & patio lighting, mist systems, jacuzzi spas & more!
    • Drainage – integration & preservation of drainage water away from pool AND house. Keeping water away from foundations & swimming pools will keep warranties intact, and allow for long-lasting projects.
    • Remote Control – imagine being able to control your pool AND your landscape feature with one remote. Pool companies tend to always integrate this, but they don’t leave room for all your other features (waterfeatures, mist systems, landscape lighting, patio lighting, & more!)
    • Planning & Permitting – with one contractor under control, you can be sure that all your project is being planned & permitted accordingly. It happens far too often that a pool builder puts the pool in a location where the city will not allow you to add a ramada in the future. With one plan & one company, we make sure these factors are figured out BEFORE you start!
    • Design – last but not least! Planning your entire project before you install a pool is the best way to make sure you have taken everything into consideration. Too many times (way too many!) we deal with projects where the pool builder has installed a pool in the wrong spot! It’s a waste of a yard…. Let our designers show you the BIG PICTURE, and help you understand the entire project, before you make the investment of a swimming pool or spa. This way, the pool is in perfect harmony with the rest of the project….
  • Lifetime Shell Warranty – it’s required by the AZ Registrar of Contractors to provide a lifetime warranty on the swimming pool shell. Unique goes above & beyond by using more steel, stronger shotcrete, and many other factors that allow our pools to last longer.