Dream Backyard Makeover Project Moving at the Speed of Mother Nature

CrashThe premise of the 2004 movie “Crash” is:   When you are moving at the speed of life, we are bound to collide with each other.   It’s a great movie; one of my all-time favorites.

I had a “Crash” moment with Rick Bentrott and his daughter at the PetSmart in Ankeny yesterday afternoon.  You remember Rick:  Winner of our 2013 $70,000 Dream Backyard Makeover Contest.  You remember the contest:  The one you hoped to win…but didn’t.  DBYM LogoYou remember the project:  The TimberTech deck; the open porch over Belgard Hardscapes patio space, outdoor kitchen and firepit ; all in the Bentrott’s backyard north of Des Moines in Huxley.  And…ahem…the project we didn’t finish before our 9th coldest winter on record froze the ground hard and early back in November (a harbinger of the winter ahead)…literally as the outdoor kitchen was delivered.

Hiatt...at the Archadeck Showroom

Hiatt…at the Archadeck Showroom

The speeding lives of the Bentrott’s and the Cross’ collided at the checkout line at PetSmart.  Rick and his daughter buying fish to replace the hamsters.  My wife and I buying more dog food and a new leash for our new puppy, Hiatt.  Life.

I asked Rick if his ears were burning this week.  He said he hoped not because people talking about him usually meant something bad.  I assured him not, that it was good news; that I had conversations with our crew about the timing of restarting – and finishing – their outdoor living space project.  I appreciate Rick’s sense of humor…and patience; they’ve been necessary traits with their project.

Winter's Grip on Dream Backyard Makeover

Winter’s Grip on Dream Backyard Makeover

To be sure, we have unfinished business in the Bentrott’s backyard in Huxley.  But just as sure, when Mother Nature allows we will be back up there to complete the patio and outdoor kitchen components and put the finishing touches on the deck and open porch. We only need about a week to finish up; but we need a week above freezing and a prolonged thawing period ahead of that week.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature put us in a very early and deep freeze this year – the coldest winter in 35 years and frost at unprecedented depths (nearly to our 42” frost line).  While we did get a nice week last week (getting a couple of above-grade deck and porch projects going), Mother Nature is not letting go without a fight – a little overnight snow and a good portion of the coming week with highs only in the 30’s.  So, restarting our Dream Backyard Makeover project is still an elusive goal at this point.  But, it’s the goal at the top of our list.  In the meantime, more humor…more patience…more life.  At the speed of Mother Nature.

Harold Cross, Archadeck of Central Iowa

Green Beer and Spiced Rum Decking Still Cool in Des Moines Outdoor Spaces

Luck of the ISU Cyclones

Luck of the ISU Cyclones

Happy St. Patrick’s Day Weekend!  With the green beer and all the Irish festivities falling on a Monday, it can only mean its going to be a party all weekend long.  Unfortunately, our weekend weather isn’t all that conducive to celebrating the luck of the Irish (and the Iowa State Cyclones – Big 12 Tournament Champs!) outdoors on your decks, patios and porches around Des Moines.   A cold nip in that wind today.  Rain and snow tomorrow.  No problem for those of you with fireplaces in your Central Iowa porches.  But even for the rest of you, with the winter we’re coming off of, I’m sure it will hardly stall the flow of green beer wherever you celebrate.   Have fun.  Be safe.  Then call us about that fireplace in your porch for next year!

Multi-Colored Trex Transcends Deck and Rail

Multi-Colored Trex Transcends Deck and Rail

St. Patrick’s Day also means that parties of all kinds will soon be moving outdoors (really, spring and summer are coming).  With that, folks will start considering improvements to their outdoor spaces in earnest.  Four years ago, I kicked that theme off here with a post about decking and railing color combinations and tied that to St. Patrick’s Day because of the green colors associated with all things Irish…shamrocks, leprechauns, four-leaf clovers and, of course, beer.  That post and a couple of follow-ups are linked below.  I really try not to recycle content here.  But in this case, you don’t seem to mind – its one of the most-read topics here…probably as much because of the reference to green beer as to Trex’s Spiced Rum decking color.  But, we like both, right?

For 2014, the updates are focused on the product consolidation and integration activities associated with Azek’s holding company purchase of TimberTech a couple of years ago.

Azek Silver Oak Decking

Azek Silver Oak Decking

As part of that effort, TimberTech’s PVC-based decking products have been re-branded as Azek XLM such that all PVC-based decking under the CPG umbrella is now branded as Azek.  With this, there are now 17 different styles/colors of Azek PVC-based decking boards now available.

TimberTech’s wood-plastic composite (Twin Finish (3 colors), ReliaBoard (2 colors)) and PVC capped-composite (Earthwood Eviolutions) products have remained as TimberTech-branded boards.  The Earthwood Evolutions product has been expanded to include a Legacy line of boards designed around a hand-scraped hardwood look; these new boards are stunning both in coloring and look.

TimberTech Earthwood Evolutions Legacy @ Archadeck Showroom

TimberTech Earthwood Evolutions Legacy @ Archadeck Showroom

We’ve had these new boards laid in our Urbandale showroom for just a couple of weeks now, but they are quickly gaining rave reviews.  Overall there are 12 different styles/colors of TimberTech’s Eathwood Evolutions line of PVC capped-composite decking.

If you’re trying to keep score at home…the Azek/TimberTech score for 2014 is:  34 different styles and colors of deck boards.  In addition, TimberTech offers 4 different rail styles in a 9-color spectrum, while Azek offers 3 styles across a similar color palette.

Now…are you ready for Trex Transcends and Belgard pavers and wall stones…and colored and stamped  concrete colors?

Belgard Wall Stone, Concrete Patio, Outdoor Kitchen,  Cedar Pergola

Belgard Wall Stone, Concrete Patio, Outdoor Kitchen, Cedar Pergola

The good news (from a simplicity perspective) is that new product and coloring offerings here are minimal – if any – compared to last year.  So, I will refer you back to last year’s posting, particularly for the Belgard and concrete information.  Last year, though, Trex started offering their Trex Pergola product in all the sold colors of Trex decking.  With that, low-maintenance pergolas no longer are confined to white or beige color options.  We’ve yet to do a colored Trex Pergola in the Des Moines area, but my counterpart at our Archadeck of Ft Wayne office did a very nice project that exemplifies the new aesthetics offered with the Trex Pergola product.

Trex Transcends Deck Railing West

Trex Transcends Deck Railing West

From other Trex perspectives, we really like – and therefore, focus on – Trex’s Transcends line of PVC capped-composite decking and railing products.  So much so that we became Central Iowa’s first TrexPro installer last year.  Trex has maintained their Transcends product and color offerings from 2013 into 2014 – 8 colors of deck boards, 7 colors of railing (and Spiced Rum is still my favorite name and color).  What excites us about Trex is their innovation around the decking and railing spectrum.  Their Elevations steel framing system is the future of deck framing and ultimate structural performance…if you consider the future now; we did two deck projects here in the Des Moines area last year using Trex’s Elevations steel framing system.

Trex Elevations Project - Des Moines

Trex Elevations Project – Des Moines

Additionally, Trex’s new offerings of spiral staircases, Trex furniture, Trex deck and landscape lighting and aluminum railing solidify their commitment to offering the best in outdoor living products.  We are proud to be associated with their products and innovations thru our TrexPro relationship and we’re excited to bring more of those into Des Moines and Central Iowa backyards.  We’ll feature more of our Des Moines-area Trex projects and our TrexPro relationship in future posts here.

Colors galore.  Options galore.  It really does take more than the luck of the Irish to put these together nicely in an outdoor living space design.  With preferred supplier relationships with TimberTech/Azek and Belgard and now our TrexPro relationship with Trex, Archadeck of Central Iowa is uniquely positioned to design and build your outdoor dream spaces.  All backed by the strongest warranty and guarantee programs through a proven 34-year franchise system.  When it makes sense for you to pursue your outdoor dreams, contact us for a complimentary design consultation.

Better Building by Design.   The Archadeck Difference.

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Get Inspired+Started+Outdoors – Des Moines Home+Garden Show

Super Bowl XLVIII

Super Bowl XLVIII – Champion – Seattle Seahawks

What do Peyton Manning and Punxsutawney Phil have in common?

On Super Bowl Sunday, they were both frightened by their shadows and retreated to their respective burrows to hunker down for another 6 weeks of winter.

OK…so that was a bit harsh on Mr. Manning. On the other hand, its been a harsh winter.  But not just here in Des Moines; winter has been a nationwide epidemic this year.  That is, if you consider 2” of snow an epidemic…Atlanta.  Geesh.  But, Atlanta, we’ll give you the benefit of the doubt…we northerners don’t expect you to be prepared.  While lack of preparation likely wasn’t Peyton Manning’s downfall, team execution was.

So, the Super Bowl is behind us.  Ground Hog Day is behind us.  But, we’re still in the middle of a harsh winter…and, thanks to Punxsutawney Phil, no end in sight.  What to do while we’re hunkering down?  Try this:

Get Inspired. Get Started. And..Get Outdoors!

Get Inspired. Get Started. And..Get Outdoors!

“Get inspired” and “get started” are tag lines for this year’s Des Moines Home+Garden Show being held this weekend at the Iowa Events Center in downtown Des Moines.  I added the “get outdoors” because…

Trex Transcends Porch - Deck - Des Moines - Urbandale - Archadeck AAActually, there is a better place, but lets don’t tell the Home+Garden folks that.  For instance, your Des Moines area backyard is a pretty good place to get inspired and started…when its warmer.  The Des Moines Home+Garden Show only runs 4 days.  But, we do outdoor living year round and our office/showroom in Urbandale facilitates our mission year round.  In fact, we’re currently renovating our office/showroom to facilitate that mission even better (stay tuned for details).  So, ultimately we’ll meet in your backyard and at our office/showroom.  But, this weekend, the best place really is the 2014 Des Moines Home+Garden Show.  We hope to see you there.

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Mother Nature Delivers Turkey for Dream Backyard Makeover Project

Happy Thanksgiving - Archadeck Central Iowa Decks Porches Patios Des MoinesHopefully, you had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration with your family and friends and your travels were safe if you were on the road over the Thanksgiving weekend.  Like much of the country, we had an early blast of winter here in Central Iowa.  Unlike much of the country, that weather was through here before Thanksgiving itself so our local travelling and holiday gatherings were only minimally impacted by Mother Nature.

However, the same can not be said of Mother Nature’s impact on our continued progress on the Dream Backyard Makeover Contest project.  While our first blast of winter came before Thanksgiving, it also came right on the heels of the delivery of the Bentrott’s custom-built outdoor kitchen.  As detailed in our last posting here, Belgard’s and Harmony’s build schedule for the outdoor kitchen put us in a race with an impending Iowa winter.  We were begging for leniency from Mother Nature, but last week – as the following video recounts – winter won that race.

We were so (snow) close to having the Bentrott’s Central Iowa backyard makeover complete before winter:

  • the TimberTech deck was complete, aside from stairs to the patio surface
  • the open porch structure was complete, pending utilities for the lighting and the outdoor kitchen
  • the firepit and seatwall area of the patio was laid, pending caps and lighting installation
Dream Backyard Makeover.  TimberTech Deck and Open Porch

Dream Backyard Makeover,
TimberTech Deck and Open Porch

With good weather conditions, our crew believes they could have the project wrapped up with about a week of effort.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get that week between Belgard’s delivery of the outdoor kitchen and Mother Nature’s delivery of winter.  Most of the work left involves hardscaping…putting the finishing touches on the outdoor kitchen and laying the remainder of the Belgard Urbana patio surface.  So, we’re going to need a thaw and a week of consistently warmer weather (above freezing at night, 50’s or better during the day would be nice) before we can undertake that remaining work.

We’ll be ready as soon as Mother Nature is.

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Keeping the Flame for Outdoor Living Makeovers in Central Iowa

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming of activities associated with our $70,000 Dream Backyard Makeover project…to explain the interruption.

Slide03At the time of our last writing here (September 6th), we had just broken ground on Rick and Merea Bentrott’s grand prize-winning outdoor living space project up the road from Des Moines in Huxley, IA.  Over the course of the past month, I’ve posted a photo album on our Archadeck of Central Iowa Facebook page as a journal of our progress on the deck, porch and patio aspects of the project.  Additionally, I’ve taken videos of the project space as its progressed; you’ll find those on our Facebook page as well as on our Google Plus pages and on our ArchadeckCentralIowa YouTube channel.

For those of you following those project updates, you may have noticed it’s been a bit quiet and slow on the update front lately.  In fact, in this most recent video from a few days ago, I said “In case you’re wondering why its so quiet here…”

We had planned to be completed with the project by now so I’m not sure if these lags and delays are more frustrating for the Bentrott’s or for me.  Probably for the Bentrott’s.  At least I have the advantage of experience on my side.  If you want to call it an advantage.  Unfortunately, this project is not the only project experiencing what I have come to call “supply channel issues.”  There are a lot of moving parts on many of our projects – particularly those involving combinations of outdoor living components – decks, porches, patios, outdoor kitchens, pergolas and more – like the Bentrott’s project.

TimberTech and Belgard Product at Archadeck's Dream Backyard Makeover Project in Huxley, IA

TimberTech and Belgard Product at Archadeck’s Dream Backyard Makeover Project in Huxley, IA

Getting the right material and product to the right project at the right time has become a more prevalent challenge these days.  As I (and others) see it, this challenge is resulting from increased demand in the construction industry as a whole.  But its an industry that took one of the hardest hits in the Great Recession, downsized to survive and is now facing challenges in ramping up to meet today’s demand.  Strategies to expand infrastructure are clouded by lingering economic stability concerns and that is the primary factor in those challenges.  As a result, many companies revert to strategies to protect existing margins…which often means:  squeezing blood out of a turnip.  And when you can’t do that anymore, you have to wait for more turnips to grow…and then they cost more.  A recent Des Moines Register article about the construction industry and the impact a “healthier” economy is having on our business captures the current state of affairs in the construction industry.  The article says the industry welcomes the challenges presented by growth.  Speaking for myself , I certainly welcome the opportunities growth provides.   Speaking for myself and our clients, I think we’ll appreciate it more once the industry is ramped up to meet demand.  Not that I’m blaming “the industry” or any of our project sponsors (Belgard, TimberTech, Outdoor Living Brands/Archadeck).  I’m not.  In fact, I’m a part of it….we’re all in it together.  I have empathy for it.  I have and feel the same pains.

As this relates to the Bentrott’s project, we encountered some minor material availability delays.  Minor, but backordered screws can really slow down a deck-building project.  However, the biggest turnip we are waiting to grow is the custom-built outdoor kitchen being provided by Belgard Hardscapes thru their Harmony Outdoor Living / Elements division.  Built off-site in a Belgard/Harmony facility in Burlington, WI, that unit will come – in two pieces – on a truck and forklifted into its home under the Bentrott’s porch and on their patio.  That “forklifting” presents some installation coordination issues in that we can’t run that forklift with those heavy kitchen components on it over the patio itself.  Long story short, we can’t finish the patio portion of the project until the outdoor kitchen is installed.  When its here, it will look like this:

Bentrott's Outdoor Kitchen - Designed by Archadeck, Built by Belgard

Bentrott’s Outdoor Kitchen – Designed by Archadeck, Built by Belgard

But, the outdoor kitchen is now not expected to be delivered until…take a deep breath…November 12th.  That is 3 – 4 weeks later than planned per original projections back in late August when the Bentrotts and our project sponsors finalized the project scope and design and the outdoor kitchen was subsequently ordered.  As I’ve told the Bentrott’s, this extension now presents more questions than answers in regards to scheduling the completion of their project.  Mother Nature and her weather whims are now the wild card in this.

Dirt from Dream Backyard Makeover Site Excavation

Dirt from Dream Backyard Makeover Site Excavation

When the project started, I was touting the wonders and beauty of the Iowa dirt we were pulling out of the Bentrott’s backyard in preparation for the deck and porch footings and the excavation of the patio area.  Here in Central Iowa, we’re now entering the seasons where that dirt gets pretty cold (frost) and hard (freeze)….and occasionally covered with snow…sometimes a lot of it…sometimes for long periods of time.  While that’s good for protecting Iowa ‘s precious soil and refueling its nutrients for next year’s crops, it’s not so good for laying patios.  Decks and porches are more conducive to Winter builds; once the footings are in, those structures are built above ground….as long as temperatures are reasonable to work in (thank you, Carhartt!).

We Build Year-Round, Winter 2009 Project

We Build Year-Round, Winter 2009 Project

But, for the most part, the Bentrott’s deck and porch are completed.  Our problem is the full patio installation needs to wait for the outdoor kitchen…and now we’re racing against an impending Iowa Winter.   It’s a race we lose a step on every day now.  Maybe two steps today…there was snow in the air and on the ground a few miles north of Huxley today.  Frustrating.  Even more frustrating?  It last snowed here in Iowa in early May; meaning:  we went less than 6 months between snow flakes falling on either side of “summer.”  But, we love it here.  We really do.  Really.

I don’t know…maybe we just turn the heat up to high on the outdoor kitchen grill once it gets in, add some coals to the Big Green Egg fire and some extra logs on the firepit fire and try to create a bubble of warm air over the Bentrott’s backyard so we can get their project completed.  Then again, we don’t want to get that friendly with the Huxley Fire Department.

So, we’re on hold right now.  Begging for leniency from Mother Nature in the meantime.  Stay warm…and stay tuned…

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A Hot Summer for Central Iowa Backyard Makeovers

Des Moines Deck BuilderI was reminded today that I’m not blogging enough.  A potential Archadeck client was looking over one of our outdoor living brochures during the design consultation I was having with her on her aging deck in her beautiful Des Moines-area backyard.  “Oh, do you blog?” she asked.  I replied, yes…but, not enough.  She suggested I write a sentence or two each day.  I told her that Facebook and Twitter are better suited for that type of approach (and we’re there, too), but nonetheless…she was correct.

Open Porch and Azek Deck, Johnston

Open Porch and Azek Deck, Johnston

All that to say, I have a lot to write about regarding our many deck, porch and patio projects around Central Iowa this hot and dry summer of 2013.  The keyword there is “many.”  Which translates to not enough time to actually write about the projects themselves or the outdoor living trends and technologies we’re incorporating into the designs of our outdoor living spaces.  At least not now.  But, her comments were valid…as was my response.

So to that point, our $70,000 Dream Backyard Makeover project deserves time and a couple of sentences.  Here…and on Facebook…and on Twitter.

It took us a while to finalize a design for that outdoor living project and align our sponsor contributions appropriately.  But the design ultimately got “love it!” and “good stuff!” validation from our contest winners, Rick and Merea Bentrott in Huxley, IA.  We’re excited to bring this project to fruition for them:

Dream Backyard Makeover Grand Prize - Project Design by Archadeck of Central Iowa

Dream Backyard Makeover Grand Prize – Project Design by Archadeck of Central Iowa

We just broke ground on the project this week.  And with that, I am planning to post (already have posted!) regular updates on our status there via our Facebook page.

Groundbreaking at the Bentrott's

Groundbreaking at the Bentrott’s

So, follow progress on this project there; after all, this was a Facebook-based contest.  Plus short-burst text and picture/video updates on things like this (and your cat’s most recent antics) are tailor-made for Facebook.  I’ve put together a photo album as a journal of the construction process: I’ll update it regularly and will continue to post pictures and videos on our wall there.

Curved Trex Elevations, Des Moines Archadeck Project

Curved Trex Elevations, Des Moines Archadeck Project

Thanks for checking in here on all things Archadeck | Outdoor Living.  The Bentrott’s Dream Backyard Makeover project isn’t the only thing (but certainly one of the nicest) – there are other things going on in other Archadeck backyards around Central Iowa.  Curved decks and steel framing to name a couple.  For the next time.

In the meantime…Go Outside and Play!  Play football!  Tailgate at home on your deck or patio!  Just like we hope to do with the Bentrott’s in a few weeks!

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Outdoor Living Dreams Do Come True In Central Iowa

Dream Backyard Makeover Poster

Dream Backyard Makeover Poster

Remember that February 3rd post here about our first-ever Dream Backyard Makeover Contest?  The one with the $70,000 deck and patio combination space Grand Prize?  Yeah, that one.  The one that Rick and Merea Bentrott of Huxley, Iowa, just won!  The one that Archadeck of Central Iowa will now get to design and build for the Bentrott family.

This past Friday, May 17th, I got the extreme pleasure of surprising the Bentrott’s with this announcement in the very backyard so in need of the makeover they dreamed of.  With banners and balloons flying, with cameras rolling, and with a few tears and many smiles flowing… a proclamation was made of the Bentrott’s selection of our Grand Prize package.  And its a package the Bentrott’s could really use; with all due respect, their existing deck area is a real mess.  Their backyard is very conducive to the deck-patio combination space our contest sponsors, Belgard (patios and hardscaping) and TimberTech (decking and railing) manufacture such high-quality materials for.

Bentrott's Existing Deck Space

Bentrott’s Existing Deck Space

But, what their new outdoor living space will actually be…that’s where our work comes in now.  The Bentrott’s have many good ideas all centered around the concept of having an enjoyable and safe outdoor space in which to share family time, amongst themselves as well as with their friends and neighbors in the Huxley community, just north of Des Moines.  To be honest, I don’t have too many ideas about their project yet…whether the Big Green Egg will go on the patio or the deck…whether Rick and the kids get a koi pond, and where it will go if Merea approves…whether Merea gets a hammock, now that she surprised Rick with that one…and whether we can trust Rick not to burn trees down with a fire pit.   It’s a lot to comprehend on top of the fact that I’m still in a state of disbelief that a Central Iowa entrant actually won our contest.  I can only imagine how the Bentrott’s feel…they are the winners here, not me.  Winners…or “Rock Stars” as I call them.

Dream Backyard Makeover Contest Winners - Rick and Merea Bentrott; Huxley, IA

Dream Backyard Makeover Contest Winners – Rick and Merea Bentrott; Huxley, IA

We at Archadeck of Central Iowa are excited to be working with the Bentrott family to bring their Grand Prize, outdoor dream, alive.  The ideas and plans will come.  We’re scheduling ongoing and future efforts to design and build their new outdoor living spaces.  We’ll keep you posted on our progress over the remainder of the summer, so stay connected here to follow the project status.

We are also proud to be representing the entire nationwide system of Archadeck outdoor living space designers and builders in this endeavor.

A big thank you to our contest sponsors, Outdoor Living Brands (our Archadeck franchisor), Belgard Hardscapes and TimberTech; without them, none of this would have been possible.  We are also proud to be representing our sponsors.

Grand Prize Presentation Strategy

Grand Prize Presentation Strategy

Lastly, I want to thank the Bentrott’s neighbors and the Huxley Police for not turning us in and not arresting us for trespassing as we…trespassed…across a couple of adjacent backyards and a city park while setting up the surprise announcement in the Bentrott’s backyard.  It was a 3-pronged plan of attack General Patton would be proud of….and not possible to pull off without good troops, which included  Chris Boyd (Belgard Territory Manager), David Cross and Nolan Benge (Archadeck of Central Iowa) and Dan Welk (Click! Photography).  And pulled it off we did!

Grand Prize Winners and the Archadeck and Belgard "Troops"

Grand Prize Winners and the Archadeck and Belgard “Troops”

Archadeck | Outdoor Living.  Dream Backyard Makeovers by Design.  For nice families like the Bentrott’s.

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