Better Building by Design – Johnston Deck/Gazebo Project

Hoekstra Gazebo and Deck, Johnston

When Tracy and John Hoekstra of Johnston, a northwest suburb of Des Moines, contacted us for a complimentary design consultation for their deck and gazebo project, they already had a good idea of what they wanted for their new outdoor living spaces.  In fact, they already had a gazebo!  Sorta.

When I met with Tracy over their dining room table, she pulled out her own to-scale plan drawing…and her ruler, her pencil and her eraser.  We proceeded to discuss their ideas for incorporating the gazebo kit they had purchased from a Pennsylvania-based, Amish gazebo supplier onto new deck space.   In those discussions, it was clear to me Tracy and John had put considerable time and thought into their backyard plan.  So clear, in fact, I wondered whether Archadeck of Central Iowa’s custom design-build services were really what the Hoekstra’s needed.  They believed they could assemble the gazebo kit onto a deck structure built for the gazebo.  They had a good design concept in place.  But, the eraser, the pencil and the ruler were there for reasons, too.  Tracy wasn’t convinced her design was “right,” so she was seeking professional help.

Tracy called her design “a loose plan for how something might come together in our final project.”  I think Tracy was just being humble; it was tighter than “loose” and was a very good basis to work from.  But, Tracy and I both recognized there were opportunities for improvement and validation of the design:

  • The Hoekstra’s property is pie-shaped; therefore, placement of the structure in relation to Johnston’s property setback requirements would be crucial to the success of the project

    Hoekstra's Backyard, Pre-Archadeck

  • Tracy’s design incorporated stairs in a straight run which neither she nor I were really satisfied with due to the railing required on a run of 5 or 6 stair treads; the railing conflicted both with Tracy’s desire for “openness” and my sense of the aesthetic association with the gazebo
  • Tracy desired multi-level, open, deck space, in addition to the screened gazebo and she envisioned separate grilling and seating areas.  The aforementioned stairs and proximity to setback lines also conflicted with the vision.  So, the question of how best to achieve this still remained with Tracy’s design.
  • Coordination and management of the entire project took on new importance to the Hoekstras as the scope of the full project came to light.  The desire to have it all look like it was designed and built together became important as well.

As our discussions progressed, it occurred to both Tracy and I that, indeed, Archadeck of Central Iowa’s custom design-build services, was exactly what the Hoekstra’s needed to bring their ideas to life.  We agreed to enter into a design/build relationship to first complete a viable design and to then build it for them…including installation of the gazebo.  In other words, Archadeck’s standard, full turnkey solution to outdoor living spaces, rooms and accessories.

For that first step…the ”by design” portion of the project, Tracy and I met at our Urbandale design studio to interactively finalize her design.  As Tracy put it, we took her “jumble of ideas and developed them into a cohesive, workable, attractive whole.”  All the while with Tracy looking over my shoulder.  “Harold actively sought our input and combined it with his expertise to create a solution that was perfect for us and our space!” said Tracy.

Hoekstra Design - Plan View

The resulting plan met the setback requirements of Hoektra’s property and was approved by the City of Johnston.  And, it eliminated most of the railing in Tracy’s original design and achieved the open, multi-level space Tracy and John were looking for outside of their gazebo.  Belgard Hardscaping wall stones were used to bring additional texture and color to the space in the form of planter columns incorporated into the design to “book-end” staircases, level changes and seating areas.

For the “better building” portion of the project, our crew built the structures and hardscaping per the plan, installed the screened gazebo kit and had electrical service and a ceiling fan/light installed in the gazebo.  Not to mention, the Hoektra’s got to relax while all this was going on, rather than building some of the project themselves as they originally considered.  As for the construction experience, Tracy said “The construction crew was friendly and polite despite slogging through mud, working through rain, and steaming in the heat.  They showed up when they said they would and cleaned up when they left.”  And the best part, Tracy?  “Best of all, their work was outstanding!”

Hoekstra's Deck-Gazebo Project Design Rendering

The Hoekstra’s approach to their deck/gazebo project highlights the value that an Archadeck design/build relationship brings our clients:  comfort in knowing what you’re getting, what its going to look like and what its going to cost…and all “up front”…and guaranteed.  In a word, its “trust.”  But in Tracy’s words its:  “The Archadeck team was up-front about expected costs, and even reduced our final payment when a component was less expensive than originally anticipated!  What a treat to sit on our new deck and learn that we were actually under budget!  We felt like active participants in the project from design to construction.  The crew was friendly, the cost estimate right-on, and the end result beautiful – even better than we had imagined!”

Hoekstra Deck and Gazebo, Johnston

Thanks, Tracy and John Hoekstra!  Thanks for being open to using that eraser and for selecting Archadeck of Central Iowa as your pencil and ruler…and as your shovel, hammer and screwdriver.

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