Category Archives: Pergolas

Navigating the Curves of Decks…and Life

question-pic-01In one sense, I’m not sure where this is going to go. In another sense, I know exactly where its going.

Starting with what I know…

For one, I know we’re going outdoors. Outdoors in Central Iowa. Where we’ve always been…on Archadeck designed-and-built decks, porches and patios around Des Moines and the surrounding area.

For two, I know we’re going to move. We have hosted this “An Outdoor Living Space” blog on WordPress since its inception in the fall of 2009. Counting this post, we’ve published 87 posts on our blog here to date and there have been over 100,000 views of these posts over this timeframe. All a testament to the popularity and interest in outdoor living spaces as a valuable and necessary extension of your home and our experience in successfully bringing those spaces to life in hundreds of Central Iowa backyards. Thank you for following and reading us here over the years…wherever you live.

For three, I know where we’re going to move. In concert with this post, we will be transitioning to hosting our blogging on our central-iowa.archadeck.com web site. Look for the same outdoor living conversations and content at the “Our Blog” tab at central-iowa.archadeck.com. We look forward to seeing you on the other side! We will keep the historical content here and we’ll occasionally post on “An Outdoor Living Space” here, too, for nostalgia purposes. So don’t lose us here!

Now, as far as what I don’t know…

curves-pic-012016 threw us a couple of curves. Personally, the curve was physical and mental…the way a hard-breaking Nolan Ryan curve ball leaves your knees weak…and the way a Joe Frazier rounder punch to the gut leaves you gasping for air.  And more.  Professionally, the curve was visual…geometry and radiuses coming together…bringing soft and aesthetically pleasing curves to lines in a world that are too often harsh and rigidly square.

What I don’t know is how far to go in connecting the dichotomy of these two “curves.”  In my mind, they are connected because when you own your own small business, everything in your life is connected. There are certainly personal and professional lines, but they are blurred – if not erased – more than they are clear. So its hard for me to ignore the personal “curve” – the tragic accident this past spring that took the life of our granddaughter’s father and severely injured her mother…our daughter – and the impact that event had on me, personally and professionally.  Suffice it to say that if you’ve noticed a “silence” here (nearly 18 months since my last post), this “curve” was a significant factor in that.

But, amidst the events of that tragedy and our daughter’s subsequent miraculous (and ongoing) recovery, the business of Archadeck of Central Iowa continued and, in fact, thrived. Thanks in great part to the entire Archadeck team (David Cross, construction manager; Nolan Benge, design consultant; our crews) who stepped up to spell me when I was otherwise consumed with our family’s tragedy (particularly in the spring…our really busy season). Part of the thriving, too, is the nice outdoor living project opportunities our clients continue bringing us to design and build. Thank you for those opportunities! 3 of those opportunities this year resulted in deck spaces featuring significant curved features, something we’ve done once before but something we see becoming more popular and curved-decks-des-moines-archadeck-01commonplace…like curved patios. So commonplace, in fact, that we invested in and acquired our own Trex Custom Curve machine to help facilitate curved decks with curved decking in those 3 projects in and around Des Moines (with many more to come). Don’t let the Trex name fool you, we can (and have) also curved Azek decking in addition to Trex’s decking products. So, that was the professional “curve” thrown us this year. And with that, we’re now ready to throw you some curves! Continue to watch our web site’s photo galleries and our new blog site there for more photos and information on our Des Moines area curved deck projects and capabilities.

profile-hcOne last point of closure as we transition this blog to our web site, speaking of connections and personal and professional lines being blurred: A couple of years ago, I started a side blog project called “Outdoor Living Notes” where I occaisionally write about the convergence of two passions of mine: outdoor living and music. One professional, one personal…but with more connections and overlap than one might think (especially if you don’t think like me). Needless to say, that site, too, has been quiet as a result of the curves thrown at me this year. But, music being the healer it can be and has been, there are a lot of pent up words to be written there, too. So, look for that to soon become active again; give it a read…listen, too, if you’d like. The “Outdoor Living Notes” blog will remain here on WordPress.

Go Outside and Play!  Run circles (curves) while you’re at it!  Then circle on over to our web site-based version of “An Outdoor Living Space.”  See you there!

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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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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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Green Beer Means Spring, Outdoor Living and More (Colors) Coming to Des Moines

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Lots of reasons to celebrate…the Luck of the Irish (but what about those Notre Dame basketball uniforms?), Spring Break, the NCAA Basketball Tournament and much more.  And, lets not forget, the NCAA Wrestling Championships – huge here in Des Moines, being hosted at our own Wells Fargo Arena this week.  March Madness, I believe its called.

Move It Outdoors!

Move It Outdoors!

All this can mean only one thing:  Spring is just around the corner!  Just like the green beer we’re going to drink today (and/or we drank yesterday), our outdoor landscape will soon be turning green, too.  And with that, lets move it outdoors!  More time on our Des Moines-area decks, patios and porches.   More time around our outdoor kitchens and dining areas enjoying cool drinks and grilled food with family, friends and neighbors.  More late late-night relaxation by the firepit or fireplace.  The phrase “less is more” does not apply to outdoor living.  I was first reminded of that several years ago, early in my Archadeck career, when a client whom I was working with on a deck/porch project design said to me “Think Big, Harold.”  Beth’s comments still ring in my head, today – it is a big outdoors!

Here are two topics that underscore that:

  • The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) recently published results of their survey of the top outdoor living trends for 2013.  All the elements, features and amenities they’ve associated with outdoor living spaces epitomize how “big” outdoor living has become.  But, more importantly than “big,” it also highlights how critical enjoyable outdoor living areas are to homeowners’ (current and future) satisfaction with their homes.   “In this uncertain economy, homeowners want to get more enjoyment out of their yards,” said ASLA Executive Vice President and CEO Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA. “They want attractive outdoor spaces that are both easy to take care of and sustainable.”
  • Three years ago, St. Patricks Day, 2010, I wrote what then became the most popular posting on this blog.  Its popularity wasn’t just the insightful information about the decks, porches, patios, pergolas and outdoor living spaces, rooms and accessories we do around the Des Moines area.  What put it over the top was its reference to “green beer.”  I followed up on that in 2011 with an update on the color choices available in decking and railing colors.  Those two blog posts combine for the now second-most popular all-time blog topic here.  That colorful trend continues unabated since, and now even expands to the hardscaping and patio surface options; just a few examples follow:
TimberTech Deck with Colored Concrete Patio, Urbandale

TimberTech Deck with Colored Concrete Patio, Urbandale

Enough color choices to match the “big-ness” of the great outdoors.  Enough to make your head spin…like green beer the day after St. Patrick’s Day.  But also, enough to make your neighbors green with envy when they see your stunning outdoor living space by Archadeck of Central Iowa.   We are uniquely positioned and qualified in the Des Moines market to help you thru all the design decisions related to your deck, patio and porch projects – from function, size, layout, colors and value.  Our design process can show your outdoor spaces and structures as they look on your home thru near-photo-realistic 3D renderings.  In our Urbandale showroom, we’ve got a wide assortment of decking, railing and patio products and colors in various display forms to see, touch and even walk on.   Our design process eases you through the selection process and gives you the security of knowing what you’re going to get before you get it.  And then we make it happen.  And guarantee it will happen.

Archadeck | Outdoor Living.  Better Building by Design.

Dream Backyard MakeoverPS – Our Dream Backyard Makeover Contest runs thru April 22nd.  If you haven’t checked that out yet – or submitted your backyard entry – you’ve still got time.  Visit our Facebook page for details.  Good Luck!

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Dream Backyard Makeover Opportunities for Central Iowa

What is your Dream Backyard, Central Iowa?  Maybe an inviting deck and patio space offering ambiance, functionality and beauty your family and friends will enjoy for years?  Tell us about it and you could possibly win it!  Yes, it could be – could be – that easy and thats the big news I teased you with in the last post.  Its no longer a tease…its real…and its underway.

Dream Backyard Makeover Poster

Dream Backyard Makeover Poster

Archadeck of Central Iowa is excited to offer our market the opportunity to participate in our very first contest – your chance to win an outdoor living space Grand Prize valued up to $70,000!  2nd and 3rd Place prizes as well.  Our franchisor (Outdoor Living Brands, Inc.), TimberTech (decking and railing)  and Belgard (patios and hardscapes) have partnered-up to sponsor this nationwide contest across the Archadeck | Outdoor Living brand of outdoor living space designers and builders.  S0, yes, not only will you be competing with your neighbors around the Des Moines area, you’ll be competing with our other 60 markets as well.  That will make it more suspenseful, fun and impressive to win.  And, as we are often told here in Central Iowa, you can’t win if you don’t play.  So…go outside…errrr…go online and play!

Dream Backyard Makeover Flyer

Dream Backyard Makeover Flyer

This Dream Backyard Makeover contest will play out over Facebook, so it does require you to like our Facebook page, ArchadeckCentralIowa, to enter the contest.  If you already like us (“thank you”), click on the “Win a Backyard” icon to submit your entry.  Rules, regulations, the contest entry itself and status updates are all available thru our Facebook page so check your news feeds and our wall regularly.

The contest opened February 1st, 2013, and will close near the end of April, 2013.  Two finalists will be selected each month.  Fan voting (yes, you’ll even have some say in who wins) and sponsor selection from the 6 finalists will occur at the end of April.

Again, for complete information, rules and regulations and, of course, your opportunity to enter and win, visit and like our Facebook page at ArchadeckCentralIowa.  Many of the links here will take you there.

Of course, you can get that awesome backyard with Archadeck of Central Iowa even without winning the contest.  Our highly popular Archadeck Outdoor Living Design Guide, our industry relationships and expertise and our attention to design details bring dream backyards to life every day.  And, contest or not,  none of our projects just happen magically; they all take time…for design and planning ….for construction.  Which is why we want to choose a winner by the end of April…so we can build the lucky winner’s project (hopefully yours!) later this summer.

Better building by design.  Value by design.  It’s the Archadeck Difference – included in every project!

The luck – you’ll have to provide!  Good Luck!

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Big Outdoor Living News: Porch and Patio Awards, Des Moines Home Show and…???

Des Moines Deck BuilderBig news coming this weekend.  Big as the great outdoors.

No, its not news that Archadeck of Central Iowa won two design awards at our recently-completed annual meeting.  But, we did…and thats pretty big, too.

Screen Porch, Patio and Outdoor Kitchen Project in Grinnell Wins Archadeck 2013 Design Contest (Combination Projects)

Screen Porch, Patio and Outdoor Kitchen Project in Grinnell Wins Archadeck 2013 Design Contest (Combination Projects – 1st Place)

These acknowledgements are big and humbling at the same time; we’ve got some great professionals in the Archadeck system.  Competition is fierce; bribes have been attempted…but not accepted.  Just kidding (sorta).

No, its not news that I will be on  Sherry Failor’s  Welcome Home Des Moines radio show this Saturday.  But, I will…and thats pretty big, too.  1040 WHO AM on your radio dial, noon to 1pm.  We’ll be talking decks, porches, patios and more…including, the big news!

No, its not that the Des Moines Home & Garden Show- The Big one! –  is coming up next week.  Starting Thursday, February 7th, running thru Sunday the 10th.  15th year running for Archadeck at the show.  You’ll find us in the lobby on the east side of Hy-Vee Hall.  Make us your first stop!  Or last.  Or both.  And be sure to ask us about the big news.

Patio in Johnston (Des Moines) Wins Archadeck 2013 Design Contest (Patio Projects - 3rd Place)

Patio in Johnston (Des Moines) Wins Archadeck 2013 Design Contest (Patio Projects – 3rd Place)

No…its bigger than all that…combined.  Thats all I can say now.  Other than…find us on Facebook.   Beyond that, I’m sworn to secrecy.  But, its big.  Stay tuned…

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2013 Crystal Ball for Archadeck Outdoor Living

NY Eve Ball DropHere we are, putting another year behind us and setting our sights on the next.  Goodbye Twenty-Twelve.  Hello Twenty-Thirteen.

2012 was a very good year for Archadeck of Central Iowa.  Record-setting, even.  Central Iowans are truly embracing our trusted and time-proven approach to custom designing and building outdoor living spaces, rooms and accessories.  Many backyards around Des Moines were adorned with our decks, porches, patios, pergolas, outdoor kitchens and more…even a basketball court!

Screen Porch, Patio, Outdoor Kitchen Space by Archadeck of Central Iowa

Screen Porch, Patio, Outdoor Kitchen Space by Archadeck of Central Iowa

Multi-functional, combination spaces with amenities like fireplaces, firepits and lighting are driving growth in the value and popularity of outdoor living.

Three of our 2012 projects are soon going to be seen in some fairly prominent local and national publications in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled for these:

  • Do It Yourself Magazine, a Better Homes and Gardens special publication used a West Des Moines composite deck project of ours as a backdrop for a feature article coming later this Spring; stay tuned for newsstand availability information.
  • Welcome Home Des Moines, a locally-produced magazine, is featuring an Urbandale deck and patio project, complete with a firepit and outdoor kitchen, in their January/February 2013 issue; find it online, in your mailbox (if you subscribe) and in fine establishments around Des Moines in January.
  • dsm Magazine, another locally-produced magazine, asked us to participate in a “Superior Interiors” feature that will run in their  Feb/Mar/April 2013 issue.  Interiors?  Archadeck?  Aren’t we a “Superiors Exteriors” business?  Well, yes, but the Urbandale screen porch project we’re featuring there will explain it all.  Look for that in late January as well.
TimberTech Deck - Wes Des Moines (soon to be seen in DIY Magazine)

TimberTech Deck – Wes Des Moines (soon to be seen in DIY Magazine)

What else does 2013 hold in store for Archadeck of Central Iowa?  Where is that crystal ball when we need it?  One thing is certain:  It won’t get any easier.  Our clients demand more.  We demand more of ourselves.  In other words, the bar keeps getting moved higher.  But, those are challenges that inspire us.   So, we’re preparing for another exciting year and we’re looking forward to summarizing another successful and record-setting year here again next year at this time.  Ahead of that, here are some of the challenges, excitement and preparations we see in Archadeck’s 2013 crystal ball:

—–  Home Shows  —– 

We will again be displaying at the Des Moines Home & Garden Show (February 7th – 10th, 2013; Iowa Events Center/Hy-Vee Hall) and at the Home Builders Association Home & Remodeling Show (March 8 – 10, 2013; Iowa State Fairgrounds/Varied Industries Building).

Custom Outdoor Living Space Design and Plan, Archadeck of Central Iowa

Custom Outdoor Living Space Design and Plan, Archadeck of Central Iowa

But, you don’t have to wait to see us at a Home Show.  In fact, if you’ve got a pre-Summer “deadline” (maybe needing a deck or porch or patio for a graduation party or wedding?), I’d highly  (highly!) encourage you to not wait.   We have a number of 2012 clients who have already approached us about “phase 2” planning (“phasing” projects is also becoming more common; for example, doing a room/porch one year and a patio the next).  We also have a queue of several proposals from late 2012 under consideration with January decision timeframes (some with those aforementioned deadlines).

—–  Econ 101  —–

With demand and popularity come higher prices, particularly with the building materials that go into our projects.  But on top of that, re-building efforts from massive and devastating storms like Hurricane Sandy and the Joplin tornado further stress supply and demand resources.   Construction industry watchers are forecasting 3% – 8% increases in building material prices over the coming years (source:  Ken Simonson, Chief Economist AGC of America, 9/21/12) .   The last few years have made providers lean, so absorbing these costs will be difficult for us.   Which I know makes purchasing decisions more difficult for you.  But it doesn’t have to be all bad news.  Done right – better building by design – does add value.  And again, if you can catch us early you might beat some of these price increases.

—–  Products, Supply Chain and Relationships  —–

Because of our national presence and our outdoor living industry leadership position, Archadeck has forged various forms of preferred supplier relationships with major manufacturers in the outdoor living arena, including:

There were some interesting partnerships and acquisitions within those suppliers last year and we’re looking forward to some exciting enhancements in their product lines as a result.

Azek acquired the TimberTech business last year.  What that means going forward is yet to be totally realized; for the time being the brands and products are being maintained independently.  I would anticipate some very positive outcomes from this in regards to new and improved product offerings in the near future.

From TimberTech Direct, Radiance Rail with Feeney's Cable Rail, new in 2013.

From TimberTech Direct, Radiance Rail with Feeney’s Cable Rail, new in 2013.

One precursor to what may be ahead with the Azek/TimberTech deal may be seen in the partnership TimberTech and Feeney Architectural Products developed to integrate Feeney’s Cable Rail system into TimberTech’s new Radiance Rail systems.

Locally, I am also working to forge a stronger relationship with Trex.

Trex Transcends Front Porch, West Des Moines

Trex Transcends Front Porch, West Des Moines

We’ve become a big fan of Trex’s Transcends decking and railing products.  In fact, we just finished a Trex Transcends front porch project in West Des Moines a couple of weeks ago.  Trex’s RainEscape product is becoming our under-decking drainage system of choice as well.  Several recent Des Moines-area Trex deck projects are lined up for review and I have paperwork completed and ready to be submitted…for what will soon make us the first TrexPro contractor in the Des Moines area.  We are excited to attain this level of local support with Trex, the number one decking/railing manufacturer in the country.   Stay tuned for more details on this relationship.

Vendors working together make it better for all of us downstream.  And with the relationships Archadeck has forged with these major suppliers, it makes it even better when you work with Archadeck.  The direct support we get from these relationships helps all of us, both before and after an outdoor living space project is designed, sold and constructed.

—-  Re-Energize  —–

The annual Archadeck workshop, held in conjunction with the other brands in our Outdoor Living Brands, Inc. family will be coming up in late January.   It’s a nice time to re-connect and network with our colleagues around the country and learn from those shared experiences.  In addition, we’ll be introduced to new business strategies from our franchise advisory groups.  I always come away from these meetings re-energized for a new season and am looking forward to this again.

—–  Pictures Are Worth A Thousand Words  —–

A few blog posts back, I mentioned plans to expand our offerings of project pictures beyond what we have on our web site and Facebook photo galleries to include Pinterest and Photosynth.  Those plans are…aside from adding some pins to my personal Pinterest site and adding a couple of panoramic “synths” to our Photosynth site…still in the planning phase.  But, I am committed to integrating these further into our web presence over the coming weeks.  So, look for announcements on these in the near future.

Slide09XOur online themes (across our web site, Facebook page, etc.) for the past few weeks has been a seasonal wish for “Merry Outdoor Living in the Happy New Year!”  Beyond that, thank you for your readership here and your support of Archadeck of Central Iowa.   And, if you need to improve your merry-making capabilities in your Central Iowa outdoor living space in 2013 – or beyond, we look forward to hearing from you soon.  Feel free to download our complimentary Design Guide, contact us via our web site and/or give us a call.

Best wishes for a Happy and Prosperous 2013!

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Homestyle’s Last Word on Outdoor Living: Take The Party Outside

This one is a keeper.  No, I don’t mean this blog article.  Nor do I mean any of the recent outdoor living projects we’ve completed here in the Des Moines area.  While we’ve certainly been exceptionally busy since Fall with the mild Winter and Spring – allowing us to build some very nice deck, porch and patio projects, our clients think those are all keepers, though.

What I am referring to is the May, 2012, edition of the Des Moines Register’s Homestyle magazine that just hit the streets.  It’s a keeper because from what I, as an advertiser in that publication, have been told, it’s the last Homestyle magazine we’re ever going to see.  At least on paper…in its current form.  Des Moines Register President and Publisher Laura Hollingsworth’s announcements of April 13th and May 6th put some background to this change…and others on the horizon.

Over the years, Homestyle has been a great resource for Archadeck of Central Iowa as a tool to promote our presence – our design and build services – in the Des Moines and Central Iowa region.  Occasionally, the Register and Homestyle publishers would be kind enough to feature us in stories and articles in the magazine.  Homestyle’s quality and professional production served us – and like-minded businesses – well over the years.  I know this because I know it served a lot of you well, too.  Countless people I’ve talked to over the 9 years I’ve been involved in this business of designing and building outdoor living spaces have mentioned seeing our ads and stories in the Homestyle magazine.  Whether you were looking for an outdoor kitchen or an indoor kitchen, an outdoor living room or an indoor living room, a patio or a pad, a ceiling fan for your bedroom or for your screen porch, Homestyle was a resource Des Moines relied on for ideas and inspiration.  Homestyle also provided you a way to find products and businesses to bring those ideas and inspiration to life.  Often on the vivid pages of the magazine itself.

But in a bittersweet end, those pages will be no more.  Its sad to see Homestyle go, yet I certainly understand.  More and more of you now find us – and nearly everything else – via the internet today.  And, to be honest, its more effective – cost-wise, reach-wise, message-wise – for us to be found on the internet.  Video killed the radio star.  And Microsoft, Google and Apple killed the print star.

Or did they?  Last I checked, radio still exists….even on the internet….and as a result, in even more specialized and targeted forms, not to mention from nearly every corner of the earth.  Maybe video actually created more radio stars…but diluted the term “stars?”

So, I think print is going to remain as well.  But, like radio and nearly everything else, its delivery is evolving to electronic form….on the internet.  And print stars will grow…and dilute.  In part, thanks to bloggers like me – I hardly consider myself a “star.”

I am one of those conflicted sorts who sees himself as both a technologist (a 29-year career in that field) and a traditionalist (I’m a born-and-raised Iowan, southern at that).  I often have both the Des Moines Register paper (paper!) and my iPad at the breakfast table in the morning.  I like to buy hardcopy books to have on a bedside table or library shelf, but I prefer to read them on iBooks on my iPad.  I actively promote wood-alternative material when it comes to decking and railing products, yet I believe nothing compares to the natural beauty of real wood (when its cleaned, sealed and nicely stained).  So, maybe I’m wired to adapt to the change of not having Homestyle delivered to folks doorsteps once a month to whatever the “next step” is in the evolution of the Des Moines Register and its spin-off publications.    Maybe.

I’ll miss the traditional ways and the traditional contributors and I will support these as long as they exist and work for us.  So, you’ll still find our ads in the Des Moines Register and in Sherry Failor’s Welcome Home Des Moines magazine (another fine, traditional print publication).  But, I’ll support the evolution, too.  Technology advances demand it.  And, quite frankly, so do you…we.  With every smart phone, tablet computer and low-maintenance, wood-alternative deck we buy, its one more vote for…change….progress…evolution.  But, its kinda like the saying about not liking to have birthdays the older you get:  consider the alternative.

So, in those terms, it sounds like the Des Moines Register is about to have one of those “major” birthdays.  And we’re all invited to the party.  As for Archadeck of Central Iowa, professionally, and me, personally, we’ll be there because we prefer parties to the alternative.  Especially, parties on the patio!

Thank you to The Des Moines Register and, specifically, the Homestyle production team for your contributions to Des Moines homeowners’ lifestyles through that forum over the years.  Thanks also for your support of Archadeck and like-minded businesses that operate in that arena; we look forward to that continued support in the next evolution of the Register.   Finally, thank you for the “Outdoor Oasis – Deck out your deck and take the party outside” nod.  Subliminal or not, it’s a keeper.

Satisfaction Abounds with Des Moines-area Deck and Railing Projects

Satisfaction...Archadeck Style

We’re just back from our annual workshop where, among other presentations, our franchisor recognizes several achievements across the Archadeck network of outdoor living space builders and designers.  Customer Satisfaction Awards are some of the most coveted awards and we’re proud to announce Central Iowa’s third consecutive Customer Satisfaction Award.  Satisfied customers are satisfied customers regardless of project size, complexity or style.  Based on our awards and their consistency, unlike the Rolling Stones, we do get satisfaction…nearly everyday.

Beyond that award, we had two other nice, unexpected acknowledgements awaiting us when we got home.

2012 Fortress Railing Calendar - March, Archadeck of Central Iowa

First, a project of ours was selected by Fortress Railing Products as their 3rd Place winner nationally for their 2012 Calendar Contest.  As such, it is the March cover and feature on their 2012 national calendar.  Obviously, Fortress is a railing (and fence) company so the focus is on our use of their FE26 Traditional Iron Railing in the project we did for our client in Urbandale, a northwest Des Moines suburb.  The overall project scope included installation of a low-maintenance railing and cedar pergola on their existing builder-provided composite deck (but with wood railing, initially).  The sleek, crisp look of Fortress Railing was a key component of the stunning transformation we made to our client’s deck space.  The flared pergola concept was key, too.  Thanks to Fortress for selecting our project for March, 2012!  And, thanks to our clients for having the foresight to select Fortress Railing…and Archadeck…for their project!

On a side note, my co-hort Rick Conrad of our Archadeck of Bucks/Mont office in Pennsylvania won the 2012 Grand Prize – the calendar cover and January features in the same Fortress calendar.  Congratulations, Rick!  Rick’s Grand Prize follows on the heels of our Archadeck of West Rhode Island office winning the same award in 2009.  I’m in good company!

Ageless Deck Design, by Archadeck of Des Moines - circa, 2001 (?)

Secondly, a client of ours from 1997 – yes, 1997…from the tenure of the prior Archadeck of Des Moines office – called with a question related to their initial deck design and layout.  No problems or issues, she emphasized; in fact, said their deck is still the best investment they’ve made on their home.   They are reviewing options for addressing a new gas meter requirement in relation to the deck’s layout and wondered if I had any information relevant to that.  Unfortunately, due to the age of their project and retention limitations, I wasn’t able to provide much besides anecdotal discussion to assist her.  But, she said she was very appreciative of that and my call back and said it further validated their selection of Archadeck – 15 years later – to know that we’re still actively in business.

More active than ever, in fact!

We’ll be gearing up for the 2012 Des Moines Home and Garden Show at the Iowa Events Center in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned for more information and we look forward to seeing you there.