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For Sale: Central Iowa Outdoor Living At Its Best!

Want to Avoid this Hassle?

Want to Avoid this Hassle?

Normally, a multi-day – and even multi-week (for larger projects) – construction process is necessary for you to have a brand new Archadeck outdoor living space. But, here is a rare opportunity to own a new, beautiful, low-maintenance deck, porch and patio, custom designed and built by Archadeck…without the hassle of construction! Magic. Bang. There it is…right in your Central Iowa backyard.

I know many of our hundreds of past clients would have liked that opportunity.   But, this opportunity is very unique (first time in 12 years)…and fleeting.

“How?” you ask. “Got to be a trick,” you say.

The magical space “appeared” over the winter and spring of 2014-15 and includes a deck, open porch and fire pit patio area overlooking a pond in a Waukee neighborhood, west of Des Moines. TimberTech Earthwood Evolutions capped-composite decking provides beautiful and low-maintenance enjoyment of the deck and porch area. The stamped concrete patio with Rockwood Wall Stone for the firepit and seat walls as its focal point, is surrounded by raised planter beds in the same wall stone.

Waukee, from Archadeck Open Porch

Waukee, from Archadeck Open Porch

It’s a beautiful place to start the day with morning coffee under the canopy of the porch.   Catch some mid-day rays on the open deck and grill a delicious lunch or dinner meal. A drink around a cozy fire on the patio caps the day. And weekends…this space was made for weekends! Plenty of outdoor space for entertaining larger groups of family or friends.

Stamped Concrete Patio with Fire Pit, Seat Wall

Stamped Concrete Patio with Fire Pit, Seat Wall

Its exactly the space our clients envisioned and they love it. They would also love for you to buy their new Archadeck outdoor living space! And…the home that goes with it.

For Sale - Best backyard in Waukee!

For Sale – Best Backyard in Waukee!

While our clients love their porch and patio and all its surroundings, a career opportunity is leading them to change their surroundings even more than what we did to their backyard. Their opportunity came a bit unexpectedly…and just as we were nearing completion of the build of their project.   The phone call went something like “Harold, we need you to hurry up and get this done. We’re moving to Alabama in June and we need to put our house up for sale. We’d like to enjoy the space a few times before we leave.”

ReMax Real Estate Group

ReMax Real Estate Group

So, “enjoy” they have (a few times) and “moving” they are (in two weeks…to Auburn, Alabama). Their Waukee home was recently put up for sale. And you have the opportunity to buy it…and the (brand) new outdoor living space that goes with it.  The home is listed with Re/Max Real Estate Group. I can’t help but notice the listing shows nearly as many pictures of the backyard outdoor features as it does the interior. I’m not saying it’s the best part of the home, but…you can Go Outside and Play there!

Archadeck Custom Design

Archadeck Custom Design

Our clients were great to work with as they collaborated with us over the course of a couple of years to make sure they got their project “right.”   We all expected them to enjoy the space for years to come. But, this move is good for them and we wish them the best in their new endeavors in Alabama. They are leaving a great backyard – a great home – for someone else. We’re all here to leave the world a better place than we found it, right? Our clients did that. I thought the least we could do here was to promote this project from the perspective of helping our clients ease their transition to Alabama by attracting potential new owners of their home through a new Archadeck-inspired backyard.

So, if you’re in the market for a hone in the Des Moines area, check out the Re/Max Real Estate Group listing for our client’s home in Waukee. If beautiful vistas, and the outdoor spaces to enjoy them from, are high on your list of must-haves, then this home should be high on your list of must-haves.

Profile with Sig - 2015

Des Moines Home + Garden + Archadeck | Outdoor Living = 12 Years

Twelve years ago, on a late Friday afternoon, I got off a long-awaited, return-flight home to Des Moines after a 3-week Archadeck orientation training course with our franchisor in Richmond, VA. Two hours later, I was exhibiting Archadeck of Central Iowa’s deck and porch business at my first Des Moines Home + Garden Show.   Talk about hitting the ground running!

Twelve years ago, all the exhibitors (and attendees) were crammed into Veterans Memorial Auditorium – both floors. The buzz and energy in the building was exciting – as was my experience as a first-time exhibitor.

Des Moines Hone + Garden Show

Des Moines Hone + Garden Show

Twelve years later, we are about to embark on our 12th consecutive Des Moines Home + Garden Show. The show starts at noon on Thursday, February 12th, and continues thru Sunday, February 15th at 6pm. Check the show web site for details; you’ll find us nearly where we started 12 years ago…on the lower-level of whats now a building with a name so long it would break the internet if I spelled it out here…but essentially, Vets Auditorium – or “The Barn” – as us old-time Des Moinians still call it.

A lot has changed in 12 years. Or has it? We’re still Archadeck and we’re still in the basement of Vets…and we’re just as excited. Why the excitement after all these years? We’re excited for all that has changed – and continues to change. Here’s the Top 12 exciting changes over our 12 year run at the Des Moines Home + Garden Show:

  1. Hy-Vee Hall…Iowa Events Center. The old Vets – newly repurposed and renamed a few years back – is now integrated with the new Hy-Vee Hall and Wells Fargo Arena facilities and grouped into the Iowa Events Center. None of these latter facilities existed 12 years ago. The addition of the Iowa Events Center complex is representative of the excitement and growth associated with Des Moines over the past decade. That buzz expands to the Des Moines Home + Garden Show every year and the growth and excitement of the show parallels Des Moines as a whole. The show now fills every nook and cranny of Hy-Vee Hall and the exhibition space at Vets. We’ve been in nearly all those nooks and crannies over our 12 years exhibiting there.
  2. Outdoor Living. I said on Sherry Failor’s Welcome Home Des Moines radio show last week that no one really invented “outdoor living.” But, Archadeck was in the “outdoor living” business over 30 years ago. We were always more than decks and porches and we knew that. But, Archadeck’s name – while a well identified and reputable brand – didn’t articulate that very well. What to do? About 6 years ago…Archadeck | Outdoor Living. Moving life outdoors.   In stunning style.
  3. Pressure = Excitement. 4 days before the show and we don’t know what we’re going to put together for our exhibit. How exciting is that? Pressure-filled excitement is what that is. But, always exciting to see it come together.
  4. Lower-Maintenance, Wood-Alternative Products. 12 years ago – and for the first few years – our exhibits were composed of primarily cedar (wood)…cedar deck, cedar pergola, cedar walls. This weekend (as we have for several years), we’ve incorporated 3 –generations of wood-alternative decking into our exhibit as well as stone walls. No wood. Lower maintenance. No splinters.
  5. Low-Maintenance Trex Transcends Deck with OUtdoor Kitchen - West Des Moines

    Low-Maintenance Trex Transcends Deck with Outdoor Kitchen – West Des Moines

    Year-Round Exhibit. The Home + Garden Show demonstrates how beneficial an Archadeck exhibit is to both us and our clients. So, in 2009 we developed and opened a year-round home show, in effect. Our Urbandale office space has evolved with our products and services, and is now an interactive, collaborative, design studio for our clients.

  6. Product Evolutions.  Wood-alternative decking and railing products change every year – new technologies, new aesthetics, improved performance. There are only about 3 boards we’re showing (and using) in our exhibit (in Central Iowa backyards) that existed more than 5 years ago.
  7. Technology, the Internet and Social Media. Twelve years ago I couldn’t write a blog about the Home + Garden Show. Today, I can not only do that, but I can also post photos and reports from the show on Facebook, live-tweet from the show and access our complete photo gallery on my iPad…but since that’s so small, we’ll just stream it on the 52” high-definition monitor we’ve got in our exhibit instead.
  8. Fleetwood Mac. They are opening the show this year! Next door…Wells Fargo Arena…the night before. World Turning.
  9. Casuwel by Archadeck

    Casuwel by Archadeck

    Outdoor Furniture. To truly live outdoors, you need spaces, rooms and accessories for your outdoor life. We’ve designed, incorporated and provided accessories like lighting, outdoor kitchens, bars, fireplaces, fire pits and more in our outdoor living projects for many years. Later this spring, we’re rounding that out with a new, attractive, offering of Caswel outdoor furniture, with exclusive offerings through Archadeck | Outdoor Living and our other Outdoor Living Brands, Inc. family of outdoor-oriented businesses. Look for more news on this later this spring or talk to us about it at the show.

  10. Free Admission Tickets. Free. How exciting is that? Well, not as exciting as winning the nearly $500 million Powerball prize…but your odds are better. Just be one of the first 4 people to message or post to us on our Facebook page to receive 2 complimentary admission tickets to the Des Moines Home + Garden Show. After confirmation, we’ll leave them at Will Call for you. The only requirement is that you stop by our exhibit and say “Hi!”
  11. Valentines Day. Yeah, once in a while…3 or 4 times now, I think, the show lands on Valentine’s Day. Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses at our exhibit! And that’s not yet a name for a Trex, TimberTech or Azek deck board…but I bet its been considered. It would go well with Spiced Rum and Havana Gold (actual Trex Transcends deck color names).
  12. Home + Outdoor Living. Stay tuned for news on this one. Marketplace Events, the promoter of the Des Moines Home + Garden Show has just announced plans for a new (second) show in March of 2016. To be called…The Des Moines Home + Outdoor Living Show.  See bullets 1 and 2, above. With (one of the only companies / exhibitors)  “Outdoor Living” in its name, I think I know where we’re going to be next March. But, is 13 a lucky or unlucky number for us in regards to the Des Moines Home + Garden Show? Stay tuned for more excitement.

I hope to see you at the 2015 Des Moines Home + Garden Show.

Go Outside and Play!

Profile with Sig - 2015

Faster, Easier and Stronger Central Iowa Decks and Porches with Archadeck and FastenMaster

Archadeck FastenMaster TimberTech Des MoinesOur friends at FastenMaster, a leading manufacturer of many of the fastening solutions used in our deck and porch structures in the Des Moines area, tweeted out the other day asking if we were working on any new projects.   As a matter of fact…we are! So, here you go, FastenMaster..blogging and tweeting back at you!.

Here’s the design of the deck we’re building for our client in a rural development southwest of Des Moines, near Cumming.

Design Rendering, SE View

Design Rendering, SE View

The decking will be TimberTech’s Earthwood Legacy collection of capped-composite decking and fascia trim. Westbury’s Tuscany aluminum rail system will wrap the outer perimeter of the deck. The low-profile and dark (bronze) color of the rail will offer nearly uninhibited views of the beautiful Iowa countryside our clients have from their new, approx 405sf deck. Of course, its all going to be held together nicely with FastenMaster products.

Design Rendering, NE View

Design Rendering, NE View

We’re going to do a 2-board wide picture frame border around the perimeter of the deck and inlay a diamond-shape in the middle of the deck. This deck laying pattern will offer an attractive aesthetic to the space and serves to eliminate unattractive butt joints in the decking. The picture frame and diamond border will be the TimberTech’s Mocha color of Legacy while the primary field area will be done in the Tigerwood color.

Rendering of Picture Frame Border and Diamond Inlay Design

Rendering of Picture Frame Border and Diamond Inlay Design

Our early-December weather in Central Iowa is hanging on enough to allow us to keep going on a few projects, including this one. I visited the job site this afternoon and the deck structure is completed and we were just laying the first picture frame deck boards along the house wall.  The FastenMaster LedgerLok’s are holding that structure securely and compliantly to the house.

Archadeck Iowa Deck Design Build TimberTech FastenMaster 01

Deck Framing Faster, Easier, Stronger with Archadeck and FastenMaster LedgerLoks

If our Iowa weather continues to cooperate, Santa should be bringing our clients a new deck for Christmas. No assembly required (with Archadeck’s (Santa’s) year-round design/build services). Check back here for updates as we progress and for completed pictures.

Thanks, FastenMaster, for making Archadeck of Central Iowa faster, easier and stronger. Now if you could just do something about…warmer.

Harold Cross, Archadeck of Central Iowa

Central Iowa Backyard Makeover Dream Becomes Reality

DBYM LogoIts been quiet here in regards to Rick and Merea Bentrott’s Dream Backyard Makeover since our May completion of their deck, patio, porch and outdoor kitchen project in Huxley, IA, a few miles north of Des Moines. But, it’s time to break that silence!

For those new to the Bentrott’s project proceedings, it was a $70,000 Dream Backyard Makeover Contest conducted in early-spring last year. Our Archadeck franchisor, Outdoor Living Brands, Inc., and two of our preferred product suppliers, TimberTech and Belgard Hardscapes, teamed up to sponsor this first-ever contest across our national Archadeck | Outdoor Living system. The Bentrott’s were the lucky winners of the $70,000 Dream Backyard Makeover Grand Prize! Archadeck of Central Iowa was honored to have winners from Central Iowa and to design and build the project for the Bentrott family.

Grand Prize Winners Rick & Merea Bentrott with Archadeck and Belgard staff

Grand Prize Winners Rick & Merea Bentrott with Archadeck and Belgard staff

Unlike many contests like this, we didn’t have things like keys to a new car or a big cardboard – or real – check to hand to the winners to enjoy instantly. Instead, we offered Rick and Merea our award-winning outdoor living design/build services in exchange for their backyard. We did surprise them with a “Publishers Clearinghouse”-style announcement, though; $70,000 was certainly worthy of that. After that surprise settled in, we worked with the Bentrott’s and our project sponsors through the summer to design what that grand prize project would actually be.

Through several design iterations and a construction phase that was interrupted by an early, harsh and long winter, a beautiful, multi-purpose outdoor living space emerged. The space includes a deck that flows to a multi-purpose patio. Part of the patio is covered with a freestanding, cedar-finished, open porch, with the remainder of the patio open to the big Iowa sky.

Patio, Porch and Deck by Archadeck of Central Iowa for Dream Backyard Makeover Winners

Patio, Porch and Deck by Archadeck of Central Iowa for Dream Backyard Makeover Winners

The deck features TimberTech’s capped-composite Earthwood Evolutions low-maintenance decking, with TimberTech’s Radiance railing system. The open patio area includes a firepit and seat wall. An outdoor kitchen resides underneath the porch, complete with a built-in American Outdoor Grill and a Big Green Egg smoker. Belgard Hardscape’s Elements division custom-built the kitchen and we used Belgard’s Urbana and Mega Arbel pavers and Weston Wall Stone throughout the patio space. TimberTech’s DeckLite low-voltage lighting components softly illuminate the entire space under the stars.  The Bentrot’s new outdoor living space was completed last May.

TimberTech Deck viewed from outdoor kitchen under the open porch

TimberTech Deck viewed from outdoor kitchen under the open porch

Scheduling of follow-up yard work with the busy schedules of a young-professional family – with four children – and Central Iowa’s favorite deck, porch and patio builder precluded a “grand reveal” and celebration of the makeover until early this Fall. We christened the space with the Bentrott’s and several of their friends on a beautiful, early fall evening a few weeks back.

We’ve put together a video chronicling the makeover as it evolved from dream to reality in the Bentrott’s backyard, starting with the contest-winning announcement and culminating with our celebratory “launch party.”

The pictures in this blog post are our first public showing of the completed project and all of its features. Look for the video and more pictures to be published on our web site as well as throughout our various web-based media channels (Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Houzz, Pinterest). Additionally, the project will be featured in an early-spring 2015 edition of our local Welcome Home Des Moines magazine.

Open Porch over Belgard paver patio and outdoor kitchen, as viewed from the deck.

Open Porch over Belgard paver patio and outdoor kitchen, as viewed from the deck.

The Bentrott’s $70,000 Dream Backyard Makeover project showcases much of what Archadeck | Outdoor Living provides through our custom design/build services. But, more than just a showcase, it’s a real space that real clients really love. We don’t often get to experience that love firsthand with our clients as we did the evening we celebrated with the Bentrott’s and their friends in their new deck, porch and patio space. The glow of the firepit. The aroma of grilled meats and vegetables. The clinking of glasses. The camaraderie of good friends and the laughter of children. Outdoor Living at its best. Merea told me that they use and enjoy their outdoor living space like this often in their family-oriented neighborhood. “What you see tonight, is what you see every weekend,” Rick added, “and I can assure you that any other winner of the contest would not have enjoyed their space any more than we enjoy ours.”

Firepit on the patio adjacent to the deck and porch

Firepit on the patio adjacent to the deck and porch

Congratulations, again, to Rick and Merea Bentrott and their family. For winning the contest. For living outdoors.

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.

Profile with Sig - Final 3X

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…


Deck Safety, Grilling Season, Deck Building and PC Failure Make for Busy May

Des Moines and Central Iowa, how have you been?  Our nice early spring took a bit of cool, wet turn the last couple of weeks.  But, by the crowds I saw at various landscaping centers from Ankeny and Altoona to Johnston and Urbandale the past couple of weekends, it looks like there is a lot of outdoor sprucing up going on around Central Iowa.  Its been a while – too long, actually – since my last chat here.  Many reasons for that and many things to catch up on.  Neither of which I will dwell on in much detail this time.  But, I feel some explanation for the gap is in order:

  • Busy.  As I said above, it is the peak time for interest in enhancing outdoor living spaces.  I try hard to get the masses to think about new deck, screen porch, patio, pergola and other outdoor structures, spaces and amenities during the late fall, winter and early spring times.  Try as I might, April and May continue to be peak months for call volume, design consultations and project proposals.  And, glad to say and see, we are seeing an up-tick in all areas compared to last year.  One more sign, I think, of the strength of the value of outdoor living projects when it comes to lifestyle and your overall home’s value.
  • Frustrated.  Technology is a great thing…when it works as intended or expected.  But, when it doesn’t – or fails completely – it can bring some misery and frustration to your life…how much depending on how much you’re dependent on the technology.  I am fairly dependent; there is more technology associated with the business of being a deck builder than one might imagine.  Two weeks ago, I had a fairly significant PC failure.  Aaaaagh!  Backups were in place.  But, as I’ve realized, they are only as good as a) what you have to restore them to and b) the speed at which you can do the restores.  I promised not to dwell (whine?), but it wasn’t fun.  Functional, yes…but not 100% efficient.  Earlier this week, I got my repaired PC back (failed video card) and I’m fully recovered at this point.  Whew. 

And as for catching up, here are the highlights:

  • Our crews are running 2 – 3 projects concurrently right now around the Des Moines area, sized anywhere from a front porch enhancement (nice Azek railing, trim and lighting package) to a new 3-season room and composite (TimberTech) deck combination project.  I’ve got some video and pics of the latter in progress so look for those here and on our YouTube channel in the near future.
  • I can’t believe how much damage I am still seeing from the effect of the harsh winter we had.  We’ve got a project on the calendar to replace a West Des Moines deck that collapsed – fell off the house – from snow load.  On a weekly basis, I’m called about or see similar situations.  The amount of frost heave damage to decks and patios last year exceeds anything I’ve seen in past years.  Keep in mind folks, that winter is not always the cause of the damage to decks and patios.  The more common cause is the shortcuts too many builders and contractors take when building these structures.  These shortcuts fall primarily in two areas:  1) insufficient support at and/or connectivity to the house, and 2) insufficient footings under the deck support posts.  The latter can result in your deck posts (and the deck attached to them) “heaving” up from the ground when the ground freezes and thaws; it’s the backyard version of a street pothole.  The former doesn’t provide the support required for the snow loads (and sometimes the “people” load) associated with our climate.  Again, not to dwell, but if you have concerns about your deck’s structure and safety, contact us and we’ll be glad to discuss these issues with you further.  NADRA, the North American Deck and Railing Association delegates May as Deck Safety Month; contact us for more information.
  • Our national and local web sites were spruced up a bit earlier this month; hopefully, you like the result.  As with any technology transition, there are transition issues (in addition to my technology frustrations noted above).  One of those issues is that I’m currently limited in what I can add or change content-wise on the site (see also, the “Busy” point, above).  I’ve got some new project pics and other information to get up there, but can’t do it right yet.  So, stay tuned…check back.
  • Our favorite landscaper, Wright Outdoor Solutions, has joined the social media world with a nice, new Facebook page – check it out!  We’ve co-op’ed with Wright on a few projects over the years (including one already this spring), coordinating design and implementation plans. They’re a great group to work with.
  • Lastly, but certainly not leastly, our new outdoor kitchen program is in full swing.  With the prime grilling and outdoor entertaining season ahead of us, we’ll be promoting this over the coming weeks starting with an insert in this coming weekend’s Des Moines Sunday Register.  Look for more information on our outdoor kitchen program here and on our web site next week.  Or, give us a call anytime and we can schedule an appointment to review your outdoor kitchen needs and interests.

That was a quick tour of what’s been going on in the Archadeck backyard the past few weeks.  Whats going (to go) on in your backyard?  We’d love to hear from you.

Spring Into Action: Outdoor Living – and Building!

Wow, what a wonderful spring we are having!  Its amazing how fast we can go from Winter to Summer when living in the wonderful state of Iowa.  Around the Des Moines and Central Iowa areas, we have some big, annual events coming up such as the Drake Relays and the Pella Tulip Festival; lets hope this awesome weather continues for those. 

Not to mention…this weather is really helping out our spring building schedule.  We’ve got a couple of deck enhancement projects underway now, we just completed a nice, new deck up in Polk City (the couple said they’ve danced on it already!) and we’ll be starting a 3-season room and deck project next week in West Des Moines.  And more in the queue behind these.  Its good to be building decks, porches, rooms, pergolas, patios, outdoor kitchens and more, again.  Its good to be working – and living – outside again.

And speaking of outside, Welcome Home Des Moines has its annual Outdoor Living section inside its most recent edition.  Entitled “Spring Into Action:  Outdoor Living,” it features several local firms who provide varying products and services around the concept of “outdoor living,” including Archadeck of Central Iowa.  Pick up the magazine around the Des Moines area or check it out online here via these links.  It’s a great magazine; you might even want to consider subscribing.

Oh yeah, one more “spring into action” thing…April 15th…Tax Day.  Drat.

Re-Decking – Viable Solution or Not?

If you are satisfied with your existing wood deck’s layout and functionality, but are tired of the aged look, the splinters and the splits, a “re-deck” project may be something you want to consider.

A “re-deck” project involves removing the existing decking surface and railing system (if one exists) and replacing with new decking and railing. What you replace it with is up to you.  If you prefer the natural look of wood and can manage the maintenance that comes with that, putting new wood decking and railing down may be the best and most economical route for you.  However, many folks will view this as an opportunity to get away from the maintenance aspect of wood and will use wood-alternative materials as the replacement.

Before Re-Deck

After Re-Deck

 (I’ll dedicate a future blog entry to the pros/cons of wood decking materials versus wood-alternative materials.  This one is dedicated to the re-decking process.)

 Regardless of the replacement material, two key issues must be appropriately considered before deciding to undertake a re-decking project:

  • Are you truly satisfied with your existing deck’s layout and functionality? 
    • If you’re not, you may not enjoy or use it any more after a re-deck than you did before.  Just because it has a new, clean look, doesn’t mean it will serve you better.  
  • Is the existing deck structurally sound? 
    • Re-decking a deck will not fix any existing instability of the deck or other existing structural deficiencies (over-spanned, undersized/depth footings, inappropriate fasteners, etc.).  In addition, some wood-alternative products require structural enhancements that may not make sense integrating into your existing structure.  A thorough evaluation of your deck’s structure should be undertaken to assess its long-term viability.

The purpose of addressing both of these issues in depth is to ensure you’re not throwing good money after bad on a re-decking project when a new deck project would provide longer-term value.  Whether you are planning to do the re-decking yourself or whether you plan to hire a professional contractor for your project – or anything in between – those are two of several key issues you need to be/get comfortable with before moving forward with the project; in fact, these should be the first two issues to consider.

Archadeck of Central Iowa has re-decked many decks here in the Des Moines area.  Quite frankly, that is a small part of our project portfolio, though.  Which is not to say it couldn’t be larger. It just seems that most of our clients are looking to enhance the functionality (usage, layout, size) of their decks and that generally calls for a completely new deck structure.  Plus, there are more than a fair number of decks around Des Moines that are inadequately structured and need a completely new deck structure. But, there are also many functional and sound…older, wooden decks…out there as well that will eventually need new decking and railing and are viable candidates for a re-decking project.  

With the winter we’ve had and the toll that all this snow, ice and cold can take on wood decks, “eventually” may be here sooner than you thought last fall.  But, on top of that, all the snow and ice that we still have presents an opportunity for re-deck projects that you might want to consider.  That opportunity is this:  Re-deck projects are generally less dependent on ground conditions than are new deck projects.  So, the coming weeks are actually a great time to consider getting a re-deck project completed.  See the Special Offers section of our web site for more details.

Day 4 (final) – 2010 Des Moines Home and Garden Show – Wrap Up

Its a wrap…the 2010 Des Moines Home and Garden Show has come and gone…and so fast.  Tear down tomorrow morning, get the office/showroom put back together and then we’re ready to get back to all the folks who expressed an interest in learning more about what we can do for their outdoor living spaces.  I look forward to seeing you all soon!

Interests continue to run the gamut of the products we design and build.  Many folks are looking for new decks.  Just as many are interested in converting their existing decks from (high-maintenance, splintered, cracked, decaying) wood to (lower-maintenance) composite or PVC decking and railing.  Porches of all kinds (screened, open, front, 3-4 season) are being considered.  Stamped concrete seemed to be the primary interest for patios.  David said he talked to more people about pergolas this year than he remembers in the past.  And, we ran out of our outdoor kitchen flyers, so I think people are ready to get cooking in 2010 as well!

Thanks to all of you who came out to the show these past 4 days…particulary those who came today and braved yet another round of snow and maybe the wrath of your significant other for doing this on Valentine’s Day.  Between those conflicts, not to mention the Daytona 500, the Winter Olympics and likely some “hangover” from the Tim McGraw concert last night, today was not as well attended as we’d normally expect for a Sunday afternoon.  But, we’ve got a year-round (and more robust) “home show” setup at our office and showroom in Urbandale.  And we don’t charge $10 for admission and $6 for parking and our wireless internet service is free.  As are our design consultations.