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.

Profile with Sig - Final 3X

Mother Nature Delivers Turkey for Dream Backyard Makeover Project

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

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

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

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

Dream Backyard Makeover,
TimberTech Deck and Open Porch

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

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A Hot Summer for Central Iowa Backyard Makeovers

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

Open Porch and Azek Deck, Johnston

Open Porch and Azek Deck, Johnston

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

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

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

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

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

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

Groundbreaking at the Bentrott's

Groundbreaking at the Bentrott’s

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

Curved Trex Elevations, Des Moines Archadeck Project

Curved Trex Elevations, Des Moines Archadeck Project

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

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Go Outside and Dance

Welcome Home    Des Moines

Welcome Home Des Moines

We currently have a project featured in the January/February edition of the local magazine Welcome Home Des Moines.  The patio and deck project we designed and built for Steven and Marybeth Lytle in Urbandale also features an outdoor kitchen, a fire pit, a hot tub area and a retaining wall incorporated into existing landscaping. The retaining wall also serves as a seat wall from the patio side and has low-voltage outdoor lighting embedded for nighttime ambiance.  Steven also had a SunBrite outdoor TV incorporated into the kitchen counter area…strategically positioned for viewing all around the patio and from the hot tub.

The “New Living Room” article by Carol McGarvey for Welcome Home Des Moines and the accompanying pictures by Tim Abromowitz highlight some of the moments the Lytle’s enjoyed in their new outdoor living space last year – foremost, their daughter’s wedding reception.  I was told the Belgard Mega Arbel patio made a great dance floor!

About a year before that dance, the very spot where Steven and Marybeth’s daughter, Allison, and new son-in-law, Adam, danced  looked like this:

Lytle's Deck, pre-Archadeck

Lytle’s Deck, pre-Archadeck

The deck had served the Lytle’s well over their time in their beautiful Urbandale home.  But, the deck had lived its life…and now there was Allison’s wedding.

Over the course of a few weeks beginning late August of 2011, I worked with Steven and Marybeth to develop a new design and plan for their outdoor living space.  By late September, 2011, we had the design below, detailed specifications and a project plan for bringing the project together…in time for a wedding reception in June of the next summer.

Lytle Deck & Patio Design

Lytle Deck & Patio Design

Lytle Deck & Patio Design Rendering

Lytle Deck & Patio Design Rendering

With an Iowa winter in between and more ground-level patio work than above-ground deck work, the deadline could have proven to be more challenging than one might think.  But, we were blessed with a nice fall and the mildest winter on record so we were able to get a good jump on the project over the fall and winter and ease into the Spring deadline.  Yes, Marybeth…that’s what we were doing…easing.  No pressure, right?

We broke ground in mid-October, 2011.  Serious groundbreaking.  A lot of digging,  a lot of concrete and a lot of base fill.  But, all before the freeze/thaw cycle that disrupts hardscaping efforts in Iowa’s (normally) cold months.  So, we left the project in this state in early December.

Digging and Filling, Oct - Dec, 2011

Digging and Filling, Oct – Dec, 2011

In the Spring, trucks pulled up and unloaded tons of Belgard Arbel Stone for the patio surface and Cultured Stone for the retaining and seat walls.  By late March we were back in shorts and t-shirts, laying a paver patio in Des Moines, Iowa.  Imagine that!

Lytle Patio Progression, Mar - Apr, 2012

Lytle Patio Progression, Mar – Apr, 2012

The project also entailed replacing the deck on the upper side of the new patio.  So, in conjunction with the patio work, there was more digging, more concrete, more Cultured Stone, some pressure-treated faming lumber, and Gossen PVC decking.

Work on Lytle's Upper Deck

Work on Lytle’s Upper Deck

In the end… there was a patio to dance on.  A fire to gather around. An outdoor theater for watching the Summer Olympics.  A hot tub to sit in and relax after a long bicycle ride.  An outdoor living paradise.

Lytle's Urbandale Patio; Completed, May 2012

Lytle’s Urbandale Patio; Completed, May 2012

And in the end, there was a deck offering a prime seating location overseeing one of the Des Moines-area’s finest greenbelt systems and Lakeview Pond.

Lytle's Urbandale Deck; Completed, May 2012

Lytle’s Urbandale Deck; Completed, May 2012

And in the end, there was the little grill that could…

Lytle Outdoor Kitchen Progression, April - May 2012

Lytle Outdoor Kitchen Progression, April – May 2012

…the little grill that could become an outdoor kitchen.

Lytle's Urbandale Outdoor Kitchen; Completed, May 2012

Lytle’s Urbandale Outdoor Kitchen; Completed, May 2012

And in the end, there was a fairy tale dream of a young girl, a sentimental father and a wedding dance.

The Dance - June 23rd, 2012

The Dance – June 23rd, 2012

Thank you Steven, Marybeth, Allison, Adam and Madison for sharing your outdoor living space with Archadeck of Central Iowa.

Go outside and dance.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA