Pergola Design Ideas: Create the Shade You Want in Your Backyard

Think beyond the basic four posts with crossing rafters and customize a shade structure that compliments your home and displays your fantastic taste.

Chicago suburb pergola design ideas by Archadeck of Chicagoland

Love your yard but looking for relief from the hot summer sun?  Pergolas are a great option for creating shade! At Archadeck of Chicagoland, we think beyond the basic four posts with crossing rafters and help you customize a shade structure that compliments your home and displays your fantastic taste.

Continue reading “Pergola Design Ideas: Create the Shade You Want in Your Backyard”

Designing a Pergola: What You Need to Know

Are you considering adding a pergola to your backyard but aren’t quite sure where to start? Here are four key elements to consider as you begin designing the perfect shade structure for your outdoor living space.

Are you considering adding a pergola to your backyard but aren’t quite sure where to start?  At Archadeck, we design outdoor living spaces every day.  Here are four key elements to consider as you begin designing the perfect shade structure for your outdoor living space.

Define Your Space

Pergolas are shade structures, usually comprised of four posts with cross rafters, leaving open spaces above to allow some sun to shine through.  One of the roles of a pergola is to define an outdoor living space, using the architecture and design to compliment your deck, patio, home, and yard.  Because there are no walls or a roof, a pergola creates an inviting, open and airy space for you to relax.  Consider the space you want to define.  Do you plan to dine, grill, or entertain?  The answer to these questions will help you determine the size of the pergola, the amount of shade you need, and other design details.

Custom design low maintenance deck with vinyl pergola - Archadeck of Chicagoland

Shade

One of the great aspects of pergolas is the ability to customize the structure to provide as much or as little shade as you prefer.  If you simply want to break up the intensity of the sun, you can space the rafters further apart, allowing plenty of sun over your deck or patio while diminishing some of that sweltering heat. Alternatively, you can space the rafters closer together and add lathing if you’re looking for significant shade for more protection and a cooler space.  For those who want to maximize the amount of shade, or to control when there is shade over their patio or deck space, retractable canopies and screens are an excellent option.

Custom vinyl pergola with mosquito curtains

Consider Vertical Gardening

Pergolas are great structures for plants and vines that need support.  Ivy,  passion-flower, and honeysuckle are great options that will help provide additional shade while adding color and fragrance to the outdoor space.  Fruit is also an option.  Grapevines are beautiful winding around pergolas.  If your yard is particularly small, vertical gardening is a great way to bring a little green, giving it a lusher look.

Design Considerations

Part of the joy in adding a pergola is designing the structure.  You can customize your pergola to match or contrast the exterior of your home.  Most pergolas are built with square wood posts; however, you can add your own flare to the structure.  Is the classic look more your style?  Consider rounded columns.  Are you more contemporary?  Consider a sleek look for you posts and end pieces for the rafters.  Do you prefer a craftsman look?  Stone bases might have the look you’re going for and are great for integrating a new pergola with an existing patio.

Pergola with Stone Base - Archadeck of Chicagoland

Do you have more design ideas?  We would love to hear them in the comment section below!

If you’re looking for a professional contractor to guide you through the design process and build your project, give us a call at (847) 749-2373 or sign up here for a free Design Consultation.

See you in the backyard!

Designing a Deck that Fits Your Needs

At Archadeck of Chicagoland, we love helping our clients create the outdoor living space of their dreams.  We worked closely with this client, discussing spatial issues, their functional needs, aesthetic tastes, and their budget.  Having these elements in place helps our Design Consultants develop a design that fits the needs of their clients.   This particular client wanted to replace an existing deck with something larger and with the ability to extend the time that could be spent using it.

Low maintenance material lessens the amount of time and money spent caring for an outdoor deck.

Low maintenance deck, vinyl pergola, and outdoor fireplace - Archadeck of Chicagoland

A pergola for shade and a fireplace for warmth extends the time you can enjoy your outdoor living space.

Low maintenance deck with vinyl pergola and outdoor fireplace - Archadeck of Chicagoland

One of the benefits of custom design is the ability to match new structures to your home.  The vinyl pergola adds a touch of elegance, yet looks as though it were built with the home.

Low maintenance deck with vinyl pergola - Archadeck of Chicagoland

Added shade from the pergola allows you to enjoy your outdoor living space, even when the hot sun is directly facing the space.

Low maintenance deck with vinyl pergola - Archadeck of Chicagoland

Stay warm on the chilly fall nights by curling up in front of the outdoor fireplace. Roasted marshmallows anyone?

Custom designed deck with outdoor fireplace - Archadeck of Chicagoland

The black TimberTech Evolutions rail creates a striking contrast while the baskets on the Deckorator Pickets add an elegant touch.

Custom designed low maintenance rail - Archadeck of Chicagoland

Riser lights add a soft glow, illuminating the stairs at night for safety while creating an ambient space in the yard.

Custom design low maintenance deck with vinyl pergola - Archadeck of Chicagoland

Custom designed to fit the homeowner’s needs, each space blends seamlessly a stunning outdoor living space.

Low maintenance deck, vinyl pergola, and outdoor fireplace - Archadeck of Chicagoland

If you are considering a deck, patio, screen porch or other outdoor living space, please give Archadeck of Chicagoland a call.  Our design consultants would love to speak with you!  You may contact us at (847) 749-2373 or email us at chicagoland@archadeck.net

See you in the Backyard!

Shade Solutions – Pergolas, Canopies, and Mosquito Curtains

Your backyard is your retreat.  It is your escape. It is where you go to relax, where you enjoy precious moments with the children and entertain your friends and family.  Sometimes though, the summer sun is especially hot and the mosquitos and bees swarm around you.  When this happens, do you find yourself mulling over just what you should do?  Shade and protection are the most logical conclusion, but is a screen porch or sunroom necessary to provide these attributes?  Building a screen room may be the perfect solution for your family.  Perhaps, however,  you prefer the open atmosphere of your deck and patio, or a room isn’t the sort of investment you are looking for at this time.  Fortunately, Archadeck has many options when it comes to shade and bug protection.

Pergola with Mosquito Curtains and Canopy - Designed by Archadeck of Chicagoland

Pergolas can provide a substantial  amount of shade; and for many, this is perfect.  If you’re looking for more coverage, installing a canopy on the pergola is an excellent option.  Canopies allow you the flexibility to let in as much sunshine as you choose or create as much shade as you need at any given time.

Pergolas with Mosquito Curtains - Designed by Archadeck of Chicagoland

Adding mosquito curtains offers protection from pesky little insects.  You are able to pull them closed when the mosquitos and bees are out or open them back up when such protection is not necessary.  Not only are they versatile and functional, but the curtains also add a beautiful and elegant touch to any pergola.

Pergola with Mosquito Curtains - Designed by Archadeck of Chicagoland

Often, adding a pergola with a canopy and curtains is a great lower priced alternative to building a screen room.  Many times they also provide a better fit on a house.  If you’re trying to find the best solution for your home, contact us for a free design consultation .  Our design consultants would love to help guide you through the process of finding that perfect fit.

See you in the Backyard!

Shade FX Canopy on Pergola

How Many Ways Can You Design A Pergola?

This weather is making our phones ring off the hook and we are thrilled. We have lots of requests for pergolas. Check out this link which contains a bunch of pictures of pergolas to give you ideas on what kind you would like us to build for you!

 

 

How to Choose a contractor you can trust #4

When you buy something at the store you see the finished product.  When you order something online you see a picture of the finished product.  When you hire a contractor, you won’t see the finished product until the project is built.

 

Buying from a contractor means trusting someone.  Trusting they will build what you expect.  Trusting they understand what you expect . How can a homeowner be comfortable they are choosing the right contractor for their project?  How do they know who to trust? This is the fourth & final article in a blog series on how to select the right contractor.

 

In three previous blogs I wrote about evaluating a contractor’s background and experience, how to make sure the contractor builds what you want and expect, and understanding how a contractor effectively manages a construction project.  In this fourth and final blog in the series, I will share some thoughts on safeguards that protect you from things going wrong.

 

Safeguards include some of the obvious points that most people know  to ask when interviewing contractors.  Yes, I said interviewing because that is the right approach for both parties, the client & the contractor, take in the initial meetings.   We will discuss this more, shortly.  Let’s stick to the obvious now.  Always ask a contractor about the insurance they carry, permit requirements, and the warranties they provide.

 

Insurance can be tricky, I have met contractors who spin their answer on this topic.  When asked if they have insurance, some respond yes, because they have auto insurance.  The better question is, “What insurances do you carry?”  I must admit that I am not an insurance expert, but I know that liabilityinsurance is a must.  This protects your home from any damage caused during the construction process.  Worker compensation insurance is also very important.  It protects you from an employee of the contractor getting injured on the job and suing you for their bills.  There are specific legal requirements for obtaining Workers Compensation in Illinois and most states.   I believe that any company with employees is required to carry workers compensation insurance.   Auto insurance is important as well but I am unaware of how this may or may not protect the homeowner.  If anyone reading this is more knowledgeable on kinds of insurances, please feel free to add your comments.  It is good to ask for a copy of the contractor’s certificate of insurance to verify they are currently  covered.

 

Warranties provide obvious protection once the work is done.  At Archadeck, we offer a very strong warranty as well as a third-party guarantee of performance.  Always get any warranty in writing, and yes, reading it is a good idea.    Our warranty is 1 year on workmanship, defined as pretty much anything related to the quality of our work, and 5 years on structural issues.   Of course, warranties are only as good as the company that stands behind them.  If they are out of business in 6 months, then warranties are worthless.   Those low price offers often mean they are under bidding the project and eventually putting themselves out of business.  Will they be around when you need them back?   At Archadeck we have put in place a unique third-party guarantee.  An insurance for our clients if we are gone.  As a group, all the Archadeck franchisee’s created the National Guarantee Corporation in 1998.  We fund it with low annual dues.  This fund exists to protect all Archadeck clients for 2 years after the project is built as well as guaranteeing the completion of the project.  The good news is there are very few claims on the fund but it’s a great safety net for our clients just in case.

 

Of course warranties may not protect you.  Even if they are around, will the contractor stand behind their work or hide behind a clause in the warranty?  We rarely deny coverage, even when we could.  We  do the right thing for the client regardless of the warranty terms.  Recently, a client we built a deck for six years ago, contacted me regarding a structural issue.  This was one year past our coverage and the issue was not caused by anything we did.   We could have simply said “sorry, too late” or blamed the site conditions or blamed the architect for the design or the village for approving the plans.  But I figured the buck had to stop with us and we fixed it.  Maybe we should have anticipated this issue, maybe not, but we were the people the client trusted and we built the project, so we fixed it.  This leads to one final issue, and probably the most important, to consider when hiring a contractor.

 

Previously, I suggested that the initial meetings are an interview for the client and the contractor.   What does your research and your gut say about this person and their company?  Can you trust them to do what they say, to stand behind their work, to do what is right?   One of the best compliments I ever received about my company came from a client whose project did not run smoothly.  Actually, early in construction I would have called it a disaster.  Everything that could go wrong, did.  I was replacing the crew as well as bringing in a subcontractor to build the foundation, a completely unplanned cost.    If you have read my previous blogs you know that causes me much distress.  In total, we spent about $12,000 more  than expected.  These were costs we absorbed because it was the right thing to do.   Throughout the project, we kept the client informed but we never made it their problem.  When we were done, they were really happy  and thanked me.  As I was a little embarrassed at the way the job started,  I apologized again for the hassles.  The client replied, “No need to apologize. We’re really happy that you made it right.  Many contractors would not have and some might have walked away from the job, but you stuck it out and built us a great new screen room, deck, and patio.”    Will your contractor make it right?  This confidence is  invaluable.  I hope it helps our clients sleep a little better at night.

 

See you in the outdoors.

How to choose a contractor you can trust, part 2

When you buy something at the store you see the finished product.  When you order something online you see a picture of the finished product.  When you hire a contractor, you won’t see the finished product until built. 

 Buying from a contractor means trusting someone.  Trusting they will build what you expect.  Trusting they understand what you expect. How can a homeowner be comfortable they are choosing the right contractor for their project?  How do they know who to trust? This is the second article in a blog series on how to select the right contractor.

 In my last blog I wrote about evaluating a contractor’s background and experience.  In this blog I would like to share some thoughts on how to evaluate the contractors approach to understanding your needs.  In my business we call it “design”, but really it’s about asking questions, listening, and understanding the priorities of the client.  Not all construction projects involve “design” but all of them include understanding the client’s priorities.   In our outdoor living business we strive to offer designs that match our client’s needs and wants.

 To insure that we understand a client’s priorities and, just as important, they understand what we are proposing to build, we provide a clear drawing with detailed specifics related to their project.   Every contractor should give clear written details of your project.  Of course, a written agreement and warranty are important as well.

 Project specifications should include details regarding materials and finishing information. Material information should clarify the quality of the material, if appropriate.  For example, we note number 1 grade decking and stainless steel screws for our deck projects.  Any items the client will be responsible for should also be included in the project specifications.  For example, when we build screen porches, we note that the client buys the ceiling fan which we install. 

 In some cases it’s valuable to visualize your project in three-dimensional photo realistic drawings.  When we build decks, patios, screen porches, sunrooms, or pergolas for shade, we offer a plan view (view from above) of the project.  If a client desires, we can offer custom three-dimensional drawings of their home with our proposed project shown on an image of their home.   This type of design work takes more time so we charge a small project retainer, which applies to the price of the project.

 Of course price is an important part of any proposal.  Some contractors give estimates.  Estimates can change and some contractors purposefully give a low price that they plan to increase once the project begins.  We guarantee that the that we agree will not to change unless the project is changed by the client or something unforeseen occurs.  We define unforeseen as not visually present or a requirement by a building department outside of those noted in the building code.

 In a future blog I will discuss project management and services offered by contractors.

 See you in the outdoors.

Archadeck in the news

“We really try not to sell you the product of the moment,” Berryhill said. “We ask how you want to use it. We look at the aesthetics and material, how much maintenance you’re willing to do, and your budget.”

We made the cover of the Daily Herald Home & Garden section today! Several of our comments are quoted in the article and 2 of the 4 pictures are projects we built. Check it out.

http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=388742

Plan your 2010 outdoor project now!

January is the perfect time to design your new outdoor living project.

January is the perfect time to design your new outdoor living project.  Begin the process now by contacting Archadeck to have your new deck or patio for the full 2010 outdoor season.  As the premier outdoor living builder in Chicagoland, Archadeck Is ready to discuss your new backyard space.  For 30 years we have created outdoor living spaces for America’s families.  Now is the prefect time to connect with our professional Design Consultants. Get in front of the spring rush and have your new deck or screen room ready when the weather comes.   View our variety of projects at northern-chicagoland.archadeck.com.

We can complete your design process in one meeting for an hour or multiple meetings with a variety of design options.  Most often, we can create a design with you in two meetings.  Usually, your new deck, gazebo, pergola, or patio will be ready for you, eight weeks from the day we have a design & agreement. Of course, the times can vary based upon the project & village requirements.  As an example screen rooms and sun rooms will usually take an extra four to five weeks to complete.  Call today to get your project started so you will enjoy the outdoors with your family all spring & summer.

Hello world!

This is my first posting to our new blog. I dedicate this blog to outdoor living in the Chicagoland area.

This is my first posting to our new blog. I dedicate this blog to outdoor living in the Chicagoland area. We purchased our Archadeck franchise 6 years ago. After researching different business we chose Archadeck because of my passion for outdoor living. My hobby was already landscaping and creating outdoor spaces for families to gather in was very compelling. As we begin our 7th season the passion has not left! Consistently adding outdoor spaces; decks, patios, screen rooms, pergolas, or gazebos, ranks high amongst the top 10 desirable home improvement projects. We are now purchasing a new Archadeck territory that includes the southern suburbs of Chicagoland and plan to expand our operations significantly in 2010.