10 Design Ideas for Your Chicagoland Screen Porch

Ten popular screen porch design ideas by Archadeck of Chicagoland.

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Screen porches are a great way to experience the outdoors while remaining protected from elements like rain and snow.  Today’s custom screened porch designs can be as elaborate or simple as you choose. Match your home, opt for a finished look, or keep it rustic and outdoorsy.  Here are ten popular design elements to consider as you plan your screen porch.

Skylights and Exposed Rafters

Exposed rafters create a rustic look and skylights let in more sun.

Screen Porch with Skylights by Chicago Screen Porch Builder Archadeck of Chicagoland

Continue reading “10 Design Ideas for Your Chicagoland Screen Porch”

Screen Porches: Bring the Outdoors In

Screen Porch

Screen porches blur the lines between your outdoor and indoor living spaces and are great for extending the time you spend enjoying the outside. There are many details that make your screen room perfect for your family.  At Archadeck, we enjoy helping our clients discover these details as we design the outdoor living space they envision.

Screen porch with deck

Comfortable living spaces allow you to enjoy the great outdoors while also offering protection from the rain and snow.

Screen Porch View

Aesthetically pleasing and highly versatile Vertical 4-Track windows transform your screen porch into a space that is usable three seasons or even all year round.  These vinyl windows are available in multiple sizes and are designed to allow you to open them 25%, 50%, or 75%.

Windows for Screen Porch

Lifestyle rails inside the porch function as both a safety feature and a drink rail, creating a space to place drinks, plants, and toys.

Knee Wall for Screen Room

Exposed beams and skylights give the room a bright, spacious, and airy feel.

Open Rafter Ceiling

Low voltage lighting on the stairs light the way when the sun begins to go down.

Deck Lighting

Rope lighting under the rails of the deck create a soft, ambient glow.  Deckorator pickets create a striking and beautiful look to the deck.

Deck Rail Lighting

Attaching decks to your screen porch gives you space for grilling and outdoor seating.

There are so many options available to you when building a screen porch.  Our Design Consultants walk you through every step of the way, designing outdoor living space of your dreams.  If you would like to speak with someone about your next outdoor project, give us a call at (847) 749-2373 or email us at chicagoland@archadeck.net.  We would love the opportunity to turn your dreams into a reality.

See you in the Backyard!

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Is a Screen Room Right for You?

Imagine the sun peaking up, it’s first rays glittering through the trees.  The air is fresh and cool.  Aside from the birds chirping their morning songs, everything is quiet while you warm your hands around a hot cup of coffee.  There is something special about spending a quiet hour with the tranquil beauty of the great outdoors.

Screen rooms provide the feeling and function of an indoor room while blurring the lines between your outdoor and indoor living spaces.  Only a thin screen separates you and the outdoors. Whether it’s dinner with the family or just letting the children play, a screen room can add functionality to your back yard while eliminating worries such as mosquitoes and even rain.

Screen Room - Archadeck

Screen enclosures are also cost effective when compared to other home improvements.  The maintenance of a screen room is minimal and most winterize in no time.  If you are looking for a way to use your screen room through multiple seasons, you have a couple of options.  Acrylic storm panels can be placed in the windows when you prepare for winter.  Placing a small space heater in the screen room allows you to curl up with a cup of hot chocolate as you watch the snow fall, draping Chicagoland with a frosty white blanket.

Screen Room - Archadeck

Vertical 4-track windows appear to be glass to anyone looking from a distance, but are made of a vinyl material instead. These windows come in a variety of sizes, but are separated into four sections, allowing you to open from 25% to 50% to 75% This gives you control over the amount of outdoor elements you allow in.  If it’s a particularly blustery day, open just enough to allow just the right amount of breeze.  On a gorgeous summer afternoon, open them all up and enjoy the fresh scent of the season that wafts through your airy screen room.

Screen Room - Archadeck

There are so many options available to you when building a screen porch. From a traditional screen design to a custom three season room; the sky is the limit.  If you would like to take a look at design options or discuss how to put your outdoor dream together, give us a call and set an appointment to visit our show room Our Design Consultants can walk you through every step of the process, helping you make your dream become a reality.  Whether you’re adding a screen porch as an investment or simply to bring the outside in, you’re sure to love your new outdoor room.

See you in the Backyard!

Screen Rooms, Sunrooms, Additions…What’s the Difference?

With spring upon us, perhaps you’ve decided that now is the time to add a screen room to your home…or maybe a sunroom.  Your neighbors call it a three-season room but the guy down the street says it is a brand new addition.  What do we call these structures and how can you make sure you’re getting what you envision?

In the years that I have owned the Archadeck of Chicagoland, I’ve heard screen porch and sunrooms referred to in a number of different ways.  At the end of the day though, the term you use isn’t nearly as important as finding a design that meets your needs.  To find that, you’ll need to know the basic differences between a screen room, a sunroom, and an addition.

A room addition has a higher ratio of solid walls to windows than a sunroom does.  With the added insulation and full HVAC, these rooms are functional year round. This is basically a new space that is designed to expand your home.

Sunrooms are rooms that are built to maximize the amount of light and ventilation while offering complete protection from rain and wind.  The glass intensifies the sun’s rays to heat the room; this is great in the chilly spring and fall seasons.  In the summer you can open the windows to allow the flow of a warm breeze.  Sunrooms are usually insulated and sometimes heated.

Sunroom built by Archadeck of Chicagoland

A screen room is an enclosure similar to a sunroom, but we replace the glass windows with fiberglass screens.  This provides an open and airy environment that allows you to appreciate everything nature has to offer without being bothered by pesky insects or light rain.  Many screen porches we build are really three season rooms as we utilize non-glass windows that offer multi-season protection.  These options offer significant savings when compared to traditional sunrooms while still providing optimal protection from the outdoor elements

Screen room built by Archadeck of Chicagoland

As you contemplate the different options, be sure to consider the ways you plan to use the room.  Figuring out how your new room will be used most often will help you determine which is best for you.

See you in the Backyard!

What’s the Latest Trend in Outdoor Living?

According to Builder Blog, a recent survey by Professional Builders shows decks, outdoor fireplaces, fire pits and screened porches are among the most demanded outdoor living features.  Thinking about sprucing up your backyard?  Give us a call and visit our showroom!

 

 

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.

Deck safety

Is your deck safe?

Check out this story on deck failures.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/06/24/earlyshow/contributors/susankoeppen/main5109350.shtml

If you are concerned about your deck call Archadeck @ 847-359-8002 for an inspection.

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.

The Screen Porch sanctuary

Our Sanctuary

Oh how I miss my Screen Porch!

In 2005 I designed and built my families screen porch and deck at our home near Barrington Hills, IL. We loved the new outdoor spaces we created and the new Screen Porch was the perfect way to be outside, safe from rain and bugs. We especially enjoyed the porch on those warm summer evenings, listening
to the light rain outside.   Without question, fall was my favorite season on the porch. In the fall of 2005,  I kicked back in a big cushy chair with my feet up on the ottoman and watched lots of football and the White Sox win the World Series. It was very exciting,  though at heart I will always be a Tiger fan.

Those afternoons with a cold beverage, my fridge a few steps away, and the games on t.v. were more relaxing than any vacation I have ever taken. Almost as peaceful were the mornings when my wife and I would enjoy our coffee and watch our two young children play in that room. That Fall stands out so strong in my memory because shortly after, we moved to a new home and left our Screen Porch behind. Each new screen porch we build for clients reminds me of those truly relaxing afternoons. I am always a little jealous of my clients and their new porches. Every so often I drive by our old house and look longingly at that room. It is satisfying to know that the new owner is enjoying the space with his family.

Someday I will design and build a new screen room, and It will provide  that same great stay at home vacation, but until then I will live vicariously through our clients.

 If you want to see more ideas,  check out the Screen Porch gallery on our website. Maybe someday we can design & build you a new sanctuary for your summer evenings and fall afternoons.

Screening in your patio

Screen Porches with brick paver floors are a unique option that truly brings the outdoors in.

Over the years we have done a couple of these projects but in 2010 we built three of these porches. These rooms combine two of the most popular outdoor structures. Interest in brick patios and hardscapes grows each year. The more natural look, low maintenance qualities, and designs that flow into the backyard makes paver patios very desirable. With mosquitos, bees, and other bugs becoming such a pest the classic screen porch is as popular as ever. They offer the best of the outdoors while protecting your family from pests, rain, & too much sun.

Traditionally screen porches have deck floors but by building the room with foundational support for each roof post we can do the floor in patio bricks. Obviously, the screen porch needs to be at / or near ground level to include brick. The look is compelling and unique. These screen porch / patios flows with your backyard, especially if the patio floor is inside the porch as well as outside the room.

Archadeck of Chicagoland has been combining paver patios with our carpentry projects; screen porches, decks, gazebos, and pergolas, for several years. Few companies do both brick and carpentry. We started working with both materials primarily because of our desire to create unique and exciting outdoor spaces that best meet our clients priorities. Usually this option is about aesthetics but sometimes there is no room to frame a deck and brick is simply the most practical option. Personally, I love the look that combines wood (or composite) & stone. If we can get a fire-place or water feature in the design it’s even more exciting.

It might be 9 degrees outside but I am still dreaming of getting outdoors. Putting up the Christmas lights just didn’t cut it.

See you in the backyard!