10 Design Ideas for Your Chicagoland Screen Porch

Ten popular screen porch design ideas by Archadeck of Chicagoland.

Advertisements

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”

Wood vs. Low Maintenance Decks: Which Material is Right for You?

Everything you need to know about wood and low maintenance decking before you build your project.

Choosing wood or low maintenance materials (such as TimberTech or AZEK) for your deck is a matter of personal preference.  Before making your decision, there are a few questions you should ask yourself.

  • How much are you planning to invest in your deck or outdoor living space?
  • How long do you plan to live in your current home?
  • How much maintenance or upkeep are you comfortable with?
  • How do you plan to use the space and how can that affect your deck boards?

Composite Pool Deck with TimberTech Brown Oak by Chicago Deck Builder Archadeck of Chicagoland

Continue reading “Wood vs. Low Maintenance Decks: Which Material is Right for You?”

Maximize the value of your home with outdoor living spaces

Are you looking to maximize the value of your home?  Outdoor living spaces have become the latest trend to take home improvement by storm.  With more homeowners moving their fun to the backyard, a deck or patio creates the perfect space to blend indoor comfort with the open outdoors.

HGTV goes over the current trends for decks and patios, mistakes to avoid, and expert tips for every budget.

PATIO

Custom Designed Deck and Patio

DECK

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

Deck Safety Checklist

Family on Deck - Archadeck
May is deck safety month. With barbecues, outdoor parties, and summertime fun around the corner, now is the time to inspect your deck and make any repairs necessary. As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Follow these guidelines to ensure a thorough inspection.

Boards
Look at the condition of your deck boards. Most wood will show some cracks and splits over time, but is the general condition of the boards good, or are the boards splintering and unsafe to walk on?

Every Connection
A deck should be built using a variety of fasteners and metal hardware connectors to create a continuous pathway to ensure deck stability and safety. Check to see if the appropriate fasteners and connectors were used when constructing the deck. Is the hardware in good condition or need to be replaced?

Structure
If visible, look at the posts, beams and joists that provide the structural framework of the deck. What is their condition? Is there any noticeable sagging between supports?

Attachment
The attachment of the deck to the house (at an area called the house band) is the area where most deck failures occur. Pay special attention to this area and check to make sure that the deck is properly attached to the house band with appropriate screws or bolts and that it is properly flashed for water protection. Nails should never be used for this type of attachment.

Foundation / Footings
The foundation / footings receive and support the weight (also known as the load) on a deck and the columns that bear on them. A footing that is sinking may cause a noticeable sag in an area or a column separating from a beam.

Exits
Check the areas where people exit from the deck. These exits usually involve stairs so be sure to check the condition of the material used on the stair stringers, stair treads and risers.

Rails
Look at the condition of the rail posts and sections of railing on the deck to make sure that the railing is secure. Check to make sure that the pickets/balusters are fastened securely and spaced no more than four inches apart.

If you’re not sure you want to take the responsibility of inspecting the deck yourself, look up a local company in your area and have a professional complete the inspection. Nadra.org and AngiesList.com are great places to find competent, trustworthy professionals or go to Archadeck.com to see if there are deck safety inspectors in your area.

How to Choose the Right Contractor

Can you trust your contractor? Here are 6 key elements to consider when hiring a contractor for your project. Feel confident in your decision!

How to Choose the Right Contractor by Archadeck of Chicagoland

Remodeling projects are often exciting!  But when it comes to the contractor managing the project, it can mean the difference between confidence and sleepless nights.  So how do you choose the right contractor and prevent those sleepless nights?  Here are a few important areas to focus on when interviewing prospective contractors.

Experience

How much experience does the contractor have with your type of project?  Many contractors try to do all forms of construction, but there are subtle differences in materials and design that affect the Archadeck of Chicagoland Groundbreaking outcome of each construction project.  For example, Archadeck specializes in outdoor living spaces.  Could we remodel a kitchen?  Absolutely, but you might find there are several little things that just don’t look quite right.  Choose a contractor who specializes in your type of project.  A good rule of thumb is if a company has done at least 100 projects in a category, they have probably learned the nuances that make sure the project is done right.

Background

What is their background and history?   Looking a contractor up on Angie’s List and The Better Business Bureau is a great way to learn how the contractor treats other clients.  Speak with references and, if possible, take a look at other projects the contractor has completed.  A contractor that does not have a long list of references prepared may be a red flag.

Key Performance Indicators

Pay attention to the little indicators as you interact with the contractor.  If you notice they are not meeting your standards before you sign a contract, they will most certainly fall short during the project.

  • How quickly do they respond and what is the quality of their response?
  • Are they on time?
  • Do they ask questions to help you avoid mistakes?
  • Do they listen and understand the priorities for your project?
  • Do they commit to follow-up, and more importantly, do they fulfill these commitments?
Evaluate the Contractor’s Method

Archadeck of Chicagoland TestimonyA good contractor will ask questions and listen to your ideas and concerns in order to best understand your priorities for your project.  At Archadeck, we use a very specific design process to help us understand our clients’ needs and desires.  Not all construction projects involve design or a “design process,” but the contractor’s method should strive to understand your needs and wants and clearly document the plan you agree to.   Here are a few important things to look for:

  • Clear and written details.  Project specifications should include details regarding materials and finishing information.  Any items the client will be responsible for should also be included.  For example, we note number one grade decking and stainless steel screws for our deck projects.  Or when we build screen porches, we note that the client buys the ceiling fan which we install.
  • Design plans.  In many cases, it is helpful to visualize your project.  With every project we build, we offer a plan view (view from above).  This helps ensure Archadeck and clients are in full agreement with what the end result should be.
  • Price or estimate?  Some contractors give estimates. Estimates can change and some contractors purposefully give a low estimate that they plan to increase once the project begins. We guarantee that the price we agree to will not change unless the project is changed by the client or something unforeseen (not visually present or a requirement by a building department outside of noted building codes) occurs.
Project Management

Project management is crucial in construction.  Understanding how a contractor manages the multiple issues that can arise during the course of the job should be important in deciding who you want to hire for your project.

  • Archadeck of Chicagoland ReviewWhat system does the contractor have in place to ensure your project runs smoothly? At Archadeck, we have a system called the Job Progress Methodology.  This is an elaborate checklist with over four supporting guides for the field personnel that keep us on track.  We use this tool in conjunction with a series of construction standards that clearly reflects how each detail of the project will be built.
  • Who are the crews and how are they managed?  We work hard to find skilled, reliable, and trustworthy tradesmen.  We issue a written test, conduct background checks, follow up with references, check that all insurances are up to date, and that our crews are properly licensed.  With new crews, our Construction Manager is on site daily for the first two to three weeks to ensure they are building to our expectations.
  • Does the contractor handle permitting and inspections?  If you want a full service contractor, they should handle all issues related to the permits and inspections required for your project.  This includes contacting JULIE (Illinois utility locator service) and providing any drawings and information your Home Owners Association might require.
  • Do they keep their clients informed of the job progress?  Some of the feedback we often hear from our clients is how much they appreciate our daily communication and updates about the progress of their project.  It is helpful to understand what’s been done, what is planned, and if there are any problems that need to be or were addressed.  This grants peace of mind that every detail is being handled and allows for less disruption in our clients day to day lives.
Safeguards

It is important to understand what the contractor has in place to protect you and your home.  The safeguards they have in place and the manner in which they respond to these questions help indicate how trustworthy a contractor may or may not be.

  • Liability insurance is a must.  This protects your home from any damage caused during the construction process.
  • Workers’ Compensation is also important and required for any company with employees.  This protects you from an employee of the contractor getting injured on the job and suing you for the bills.
  • Contractors should be licensed in the town or city the construction is being performed.  Request a copy of their insurances and applicable licenses.
  • What type of warranty do they offer?   We offer a warranty of one year on workmanship and five years on structural issues.  For added protection, we also offer a third-party guarantee of performance and warranty coverage.   Archadeck clients receive a National Guarantee Corporation Warranty.  This insures their project is completed and they receive at least two years of warranty coverage.
  • Will the contractor stand behind their work?  All too often we hear about contractors or companies that hide behind a clause in their warranty.  A good contractor will stand behind their work and do the right thing, regardless of the warranty terms.
Go With Your Gut

What do your research and instincts tell you about the contractor or company?  Can you trust them to do what they say, to stand behind their work, and to do what is right?  After interviewing with your contractor, you should feel comfortable in your decision, knowing they are experienced, insured, organized, and ethical.

Celebrating 10 Years!

I am one lucky man.  Outdoor living is my passion, and outdoor living is what we do.  It is a wonderful feeling to wake up each day knowing we are doing something we’re passionate about.  Designing outdoor spaces has long been my idea of fun.  Playing in our garden, designing our patio, and taking design classes at the Morton Arboretum were once hobbies for me.  I had built a good career for myself, but I was missing that passion I wanted to feel on a daily basis. So, I went on a search for a way to combine my career with my passion. This is when I discovered the Archadeck franchise.

Ten years ago, Integrity Enterprises Inc. dba Archadeck of Chicagoland was born.  On February 19th, we will celebrate our 10th anniversary.  It has been fantastic to go to work every day knowing we are sharing our passion with Chicagoland families.  We are creating beautiful spaces for families and friends to gather and enjoy the great outdoors.

Over that past 10 years, we have seen a lot of changes and faced a number of challenges.  We not only survived the worst economy since the great depression; we actually flourished.  Projects we build have evolved from decks, screen porches, sunrooms, and pergolas to include paver patios, front porches, and open porches.  Our team has grown and enhanced our capabilities, and our company now covers all of the Chicagoland suburbs.

Screen rooms, pergolas, decks, patios, sunrooms

When we first started building our franchise, we began in the northern counties of Lake and McHenry.  As opportunities opened up, we expanded to the west and south.  Today we service all of the Chicago suburbs.  In 2012, we moved our office and growing team out of our basement and into our current showroom close to Woodfield Mall.

Of course, this move coincided with one of our original goals.  My wife, Kristen, joined me in the business and became a Design Consultant.  We met at work 20 years ago and have since dreamed of working together again.  I know many people may think it would be difficult to work with a spouse, but we love it!  She has excelled, helping to push our company forward.  Our children often come in to hang out in my office while we meet with clients and prepare designs, giving them the opportunity to see firsthand what it means to own your own business.  Archadeck of Chicagoland is truly a family operation.

As we’ve grown, we have carefully selected great team members to add to our family.  Our very foundation is built on dedicated, hardworking, and talented carpenters and crews.  Without our crew leads like John, Chris, Sonny, and Manuel, our designs would never come to life.  Of course, our office team is no less important.  Wendy, Sarah, and Margo work hard behind the scenes to keep the operation running smoothly.  Alex, our newest Design Consultant, is creative and talented. Tim, our Construction Manager, ensures the building process runs smoothly each and every time.  Our team members are key to our ability to continue to create the stunning outdoor living spaces Chicagoland has come to expect from us.

Archadeck Team - Fun

One constant over the years has been our great clients!  The number of clients we design for has increased significantly over the last 10 years, and we have been blessed with really great people to work with.  They have allowed us to learn about their family’s outdoor plans so that we may offer our recommendations and ultimately build their new outdoor spaces.  We work hard to make sure the end result of each project is a happy client.  Consistent customer service awards and ‘A’ ratings on Angie’s List, as well as the Better Business Bureau, reinforce that we are getting good results.  Of course, the best feedback comes when our clients introduce us to their friends so we may build their new outdoor space.  We would like to express our gratitude for sharing us so often with your friends and neighbors.

Thank you for allowing us to design and build your backyard getaway for the last 10 years.  We can’t wait to create your next outdoor living space!

Chicagoland Event Calendar: October – December

Holiday season is coming!  The next few months will be a whirlwind of activities as everyone prepares for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  Don’t forget to slow down and take some time to enjoy the spirit of the season with your friends and family.  In order to help you do just that, we’ve compiled a list of some of the events scheduled in the Chicago suburbs and in the city.  Enjoy!

~Archadeck of Chicagoland

Chicagoland 2013 Event Calendar: October - December

Festivals & Craft Fairs

Didier Farms’ Pumpkin Fest Lincolnshire Oct 16-31
Highwood Pumpkin Festival Highwood Oct 17-19
Fall Festival McHenry Oct 19-27
Holiday Fair Trade Gift Boutique Libertyville Oct 26
Holiday Craft Boutique Lincolnshire Nov 9
America’s Baking and Sweets Show Schaumburg Nov 15-17
Santa’s Craft Corner Wheaton Nov 30-Dec 14

Farmers Markets

Hoffman Estates Farm Market Hoffman Estates Oct 17-31
Park Ridge Farmers Market Park Ridge Oct 19-26
Farmers Market: Palatine Palatine Oct 19-26
Elk Grove Farmers Market Elk Grove Oct 19-26
Wilmette Farmers Market Wilmette Oct 19-26
Farmers Market: Evanston Evanston Oct 19-Nov 2

Halloween Fun

CarnEvil Haunted Attraction Hoffman Estates Oct 17-31
All Hallows Eve Naperville Oct 18-19
Fright at Night (with a kid friendly session) Oak Park Oct 25
Cake Decorating: Scary Monster Cupcakes Schaumburg Oct 26
Halloween Bash Hoffman Estates Oct 26
Halloween Party at Northbrook Court Northbrook Oct 26
Halloween Trick-or-Treat Palatine Oct 26
Spooky Zoo Spectacular Lincoln Park Zoo Oct 26
HalloweenFest in Libertyville Libertyville Oct 29
Halloween Boonanza Schaumburg Oct 31

Holiday Events & Parades

Wilmette Holiday Parade Wilmette Nov 23
Magnificent Mile Lights Festival Chicago Nov 23
Thanksgiving Parade Chicago Nov 28
ZooLights Lincoln Park Zoo Nov 29
Little Friends Parade of Lights Naperville Dec 1
Brunch with Santa Aurora Dec 7
The Best Holiday Party Ever Chicago Dec 10
Breakfast with Santa at Lamb’s Farm Libertyville Dec 14
New Year’s Eve Rock ‘N’ Roll Ball Rosemont Dec 31

Concerts, Shows & Dancing

Dance Like the Stars Lincolnshire Nov 5
The Temptations Skokie Nov 16
Selena Gomez Allstate Arena Nov 22
It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! Chicago Nov 25 – Dec 29
Elton John Allstate Arena Nov 30
Polar Express Deerfield Dec 8
Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Aurora Dec 14

Chicagoland Event Calendar: September – October

Fall is on its way, and with it come the many autumn festivals.  We at Archadeck love to spend time outdoors.  Come out and enjoy the live entertainment, sip on apple cider, sample the tasty fall foods, take the kids through the pumpkin patch, and much, much more!

Chicagoland Fall Festivals

Event

Location

Date

St. Michael Fall Fest Orland Park

Sep 19-22

Oaktoberfest Oak Park

Sep 20-21

Harvest Moon Bonfire Schaumburg

Sep 21

Fall Fest & Chili Cookoff Homewood

Sep 21

Norwood Park Fall Festival Norwood Park

Sep 21

Annual Autumn Fair Geneva

Sep 21

Long Grove Apple Festival Long Grove

Sep 27-29

Franciscan Fall Festival Tinley Park

Sep 27-29

Fall Family Fun Fest River Grove

Sep 28

Rogers Park Harvest Fest Rogers Park

Sep 28

Chilympics Chili Cook-Off Downers Grove

Sep 28

Fall Fest  Oak Park

Sep 29

Oktoberfest 2013 Naperville

Oct 4-5

Autumn Harvest Festival Schaumburg

Oct 6

Highwood Pumpkin Festival Highwood

Oct 17-19

All Hallows Eve Naperville

Oct 18-19

evergreenstatefaircandyapples

The Benefits of Building Outdoor Living Spaces in Fall and Winter Months

Summer days are coming to an end and fall is right around the corner.  This is the perfect time of year to plan a project for fall, winter, or even early spring.  Although the warmer months may soon be behind us, Archadeck will continue to build year round.  Now is the time to lock in this year’s prices and avoid the increases we see in early spring.  Planning your project during the fall and winter seasons also ensures that your project will be ready to use when the weather warms up again.  Instead of spending your warm spring days sifting through busy contractors and waiting for the completion of your project.  You will already be relaxing in the sun on your patio or entertaining on your new deck.  This is the perfect season to start that new project!

Learn more about the advantages of building your outdoor living space in the fall and winter months.

Deck and pergola with mosquito curtains

The Creation of a Multi-Level Patio

Take a look at one of the latest projects we built in the Chicago Suburbs! We were thrilled to help these Vernon Hills homeowners design this beautiful multi-level patio. With two different levels uniquely designed, they can now create four different outdoor living spaces that blend together smoothly. The lower level consists of a dining area with space for a table and chairs as well as a section for entertaining at their new custom limestone bar. The second level has a space for grilling and a peaceful area for relaxing in the hot tub. The patio was created with Lafitt Pavers. A Holland Stone soldier’s course and circle inset add an attractive detail, and the Belair walls create a stunning effect while helping to define the different outdoor living spaces.

Here is a before picture of a project in Vernon Hills. The homeowners decided to replace this aging deck with a patio designed to be more functional for their needs.

Before picture of this Vernon Hills patio project

You can see the old deck has been torn out and that the new Lafitt pavers and Holland stone have been laid. Looks like it’s time to build the Belair walls!

Progression of the new patio build in the Chicago Suburbs

The Belair walls are coming along!

Belair patio walls

Almost finished! A custom limestone counter top will be installed soon.

Progression of the new patio build in Vernon Hills

Here you can see the beautiful stone these homeowners chose. An excellent combination if you ask us!

Lafitt paver and Belair walls make a gorgeous combination for this new Vernon Hills patio

This is the higher level of the patio. It surrounds the hot tub and has a space for their grill. Perfect for entertaining friends and family!

Progression of the new multi-level patio in Vernon Hills

They’re hard at work, paying close attention to every detail, ensuring the patio is crafted with the quality and beauty that Archadeck and our clients expect.

One of Archadeck of Chicagoland's crews hard at work

A look at the nearly finished project.  The homeowners and their guests will soon be enjoying the custom limestone countertop!

Limestone countertop

Here is the completed project. We hope these homeowners enjoy many years of outdoor living on their new Archadeck patio!

Goregous custom designed multi-level patio in Vernon Hills