Custom Design: It’s All In The Details

At Archadeck of Chicagoland, custom design is our specialty.  We took great joy in designing this paver patio with our clients.  From the spacious layout to the clearly defined living sections, this patio is truly unique.  We start with a design plan that is tweaked and adjusted until it is exactly what our client is looking for.  As you can see in this design, we created separate spaces that transition nicely for grilling, dining, seating, and the hot tub.

Design PlanFor this particular design, we used a different color of stone for the Soldiers Course.  This helped to clearly define the different spaces while creating a striking and aesthetically pleasing look.

Paver Patio with Soldiers CourseFire pits and seat walls offer a warm and inviting space for family and friends.

Paver PatioIf a hot tub is desired, it is important to incorporate the space in the design so that the space flows easily.

Paver PatioAdding low voltage lighting to your outdoor living space creates an intimate feel while transforming your patio into a nighttime wonderland.

Patio LightingIf you are considering a patio, deck, 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!

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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.

Form follows function & flow

Form should follow function but should it also follow flow?  Creating new outdoor spaces, as any design, usually begins by identifying its use.  Asking and understanding how a client will use their new backyard structure is key to creating a great design for their family.  As important to understanding the function is fitting the design to the home and this includes the land. 

We designed this Libertyville, IL project to meet the young families’ needs and the flow of their yard.  Based upon the yard grading it would have been easier to do a deck but they liked the look of a paver patio.

They wanted a space for six to dine & grill and a level for a couple of lounge chairs.   The design also needed to create a transition from the house to the backyard, especially towards the kids swing set.  As we considered their priorities and the grade of the yard it became obvious to create a series of paver patio levels.  Patio levels that provide the spaces desired and followed the drop in the back yard to meet the lowest grade where the swing set was.

By providing a 3 dimensional drawing of the design on their home the client was able to visualize our recommendation.   Together we reviewed two design ideas and made edits to get the exact design they wanted on the back of their home.   Finding the best plan for our clients is the central focus of our design process.

As you can see the result was a great new outdoor living space!