Category Archives: Choosing a contractor

When is the cheapest time to build my new Kansas City area porch or deck?

You’re probably not going to like the answer, but the cheapest time to build your new Kansas City porch or deck was 5 years ago. That’s not because our prices have gone up. It’s because material costs have gone up and will continue to go up since the economy is strong nationwide. When times are good and the market will bear price increases, manufacturers and material suppliers take that opportunity to increase prices. We didn’t see these price increases back in 2008 and 2009 after the economy crashed but now we see them regularly and without any notice whatsoever.

We realize that the nature of planning and obtaining qualified, skilled firms to build outdoor projects and home improvements can be a long-term process. We know that a tremendous amount of thought and planning, as well as saving and budgeting, have gone on behind the scenes before homeowners contact us. We also know that when homeowners are ready to move forward with their project, they are anxious to start enjoying their new space as soon as possible. The challenge is that all the qualified and skilled firms are likely to be working months out into the future.

Here are some important timing factors to consider regarding when your new outdoor project will be completed and ready to enjoy

  • The design process takes time
  • The process of narrowing choices and selecting materials takes time
  • The process of permitting takes time
  • The shortage of skilled labor extends these timelines further
  • All reputable builders have a wait before starting projects – probably in direct correlation to how strong they are as a builder

Since there are a number of time-consuming factors involved and since materials price increases could always be looming, what’s the best thing to do?

Lenexa AZEK deck screen porch with TVThe best thing to do when you make your decision is to recognize the process and make the right choices for you since you will enjoy this space for many years in the future. Further, it’s important to understand that it’s worth the wait to ensure that you have numerous years of optimal enjoyment in your new space. It’s likely that most reputable builders have had calls from homeowners who went with the quickest option only to be disappointed and were then forced to look for another builder to fix that project that didn’t meet expectations.

Choose well, move forward instead of waiting and be patient enough to have the right project built by the right builder having made the best design and material decisions for how you want to live outside.

If you’re thinking about waiting…

A project that is tabled one year because it couldn’t be done on time may not be picked back up until the same time the following year causing the same issues as before. These homeowners always tell us they wish they would have completed the project the previous year so it would be ready at the very beginning of spring the next year.

It’s important to begin the conversation with a reputable builder and balance any wait time against your lifetime enjoyment of your new porch, deck or outdoor living space. Many memories will be made and shared in your new space over the many years you own your home.

Give us a call for a free consultation at (913) 851-3325 or drop us an email at kansascity@archadeck.net. Take a look at some of our top website photo galleries: outdoor fireplace photo gallery, screened porch photo gallery, deck photo gallery.

Steve Folsom - Kansas City deck and porch builder

Steve Folsom – owner Archadeck of Kansas City

 

Why do I have to pay a deposit for my Kansas City deck project?

Almost as soon as the ink is dry on your contract with Archadeck of Kansas City for your new porch, deck or sunroom, the work will begin on your project. Not the actual building, but all of the extensive preparation that has to take place before ground can be broken. Some of this work is an investment of our time and expertise, but some of it goes well beyond that.

screen porch builder Leawood KSThe days of putting up a deck without a permit are gone if you are looking for a reputable contractor. After we complete the permit-ready plans for your outdoor living space, we submit them to the appropriate local government authority for approval. That requires that we pay a fee in advance. If the plans need to be blessed by a professional engineer, there may be an additional cost. These are non-refundable costs that we incur up front. This process may take several weeks, or even a month.

The second step is to begin ordering materials for your project. Some items like a load of pressure-treated pine 2x4s are available every day at the lumber yard, but some specialty or custom items like railings or synthetic boards from a supplier like TimberTech or AZEK, often need to be ordered.  Depending on the level of demand and what time of year it is, the lead time for an order may be several weeks or more, so we need to act early. Once we have placed the order, we are committed to spending that money. Composite floor Kansas City screened porch lrSo, part of your deposit will likely go to cover the cost of ordering your materials.

Your property may have unusual features or conditions that have to be addressed in advance and that preparation work may incur a cost. If you are installing a Kansas City outdoor gas fireplace, for example, we may need to make arrangements to run a gas line. Or perhaps there are utilities in the way that need to be rerouted or an existing structure that must be demolished. Sometimes we have to pay subcontractors, dumpster operators or other agencies to help get the pre-work done so that the “real” work can commence.

Finally, as you may have seen during your research, reputable builders often plan their jobs several months in advance. This includes scheduling both their own crews and the work of trusted subcontractors. Having a deposit in hand is an important guarantee that they will be able to make good on their commitments to their partners when the time comes. A client deposit is the industry’s standard indicator that plans are finalized and building will take place.

Steve Folsom - Kansas City deck and porch builder

Steve Folsom – Kansas City deck and porch builder

If you’re considering adding a sunroom, or screened porch or other roofed structure to your home, give us a ring. Our consultation is free. We can discuss options, provide design ideas and of course give you a price quote to consider. Give us a call or send us an email. (913) 851 – 3325 or kansascity@archadeck.net.

 

Must a contractor be a great communicator?

As strange as it sounds, a majority of the complaints about general contractors aren’t really about the quality of the end product. They are the byproduct of poor communications. When the customer and the builder aren’t on the same page, it can lead to all kinds of problems, both big and small. Here are six ways that Archadeck takes care to keep our customers happy from start to finish ensuring our customers get the right communication at the right time.

  1. Most contractors didn’t get into the business they are in because they have fabulous communication skills, so they might not realize how important those skills are. We prioritize talking to all our customers regularly and making sure that they have ample opportunities to ask questions. We make a point to be consistent over time with information that we have provided to our clients to avoid any potential confusion. We pride ourselves on being easy to find and easy to talk to.
  2. Beyond speaking frequently with the homeowner, we stay in regular contact with our crews and our subcontractors. That helps to minimize surprises between all parties involved. It also means that if you have a question for someone working on your job site, they should have the same answer as someone from our office.
  3. We take the time to discuss topics others might overlook, such as conditions on the job site. We want to hear about the oak tree that is special to you or that you have a cat and two dogs who might be visiting our work area (on purpose or not). We also want to keep you up to date on potential areas of danger that could change from day to day. You should know when we are going to dig post holes so that you can be extra aware to watch your step.
  4. Keeping costs in line with customer expectations is an important part of our communications plan. We work diligently to talk about choices up front during the design process so that there is clarity about the final price you will pay. You’ll have plenty of time in advance to select the features, choices, and options that are right for you. You will also know the payment schedule up front so that you can make the necessary financial arrangements from your end.
  5. Honesty has to play a central role in communications between contractor and customer. When you ask for help in making a choice between one feature or another on your Kansas City deck project, we’ll help you decipher the true value of various features so you can prioritize where you want to invest in different amenities or upgrades. Take a look at online reviews from our other Kansas City customers to see our superior record in educating our customers to help them get an end result that exceeded expectations.
  6. Communications don’t have to just take place by conversation. An experienced, reputable contractor will make sure that you receive a detailed price for all work in advance. This may even include a list of potential unexpected contingencies that may affect the final price. The presence of termite damage is an excellent example. We’ll do as complete and thorough a site survey as possible, but also do our best to warn you of any potential problems we anticipate may crop up.
Steve Folsom - Kansas City deck and porch builder

Steve Folsom – Kansas City deck and porch builder

If you’re considering adding a sunroom, or screened porch or other roofed structure to your home, give us a ring. Our consultation is free. We can discuss options, provide design ideas and of course give you a price quote to consider. Give us a call or send us an email. (913) 851 – 3325 or kansascity@archadeck.net. For loads of great pictures, please visit our website at kansas-city.archadeck.com

Be very wary of a contractor who can start on your Kansas City porch or deck right away in the spring, summer, or even fall

Spring and summer are insanely busy for professionals in the outdoor building trades. Our skilled tradesmen are working very long days and our project start dates are pushed out quite a way.

If you encounter a contractor in mid-May who says that he is available to start right away, be very wary. It’s the equivalent of talking to one of Santa’s elves on December 15 and having him say that things have been slow so he’s been getting a lot of reading done at the office. It’s a sufficiently unusual enough situation that it should set off warning bells in your head.

Combination shed and gable roof Overland Park porch lrAny experienced, reputable, licensed contractor will be booked solid in the warmer months. If you talk to a contractor who is not, you should ask yourself why. A new contractor will not have had the time or opportunity to to build a reputation in the community. This makes it difficult to judge the quality of his work because there will be fewer past customers to consult for references and not many previous jobs sites to go visit. This might not ultimately be a deal breaker, but you will need to do additional due diligence about his skills and competency to assure yourself that he/she will do a professional job on your porch or deck.

A contractor with a poor reputation is another matter entirely. There is no amount of cost savings on a job that will make up for trusting your home and your money to someone who has done shoddy or incomplete work in the past.

If you contract with Archadeck of Kansas City in the spring or summer, we will have to put you on our waiting list before we can begin your project. At this time of year, we regularly receive 20x more phone calls each month than we do during the winter. We don’t want to make customers wait, but we have to. That’s the bad news. The good news is that I can give you as many references as you want. If you have the time and want to visit 20 of our past customers, you could. I can also send you to many review sites which each have many reviews attesting to the quality work and excellent service you will receive.

Once that you accept that you will probably have to wait before breaking ground on your new outdoor living space, you might want to get a jump on some of the planning that will improve the work that you and your reputable contractor will do together. First, think about how you want to use your new space. Identifying function goes a long way toward creating a quality design for any living space. Do you hate bugs? Love sun? Host large parties? Want a place for your cats to watch birds? Think about these kinds of activities and take notes.

It’s also important to think about your budget. There is no need to be bashful about talking about money. Building is our business and we have these conversations daily. Your budget will drive the scope and materials of your project, so it’s important to have an idea about it up front. You don’t need to know all of the cost details in advance, but you want to know enough to stay within a budget where you are comfortable.

Steve Folsom - Kansas City deck and porch builder

Steve Folsom – Kansas City deck and porch builder

If you’re considering the addition of a deck, porch, patio or other outdoor living structure to your Kansas City area home, don’t wait. Give us a call at (913) 851-3325 for a free consultation or email us at kansascity@archadeck.net. We look forward to your call.

Building beyond the code. We build to last, not to pass.

kansas-city-porch-contractorBuilding codes specify the minimum requirements to adequately safeguard the health, safety and welfare of building occupants. All licensed contractors must meet these standards when they complete their jobs. Of course you want your new construction to meet these standards, the question is, do you want to exceed them?

Odds are, you do. Archadeck designs typically go beyond those minimum standards for a variety of reasons. The first is that we build for long-term durability. We want you to use and enjoy your Kansas City deck or porch for a very long time to come. Structures that are built to minimum code may sag or sink after only a few years. We upgrade the structural supports beyond the code by using stronger joists, support beams and bracing. We build to last, not to pass.

Building codes are not updated very frequently. Some of the materials and techniques that we use were unavailable even a few years ago. We don’t want our structures to sag, sink or settle so we keep up with industry developments that allow us to give you a stronger, more durable Kansas City porch, deck or patio. You may never see the waterproof flashing or structural bolts and fastenings, but they are working hard for you every day.

AZEK Morado deck TimberTech rail Shawnee KS lrYou don’t want to count and weigh in your guests before sending them outside. You probably don’t know what weight a deck designed to minimum code requirements will safely support, nor should you have to. Archadeck structures will hold more than the minimum so if an extra person or two arrives for dinner on the deck, your only worry will be if you bought enough food.

One more benefit of building beyond the code is that life isn’t built to code. Building codes are written to deal with most common and some uncommon situations, they rarely take into account the extremes. A huge tree fell on one of our porches a few years ago and the roof stayed intact. The tree only only took off a few shingles; no one was hurt. You can’t plan for every contingency, but knowing that all areas of your home are built to a higher safety standard allows you to sleep better at night.

Here is some feedback from a recent client:

From start to finish, Archadeck has proven they are the best in the business. The attention to detail the building team took exceeded our expectations. From removal of the existing structure to completion of the new deck the Archadeck crew are truly master carpenters. Even the wood selected by them to build the substructure is of the highest quality and will last many, many years.

Michael & Diane F.

Steve Folsom - Kansas City deck and porch builder

Steve Folsom – Kansas City deck and porch builder

If you’re considering the addition of an outdoor fireplace – or a deck, porch, patio or other outdoor living structure – give us a call at (913) 851-3325 for a free consultation or email us at kansascity@archadeck.net. We look forward to your call.

The top 5 ways to make your new porch look original to your home

One of the first questions people ask when they’re considering adding a porch to their house is to what degree we can make it look original to their home. Nobody wants a new porch that looks “added on” or an addition that looks like a sore thumb. Here are the top 5 ways to make your new porch look original to your home.

Overland park screened porch ipe floor

Overland Park KS screened porch addition with challenging roof connection

Roof style –

Using the correct roof style to match or complement your home is one of the biggest factors in determining the degree to which your porch will look like it was built with your house. If you close your eyes and envision a typical porch, a rectangular (gable) roof or perhaps a flat roof may come to mind. But, one shape certainly does not fit all. There are many factors that help determine which roof is best for your new porch. One of these factors is matching or complimenting the other roof lines of your house. Your house may have a gable roof or a hip or shed roof. Likely your house has a couple different roof lines. But other factors come into play such as the placement of second story windows where you want to build your porch.

Other roof factors we consider when designing your porch roof are the pitch, soffits and overhang. All of these factors affect the look. We work to match or complement each of these elements.

Screened porch design Overland Park KS ArchadeckSize/shape/proportions

If the new porch is too big or too small or the proportions don’t fit to back yard and to house, it is going to look odd. Other factors include the size of your house, the size of your yard, and the relative proportions of the space available to work in and how the porch will be used. All of these factors come into play when we design the size, shape, and proportions of your new porch.

Color/texture/materials –

The aesthetic choices including the color, texture and materials will be a determining factor on whether the new porch looks like it was built with your house. This is especially true on the outside but also on the inside. Some of these factors include the trim materials, the types of paint/stain, and the look of trim compared to type of trim used on house.

Flow from the porch to the back yard

In certain yards, there is a distinct reason to put steps in one area vs. another. These reasons may include the proportion, size, or shape of steps. Other factors to how the porch steps transition to the yard include the angle of the steps and the connection to any primary destination in yard if there is one.

Landscape design –

Landscaping has a big impact on how things look when they’re finished. Adding landscaping around the porch that is complimentary to the existing landscape design will help in making the new porch look like part of the existing house.

As you can see, there really is no way for one solution to fit all situations. Every home is different and every homeowners has different wants and needs for their new porch. That’s why it’s important to work with a design and build company that listens to what you are looking for and designs a room to fit all of your needs including aesthetic, lifestyle, and more.

Steve Folsom - Kansas City deck and porch builder

Steve Folsom – Kansas City deck and porch builder

If you are considering adding a porch to your home, give us a call at (913) 851 – 3325 or send us an email at kansascity@archadeck.net. We look forward to hearing from you.

The hazards of fine print in your porch or deck contract – top 3 things to watch for

You might not think this is the case but sometimes the longer the fine print, the less you’re getting. There can often be hidden costs to look out for in the specifications list, warranty, or other details found within your proposal or contract. Here are a couple of things to watch for. You want to be careful if the list of specifications or details about a component are too confusing/not written in a clear and straightforward manner, too vague, or stated verbally.

1) Confusing and/or not written in clear and straightforward manner

Beware if you receive contracts, estimates, addendums, specifications sheets or other documentation that is confusing or is not written in a way that is easily understandable and digestible. For example, if there are multiple options with associated prices within your contract, it may be difficult for you to designate what your selections are and which selections you are not choosing. In contrast to the next point, be wary if there is too much fine print or the documentation is confusing. This may be done intentionally to slip in hidden costs or specifications that are not in agreement with your expectations.

2) Too vague or purposefully vague

Think about all of the construction materials that it will require to build your new porch or deck or outdoor structure. Imagine those materials being delivered and sitting out in your back yard. Now imagine the options available with each of those materials. There are a number of different types of wood that can be used. There are a number of different screws that can be used. There are hundreds of options in construction materials that differ greatly. Has your contractor discussed these options with you? Now imagine that same set of building materials and imagine the number of different ways those can be assembled. In addition to materials, there are construction details that need to be specified.

Look for items in the specifications that are purposefully vague such as “48 feet of standard railing”. Even a railing has lots of facets including pickets, posts, and even screws. Insufficient explanations of choices and options may indicate the contractor is going to use the cheapest options to get the price down but this reflects on durability, upkeep, maintenance.

3) Stated verbally
Watch out for verbal promises that your new porch or deck will be “the same” as someone else’s, or the same as another picture. Beware if they continually lead you to focus on the size of the structure and not the hundreds of variables that are included.

You may feel that you are not qualified to read and understand all of the details or fine print in your construction contract and at first, the details may seem foreign to you. But, it’s your job to ask lots of detailed questions. Sit down with your contractor and the contract. Go through the contract and other details line-by-line. A reputable contractor with nothing to hide will gladly discuss each detail as well as other options that are available. This also creates an excellent opportunity to make any critical changes before the project begins.

In addition, do your due diligence. Research how these different methods and products perform and why they perform this way. If the contractor tries to pressure you to sign the contract before you’ve had time to do your due diligence, beware that there is likely a reason.

Steve Folsom - owner of Archadeck of Kansas City

Give us a call to discuss your next backyard project whether it be a porch, sunroom, deck, pergola, or other outdoor living area. Call (913) 851 – 3325 or send us an email at kansascity@archadeck.net