Designing your Kansas City outdoor living space: Where to start?

The boring but practical side of designing your new Kansas City outdoor living space…

There is always a starting and a finishing point to outdoor living design. Where do you start with design? At what point do you consider your design choices finalized? We will help walk you through the thought process we use when we plan and design a Kansas City outdoor living space.

Leawood KS composite deck with lightingThe first step is determining any of the physical limitations of the space.

Are there trees that limit the space? How big is the yard? Is there a swimming pool or other large elements that constrain where a space could be built in the yard? Are there retaining walls or any other features that would limit the space when drawing the footprint? The practicality of identifying any space limitations needs to be the very first thing you consider. Other limitations may include any restrictions set by the city or county. It is important to know any setbacks before beginning the design process.

How do you intend to live in your outdoor space?

The second thing to do is look at how the space will be used. This may be something you haven’t thought much about… you’ll know the opportunities once it’s built and you start spending time in the space. The problem is that starting this way is upside down. If you are going to eat many meals outside and your space isn’t large enough to accommodate a table to fit your family and guests, you will wish you had thought those logistics before building. If you are adding a porch to enjoy outdoor living many more months of the year but have not considered the angle of your backyard or the degree of shade your trees create, it is quite possible you will not be able to spend the amount of time you hope. There may be too much shade cover and a northern facing backyard that limits the sun coming in to your room to such a degree that you cannot spend many more months in your new room.

How many people will be accommodated and how comfortably?

Lenexa screened porch and AZEK deckIn addition to how you will live in your new space, you need to think about traffic flow. Boring! True. Where are the exterior doors of your home? What is their proximity to where you want to build your space? Will a new roofed structure need to have 2 doors to ensure traffic spills out into 2 different areas? If so, that limits the useful space within the enclosed room. You will even need to think about any aging family members, frequent guests or dogs will get in to and out of the space. This might require wider stairs or a lower lying space.

After you’ve taken into account all of the practical considerations, you can move on to the elements that are most often thought of as the true “design” components including shapes, colors, aesthetic features, materials and more. Check back for an upcoming blog about the “fun” part of design.

Also read: How much does it cost to build a Kansas City area deck, porch, or sunroom?

Bonnie and Dan Hall, Archadeck of Kansas City Owners

Bonnie and Dan Hall, Archadeck of Kansas City Owners

If you’re considering adding a screened porch or other roofed structure to your home, give us a ring. During our free consultation, we can discuss options and provide design ideas for your new space. Give us a call or send us an email. (913) 851 – 3325 or kansascity@archadeck.net.

Will a porch make it dark inside my home?

If I add a porch to my Kansas City area home, am I robbing the sunlight from Peter to pay Paul?

Homeowners seeking to add a new porch to their home almost unanimously want that bright, airy and sunny room to enjoy a great view of the yard while still within the comfort of an enclosed room. One very important consideration is whether creating a sunny outdoor living space will rob the sunny adjoining room in your home.

There is no need to worry. Here’s why.

Quite often, I visit a home and notice that the blinds across the back of the home are drawn. The back of that home is likely facing south or west directing a good bit of sun toward the back of the home making it too bright or too warm to keep the blinds open in the heat of the day. In this case, having a porch to diffuse some light from that rear facing room may be the perfect solution.

Leawood KS porch with outdoor fireplaceThe natural question that follows is whether the porch would then have the same problem in receiving too much light at different times of the day. The answer is, it could. But with proper design it will not. When designing your new porch, we have flexibility in the placement of columns, height of the roof and angle of the roof as well as flexibility in the addition or subtraction of screens. Further, there are available screens that provide more sun protection than others.

When loss of light is a true consideration

If the back of your home faces north or east, maintaining sun that enters the back of the home will indeed be an important consideration. If this is the case, there are a number of techniques we can employ to preserve sunlight. These include adjusting the pitch of the roof, adding skylights and even ensuring a brightly colored ceiling. White ceilings preserve sunlight whereas dark ceilings make a room feel gloomier and smaller.

The outdoor contractor you choose will make a difference.

Composite floor Kansas City screened porch lrIn the many years we have been building roofed structures throughout the Kansas City metro, we have encountered many scenarios and we have experience employing a number of techniques to achieve the degree of sun you’d like in both your new room and as this affects the adjoining room of your home.

It is important to note that while these techniques are helpful, there most certainly will be some compromise. Regardless of the design, having a new room added to your home will have an affect on how sun enters the existing room. More often, there is a degree of compromise that must be reached. Rest assured, we have the experience and expertise to recommend and build the best solution to achieve your needs and wants for your new space.

Also read: Is an outdoor fireplace worth the investment?

Bonnie and Dan Hall, Archadeck of Kansas City Owners

Bonnie and Dan Hall, Archadeck of Kansas City Owners

If you’re considering adding a screened porch or other roofed structure to your home, give us a ring. During our free consultation, we can discuss options and provide design ideas for your new space. Give us a call or send us an email. (913) 851 – 3325 or kansascity@archadeck.net.

Visit our screened porch page on our website or peruse some of our photo galleries including our screened porches photo gallery or our covered/open porch photo gallery.

The Solution to Cool Weather, an Outdoor Fireplace

Is the cold weather keeping you inside your Olathe home? It doesn’t have to!

When we designed this versatile outdoor living space, we kept two things top of mind: what factors were keeping the family inside and what amenities could draw everyone outside. This customer already had an old deck, but it was surrounded by quite a few trees that shadowed the deck and drew insects to the area. The family also found that during the spring and fall they found themselves keeping to the house because of the chill..

And outdoor fireplace was built to take the edge off – but first…

KC screened porch fireplace AZEK floorThe first step in creating this showcase Olathe Cedar Creek porch with outdoor fireplace was to demolish the old deck. That gave us the flexibility to enlarge the project footprint and the opportunity to switch from pressure treated pine to low maintenance AZEK decking in silver oak. By upgrading from a deck to a covered screened porch we captured a number of benefits. Cleaning yard debris and battling bugs are non-issues now. Instead of spending valuable time caring for a deck, they are enjoying relaxing on the porch.

The new gable roof porch creates a vaulted ceiling that lets lots of light into both the porch and the rear of the home. A centerpiece of this porch is a built in outdoor fireplace. This Olathe KS porch fireplace is as beautiful as it is functional. Because it is powered by gas, it ignites with the the flick of a switch and you never have to haul or stack wood. It features a cultured stone fascia. Both the mantle and hearth are solid stone and add tremendous warmth and style to the room. We designed and installed a custom lighting combination of track lighting and recessed downspouts to highlight the fireplace.

Outdoor living home upgrades are ultimately value-added improvements!

KC screened porch with outdoor fireplaceThe client wanted to use this project as an opportunity to make some other upgrades to their home and we were happy to oblige. We designed a roof that worked well with their existing roof lines and then arranged for the whole home to be shingled at once. The result looks terrific, was less trouble for the homeowner, and was certainly cheaper than breaking the project into two phases. We also replaced a sliding door with a better looking, better insulating set of French doors. We finished off the porch with painted 4×6 posts that match the house trim and 100% aluminum railings by Westbury. They are durable, easy to care for, and blend in with the screening.

Also read: Is an outdoor fireplace worth it?

What will it take to get you outside? Is it a toasty Olathe KS porch fireplace? The promise of a spacious dining area that you don’t have to sweep before each use? The opportunity to throw open your French doors and let the fresh air in without welcoming the bugs? Whatever you want, we can create the custom solution that will meet your outdoor living needs and exceed your expectations.

Also read: Enhanced Outdoor Living with an Archadeck Design

Bonnie and Dan Hall, Archadeck of Kansas City Owners

Bonnie and Dan Hall, Archadeck of Kansas City Owners

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 some price ranges to consider. Give us a call or send us an email. (913) 851 – 3325 or kansascity@archadeck.net.

What does the Angie’s List Super Service Award really mean? How much weight should you give it when looking for a Kansas City contractor?

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Archadeck of Kansas City has won the Super Service Award every year since 2009

There are a number of different review sites that consumers can take advantage of in researching contractor’s reputation and history. One of the most well-known and successful ones is Angie’s List. Angie’s List is known to be a good source to vet possible contractors. The reason Angie’s List reviews are highly regarded is for some of the following items you can count on with Angie’s List reviews.

The Angie’s List difference:

  • No anonymous reviews
  • Certified data collection process prevents companies and providers from reporting on themselves or their competitors.
  • Complaint Resolution Team intercedes when necessary
  • Both companies and providers respond to reports
  • Time and trouble taken to verify the accuracy of the reports that people post
  • Background checks and license checks performed of the contractors on Angie’s List
  • Standards exist for the number of reviews you should have and the time period of those reviews

There certainly are other sites available both paid and free but some are known to have suspect reviews that can be gamed. With many other sites, there is no process to monitor or validate the reviews.

Archadeck of Kansas City is proud to be the Angie’s List Super Service award winner every year since 2009. Angie’s List yearly measures the quality of all the reports turned in that year. They are then ranked to identify the best of the best. Less than 5% of all companies reviewed qualify for the award.

bbb logo template 300At Archadeck of Kansas City, we always urge all homeowners to do their due diligence. Even though you can feel fairly confident with the reviews on certain sites, it’s always a good idea to check other sites looking for confirmation. A couple more good places to check are The Better Business Bureau website, and Houzz.com which also provides a place for consumer reviews.

Bonnie and Dan Hall, Archadeck of Kansas City Owners

Bonnie and Dan Hall, Archadeck of Kansas City Owners

If you are considering adding a new deck, porch or other outdoor living space to your Kansas City area home, give us a call for a free consultation. We look forward to your call at 913-851-3325. Please also visit our Archadeck of Kansas City website.

 

What’s new with AZEK synthetic decking in 2016?

As we’ve written before, synthetic outdoor building materials continue to improve over time. While composite decking brands have come and gone over the years, here in the Kansas City market, we have historically and continue to enjoy success with AZEK. AZEK composite decking not only performs well but it carries a 25-year warranty providing protection from splitting, cupping, splintering, blistering, peeling, flaking, cracking, rotting or structural damage from termites or fungal decay.

AZEK Alloy Armour Kansas City ArchadeckIn 2016, AZEK is rolling out a new technology called Alloy Armour technology. AZEK’s  proprietary alloy blend provides increased performance including better weathering protection, better UV protection and more fade & stain resistance. With the proprietary Alloy Armour technology, AZEK is now adding an additional 30-year warranty which specifically covers fade and stain protection. When evaluating contractors to build your new project, it’s important to look at all the warranties available. With Archadeck, we offer our own additional warranties. We have a guarantee of project completion even if any unfortunate situations should arise with your local crew, a 12-month workmanship warranty and a 60-month structural warranty.

In addition to AZEK’s new technology and warranty, there are introducing some color changes in 2016. Here are the color changes:

  • Sandridge will now be Brownstone
  • River Rock will now be changed to Slate Gray
  • Tahoe will now be changed to Island Oak
  • Sedona will now be changed to Autumn Chestnut
  • Walnut Grove will be changed to Brazilian Walnut
  • Redland Rose will be changed to Mountain Redwood
  • Rustic Bark will be changed to Mahogany
  • Harvest Bronze will be changed to Cypress
Bonnie and Dan Hall, Archadeck of Kansas City Owners

Bonnie and Dan Hall, Archadeck of Kansas City Owners

If you are considering adding a new deck, porch or other outdoor living space to your Kansas City area home, give us a call for a free consultation. We look forward to your call at 913-851-3325. Please also visit our Archadeck of Kansas City website.

Hitting the Sweet Spot For Kansas City Porch Size

How did we make this new Kansas City porch the one with an ideal size?

If you play golf or tennis, you’ve probably found yourself hoping that your next club or racket will be “the one”. Hopefully it will be that magic tool that solves all the little problems that have been keeping your game from reaching the next level. Kansas City deck and porch sizing is a little like that. Many homeowners think that there is a “perfect size” that, once found, will allow all the other design details to fall into place.

Kansas City screen porch attached Evergrain deck lrSadly, there is no perfect size. Just as there is no ideal size for a home, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for determining the best deck, porch or patio size for everyone. There are, however, some guidelines that we use to make the best recommendation for our clients. Not surprisingly, the first thing we do is take measurements of the home and yard. If your yard is only 20 feet across, you can’t have a 25’ deck. Existing landscaping, roof, wall, and window considerations will be key factors too.

You’ve probably heard the maxim “form follows function.” Size is a primary component of form and we always ask our customers detailed questions about how they plan to use their new outdoor space. It’s not because we are nosy. We want to understand the job that your new addition will perform. If you and your beloved pet will use the screened porch for relaxing in the evenings after work, that’s one thing. Tailgate parties for 45 people throughout football system are entirely different.

Space planning for your Kansas City porch will make your final size perfect for your needs.

Kansas City porch with outdoor fireplaceThe topic of function dovetails into the furniture you plan to use. Roughly 80 percent of our customers put a dining table on their porch. With a dining area, you have to include space around the table for chairs and movement around the table. Some people like to push back from the table after dinner and stretch out a bit– this may take up another 2 feet or so. Two feet doesn’t sound like much, on paper, but in reality, it can make a tremendous difference in comfort and traffic flow.

When you choose Archadeck, you are entrusting your new design to a highly-experienced porch designer and builder.

If this sounds like a lot to wrap your head around, fear not. As Kansas City’s premier custom porch and deck designers, it’s our job to take into consideration everything from code-related issues like property setbacks to how much space to allow between door openings and walls. We will help guide you to making the right choices for your project. One blanket piece of advice I do have is that it’s better to go a little bigger than too small. No one ever comes back after an installation and reports that they have too much space. But in fact I was recently stopped by a past customer who noted he wished he had agreed to the recommendation for an extra 2 feet on his porch.

Also read: What is the best porch screen system?

Bonnie and Dan Hall, Archadeck of Kansas City Owners

Bonnie and Dan Hall, Archadeck of Kansas City Owners

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.

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

We have been deck builders in Kansas City since 2001. A trusted name in custom decks and porches!

screen porch builder Leawood KSAlmost 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.

What are some upfront costs for your outdoor project?

We would be remiss to not say that there are no set costs.  Your initial investment will be based on your location and the type of project you intend to build with us.  You can expect to invest about 20% of the total cost of your project ahead of building.  These fees are not to fund our business – our good standing with suppliers is what will allow us to build your project before you have paid in full.  You might expect a variety of costs ahead of your project.

Based upon site conditions, there could be a need for surveying.  This cost will be incurred by the client.  The project must also be insured.  And the days of building a deck without a permit are gone if you hire a reputable contractor.  Depending on your locale, permitting could be costly, but it is absolutely necessary for every Archadeck project.  After we complete the permit-ready plans for your outdoor living space, we submit them to the appropriate local government authority for approval, and the fee will be required upfront.  Additionally, any outdoor space, which has a roof must go through engineering.  This will require an additional investment.

Here is a short list of what might require an upfront investment for your project:

  1. Surveying, if required per site conditions
  2. Insurance for your project
  3. Permitting from your local government authority
  4. Engineering, if required per your project type

Some outdoor living amenities could cost a bit more upfront, as well.

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.

Paying your deposit is a good faith agreement with Archadeck of Kansas City.  It solidifies our partnership with you in your outdoor living design-build journey.

It means that you have committed to build your project and we have committed our time and attention to you, securing your project on our building schedule.  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.

Ready to discuss your new custom porch, deck, or sunroom with Archadeck of Kansas City?

Bonnie and Dan Hall, Archadeck of Kansas City Owners

Bonnie and Dan Hall, Archadeck of Kansas City Owners

If you’re considering adding a porch, deck, or any outdoor living structure, 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.

What is your porch fireplace profile?

screen porch builder Leawood KSDo you love the idea of gathering with friends and family around shifting, crackling logs as you watch the sparks meander up the chimney?

Perhaps you have fond memories of splitting logs out in the backyard with your dad and have always wanted to recapture that in your own home. Some people revel in the natural ambience created by a genuine wood-burning outdoor porch fireplace, complete with keeping the kindling pile stocked and with the necessary chore of sweeping out the ashes. If these scenarios sound familiar, you are a great candidate for a porch fireplace built into your screened porch or sunroom.

Gas-burning outdoor fireplaces provide low-maintenance appeal.

Other people really respond to the warm, romantic mood created by the presence of a fire crackling nearby, but don’t want to have to do a lot of work to get it. What is better than flipping a switch on a wall or, even better, clicking a button on a remote, to bring a bright and cheery fire to life in your outdoor space? If you think  gas is the way to go, you have something in common with 95% of our customers who choose gas fireplaces over wood. Many love the value and convenience that gas provides.

Lenexa custom designed screened porchWho doesn’t want an outdoor porch fireplace?

Believe it or not, porch fireplaces are not for everyone. Although they offer wonderful benefits in terms of helping you extend the usable season of your porch by keeping the space warm in all but the coldest months of the year, there are some practical considerations that might argue against installing a fire feature. You may want to maximize the panoramic porch view and don’t want to give up window space to a fireplace. Some properties don’t have good access to a gas line. Some homeowners prioritize spending their money elsewhere. Of those interested, we find that cost is the number one reason clients choose not to include a fireplace on their porch.

Also read: Is an outdoor fireplace worth it?

If you think you fall into group one or group two, give us a call and we will gladly discuss options for making a new fireplace the focal point of your Kansas City porch. We can show you options at a few different budget points. We can also discuss some fun decorating options for lighting, mantels, fronts, and surrounds. There are many, many ways to create a space your whole family will love.

Also read: Can you have an outdoor fireplace on your deck?

Bonnie and Dan Hall, Archadeck of Kansas City Owners

Bonnie and Dan Hall, Archadeck of Kansas City Owners

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, kansascity@archadeck.net or visit our website at kansas-city.archadeck.com

Must a deck contractor be a great communicator?

As strange as it sounds, a majority of the complaints about deck contractors aren’t really about the quality of the end product. They are the byproduct of poor communications. When the customer and the deck contractor 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 deck 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 porch or deck 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.

For trusted deck builders Kansas City, choose Archadeck. We have been designing and building decks throughout the Kansas City Metro since 2001.

Bonnie and Dan Hall, Archadeck of Kansas City Owners

Bonnie and Dan Hall, Archadeck of Kansas City Owners

If you’re considering adding a custom deck, sunroom, or screened porch 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

Also read: Which roof style is best for your Kansas City porch?

Pick a roof– but not just any roof for your Kansas City area home

Regardless of whether you’re thinking of adding a porch or a sunroom, it’s going to need a roof. The choice of roof is incredibly important, not just because it will have a big impact on the overall appearance of your space both inside and out, but because it also has an impact on the cost of your project.

The big five considerations are: cost, room size, placement of existing windows, existing roof(s), and light.

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This screened porch has an open gable roof with a screened in gable.

The most commonly chosen type of roof for a screened or open porch is the gable roof. Gable roofs can be constructed with an open, closed, glassed or screened gable at the end. This gives you maximum flexibility in terms of how much light and ventilation you can enjoy inside the space. The most frequent reason for not using a gable roof is that the window layout of the existing home won’t allow it.

A hip roof that is attached to the house has a closed gable end. It is typically 3-sided but can have varying configurations. Hip roofs are very aesthetically appealing and they integrate beautifully into a home that already has a hip roof on another portion of the home. The downside? Hip roofs tend to require the most custom carpentry and are therefore the most expensive to build.

This fireplace surround is made of Ipe exotic Brazilian hardwood

This screened porch has a shed roof with a built in gable.

shed roof slopes in one direction away from the house. Shed roofs work especially well in situations where the porch is either very wide or very narrow because you don’t have to worry about the slope of the roof being too flat or peaked. They are also less expensive to construct. A shed roof also works well when there are many architectural elements on the second story that would be obstructed by a different roof style.

We would be happy to discuss various roof design options in order to achieve your optimal balance of aesthetics, light, and cost. Perhaps you’d like to explore more unique options like a custom blended roof design that marries two different roof types.

Bonnie and Dan Hall, Archadeck of Kansas City Owners

Bonnie and Dan Hall, Archadeck of Kansas City Owners

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. Call (913) 851 – 3325, drop us an email at  kansascity@archadeck.net or visit our website at kansas-city.archadeck.com.