Choosing the Right Contractor can Make all the Difference

Spring has sprung and it’s time to think about moving family and friend time outdoors. Whether you’re in the market for a deck, patio, or just some new landscaping, you want to feel good about who you hire and invite onto your property. Many of us have had bad experiences with hired professionals when expectations weren’t met or communication was unclear. At Archadeck Outdoor Living we hope to make you feel comfortable about hiring us and want to leave you with the backyard of your dreams.

Archadeck 2013 PhotographyIf you’re in the market for a patio or deck builder, visit our website and take a look at our Choosing a Contractor checklist. The checklist will help you to learn more about your choices and guide you as you make your decision. Some of the topics we include are:

Picking a contractor that understands your location. Each area of the country is different and what’s expected of a contractor is different as a result. A contractor should be able to clearly articulate what’s required for building permits and safety standards while also understanding the unique terrain and weather that may impact your structure.

WCOL-004Verifying their expertise and reputation. It’s one thing to say “we build beautiful decks,” but it’s quite another when a company can show you a portfolio of their work. Ask to see images of different projects they’ve built. Additionally, ask for some clients references if you’d like to speak directly with someone that they’ve worked with. A professional outdoor structure builder should have a list of happy clients they can easily provide.

Reviewing contracts is not always apples to apples. If you’re meeting with multiple contractors, be aware that not all bids can be the same. Be sure that you’re comparing estimates for the same scope of work and material quality.

Checking the warranties. If a contractor doesn’t offer a warranty on their work, not just the material warranty, there is no guarantee that everything gets completed as quoted and you may not be left with options if something goes wrong 3 months after the build date.

If you have questions on custom designed and built outdoor living spaces, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Deck Collapse Leads to Dozens of Injuries

Posted by: janegwalker

Whether you wanted to Heat or the Spurs to win, it surely was an exciting matchup, but unfortunately watching the game took a dangerous turn for many fans in Florida.

Local basketball fans gathered on the 13th of June at a North Bay Village, FL bar and grill to watch the NBA finals game. Nearly 100 people decided to enjoy the beautiful Florida weather and watch it outside on the restaurant’s large wooden deck. What they didn’t know is that the deck was unstable and would collapse, dropping patrons into the bay below. There were 24 reported injuries with two being serious.

Since the collapse, the city has been investigating what went wrong on this commercial property that was inspected back in January. The owners had to have their establishment inspected in the beginning of the year, but although the property’s building was signed off on, the deck wasn’t included in the inspection. County officials are looking into why. When the collapsed deck, which practically split in half, was looked at the day after, the structural issues were very clear. Most of the steel used to support the deck had corroded over time and couldn’t withstand the weight of the group.

It is unclear when the last time the deck itself was inspected.

One thing that is clear is that the load was way too much for the deck to hold. Its capacity according to local records is 74. With 26 extra people, it isn’t surprising that the deck failed. Now the restaurant owner is being sued by his patrons. They claim the owners had a duty to properly maintain the deck to ensure safety for those that go to the bar and grill.

deck collapseThis situation, unfortunately, is a common occurrence. Decks, like any structure need to be maintained and replaced over time. Their frame work will corrode and deteriorate through the years as it is exposed to harsh weather, and in this case, salt water.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living we suggest that any deck over 7 years be inspected by a professional deck builder. If a younger deck is showing signs of needing work, we urge homeowners to have it looked at. A deck safety inspection will look at all parts of the deck, (boards, connections, structure, attachment, foundation, stairs, railings, etc.) and will evaluate where they are in its life. A checklist is done and recommendations are made. We sometimes see that while parts of the deck may need to be repaired or replaced, not everything has to. For example, boards may need to be replaced, but the deck frame may be just fine. Make sure to ask your inspector when the deck needs to be inspected again and when you should be ready to replace the entire structure.

Commercial decks usually have to carry a heavier load and receive more wear and tear. If you are a commercial property owner who has a deck, you have to make sure that it is safe for your patrons. Having regular safety inspections and making sure to do timely repairs will give you the peace of mind that your structure won’t collapse.

If you are worried that your deck isn’t in the best shape, please contact your local Archadeck office and have them come to your property for a deck safety inspection.

Source information for this blog are the Miami Herald and WCF Courier.

Fourth of July on the Deck

Posted by: janegwalker

Whenever we are designing an outdoor living space for a client, we always ask how they intend to use the space. Many of our clients are sure to be using their deck, porch, patio, or other outdoor structure next week to celebrate the Fourth of July. If you are hosting friends and family for the holiday, here are some ideas that may help.

Family Dining Al FrescoMake sure there is enough seating. If you want to keep your party outdoors, you need to make sure there is enough seating to accommodate your guests. We often include built-in benches in our deck designs for those clients who entertain a lot. If you don’t have built in seating, most home improvement stores have outdoor chairs that aren’t too expensive or you can just bring some chairs out from around your kitchen table. As long as you remember to bring them in at the end of the night, you’ll be fine.

Think about the traffic flow. Your outdoor living space may be set up perfectly for its everyday use, but it may need some tweaking to accommodate the flow of traffic for your party. Make sure that your furniture allows for people to move around and go to different part of the space. Consider having the food scattered throughout the space so everyone isn’t always hovering in one area.

Make sure it is safe. If you have an older deck and you know that there is a good chance a lot of people will be on it at the same time, have it checked for safety. The last thing anyone wants in the middle of a Fourth of July celebration is a deck collapse. Call a professional deck builder and ask them to come out for a deck safety inspection. They will be able to tell you what needs immediate attention and what can wait. Trust us, the peace of mind of knowing your friends and family are safe is worth it.

Now that you know your outdoor space is ready for your party, let’s get to the fun stuff:

Make a festive drink. Who doesn’t love a little red, white and blue on the Fourth? Here’s a yummy and easy Sangria that screams Independence Day. Cut up strawberries and star fruit and place in a pitcher. Add blueberries and a bottle of white wine. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours and enjoy!

Get the grill going. If you aren’t in the mood for hamburgers and hotdogs but want something quick and delicious, flank steak is a great option. It doesn’t take a lot of cooking time and you can’t go wrong with this marinade: 1/2c dry red wine, 1/2c soy sauce, 1/4c olive oil, 4 garlic cloves (peeled and crushed), 1/4c parsley (chopped) and ½tsp black pepper (more if you like). Mix it all together and place in a container with the flank steak and refrigerate it overnight (or at least 10 hours). Your guests will love it.

Don’t forget dessert. If you or your guests are anything like me, dinner doesn’t feel complete without a little something sweet. Entertaining can be tiring, so make dessert simple. Last year, I was served a Fourth of July kebab for dessert that was delicious. Get some kebab skewers and skewer on some marshmallows, strawberries, blueberries, and brownie or devils food pieces. It’s yummy and patriotic!

From all of us at Archadeck Outdoor Living, have a happy and safe Independence Day!