Sunrooms, enjoying the outdoors from the indoors

I am the proud granddaughter of the cutest 93 and 91 year old ever. They may not be young bucks anymore, but they have a routine that they love. A few weeks ago I flew up to Maine to visit them in their new apartment at an assisted living complex. My grandmother raved about the whole place and said that there was only one thing she missed from her house: the sunroom.

About 10 years ago, when Gram and Gramp were still living in the house my mother grew up in, they added a sunroom to the side of their house. It quickly became their favorite spot to sit throughout the day and the epicenter of the home.

My grandmother’s reasoning behind adding the room (because she makes all the decisions) was that she wanted a brighter, more open room to enjoy the day. She liked watching the neighborhood kids walking to and from school and my grandfather cutting the bushes in the yard. When it was originally built, I thought they would only use it in spring and summer when it wasn’t too cold (it was Maine and all), but I was wrong.

Despite the frigid air, the sunroom builders created a room for all four seasons. When it was warm out, my grandparents would open all the windows and turn on their ceiling fan if needed. In the cooler months, they used a space heater that was installed in the wall that efficiently heated the room. It turned out to be the perfect spot to curl up and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate (grandparents always have hot chocolate) while the leaves turned colors and snow began to fall.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we design and build custom sunrooms that transition perfectly into the client’s existing home. Transition is important when considering adding a sunroom. While in general sunrooms do add significant value to your home, it’s important to have it planned out properly. The new project shouldn’t take away from the existing architecture of the home, but instead be a flawless addition.

For our clients, sunrooms are the perfect place to enjoy their outdoor surroundings from the comfort of the indoors. Because they can be built to be used all year round, they truly add to the amount of usable space of your home. Here are some great examples of Archadeck Outdoor Living sunrooms:

This sunroom in Chester County includes a stone finish to complement the current look of the home

Kansas City sunroom by Archadeck

Kansas City sunroom by Archadeck

Des Moines 2nd story deck conversion into sunroom

This second story Deck in Des Moines was converted into a sunroom.

 

 

 

Don’t let the chill in the air discourage you from enjoying your outdoor living space

Arch. of maryland screened porch w skylights

This magnificent screened porch by Archadeck of Maryland uses skylights to add additional height to the vaulted ceiling, this result is open and airy.

The chill in the air is beginning to become more noticeable all around the country. It signifies the end of summer splendor and its long balmy days spent enjoying your deck. Just because summer has ended doesn’t mean you have to cuddle up inside to keep warm and miss mother nature’s splendor that is still unfolding all around you. Many homeowners are considering the ever-popular option of closing in their existing deck, or a portion of their deck and creating a three or four season room  or other outdoor structure that can extend your outdoor living enjoyment into and beyond the cooler months of the year. In order to determine if closing in to create an extended season outdoor living structure would be right for you there are several considerations that have to be bought to the forefront.

The first consideration that has to be addressed is the structural integrity of your existing deck. In order to accommodate the weight of a roofed structure. Many decks are not built to withstand the weight of adding a roof. In order for a deck to be able to withstand the weight of a roof. The foundation of the deck will have to extend all the way to the corners of the structure. In cases where the foundation does not extend to the corners, changes must be made to have the foundation extended and new footers will have to be added in order to safely support and hold the weight. Determining whether or not your deck fits conversion criteria can be answered from a quick inspection by a professional outdoor structure builder, and  depending on their findings will let you know how you wish to proceed with getting the deck structurally compatible to withstand a conversion such as a three or four season room, a screened porch or even a sunroom.

Cedar screened porch in Ankeny Iowa

Cedar screened porch in Ankeny Iowa

Once the issue of foundation reinforcements has been addressed, the next step is to decide which type of conversion would best suit your individual needs. Screen porches are very popular and can be enjoyed late into the fall in many areas around the country, but this all depends on your geographical location and whether the area you live in experiences mild autumns or more harsh, cold autumns. Making the decision to convert your deck or a section of your deck into a screened porch will have benefits even in the warm summer months by keeping insects at bay and protecting you from the sun. Screen porches can be in use even during inclement weather since they are roofed. This means that the backyard dinner you had planned won’t be put on hold with a little rain because you  would have a roofed screen porch to utilize. Many homeowners also opt to use a sliding window panel system to make use of their screened porch later into the year. A convertible windows like the EZE breeze sliding panel system and the Artistic Enclosures Screen Plus System offer you the ability to convert your screened porch into a three season room on demand. These convertibility systems use sliding glass panels that mimic the function of a sliding door and can be set into place very easily and quickly. By adding a space heater to the structure you can utilize the space for longer periods through even the chilliest season. By using a convertible system on your screened porch you can still feel the warm breezes of summer, and when the temperature drops you have the peace of mind  knowing that your screened porch also offers more function with added cold weather protection as well.

Archadeck of Chester County sunroom and deck

This design by Archadeck of Chester County includes a deck and a custom sunroom.

Another viable option when making the decision to enclose a deck or portion thereof, is a four season room or a sunroom. These type of structures function as an extension of your homes living area as well as an extension of your outdoor living area.  Four season rooms, as well as sunrooms give you an unobscured view of nature by the use of  numerous windows that sometimes even feel as though they are window walls. These structures can be used year round, snow or sleet because sunrooms and four season rooms require a HVAC system, or instill the use of a wall mounted electric inversion  heating and cooling system that offer individual room control  like those offered by Mitsubishi electric. In essence the presence of HVAC, or heating and cooling system creates a dynamic where you actually are getting a room addition when you choose to convert to a four season room or sunroom.

Here is an example of a sunroom that makes beautiful music with Velux skylights.

The world is your oyster in terms of design,when you choose to transform your deck into a four season room or sunroom.

Another benefit of converting your deck into a sunroom or four season room is the freedom of material choices that can be used within  it and to finish out your structure. A whole new set of design choices open up to sunroom and four season room owners. All of the same materials that can be used safely within an interior room inside your home can become finish options for your sunroom or four season room. These include sheetrocked walls, carpet, hardwoods and a myriad of other design choices. An added benefit is that the furniture used within your structure won’t have to be weatherproof when considering using it on your sunroom or four season room. The world is truly your oyster.

If you are on the fence about considering an enclosure or conversion of your deck, or a part of you deck into a screened porch or three season room or even a sunroom or four season room Archadeck can make it happen. Contact us today to learn more about improving the lifestyle you lead on your deck.

To learn more and find an Archadeck in your area, see our locations list located on our website.

You can also get more ideas and design inspirations by visiting our screened porch gallery, sunroom gallery, and our three and four season room gallery, also located on our website.

It Can All Happen Under One Roof

Sunroom addition by Archadeck of Greenville/Spartanburg showcases the choice to use a gabled roof to continue design fluidity

I am sure each one of us would agree that a roof is a pretty important detail in any structure. It keeps us dry and out of the elements. It helps secure other structures that are attached to it. It becomes a component of the stability of a structure it is atop. All these explanations are “no brainers”. A roof is so much more than all of these. A roof can add character and presence to a structure. What type of roof you decide to put atop your structure can really determine how sound it is, and how attractive your structure ends up. That is why it is so important to pick the right roof for the right structure.

One important factor when you decide on the addition of a structure such as a covered patio, screened porch or sunroom is to choose a roof style that matches and fits with the existing architecture of your home. For instance if you have a hip roof, it is usually a good idea to carry that through when building your addition, this will keep the structural integrity of your home and the additional roof will flow into your existing roof. This “flow” is most crucial when the structure is going to be directly connected to your existing house.

Beadboard ceiling in sunroom with track lighting

Beadboard ceiling in sunroom with track lighting

The same rules usually apply when you have a gabled roof. If you want to add pizazz and originality to your new addition with a gabled roof there are gable-end designs now available to add a custom look with a lot of flair.

The use of a gabled roof also lends space for higher ceilings which can be a canvas for arched windows, bead-board ceilings, the addition of ceiling fans and unique lighting choices. The design choices available to structures with high ceilings are endless nowadays.

Covered Patio by Archadeck of Austin showcases gable-end detailing

Whether you are anticipating the addition of a sunroom, patio or screened porch Archadeck can show you all the choices and design a roof and living area plan to fit with your home’s architecture beautifully. Give us a call and we can make your dream come to life under one roof.

Take a look at our website at Archadeck.com to see lots of pictures and learn more.

 

Do you want the unexpected when you’re hiring a custom builder?

Well, sort yes and sorta no.

Hmmm. That’s not a good answer. When you’re hiring a custom builder to build a large project for your home like a custom outdoor living area, you want to make sure that:

  1. you know exactly what you’re going to get so there are no surprises
  2. you get exactly what they promised

And, in a perfect world, you want a cherry on top. So what is the cherry on top of a custom build? The cherry on top can be getting the unexpected in the design process. In the design and consultation process, a good builder listens well and interprets your needs and desires into functional architecture. But a great builder will also suggest ways that you can build what you want that lead to better use or greater enjoyment of that structure.

So enough speaking in generalities. Here’s an example. When Harold Cross was fist contacted by this West Des Moines IA homeowner, they wanted to turn their existing 2nd story deck into a sunroom. They already had met with and received a plan and quote from another reputable builder. But they had also heard a lot about Harold at Archadeck of Des Moines and gave him a call for a design consultation so they could gain an understanding of what Archadeck might provide as a solution for their needs.

Before I continue, I want to show you the before and after so you have a picture in your head of what their old deck looked like.

Des Moines 2nd story deck conversion into sunroom

Des Moines 2nd story deck conversion into sunroom

Let’s look at a couple of things in these pictures. First, let’s look at the stairs. The old stairs emptied out into the side yard just near the playset and the fence. Likely the playset was there because of the orientation of the stairs. The other builder’s plan retained the stairs in the same location and did not provide outdoor grilling space other than by re-locating the grilling area to the lower patio area.  Harold saw this as creating a traffic pattern that did not facilitate ease of cooking with the 2nd story kitchen location. The existing (and other builder’s proposed) staircase location also created a bit of an eyesore.

In Harold’s plan, the stairs would have a landing and point the owners over to the area where they wanted to spend time on their lower outdoor living level. When Harold listens to what homeowners want, he also hears the feedback he’s had over the years from the owner’s he has built with. So many times something as simple as creating a staircase with a landing is something that makes such a huge difference in their quality and ease of living. It’s the sort of thing that homeowners mention again and again as a detail that made all the difference in the world.

The second thing you’ll notice about the picture above are the deck supports. There are two problems with these supports. First, they totally obstruct the homeowner’s ability to put any furniture on their lower patio and secondly, they create a virtual maze on the lower patio level. But, what Harold noticed was a third and much more serious issue. The old supports were not sufficient to hold the additional load of a room on the 2nd level. Although the other builder may have added this to his plans, Harold specifically communicated the need for structural enhancements for the roof load to the homeowner while the other builder had not.  This left the homeowner wondering what other critical architectural issues might be left unattended to in the other plans

Grilling deck next to outdoor sunroom in West Des Moines Iowa

Grilling deck next to outdoor sunroom in West Des Moines Iowa

When I mentioned before that the family would be grilling on the lower patio, this probably set off bells in your head thinking about the fire hazard or where they would put an unsightly outdoor grill in their backyard. The new design integrated an outdoor grilling area right outside the new sunroom. This accomplished a couple things. First, when the family wanted grilled-out food but wanted to eat inside, the grill was very easily accessible to the 2nd floor kitchen. The grill was also easily accessible to the lower level patio. But, it created a designated space for the grill that was not at all unsightly. Let’s face it, grills are unsightly. That’s one of the reasons outdoor kitchens are becoming so popular. People don’t want to see their large grill plunked out in the backyard or taking up room in their eating area. You’ll see from the picture above that there was a perfect amount of space to create a small outdoor grilling area and to leave the view from that window completely unobstructed.

Oh, another thing I forgot to mention was the placement of the stairs as it related to the new outdoor room. Had the stairs been left where they were, the traffic pattern from the house to outside would have been straight through the middle of the room every time. With the alternate door and stairs placement, the chef could easily get to the grilling and outdoor area without creating a traffic pattern through the middle of the room. Note: good for carpet wear too:).

Sunroom West Des Moines Iowa with Jeld-Wen windows

Sunroom West Des Moines Iowa with Jeld-Wen windows

Ok, enough about stairs and traffic patterns. Let’s talk about the new room! The new room is technically considered a 3-season room. It has heat through the baseboard heating and gets air conditioning from the house when the door is left open from the house in the summer. It includes insulated Jeld-Wen windows that crank out. The roof design is a collared gable roof.

Here’s a video tour of the all-new room.

Here is the rendering Harold provided to his client which included both a design rendering and an architectural drawing.

Sunroom West Des Moines Rendering and Architectural Drawing

Sunroom West Des Moines Rendering and Architectural Drawing

So, you definitely want the expected but is sure is nice to get a great unexpected too.

Here’s how to reach Harold Cross of Archadeck of Des Moines Iowa.

Phone: (515) 266 – 8844
Email: centraliowa@archadeck.net

Archadeck of Central Iowa blog: http://archadeckcentraliowa.wordpress.com/

Deck? Patio? Pergola? Sunroom? Make sure you know exactly what you’re going to get

I had a very interesting set of experiences this week. I’m looking for new carpet for my home. Archadeck is a franchise company so I like to work with other franchise companies. The reason why is because just like a McDonalds, you get a proven process and a well-honed experience. It’s nice to know there are rules, guidelines, and lots of support behind the person who comes out to your home. I saw an advertisement for Empire Carpet on TV so they seemed like a good choice. I went to their web site and found it was very easy to request a consultation.

The nice gentleman came out, explained my choices and measured my home. Several times he told me things like “I could choose to get paid on charging high prices or selling lots of carpet and I choose to make the price good for you and sell lots of carpet”. The price was quite a bit higher than I expected and I had trouble envisioning what the finished job would look like. I then went to Lowes and paid them $35 to come out and measure my home. They showed up on time, measured quickly and told me the store would have my measurements ready the next morning. They did. The gentleman who sold me the measuring called me to give me his hours and encouraged me to come in and pick out carpet the next day.

These are all things you can expect from working with a national company. You have confidence in the quality standards of their work and know you have somewhere to turn if you are not happy.

  • proven process
  • well-honed experience
  • consistent experience
  • efficient timely work
  • say what they’re going to do and do what they say
  • follow-up

After pricing the carpet and much consideration of flooring, I decided I would much prefer to tile my entire bottom level. The problem was that it was just impossible to envision what this would look like.

That’s why at Archadeck, our professional builders are expertly trained on using state-of-the art architectural design software to show you exactly what your home addition is going to look like. We don’t show you pictures of other homes. We show you your home with your exact addition built to your specifications.

Here are a couple of the design renderings we show our clients:

Design rendering of covered patio from Archadeck of Arlington/Fort Worth/Tarrant County TX

Design rendering of covered patio from Archadeck of Arlington/Fort Worth/Tarrant County TX

Here is what this home looked like before, the 3-D rendering and the after picture.

Before building a covered patio, 3-D design CAD rendering, and after the project is completed

Before building a covered patio, 3-D design CAD rendering, and after the project is completed

Here is another before, rendering and after.

Pergola and patio before picture, 3-D design rendering and CAD drawing, and after project completion

Pergola and patio before picture, 3-D design rendering and CAD drawing, and after project completion

For more information on a design rendering for your upcoming project, take a look at the list of Archadeck locations. To reach the office that did the above design renderings and projects, contact Archadeck of Arlington/Fort Worth/Tarrant County, TX or call their office at (817) 496 – 3325.