Deck The Halls Times the Size of an Iowa Town Square

Published on December 22nd, 2017.

During the Holiday Season, I typically find pictures of some of our Central Iowa deck or porch projects decorated for Christmas and use them as cover pictures or headers for our various online holiday greetings. But, this year, I’m taking a different approach…and you have my grandchildren to thank for this.

Over the course of the past 3 years, my wife and I have become grandparents 4 times over. The most recent one occurred just yesterday…on the Winter Solstice. How perfect is that for celebrating the Season of Lights? As this has happened, I frequently find myself thinking of my grandparents more. And in particular of late, Christmastime with my grandparents.

A week ago, my wife and I took our two oldest grandchildren to the travelling production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” here at the Des Moines Civic Center. The same day of the show, the Des Moines Register published a story about how the original, Charles Schultz, TV production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” was responsible for the demise of the aluminum Christmas tree industry. I instantly reflect back to the aluminum Christmas tree I remember my maternal grandparents having for several years. I still have a picture of me – about 5 years old, cica 1962, in front of that tree. A few years later, my grandparents “upgraded” to a green artificial tree. I never made the connection to Charlie Brown until I read that article…at 60. On the other side of town, my paternal grandparents had a real Christmas tree as far back as I remember. A real tree with big lights on it. I guess they were a bit ahead of the time…and Charlie Brown was right.

Both of my parents and their parents grew up in Fairfield, Iowa. While Fairfield was not my hometown, Fairfield holds many special memories…not the least of which was its town square and especially the Christmas festivities held there. Think Santa’s workshop at the North Pole. Think “Deck the Halls” times the size of a town square. Decorations and lights galore and a little “Kandy Kane House” where Santa awaited an ever-present line of kids with their Santa lists. At the center of it all was the most gloriously decorated bandstand one could imagine, complete with Santa, his sleigh and reindeers twirling around its center. Hands down, the greatest town square Christmas scene a kid (or an adult – I’ve gone back a few times) could ever want. Could ever get. Anywhere. Ever. 1962 or 2017.

So now that I am the grandparent my grandparents were when I was my grandchildren’s age, I’m taking us all back to the Fairfield town square at Christmas for our cover picture for our various online holiday greetings. It’s a picture the Fairfield Central Park Association published a couple of years ago. It just doesn’t get any better than this.

I think I got some of my entrepreneurial spirit from my maternal grandfather, who ran a full-service DX gas station just around the corner from Fairfield’s town square. So as a kid I had a front-row seat to the greatest town square ever. A big gazebo or porch, in the middle of a town square becomes a bandstand. As I look back on it, Fairfield’s town square may have been the genesis for the Archadeck era of my life. And this Christmas, it seems even more so.

Archadeck. Making spirits bright, year-round. Merry Christmas!

Archadeck of Central Iowa Realty - Trex Deck and Porch For Sale…and its Clive House

Published on November 12th, 2017.

I’m putting on my “Archadeck Realty” hat again!

A couple of years ago, a client of ours had a “can’t say no” career opportunity arise that necessitated the sale of their home upon which we were building (yes, still building) an Archadeck | Outdoor Living space. The outdoor space we designed and built for them for their Waukee home included a TimberTech wood-alternative, low-maintenance deck with an open porch and a stamped concrete patio with a seat wall and wood-burning fire pit. I helped promote their listing on our various online sites. Whether that helped or not, not sure…though I am sure I didn’t receive a commission! But, when the house did sell quickly, the new homeowners soon called us about an operational question they had regarding the deck lighting system we included in our deck, porch and patio project. After answering their question about the lighting system, I asked them what role, if any, the outdoor spaces played in their purchasing decision. Their answer was adamant: “Oh, wow! It was one of the main reasons we purchased the home.”

Starting with the “Outdoor Living Trends and Values” presentation I did at the Home+Outdoor Living Show back in March, this “value” question has inadvertently become a running theme here this year. Inadvertently, yes, but this “value” question naturally comes up in many clients’ decision-making process when they are assessing our design/build services relative to their outdoor living project directions. Dollar values can be a bit subjective. But, the answer the new owner of an Archadeck designed/built outdoor living space gave above is as “real” as it gets. We frequently hear this anecdotally, too, and demand for and interest in our designs and our spaces support that as well. But that was one specific, real-world, Archadeck perspective on the value of Archadeck | Outdoor Living spaces.

Now we’ve got another opportunity for that real-world perspective. And I’ve got another opportunity for a commission (just kidding…sorta). And lastly, you – or someone you might know who is looking to move to Des Moines’ western suburbs – have an opportunity to own an “absolutely gorgeous new covered deck by Archadeck” (per Iowa Realty’s description of the property). Like the prior situation, this current opportunity also comes hassle-free and without the delays and mess of construction!

Our client’s home is listed thru Iowa Realty and you can find more information about the home thru the listing. The home is in Clive, a western suburb of Des Moines. Our 2015 project involved the addition of a cedar-trimmed open porch over a new, wood-alternative, low-maintenance, Trex Transcend deck. Westbury aluminum railing fulfills the low-maintenance approach to the space and veneer stone on the upper porch columns provides a strong aesthetic balance to the space. As the listing says, it’s a gorgeous space in a park-like backyard setting. Our clients maintained and styled their home – and the back porch – beautifully and I know they enjoyed their outdoor space immensely.

But in this client’s case, its retirement that’s luring them away from their Des Moines area home and onto a new phase of their life…in a different Iowa city…closer to “home”…and their beloved Iowa Hawkeyes. Yes, you guessed it…Iowa City. They’ve already asked me to help them with their outdoor spaces on their new Iowa City home. We’ll see if we can make those logistics work as they have been very supportive clients and we’ve enjoyed working – and staying in touch – with them over the past few years.

If you’re in the market for a hone in the Des Moines area, check out the Iowa Realty listing for our client’s home in Clive.

If you love your Central Iowa home and don’t want to move, but your deck, porch and/or patio – or lack there of – keep you from maximizing your enjoyment and value of your home, check out our web site to learn more about our design/build services and how they can be applied to your outdoor living spaces. As it makes sense for you, contact us to schedule your complimentary design consultation.

Yes, we are heading into winter. But, we do build year-round (weather permitting) and certainly the planning and design processes can happen over winter…in the comfort of your home and/or in the comfort of our office and design center in Urbandale. 2017 was a big year for us and we anticipate the demand for our outdoor living design and build services continuing to grow thru 2018. We have a few projects we’ll try to get completed thru the winter and we already have a few projects lined up – but held – for spring builds. So its never too early, regardless of the temperature and conditions outside.

Go Outside and Play!

Labor Day Perspective on Moving It Outside with Decks, Porches & Patios by Archadeck of Central Iowa

Published on September, 4th, 2017 (Labor Day).

Where has the summer gone? Labor Day…already. Seems like just yesterday we were tearing down from the Des Moines Home + Outdoor Living Show and looking forward to all the new deck, porch and patio projects that would come our way in 2017. Now here we are, two-thirds through the year, and Des Moines and Central Iowa…you did not disappoint!

The “Outdoor Living Trends and Values” presentation I did back at that Outdoor Living Show has certainly played out. A summary of that presentation highlighted the following as the top trends:

  • Multi-Functional / Combination Spaces
    • Decks with Patios
    • Decks with Porches
    • Patios with Porches
  • Low-Maintenance Materials
  • Outdoor Lighting
  • Outdoor Kitchens
  • Fire Pits and Fireplaces
  • Veneer Stone

Our Des Moines-area clients who have engaged our design-build services towards their outdoor living spaces have incorporated many of those features into their projects. They’ve definitely moved it outside, in stunning style, as we like to say.

Covered spaces continue to be the most popular feature of many of our projects. Driving that is the desire to extend the usage and enjoyment of outdoor living spaces. Archadeck designed-and-built open porches and screen porches are the perfect option for those seeking relief from the hot Iowa sun, the occasional drenching rain and/or a myriad of insects or those just seeking the coziness that a covered outdoor space provides.

To clarify, some of our clients have moved it outside already (projects completed…enjoying their deck, porch or patio for their Labor Day activities); others are being moved (currently under construction), waiting to be moved (in our construction queue) or contemplating that move. Its been a big (record) year so far for Archadeck of Central Iowa. Big enough to take us a bit by surprise. Given the labor market and the demand for skilled trades in the booming Des Moines area, that resulted in a larger backlog than any of us preferred earlier in the year. But with a combination of a dry summer (with all due respect to the flooded areas of the Houston and SE Texas areas and Iowa farmers who would gladly have taken more rain) and loyal, trusted relationships with our portfolio of construction crews, we’ve made great progress in reducing that backlog to more reasonable levels over the past couple of months. There are plenty of good building opportunities ahead of us yet this fall…and hopefully into winter. We do build year round, as Mother Nature allows. Certainly, we design and plan year-round as well, regardless of Mother Nature. We have two projects already committed for spring 2018 builds. The 2018 Home Show cycle will be upon us before we know it. So, those of you in that last (contemplating) stage of moving it outdoors…don’t hesitate! With the energy and excitement associated with all the good things happening in and around the Des Moines market, we’re expecting another big outdoor living year in 2018.

Happy Labor Day! And remember, fall is a great time to Go Outside and Play!

A Whirlwind of Central Iowa Outdoor Living News

Published on April 8th, 2017.

Demand for Archadeck custom designed and built decks, porches and patios has never been higher here in the Des Moines area. And of late, we’ve had various opportunities to showcase and promote our passion for outdoor living beyond the backyards of the Des Moines area. So, all the good intention I had last November to keep my blogging momentum after relocating our blog here…by the wayside, but for many good reasons. Here’s a recap of our whirlwind first quarter…and my attempt to restart the momentum…

We participated in two home shows before Spring officially arrived. In February, we participated in our 14th consecutive Home+Garden Show (and 6 years prior as Archadeck of Des Moines). We followed that up in March with our second appearance at the 2nd annual Home+Outdoor Living Show. For the Outdoor Living Show, I was given the opportunity to talk about “Outdoor Living Trends and Values” on the Imagination Stage on each of the three days of the show. I didn’t draw the same crowds as the Property Brothers did at last year’s show, but…after word gets around, I’m sure I will next year! Seriously, I enjoyed the opportunity to share insight on whats driving the excitement over outdoor living spaces with folks who attended the show…both on stage and at our booth. Thank you to the Marketplace Events team for inviting me to do that; until you get Paul Lafrance there, I’m always available! For those of you who missed these presentations (OK…all of you), I did coerce my wife to record the Saturday night presentation and I’ll have that up on our YouTube video channel soon; stay tuned for the link to this.

The day before the Home+Outdoor Living Show, I joined Ryan Smith of the Better Business Bureau serving Greater Iowa, Quad Cities, and Siouxland Region on KCWI’s CW Iowa Live morning TV show. Always fun to talk about the better business aspects of decks, patios and porches…and Cadillacs…with Lou and Jackie at 7:30 in the morning! Better building by design, by Archadeck, on live TV. The fastest 7 minutes I’ve ever experienced.

Before all those appearances, though, our biggest news of the quarter came at our national, annual franchise meeting back in late January. There, an Archadeck of Central Iowa deck project we did for a client east of Des Moines last summer was awarded the Grand Prize in our annual Design Excellence competition for 2016. We are humbly honored to receive this award because it comes from our peers in the Archadeck system…a system that designed and built over 2000 of the best outdoor living spaces and rooms across North America last year. And they voted ours the best of the best. Wow. Of course, none of that is possible without clients like Marlis and Jim. Marlis had great ideas for the deck space – using Trex decking and railing products – and Jim had already created the pond, island and beach that serves as the backdrop for this sprawling, curved, multi-level, outdoor living space. Learn more about our award and the low-maintenance Trex deck project at the links here. And if you watch the KCWI CW Live video, you’ll note this project caught Lou’s eye during our segment, too.

With that Design Excellence Award has come some other publicity for us…along with the work and time it takes to be so “public.” But, we’ll take our 15 minutes of Andy Warhol fame anytime its good! Our award-winning project is now featured in our annual Design Guide for 2017; available as a complimentary download at this link (check us out on the cover and inside on pages 12 and 13). Photos of our project will also be in good company on our national web site’s Award Winning Designs gallery of photos. We’ve also put up a gallery on our local, Central Iowa web site featuring information and photos of our Design Excellence – 2016 – Grand Prize Winning project. Look for galleries featuring this project on our Houzz and Facebook sites as well.

Lastly, Sherry Failor’s local Home Productions, LLC company publishes two local magazines and she has been kind enough to feature us in both magazines recently. Her Build Des Moines magazine is a digital-only publication targeted to the building and remodeling industry in the Des Moines area. Archadeck of Central Iowa and our Design Excellence Award were featured in the April 2017 issue – just out this past week. Welcome Home Des Moines is Sherry’s other magazine (hardcopy and digital) and is more homeowner-focused. We’ve had various deck, porch and patio project features in Welcome Home Des Moines over the years and we were honored once again to be featured in the February/March 2017 edition for a (perfect) porch project we did for Ken and Mary Jo in late 2015.

From our peers, our clients, our various business relationships…it truly does take a village to support Archadeck of Central Iowa (any business, for that matter) and the support is greatly appreciated. Its what drives us in the midst of the whirlwhind.

Go Outside and Play!

An Outdoor Living Space - A Blog by Archadeck of Central Iowa - Intro

Published on November 28th, 2016.

Yes, we have a blog, too!

In fact, we’ve had a blog since 2009. Our An Outdoor Living Space blog has lived on WordPress since my first post there in the fall of 2009 (wow, what a trip down memory lane). We’re keeping that historical content there but beginning now we are transitioning to new blog posts being done here…right on our web site. For nostalgia purposes, we’re keeping An Outdoor Living Space on WordPress and we’ll occasionally post there, too.

So, what have you missed? The first posting here is an index to the 90 blog posts we’ve written to date on “An Outdoor Living Space” at WordPress. Check that out to see what might catch your interest. You’ll notice that we talk about green beer frequently. Annually, it’s one of our most popular reads. Why? Go see for yourself…and have a beer (green, red, Amber or pale ale…your choice) with us.

What will we do here?

The short answer is that we’ll continue to write about decks, porches, patios, pergolas, fire pits, fireplaces, outdoor kitchens and more. We’ll do that from both from industry-wide and national Archadeck perspectives and we’ll also relate it to the Des Moines area outdoor living projects we, as Archadeck of Central Iowa, develop.

More? Green beer, for one. Beyond that, we’ll continue to write about specific outdoor living space projects we’ve done around the Des Moines and Central Iowa area. We’ll write about outdoor living and outdoor events in Central Iowa. We’ll continue to write about why we – and our clients – do what we do. After all, it’s more than the sticks and stones and the tools and processes to put them together in your backyard (or front). There are very human and emotional aspects to what we do and we try to capture that, too.

Life. Outdoors.

In two words, that’s what we focus on here. But, don’t be surprised by some tangents. One such tangent – the convergence of two passions of mine, outdoor living and music, has resulted in a side blog project called Outdoor Living Notes, which will still be maintained on WordPress. Give that a read…listen, too, if you’d like.

One last note of introductory clarification. I used the words “I” and “we” a bit loosely above. In whole, I’m referring to the Archadeck of Central Iowa team, which consists of our building crews; Nolan Benge, design consultant; and my brother, David Cross, a partner with me in the business and our construction manager. As for me, I’m Harold Cross; owner…and wearer of many hats, including design, sales and business management and…blog writer. The storyline content comes from the from the deck, porch and patio projects our team develops for our Des Moines area clients. I try to keep the stories informative and entertaining and I try to keep them “real.”

I hope you enjoy the content here and find it useful in your journey towards finding your dream outdoor living space. And…if you can dream it, we can build it.

Go Outside and Play!

An Outdoor Living Space - WordPress X-Ref

As noted in the Introductory post here, we have had An Outdoor Living Space blog on WordPress since November of 2009. While we’ll occasionally still post there about Des Moines area deck, porch and patio projects, in November of 2016 we transitioned to hosting that blog right here on our web site. Following is a chronological cross-reference list to all 87 of the blog posts written on our WordPress version of our blog. Additional, general information posts about Archadeck and our blog follows this list. Clicking on the links will take you directly to the blog post on WordPress.

Three additional pages of general information about Archadeck and our blog on the WordPress version of An Outdoor Living Space are listed below:

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