Houzz recently published a piece on home exterior trends on the rise in 2019 (click link to view). Certainly, Archadeck outdoor living spaces – specifically, our Central Iowa deck, porch and patio spaces – play in the “home exterior” arena. While glass garage doors and modern farmhouse styles don’t typically fit into our realm (though we’re doing more and more rural-setting projects) it was interesting to see many of the styles and features we are doing in our outdoor spaces mentioned by Houzz:
We’ve done a number of front porches over the years in various styles and settings.
A seamless flow between indoors and outdoors is always our goal. Spaces that accommodate an outdoor living room or family room feel are some of our most in-demand and popular projects over the past several years. We take care to design the spaces to seamlessly flow with the home and its backyard and landscape features…or possibilities. There are a number of ways to achieve this, some more practical than others given Iowa’s 4 seasons. Covered porches – both over deck and patios spaces, outdoor kitchens, outdoor fireplaces and other heat-providing components (infrared heaters, for instance) and outdoor lighting are some of the most common ways we invite the outdoors inside. Or is it the other way around?
Mixed materials are also common in many of our Des Moines-area outdoor living projects. Wood – or “fake” wood (wood-alternative, lower-maintenance products), stone and metal are nearly always incorporated into our spaces in some form. Mixing colors is another aspect of this. Multi-hued decking and patio paver products can be used to border and trim spaces to offer various accenting features. As the Houzz piece notes, stone (relative to our use in the walls, columns, kitchens and fireplaces we incorporate into our spaces) is very popular; veneer stone has also been one of the highest-valued cost/return ratios within any home improvement project.
Speaking of cost-return values…trends are one thing, but value (and practicality) can be another. The good news for us and for those of you considering the outdoor living aspects of your Central Iowa home exteriors is that updates/additions to outdoor living spaces are some of the most valuable (from a cost/return ratio perspective) home improvement projects a homeowner can undertake. Remodeling Magazine performs annual studies of cost versus return values of various home remodeling projects. The Remodeling 2019 Cost vs. Value Report lists the following projects relative to the outdoor living world we play in (regional values relative to our Des Moines and Central Iowa (north west central) market:
Backyard Patio – 58%
Deck Addition (composite-wood) – 64% – 69%
Veneer Stone – 94% (#1, four years in a row)
Compare those to some of the more “traditional” remodeling projects homeowners undertake…and, typically, ones that are often perceived to be high value and ones that are often undertaken before outdoor living projects:
Bathroom Additions/Remodels – 61% – 65%
Kitchen Remodels – 60% – 65%
Basement Remodel – 70% (2017 value, not tracked since)
Family Room Addition – 69% (2017 value, not tracked since)
Lastly, in case you are wondering, besides veneer stone already referenced as #1, two other high-value projects are siding replacement (#2) and entry and garage door replacements (nearly equal #3).
I was a show presenter at the 2017 Home + Outdoor Living Show here in Des Moines and the topic of my presentation was “Outdoor Living Trends & Values.” I discussed many of these same issues in my 30+minute presentation. This presentation has been broken into two video segments, one focusing on the trends of, the other focusing on the value of, outdoor living. See these on our video gallery page and/or via the links below:
As the recent Houzz piece and this year’s Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report confirm, this presentation from 2 years ago is still very relevant and I suspect it will be for some time. If anything has changed, its that we’re just doing more of all of this. Our 16-year local and 35-year national history of developing trend-setting value and reliability in our outdoor living spaces confirms our ongoing leadership in this industry. As I said at the close of my presentation, there is value to outdoor living and these trends are trends for a reason – the value that a functional, attractive, easy-to-enjoy outdoor space adds to your home and to your lifestyle at home. Better Value by Design. Better Building by Design. Archadeck principles (not trends) since 1984.
When we learn that a client has decided to put their home (and their Archadeck | Outdoor Living space) up for sale, we put on our “Archadeck Realty” hat…commission free! In the past few years we’ve had a couple of those scenarios arise – a deck, porch and patio space in Waukee and a deck and porch space in Clive (nearly Urbandale). Our efforts in promoting our clients’ home sales across our various media channels haven’t yet directly led to the sale. But, sometime it will because we find that the projects we designed and built for their backyard spaces have had definite, corroborated, positive influence on the sales. Plus, this also gives us the opportunity to feature one of our projects and to promote the value of our Central Iowa outdoor living spaces.
We currently have another opportunity to play “Archadeck Realty” and you (or someone you know) have another opportunity to own an “award-winning…low-maintenance covered deck…with picturesque views” (Pennie Carroll & Associates words, not mine…though we did win an Archadeck design excellence award for porches with this project). Like the other prior situations mentioned above, this opportunity also comes hassle-free and without the delays and mess of construction.
This opportunity is also unique in that these clients are also my neighbors (four doors north of me). In fact, I learned of their house sale when I (surprisingly) saw the “for sale sign” in their yard. So, not only do I get to attest to the quality and features of their home and its Archadeck | Outdoor Living space, I am also in a position to say this opportunity also comes in a great neighborhood. Tucked into a somewhat secluded – and picturesque – enclave of Des Moines, between Pleasant Hill and Altoona, it’s a family-friendly, quiet and caring neighborhood, away from much of the hustle-and-bustle north and west of us (secret’s out…but don’t tell…the east side of Polk County is waaay underrated). Our clients are planning ahead to their retirement years and are taking steps to transition their lifestyle to a warmer climate; the sale of their well-cared-for and beautiful home is the first step in that process. Karol is an interior designer and Kent did much of the landscaping around our project himself so its clear they both have a great sense of style and attention to detail.
Our client’s home is listed thru Pennie Carroll & Associates (links to the listing throughout this post) and you can find more information about the home thru the listing. Our 2013-14 project involved the addition of a cedar-trimmed open porch over a new, wood-alternative, low-maintenance TimberTech Earthwood Evolutions capped-composite deck. Westbury aluminum railing, with cedar-trimmed rail posts, balances the low-maintenance benefits of the space with its natural cedar and stone features. The boulder-styled veneer stone on the porch columns also provides a strong aesthetic balance to the space.
If you – or someone you know – are in the market for a nice hone in the Des Moines area (in one of the best-kept-secrets in the market, even) check out the information here and in the Pennie Carroll & Associates listing for our client’s home on the Des Moines side of Altoona and Pleasant Hill.
If you love your Central Iowa home and don’t want to move, but your deck, porch and/or patio – or lack thereof – keep you from maximizing your enjoyment and value of your home, check out our web site at cental-iowa.archadeck.com to learn more about how our design/build services can enhance 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’ve got hot savings to offer and we do build year-round (weather permitting). Certainly the planning and design processes can happen over winter as well…in the comfort of your home and/or in the comfort of our office and design center in Urbandale. Its never too early, regardless of the temperature and conditions outside.
(This blog post, published November 21st, 2018, is a reflectively-edited version of a limited-edition “fifteen” page we had up on our web site during 2018, the year we began our 15th year in operation.)
As a kid, one of my sports idols wore the number Fifteen: Bart Starr of the Green Bay Packers was a champion, on the field and off. Fifteen was a special and influential number to me in my formative years and it became my favorite number. It reminds me of champions, character and the joy I felt when Starr and the Packers did well, as they often did. I’ve always liked the feel of Fifteen and I’ve always strived to be a Fifteen.
Archadeck of Central Iowa began its fifteenth year of operation in March of 2018. Fifteen is not an insignificant number when it comes to this (or any) business. Because behind that “15” are even more significant numbers…hundreds of client relationships, hundreds of deck, porch and patio projects; millions of dollars of projects and thousands of tons of decking boards, concrete, patio pavers, porch shingles (and metal) and other materials and hardware. Not to mention the weight of the responsibility to deliver our projects successfully, every time, every year. Fifteen years is certainly worthy of reflection,celebration and thanksgiving.
Some of that reflection came as a special Fifteen photo gallery (thumbnails below) that featured one project from each of our 15 years as Archadeck of Central Iowa and, for good luck, one project from our predecessor (of 6 years), Archadeck of Des Moines. Take a trip down memory lane with us…see if styles have changed…or not. To some extent, I hope it’s the latter because there is something to be said for consistency…quality never going out of style. On the other hand, we wouldn’t be here fifteen years if we didn’t adapt – and there has been plenty to adapt to. So we continue to to build better…by design.
As for the celebration part, we shared some promotional discounts and events throughout 2018. In fact, we’re continuing our $1,500 discount promotion thru the winter on the things that keep you warm on your deck, porch or patio: heat features (fire pits, fireplaces, infared heat systems, etc.) and food (outdoor kitchens); check our Offers page for details. Besides our usual home show events in 2018 (look for us in 209, too!), our newest event was our launch of Team Archadeck. In short, Team Archadeck is a promotional and fun initiative to encourage active and healthy outdoor living beyond the outdoor spaces, rooms and accessories we develop for our clients and we launched it during RAGBRAI 2018.
Team Archadeck will get more airplay as we move into 2019, so stay tuned. We’ll post Team Archadeck updates, promotions and words of encouragement on our newly established Team Archadeck (@GoOutsidePlayArchadeck) Facebook page so follow or like us there to stay in touch. And remember…we said it would be fun!
Which brings us to the thanksgiving part. At Thanksgiving, even! Like Bart Starr, none of this is possible without the support of the “team” behind us and we are very thankful for that support. Our team includes (but not limited to): our families; our Outdoor Living Brands franchise support group in Richmond, VA; our network of like-minded and supportive Archadeck | Outdoor Living offices across the country (and Canada!); our local suppliers, vendors and business service providers; our employees and crews; and, most importantly, our clients for the great projects and opportunities you’ve brought to us over our Fifteen years. “Thank You” all for your support – past and future.
Renew Crew, an outdoor surfaces maintenance company (yes, even our low-maintenance decks, porches and patios need washed / detailed occasionally…just like your car)
Conserva Irrigation, the newest addition to our Outdoor Living Brands family, is a company providing irrigation services…outdoors, of course.
The theme of this year’s convention was “Reach New Heights” and it was one of the more appropriately-themed events, not only because of the success of our franchise family over the past year, but also because of the backdrop of mountains in the Scottsdale and Phoenix areas. Specific to Archadeck of Central Iowa, a summary of the new 2017 heights we celebrated at the convention include:
Achieving our highest levels of sales in our 14-year tenure of designing decks, porches and patios for our Des Moines-area clients. In fact, in 2017 I was the second-highest selling franchisee/owner across the national Archadeck system…also a first. Thanks to all of you who bring such great projects to our door.
Surpassing – once again – our franchise’s stringent standards for annual Customer Satisfaction levels, based on the standard metrics of the Net Promoter Score system.
Being a stage presenter at the Des Moines Home + Outdoor Living Show – and being asked back again for the upcoming 2018 show.
While we were in Scottsdale, my wife and I hiked and made the symbolic journeys to scale the two highest mountains in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve – Piestewa Peak and Camelback Mountain. While not the longest hikes (hey, we had meetings to attend, too!) compared to some of our Colorado adventures, they were some of the most strenuous and the scenery was beautiful. Go Cactus! And, 80-degrees in January!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
Fire Pits and Fireplaces
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.