The North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) declared May as Deck Safety Month back in 2006. May is the month that many homeowners start to spend extended time outside on their decks as the weather turns nicer. Unfortunately, a lot of homeowners don’t have their deck’s safety evaluated properly. Just because it is standing, doesn’t mean that it is safe!
According to NADRA, there are over 40 million decks in the United States that are over 20 years old. This is a scary idea for deck builders like us at Archadeck. Building and code requirements have changed drastically in the last 20 years. Those decks that were built 20 years ago most likely would not be considered safe or up to code by today’s standards.
At Archadeck, we suggest having any deck over 7 years old checked for safety. A professional deck builder can come out to home and check all the components of your existing structure. From there, you should get a list of any issues and how they can be addressed. When we do our deck safety inspections, for example, we often find problems with the deck that can be fixed quickly to extend the life of the structure. There are times, however, that we find that it is best to just replace the deck entirely to ensure that those enjoying it are safe and secure.
So what are deck inspectors looking for when they evaluate your deck? At Archadeck, we use the BE SAFER acronym to explain what we are looking at:
Boards – While most wood decking will show cracks over time, the overall condition of the boards need to be considered.
Every Connection – Hardware is key when considering deck safety. Every connection and fastener should be looked at to ensure safety and stability.
Structure – What is the condition of the posts, beams and joists that make up the skeleton of the deck? Is there any visible sagging?
Attachment – It’s imperative to check how the deck was attached to the house as that is where most deck failures occur.
Foundation and Footings – This part of the deck supports the weight of the structure and those who enjoy it. Foundations and footings need to be checked for sinking, sagging and separation from beams.
Exits – Are all of the exits from the deck, like stairs and ramps, in good condition?
Rails – Check that all parts of the railing system, posts, pickets and balusters, are sturdy, properly built and the correct height.
Before you host a barbecue with twenty friends, make sure that you have a deck safety inspection, especially if your deck is more than 7 years old. It will give you the peace of mind that you need to truly enjoy the spring and summer months. Call your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office to set up an inspection at your home.
When looking at our franchise locations’ outdoor living spaces, I always notice the unique ways that deck, porches, patios, sunrooms and other structures add functional space to a home. Space that doesn’t serve a purpose is just lost space, right? This project from our sunroom and deck builder in Connecticut is a great example of adding space in a different and interesting way.
The owners of this Devonwood, Connecticut home wanted an addition to their home as well as more outdoor space. Making all of it feel natural to the home was very important as they didn’t want anything disjointed. Phil Brown and his Archadeck of Central Connecticut team designed and built a custom sunroom and deck that fulfills all their needs.
The common sunroom is square or rectangular in shape and has windows on three of its sides. Sunrooms allow people to sit and enjoy the nature that surrounds the home without actually being inside. The common sunroom, however, was not what these homeowners wanted. Instead, Archadeck of Central Connecticut designed an octagonal sunroom. Being set on the back of the house, the room is very cozy, but still spacious with enough room for a couch and chairs.
Instead of a flat roof, a gazebo style roof was added to the sunroom. The pine ceiling adds to the warm and cozy atmosphere and the large Anderson windows allow the sunlight to flood in. I love how the windows don’t have panes that can obstruct the wooded views of the property. It gives it a very airy impression.
Outside, Phil designed a deck that fit all of the homeowners’ needs. The majority of deck space is taken up by the large curved deck below. It serves as a place to sit and eat dinner on a nice New England night. Off the sunroom is a smaller deck that is used to sit and relax and right off the back of the house is a rectangular deck that is the perfect go-between from the house to dining portion. A grill sits on that deck since it is so convenient to the kitchen.
The entire deck was finished with IPE decking. IPE is a very dense Brazilian wood that is rot and insect resistant. It is very durable and will easily stand up against increased traffic and usage. The warm tone of this IPE wood looks gorgeous against the yellow of the home and the wooded areas surrounding the property.
The best deck designs take the homeowners and their passions into account. In this example, one of the homeowners is an avid gardener, so when Phil designed this deck, he wanted a place for her to keep her tools and pots. The grill deck, as a result, also serves as a roof structure for a potting shed below, keeping that covered space as usable. Genius!
The time has come! Voting is now available for the Archadeck Dream Backyard Makeover Contest. Out of over 2,000 photo entries, we’ve narrowed the field down to six and here’s where you come in. Logon to the Archadeck Facebook voting page to vote for your favorite finalists! Public votes will help us decide who the final winner will be. I can’t wait to announce the grand prize winner in mid-May!
After the winner is revealed, we’ll be keeping everyone abreast of each step of the process, from deck and patio design through construction and the final project. I’m particularly excited to learn more about how the winner envisions using the space and how we can make that a reality through our custom outdoor living design!
Congratulations again to all of our winners. Please visit the contest voting page (available here) to vote for one of these six finalists:
We hired a contractor to rebuild our deck and he did about half the work and abandoned to work sight. After inspection, we found out that nothing was to code and he did not have a contractors license. This was part of our retirement savings and now we will have to wait until we can save up the money to have the deck torn down and rebuilt.
We bought our first house last summer (2012), 3 days after the birth of our first child. It’s the “forever house” where we will raise our family. It’s a great house, but it needs some TLC here and there. One of those places is the backyard. Our house is on a corner lot and the house is situated at such an angle that the backyard is very exposed to the street. This exposure makes the curb appeal for our back yard as important as our front yard! We would love to have a beautiful new backyard to have parties and hang out with our friends and get to know our new neighbors. And when they all ohh and ahh over our awesome back yard, we’ll be sure to tell them that we owe it all to Archedeck! Be sure to leave plenty of business cards because I know we’ll be handing them out to friends and passers-by alike! Pick me! : )
As parents of four kids under ten who, essentially, live outside the majority of the year, we’re in dire need of backyard help! Recently, we adopted two incredible kids from foster care and instantly became a family of six. The addition of these little ones enriched our lives, but shrunk our home! Hence, the move to a larger house with good bones and smarter space but also a need for serious updating. Since the move, we’ve slowly been saving money and fixing up the interior. Unfortunately, the backyard has received little attention as it’s been placed at the end of our long list of to-dos. Despite constant competition from technology, my continual goal as a parent is to keep my kids outside playing, imagining, and dreaming. Currently, we rely on a homemade sandbox, trampoline, a rickety, hand-me-down play-set, and deteriorating, wooden deck. My backyard dream is to give my kids a safe, fun place to play and my husband a space to relax with a beer in one hand and grill tongs in the other, standing next to a Green Egg Grill. All I really want for myself is a comfortable spot to sit and watch it all happen.
My husband and I are brand new homeowners and first time parents to a son…all within the same year. Both my husband and myself never had a private backyard to play in when we grew up (he grew up in the Bronx and I grew up in Queens, NY). So when we saw this house in Greenwich, CT with a private backyard overlooking a pretty pond we overlooked the ugly red, 1968, totally not up to code, beat up porch and thought this could be a great place to raise a family. We had to do a gut renovation of our house but didn’t have the funds to do any work on our backyard. This will be our first summer where our son can really enjoy the outdoors so we would love the opportunity to give him a space that is safe and enjoyable for friends and family BBQs. The photo is of my husband on our porch when we got the keys to our very first home.
We are of family of 8 with 6 kids ranging in age from 2 up to 11. That doesn’t include numerous neighborhood kids that all love to come over and play at our house. They all enjoy the outdoors and we would like to make our backyard a safe and fun place for them all to play as well as a beautiful spot for my husband and I to relax and enjoy. Our home is situated on a hill and the backyard is terraced. The retaining walls, made with railroad ties, are rotting away and our deck is falling apart. We would love to have a sturdy deck that we could sit on in the evenings, grilling out, and serving up a bunch of fun to all the kids.
My family and I are fortunate to live in a wonderful neighborhood surrounded by beautiful trees and great neighbors, but our fixer-upper leaves much to be desired. We recently purchased this home with stars in our eyes, creativity in our hearts, and a shoestring budget. The first words that came out of my husband’s mouth when we were viewing the back yard with our realtor were: “someday this will be the most amazing spot for a deck…” Our dream is magnificent, but our reality is daunting. The current state of our backyard makes me cringe every day when I open the curtains, or chase down my toddler and tell him “No, no – you can’t go back there”. Our dream deck would replace vines, a pile of concrete, construction debris, and other unsightly features that make the space unusable. We envision a tiered outdoor living space where we can grill, unwind, entertain, get to know our neighbors, let our toddler play, and enjoy the natural beauty of our neighborhood. We have a blank canvas on an amazing lot that is full of possibilities. We just need help to turn our dreams for this space into reality!
With the first month down, we at Archadeck Outdoor Living are happy to announce the first two finalists for Archadeck’s Dream Backyard Makeover. We had just under 350 entries in the month of February, making it extremely tough to pick just two deserving families.
If you haven’t entered the contest yet, make sure you do at DreamBackyardMakeover.com. Two finalists are chosen for the months of February, March and April. On April 23rd the photo descriptions and photos will be posted for online voting. The winner of the $70,000 makeover will be chosen as a result of panelist votes and Facebook votes. TimberTech Decking and Belgard hardscapes will be used in the final project.
Here are the two finalists for February (full owner descriptions will be posted when voting begins on April 23rd).
The first is out of South Carolina where the homeowners were unfortunately taken advantage of by a lousy contractor. They hired and paid a contractor to build a new deck off the back of their house only to have the contractor disappear in the middle of the project. To make matters worse, the homeowners found out that none of the work was done to code leaving an unsafe structure!
The second finalist comes from the Chicago area. The homeowners purchased this house only 3 days after welcoming their first child. They hope to raise their family in this house, but it needs some work. They plan to host friends, family and neighbors in the backyard of their dreams if chosen for the backyard makeover.
Congrats to our two finalists!
I recently visited my mother and father-in-law about 45 minutes away. During our visit, my husband and I walked the dog around the neighborhood as it has expanded significantly over the last few years. While we walked around, I noticed a theme on many of the houses: elevated decks. You see, the neighborhood itself is VERY hilly and many of the lots slope in the back. The main living space is anywhere from 20 to 40 feet above the ground below. Elevated decks allow them to easily enjoy the outdoors.
When properties have slopes, raised decks are a great way to provide a seamless transition between the indoor and outdoor spaces without any steep staircases connecting them. Imagine having to go down a 20 foot staircase just to throw your burgers on the grill when it could be so much easier?
The building of an elevated deck, however, does involve more than the standard deck. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, safety is our number one priority, both for the clients and our team of deck builders and we make sure we do everything to make the process go smoothly. It’s all in the planning of the build.
The first thing we look at is the skeleton of the deck. Elevated decks have to withstand a greater load so the footings are usually wider and set deeper into the ground. We also test the ground dirt to see how much it can bear and then use the required amount of cement at the base of the structure.
The taller the elevate deck, the taller the support posts have to be and the better the bracing. Bracing is used to strengthen the structure and prevent any sway which can cause safety concerns, especially with taller decks. The support posts, depending on weight may need to be larger than the standard width.
Different materials may also be used on elevated decks that don’t need to be considered for lower grade decks. For instance, steel may need to be incorporated for support.
Elevated decks, although they can be more difficult to build, allow for some great design features that aren’t available for other decks. For instance, under decking creates dry, usable outdoor space underneath the tall structure. And porches or rooms can be added to the structure. Take a look at these great Archadeck elevated decks.
I periodically visit the college I graduated from (go Spiders!) to see how the campus has grown and changed. Since I was there as a student, numerous changes have occurred including a new International studies building. It’s beautiful, but one of things I found most interesting was actually outside the building. Behind the building there was an outdoor classroom. It has a few rows of retaining walls made for seating and an outdoor chalk board for teachers to write notes.
Outdoor Classrooms, according to Newsday, are gaining in popularity as they provide an opportunity for students to spend more time outdoors instead of constantly inside. Some schools are using their outdoor classrooms as a place to learn about nature and science. For younger students, this could be a great place for some of the messier experiments that usually are done inside.
The designs of outdoor classrooms vary widely. While some, like the one at my alma mater, have rows and a chalkboard, others are a little more unconventional. At Mount Olive College in North Carolina, their outdoor classroom is circular and from above creates a Celtic cross. It was created for outdoor lectures and can hold up to 30 people.
To me, this is an exciting development. I can’t remember how many times throughout school I wished we could go outside for a class.
At Archadeck Outdoor Living, our hardscapes or covered porches would make for great outdoor classrooms. An important design feature is to make sure that anything new on a particular property doesn’t look like an afterthought, but as an extension of the space. If a school, for example, consists of all brick buildings, the finishes on the outdoor classroom should be brick as well.
Another point to consider is how the space will used as some components may not be portable. Should it have rows? Are tables better? Will a chalk board of some kind be necessary for students and teachers to write notes to follow along? These are all things that your outdoor living designers and contractor should be asking you so you get an outdoor classroom that not only looks great, but will be used.
If you have questions about if an outdoor classroom is right for your school, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.
I was recently looking for pictures of some new Archadeck Outdoor Living projects when I came across
this one from our deck builder in Greenwich, CT, Rick Crossman. I thought the before and after photos from the space were incredible, making the space not only bigger, but more open and usable.
When Rick first visited these homeowners, they had an old bi-level rectangular deck and railing. Their biggest objective for the new deck was to increase the amount of livable space. Their original deck was too small and the dining and seating spaces were too close together for their liking.
Rick designed a space for them that would better fit their entertaining and relaxing needs. Two design components that really helped open up the space was keeping the deck on one level and removing the railings.
Multi-level decks are a great way to separate different parts of an outdoor living space that needs to serve multiple purposes, but if it isn’t done correctly it can cut off part of the space. The one level deck Rick designed was large enough to have clear areas for dining and for lounging while still having an open feel.
The homeowners wanted their new deck to open up to their backyard and garden. The original railings were cutting those off completely. Rick suggested removing the railings and replacing them with stairs and a built in bench to keep from obstructing the views, and man, did it open it up.
Once the design was finished, Rick and the homeowners had to decide what to materials to use in the build. The homeowners wanted wood as opposed to composite or pvc decking. Rick decided that Garapa decking (with an Azek trim), a Brazilian oak, would be the best choice for their home. Garapa is an exotic wood that is intrinsically hard and is naturally resistant to rot and insects. Garapa projects are known to last over 20 years in some cases.
If you have questions regarding outdoor living spaces and how they could enhance your home, please contact your local Archadeck office.
There are certain things that are part of our daily lives that are made to protect us from harm and disaster. Automobiles are equipped with seat belts and air bags to protect us in the event of a crash. Medications are packaged with child-safety caps to keep our children from harmful medications. The list of items that are designed to keep us safe can go on and on. But who would dream a 3-season porch would be on that list? We just added this 3-season room built by Archadeck of Central Connecticut to that list.
In the quiet of a recent Sunday morning at around 1:30 a.m. in Central Connecticut, something happened to these homeowners while there were fast asleep in their beds. A huge tree fell within their yard and was heading straight for their house. Fortunately, the tree hit their 3-season porch built by Archadeck of Central Connecticut first. Although the tree was tall enough to hit the main house. The tree removal people told us that it would have “sliced the house open” were it not for the porch taking the brunt of the tree’s falling force. This means that not only did the structural quality of the porch sustain the blow of the tree and keep it from destroying the home, it quite possibly could have saved their lives as well.
The only damage to the porch, other that some slight damage to the rake edge of the roof, was a large branch that punctured the upper half of the Artistic Enclosures Contemporary panel. This tragedy is proof of how crucial it can be to choose a qualified, reputable custom builder to engineer and build your outdoor structure.
Very often, homeowners will take the easy way out by choosing a less-reputable builder to construct their outdoor living space. Usually this decision is made to save a little money, or to get their project completed sooner. Unfortunately, for many homeowners this decision proves to be a mistake in the long run. Shoddy workmanship, and inferior quality materials may not be visible to the naked eye early on, but after only a short time the faults will come to the surface. As was the case with this Connecticut homeowner, making the decision to hire a reputable professional builder really paid off. Archadeck prides themselves on quality products and expert design and craftsmanship on every structure we build.
- Archadeck Unified Structural System governs construction process.
- Strict adherence to our proprietary Construction Master File documenting all construction details.
- Construction to and above local and national code.
- Professional project documentation throughout.
- Meticulous attention to finish details assure aesthetic integrity.
- Constructed as an extension of your home, not an “attachment.”
- Entire process reflects professional craftsmanship and utmost respect for your property.
With Archadeck, you get more than just a well-built outdoor structure, you get the experience and integrity to go along with it. A professionally designed and built outdoor structure from us gives you the peace of mind that you are getting the most from your investment, and peace of mind as well. Contact Archadeck to learn more about the “Archadeck difference”, you will be glad you did. Contact us today to learn more.
Thanks again to Phil Brown, owner, and his entire staff and crew at Archadeck of Central CT for keeping this family safe from the storm.