Plain Old Patios Pale in Comparison

By Miles, Arlene | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), June 20, 2010 | Go to article overview

Plain Old Patios Pale in Comparison


Miles, Arlene, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Arlene Miles Daily Herald Correspondent

Ahhhhhhh, summer! After the cold, wind and snow of our Midwestern climate, what better way to spend the lazy, hazy, crazy days than to sit in our own backyards, dining alfresco and entertaining friends.

But unlike those simpler days when one sipped soda or beer and munched on pretzels while sitting on a lawn chair, today's backyard has become a furnished retreat in the midst of hectic lives.

"It's using the outdoor space to expand the size of the house so that you can flow from inside to outside and feel at ease," said Neil Kristianson, co-owner of Crimson Design and Construction Inc. in Naperville.

There's no right or wrong way to construct a backyard oasis. Components and configurations, as well as costs, are as varied as the homeowners who want them.

"Typical components are paver or natural stone patios, retaining walls, steps, planters, seat wall, pergolas, gazebos, grills, side burners, refrigerators, refreshment center, brick ovens, sinks, fire pits, fire places, lighting, and water features," said Nathan Filip, co-owner of Premier Outdoor Environments Inc. in Elmhurst.

Price ranges are wide, depending on how elaborate the homeowner wants the space to be. Filip noted that a typical installation starts around $6,000 and rises to more than $100,000. Typically, homeowners look for a patio with a dining area and a small place to entertain. Budget often dictates what can be put in place.

So what happens if you can't afford an elaborate setup? Be honest with the contractor. Most will come to your home, assess your yard, then assess your wants and needs. The latter is crucial in creating an environment that you will enjoy. Depending on the situation and type of installation, some homeowners start small and add on slowly, getting extra seating and the like, as the years pass. For some applications, however, like a built-in brick oven, that approach isn't as feasible and may not work at all.

"I generally tell customers the pros and cons of every option," said David Berryhill, owner of Archadeck of Northern Chicagoland in Palatine. "You can get a concrete patio for a few thousand dollars, which is something we don't recommend, but if they're on a tight budget, that's something a customer may want to do.

Obviously, one of the most important elements of backyard living spaces is the base itself. Brick paver patios are the most popular, followed by decks and screened porches or sunrooms. Paver patios are often combined with a screened feature, offering a location for the grill and cooking area, while providing a sheltered place to relax and eat.

"You want to sit outside, but you don't want to get eaten up by bugs," Berryhill said.

Paver patios are popular because they are elegant, relatively economical and are low maintenance, particularly when applications are included to prevent weed growth.

"I usually tell my customers to expect cost to range between $10 and $15 per square foot, although those aren't hard and fast numbers by any means," Kristianson said.

Although a person may prefer a patio, that may not always be the best application. Attention to the yard's grading as well as a number of other factors dictate what is appropriate.

"We really try not to sell you the product of the moment," Berryhill said. "We ask how you want to use it. We look at the aesthetics and material, how much maintenance you're willing to do, and your budget."

Neither should homeowners be quick to get rid of their current deck. Berryhill often asks prospective clients whether they've ever had an established deck pressure washed and stained. If they haven't, he suggests doing so before considering replacement.

Today's decks aren't just made out of wood. A composite material that requires virtually no maintenance is a popular choice; however, it does come with one major drawback. …

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