How many estimates do I really need for a remodeling project? Is 3 true?

I am not sure where this myth began, but people will recite the statement “you know I have to get 3 quotes before I can move forward”. My first thought when I hear this is, no, that has not been my experience. In addition, most of our customers get 1 – 2 or go crazy and get something like 6.

So, the question is, how many estimates do you need? The answer of course is it depends on the circumstances. The following is a guide to think through the decision making process on selecting a contractor.

1. Start with what is order of importance to you? Quality? Design? Price? Experience? Guarantees? Relationship?
Prioritize these

2. Reputation? How many quality references can you obtain from the contractor on “like” projects?

3. Experience? Decipher between a generalist and a specialist in what you are wanting to have done

4. Personal Assurances and Safeguards? Make sure you see an up to date insurance certificate and the proper building permits secured

5. Years in business under the same name? Physical place of business? Show room?

6. Design ideas…taking into account form and function and unique ideas that are helpful or appealing to you

7. Organization…did the contractor show up on time? Was he/she courteous? Are they easy to reach? Who will supervise the project?

8. Price…do you have a budget? What is it based on?

If you have done the appropriate research and understand your budget and the true value of the product you are looking to acquire, there is no reason for 3 quotes unless you are not satisfied with the price, quality, design, or experience level of the contractor! Go to to see and read great information on this subject

Paver Patio with ledge stone fire pit and sitting wall and a wood pergola with an outdoor kitchen in Ft. Mill, SC by Archadeck of Charlotte

Paver Patio with ledge stone fire pit and sitting wall and a wood pergola with an outdoor kitchen in Ft. Mill, SC by Archadeck of Charlotte

What are my options for a covered patio/ dry deck?

outdoor fireplace charlotte, outdoor kitchen charlotte, open porch, stone patio

Stone Outdoor Fireplace in Charlotte on patio in porch

What options are there to create a covered patio or create a dry space under your deck? There are several that are on the market now but few that are effective. Archadeck of Charlotte has been designing and building decks, porches, and covered patios for over 25 years and has a lot of experience with the various manufactured and man made systems.

A traditional “man-made” system still seems to be the most effective and give you the most finished look. This consists of taking plywood and using a rubber membrane to make it water tight and flashing. You must then take “”sleepers”” and adhere them to the membrane. Then you screw your decking into the sleepers. The primary disadvantage of this system is you cannot do it as a retrofit unless you are planning on replacing the existing deck boards. You can then finish the ceiling below with a beautiful beadboard and stain or paint it.

There are a few manufactured systems such as Rain Escapes from Trex that is an an under-deck system that they heavily market to collect rail and then direct it to an aluminum gutter and downspout.

Undercover Systems is a powder-coated aluminum system that does keep things dry but can be on the high end of the price spectrum.

There is also a vinyl system on the market called Dry Deck but we have found it tends to leak at the house wall if you don’t do a lot of work to keep that from happening.

In all, for the price and appearance, we still find the rubber membrane to be the best solution. To see many photos and design ideas, go to

Composite Decks the latest technology and the best bets!

Consumers really have a difficult time getting through all of the information on the various brands, technology, and styles of low-maintenance composite decks that are available. This blog will help you the consumer make some sense out of all of this and share with you the best bets from a nationally recognized custom deck builders perspective!

Trex invented the category of composite decking over 15 years ago. The category started with a combination of reclaimed wood and low-density polyethelene that was produced as a “no maintenance” deck board. Shortly thereafter, the demand grew and so did the competition with brands like Choice Deck, Smart Deck, Timber Tech, and so on. By 2003, there were over 40 different composite manufacturers all competing for shelf space at the local levels. Like any other high growth category, there needed to be a “weeding out” of competition and let the strong survive. In addition, there were inherit problems with the technology and what the consumer wanted. The deck board while “low-maintenance” certainly was not “no-maintenance”. Most of the boards had a propensity to scratch easily, stain, and fade.  A smaill company called Procell came along with no wood in their formulation at all and quickly started to make a name for themselves as they could promote even lower maintenace as the board did not scratch or stain. Most of the major players jumped into this “ultra-low maintenance” category by removing all wood from their product and mostly PVC. There are still some flaws with the value proposition as it looks a little too fake and the price was even higher than the original composite materials.

    Last year (2009) Trex introduced an “ultra-low maintenance” board called Transcends that put them back in the leadership role in the industry. This product combined the value proposition of an all pvc board and the original composite through taking the original technology as the main part of the board and putting a pvc and acrylic cap stock around it to provide protection from staining, fading, and scratching. In addition, the board has an attractive wood grain with great colors that meet today’s consumers tastes. TimberTech is now introducing Earthwoods Evolutions that also is a capped product with a great color pallet. Both the Trex Transcends and the TimberTech Evolutions feature the latest technology with a strong value proposition without the exorbitant price of an all PVC board! Archadeck of Charlotte is one of the nations largest custom deck builders. We can use any of the boards available but only want to feature products that are produced by well financed companies that can back up their claims. Check out our photo galleries to see these products and many complimentary outdoor living products.  or