Contractor’s Corner: Project Spotlight – A 1970s Home Transformed

Contractors play a pivotal role in helping homeowners bring their outdoor living visions to life. Each month, we’ll offer a Contractor’s Corner post to share tips to help our contractor partners offer even more to homeowners and their landscapes.

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With over 20 years of experience making improvements to other people’s homes, Jared Mellick, president of Universal Roof & Contracting in Orlando, Fla., decided it was time to make some upgrades to his own outdoor living space.

A 1970s Home Unfit for Entertaining
Jared, his wife Cara, and their three boys needed a space that was conducive to frequent entertaining. Their 1970s home did not provide enough space for outdoor entertaining and the space they did have wasn’t very usable. Plus, the Chattahoochee stone pool deck was outdated and unattractive.

When they did have guests over, they noticed that friends and family would approach the informal entrance from the side garage driveway rather than using the main front entryway.

To get the project started, Jared visited a Belgard showroom in Orlando and assessed his paver style and color options, ultimately deciding on City Series pavers in an Oak Run color blend.

A Pool Deck, Fire Pit and Seating, Oh My!
Jared wanted to create an outdoor space that his family could truly live in and enjoy with guests. To achieve this, Jared enlarged the space to accommodate a table and chairs, replaced the unattractive stone pool deck, added a poolside waterfall feature, and added a fire pit with a separate seating area.

These changes made the area much more usable and created separate areas enhancing the atmosphere for backyard entertaining. By incorporating a blend of materials with varying textures including concrete pavers, cultured stone and brick exterior, Jared was able to create one outdoor space with a cohesive design that provides both comfort and relaxation.

Added Parking and Curb Appeal
With a backyard suited for entertaining, Jared also wanted to make improvements to the front of his home to help welcome visitors. Using the same Belgard City Series pavers selected for the backyard, Jared added a circular driveway that would provide additional parking.

“We carried the enhanced look onto the front porch area complete with a small sitting area,” Jared said. “We used the same color and style of Belgard pavers used for the pool deck in our circular driveway to provide continuity from front to back outdoor spaces.”

To complete the updated classic look, Jared replaced the aging wood siding on the cinder block home’s exterior with Nob Hill Thin Brick veneer by Glen-Gery.

“The transformation is amazing; the brick adds dimension and blends well with the other textures we chose. We know this timeless material won’t rot and never requires maintenance.”

For more information, visit or tune in every Sunday at 2 p.m. to “In The House with Ken & Jared” on WDBO’s News Talk FM96.5.

Contractor’s Corner: Project Spotlight – Happy Homeowners in Kansas

Contractors play a pivotal role in helping homeowners bring their outdoor living visions to life. Each month, we’ll offer a Contractor’s Corner post to share tips to help our contractor partners offer even more to homeowners and their landscapes.

When the outdoor living stars align the result is a beautiful outdoor space that brings together hardscapes, landscaping and happy homeowners.

That’s exactly what happened for this project in Overland Park, Kansas installed by Landworks, Inc.

A Blank Canvas
The existing property featured a worn deck off the main level of the house with a staircase leading down to a concrete slab patio off of the finished basement. Light landscaping surrounded the concrete patio but little was done with the rest of the backyard.

“We essentially started with a blank canvas,” said Jeff Welch, vice president of Landworks, Inc. “The homeowners were prepared to scrap the existing features of their outdoor space and start from scratch.”

Defining the Design
To start the design process, Welch and his team worked with the homeowners to determine their needs for their outdoor space and how it could be tailored to their lifestyle.

“The homeowners stressed their need for a functional outdoor living space,” Welch said. “They wanted a beautiful and relaxing place for family gatherings and social entertaining with friends.”

Welch and his team created a design plan that included a new main level deck from one of their decking partners. Introducing wood into a hardscape design can soften the look, increase design flexibility, and create opportunities to broaden the scope of a project.

“Combining multiple design elements and mediums is a rising trend in residential outdoor living design,” said Ken O’Neill, senior vice president of marketing for Belgard Hardscapes. “One example is the combination of decking and hardscapes. Whether working with composite or organic wood, the aesthetic combination of wood and stone together creates a warm and inviting look and helps homeowners solve a multi-level space dilemma.”

To tie the design together, Landworks added a mid-tier landing with an intimate seating area for two. This landing helped to bridge the gap between the wood deck off the main level and the paver patio at ground level. The wooden deck stairs led down to the landing and paver stairs led to the patio area.

In order to fulfill the homeowners’ need for a functional space for entertaining, additional seating was included through the use of retaining walls. The homeowners were also interested in adding a fire feature as a focal point in their patio and as a way to extend the outdoor season.

Product Selection
With the design elements in place, the team knew they were looking at paver flooring and wall block selections.

“Our clients were torn between the look of Belgard Mega-Lafitt and Mega-Bergerac pavers,” Welch said. “Mega-Lafitt has a natural-looking texture resembling the look of cut flagstone and Mega-Bergerac has a timeless, hand-cobbled appearance.”

The homeowners ultimately chose Mega-Lafitt pavers in the Dansville Biege and Cotswald Mist Blend for underfoot. To settle the debate, Mega-Bergerac pavers in Ashbury Haze were used in an accent border. Pairing well with the flooring selection, the homeowners chose Belair Wall.

Knowing that the homeowners wanted a fire feature in their outdoor space, Landworks recommended they look at the Belgard Elements Collection.

“The Belgard Elements Collection features pre-built modular hardscape elements that make creating an outdoor living space easier and more affordable than ever,” O’Neill said. “Elements are designed to coordinate with Belgard pavers and wall block so they can be seamlessly integrated into the space.”

The Nottingham fireplace they chose featured Belair Wall, the same wall block selected for the seating walls and stairs.

Integrating Hardscapes and Landscape
With a new outdoor living space on the horizon, the homeowners also wanted a landscape plan that would add interest to their backyard and provide privacy from neighbors in close quarters.

Welch and his team chose a variety of blue and green spruces, roses, grasses, and shrubs. Upright junipers also were planted for screening from the neighbors. A total of 14 trees and 20 shrubs now fill the previously landscape-lacking backyard.

With a new outdoor living space complete with a fireplace, seating areas and privacy from the neighbors, the homeowners could enjoy the backyard of their dreams.

Award-Winning Results
Not only was the finished product a result of the outdoor living stars aligning, but it was also an award-winning design. The Mid-America Green Industry Council awarded Landworks a Distinction Award in the Residential Design/Build category for its annual Landscape Improvement Awards.

“This project really was the ideal scenario,” Welch said. “We had a great team, quality products and, best of all, happy homeowners.”

Contractor’s Corner: 2013 Hardscape North America

Contractors play a pivotal role in helping homeowners bring their outdoor living visions to life. Each month, we’ll offer a Contractor’s Corner post to share tips to help our contractor partners offer even more to homeowners and their landscapes.

We’re gearing up for the 2013 Hardscape North America (HNA) show October 23 through 25 in Louisville, Ky.

Join us at the booth #1216 and see the winning designs of the 2013 Belgard HNA Design Challenge contest.

This year’s nationwide design challenge drew innovative entries from all over the country. We selected four winners with the best design that utilized Belgard products in the following categories: Patio, Outdoor Kitchen, Driveway, and Pool Deck.

Did your design win? Find out at HNA and see how Belgard converted the 2-D entries into 3-D video presentations using the Belgard Design Studio, which contractors can access to bring outdoor space renderings to life for their customers.

Find out more about Belgard Design Studio at the Belgard booth or by visiting

Contractor’s Corner: Help Homeowners Finance with Preferred Payment

Contractors play a pivotal role in helping homeowners bring their outdoor living visions to life. Each month, we’ll offer a Contractor’s Corner post to share tips to help our contractor partners offer even more to homeowners and their landscapes.

Help your clients finance the project of their dreams with the Belgard Preferred Payment program. Belgard Authorized Contractors have exclusive access to 90-day, 180-day, 365-day and 18-month Same-As-Cash programs so homeowners don’t have to delay starting their project or completing the entire plan. You can drive sales and create opportunities by educating homeowners on the availability and flexibility of this great program.

“To keep everything within a budget, the initial plan was to ‘phase out’ the project over years – the patio, then the bar, then a built-in grill,” said Christi Simoneaux, a homeowner who used the Preferred Payment program. “But Belgard’s Preferred Payment program let us spread the payments out over several months with no interest, which allowed us to complete the project all at one time.”

To learn how to become an Authorized Contractor and have access to the Preferred Payment program and other exclusive BAC tools, click here.

Contractor’s Corner: Project Spotlight – An Atlanta Retreat for Kids and Adults

Contractors play a pivotal role in helping homeowners bring their outdoor living visions to life. Each month, we’ll offer a Contractor’s Corner post to share tips to help our contractor partners offer even more to homeowners and their landscapes.

When Todd and Amy Brown purchased their home in Atlanta they expected to plant their roots and grow their family in the ATL. However, when a job opportunity took Todd and his family to Chicago, his three young daughters grew to know the Midwest as home.

After more than three years in the Windy City, Todd’s job once again had the family packing their bags. Luckily, this time it was back to Atlanta and into their former home. With blooming social lives and active school schedules, Todd’s daughters were less than thrilled by the idea of moving. However, after Todd promised to build his little girls a treehouse and zip line in the backyard, they were convinced.

Little did they know, their dad wasn’t exactly a professional when it came to building the much anticipated treehouse. His first attempt fell flat – literally – when faced with several of Mother Nature’s storms. Wanting to fulfill his promise and create a dream backyard for his kids, Todd sought out professional help.

“I knew I couldn’t do this project alone,” Todd said. “Luckily, it just so happened that a new home improvement show was filming in the area and looking for projects to feature.”

Fate and timing collided when Todd responded to an online posting seeking families with remodeling projects for a new HGTV show called Elbow Room. The show features expert craftsman Chip Wade coming to the rescue of families who love their home and love their neighborhoods, but whose houses no longer suit them. In each episode, Chip updates and customizes homes with smart and eye-popping renovations.

The Browns were elated to find out that they had been selected for the show. In addition to the treehouse and zip line, Todd and Amy wanted to create a space that the whole family could enjoy. Embarking on this project, Chip enlisted the help of local Belgard Authorized Contractor Sugar Hill Outdoors.

The first step was to decide how the new outdoor living space and treehouse would be laid out in relation to the house. The home was situated on a good sized plot of land with a wooded, hilly backyard area. Prior to construction, the outdoor space consisted only of a deck off of the second level.

“We agreed that the best course of action would be to design a long walkway with steps to lead from the bottom of the deck’s stairs down to what would become a large patio at the base of the treehouse,” said Clint Tucker, manager of Sugar Hill Outdoors.

Belgard Hardscapes pavers were specified to create the perfect patio for Todd and Amy’s lifestyle. The Browns wanted the new patio to accommodate both intimate evenings and large get-togethers.

“To create a centerpiece to the large space, the design included a paver fire pit,” said Ken O’Neill, vice president of marketing for Belgard Hardscapes. “The fire pit not only looks beautiful, but extends the outdoor season and allows the Browns to enjoy the outdoors well into the evening.”

Due to the hilly landscape of the backyard, a retaining wall was designed using Belgard Weston Wall in the Saddle Creek color blend to separate the downward slope from the flat patio area. The wall served double duty as a seating wall to accommodate large get-togethers.

Belgard’s large variety of styles and colors made it a difficult task to narrow down their selections. After settling on Belgard Lafitt pavers in both Brasstown and Belgian Stone color blends and Bergerac pavers in the Carriage House color blend it was time to get to work.

After a few weeks of work, the Browns’ new outdoor retreat was finished. The girls’ dream treehouse became a reality in a two-story treehouse complete with a trampoline station, tire swing, zip line, rope ladder and more. Todd and Amy also got the outdoor space of their dreams with a patio perfect for relaxing and watching the girls play.

With a transferable lifetime warranty, Belgard pavers will stand the test of time and stay beautiful long after the Brown girls grow up and move away.

“We couldn’t be more excited about our new outdoor living space, and neither could our girls,” Todd said. “They will definitely be putting the treehouse and zip line to good use, and you can bet that there will be many evenings spent around the fire pit roasting marshmallows!”

A clip from the Elbow Room episode featuring this project can be seen at:

Contractor’s Corner: And the Belgard Ultimate Contractor is…

Contractors play a pivotal role in helping homeowners bring their outdoor living visions to life. Each month, we’ll offer a Contractor’s Corner post to share tips to help our contractor partners offer even more to homeowners and their landscapes.

We recently challenged contractors across the country to share a new sales or marketing approach that will grow their business in 2013. Judging was not an easy task, but after reviewing all of the entries the contractor with the most innovative idea and the grand prize winner of the Belgard Ultimate Contractor Contest is…

Dave Swearingen of The Site Group in Dayton, Ohio!

Not only does Dave receive the title of The Belgard Ultimate Contractor, but he has also won a $15,000 business improvement package!

The $15,000 business improvement package includes:
– 1,000 sq. ft. of a product from Belgard Hardscapes’ 2013 introductions. (Product may depend on geographic region.)
– One year subscription to VisionScapes design software.
– A marketing consultation facilitated by the Belgard Hardscapes Marketing Team.
– A “Come Alive Outside Day” hosted by leading industry consultant Jim Paluch.
– One year enrollment in the Working Smarter Training Challenge.
– One year enrollment in A Better Way 2 Learn Financials.

Congrats, Dave!