Belgard Leads the Way for a Rebounding Industry

The Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard’s center for research on U.S. housing, released an article last week stating that a healthy rebound for remodeling is expected in 2010. According to the article, research suggests that annual spending will reach nearly a 5% growth rate in 2010.

Director of the JCHS, Nicolas P. Retsinas, stated, “The gradual recovery in the broader economy should encourage more remodeling spending by homeowners. This year could produce the first annual spending increase for the industry since 2006.”

Belgard has been preparing for this increase by boosting efforts on the national and local levels to raise awareness and improve education for both trade professionals and homeowners. Making educated decisions and providing quality service will increase loyalty and satisfaction for all of Belgard’s customers.

For the professionals, Belgard offers a series of certification classes and seminars through Belgard University. Established in 1995, Belgard University provides the latest tools, techniques and programs in the market today. Here are just a few of the advantages BU has to offer:

  • Receive new 2010 Belgard literature
  • Be the first to see our new 2010 product launches
  • Network with other trade professionals
  • Learn valuable tips your competitor is not
  • Earn ICPI and NCMA certification

This year’s curriculum also includes exclusive presentations from Belgard product partners including Chicago Brick Oven, Harmony Elements and Medium Rare.

In 2010, Belgard has also reached out to dealers and contractors through the Belgard Co-op Program. This program offers assistance in creating and executing advertising campaigns at the local level. Participants receive help in implementing plans that can raise overall brand awareness or create a buzz for specific events. Belgard has received great feedback in regards to the co-op program.

As a result of increased efforts to the trade, Belgard’s trade professionals are sharing their education with homeowners through local DIY clinics and workshops. Through these local events, homeowners have had the opportunity to watch live Chicago Brick Oven demonstrations (and enjoy wood-fired pizza), visit local product displays and learn hands on from trade professionals about the quality and versatility of Belgard products. A full listing of upcoming events can be found on the Outdoor Living by Belgard Facebook fan page.

As the market conditions become more favorable, Belgard will continue to empower professionals and homeowners alike by providing educational tools and hands-on experiences. Visit us at www.belgard.biz to learn more about building your future through Belgard Hardscapes.

Click here to view the full article “Healthy Rebound for Remodeling Expected in 2010”.

Belgard Introduces the Chicago Brick Oven Collection

Belgard recently announced the addition of the Chicago Brick Oven collection to their product line.  “We have always focused on creating a spectacular outdoor living environment,” states Ken O’Neill, Vice President of Belgard Hardcapes. “The addition of the Chicago Brick Oven Collection will help homeowners and contractors create a focal point for outdoor living spaces without the hassle of working with multiple distributors.” The ovens are light-weight, easy to install and can fit into a variety of landscape design and styles.

The oven line includes a variety of pre-fabricated models, “finish-it-yourself” models, and oven kits bundled with Belgard’s hardscape products. The flagship of the oven product line is the series created especially for world-renowned New York chef and restaurateur Mario Batali. “Nothing beats the authentic taste of food cooked in a wood-fired oven,” states Batali, who purports the wood-fire cooking method for bringing out the natural flavor of food.

The above picture shows a combination of modular units from the Nottingham collection. The Nottingham Brick Oven comes in two pieces. The top unit features a wood-fired brick oven and the bottom unit is designed for wood storage. The kit also includes a pizza peel and brush. In addition, this outdoor area features the Nottingham Bar/Grill Island. To view the full collection of modular units offered through Belgard, visit our website to download the 2010 Belgard Elements product catalog.

Over the coming months, Belgard and Chicago Brick Ovens will be co-hosting a number of events to promote the product line partnership and illustrate a variety of uses, design options, and product specifications. In addition to trade show presentations, Belgard will be offering specification and design information on their new oven line at upcoming Belgard University distributor training classes.

Visit the BelgardOutdoorLiving YouTube channel to see a Chicago Brick Oven in action.

Creating A Modular Outdoor Living Area

For those ready to foray into the world of outdoor living, the experts at Belgard and Harmony offer the following advice when it comes to creating a modular outdoor living space.

Consultation is Key

Colors and design elements should complement both the architecture of the home and the lifestyle of the homeowner.  It’s important that the contractor know how the homeowner envisions using the space. Form should create function, not impede it.  Get to know your contractor so that your outdoor refuge reflects your personality.

Know Your Codes

Nothing is more frustrating than a design that cannot be implemented due to setback restrictions or a compromised foundation. Design elements like a kitchen bar or a fireplace often require additional foundation work, such as a thicker layer of gravel, or cement pads or footings. Knowing these details before you begin your design will save you a lot of time, headaches, and ultimately, money.

Choose Wisely

Choose a reputable product line that offers a variety of styles and options. Check to see if there is a local supplier with a showroom or spec sites.  A design may look good on paper but have a different feel in full-scale. Be sure to get full disclosure on all product warranties.

Get Creative

Just because you’re designing with modular units doesn’t mean each project needs to be a cookie cutter of the next. Don’t be afraid to vary your designs with texture, color, and dimension.  Mix complimentary elements, hues, curves and lines that work in harmony with the home’s environment.  Create focal points and use paver variations and design elements to create lines that lead to them. Consider using retaining walls or seat walls to define different areas and provide additional seating.  Remember to consider what the purpose and future usage of each space will be and to leave adequate room for walking, gathering, and furniture.

Phasing it Out

If you don’t have the budget to create your dream now, discuss the option of building the project in phases. If planned correctly, you can add an element at a time until the dream is complete. Once the site is excavated and leveled, have your contractor run lines for future plumbing and electrical. Most modular units are designed so that these elements can be added after the fact, but preplanned buried lines are much more aesthetically pleasing. And if you know ahead of time where the heavier elements will be, you can properly prepare the foundation to prevent sag.

Sample Design Project


A fire table with an elevated bar was placed adjacent to the dining area to provide an element of interest and additional seating. The table includes a beaded glass top, built-in natural gas burner, and wood box. In the background, the fireplace wall continues to define the perimeter of the space and is capped with a pillar unit with additional lighting.

Opposite the fireplace and flanking the rear of the home is a fire pit living area designed to create a separate cozy conversation area, yet still coordinate with the colors and textures of the other units and the exterior of the home.

The only element constructed on site can be the patio with buried plumbing and electrical lines. All other elements can be prefabricated in a factory setting, shipped on palettes, and placed on site using a Bobcat. Within hours, a patio can be transformed into a designer living space using modular units.

For more inspiration on building your backyard paradise, visit our Outdoor Living Gallery!

Grilled Chicken Rice Salad with Pineapple and Pistachios

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Dressing

1 can (8 ounces) pineapple chunks (packed in juice), drained, 1/3 cup juice reserved

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Salad

3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, grilled and cut into cubes

1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped

4 large lettuce leaves

2 tablespoons chopped pistachios

To make the dressing: Reserve pineapple chunks for salad. In small bowl, stir 1/3 cup pineapple juice with oil, salt, and pepper.

To make salad: In medium bowl, combine reserved pineapple chunks, chicken, rice, bell pepper, and red onion. Add dressing and toss gently to mix.

Arrange lettuce leaves on 4 plates. Top with salad and sprinkle with pistachios.

Recipe and photo provided courtesy of Prevention.

Modular Design Makes Outdoor Living Easy

One of the fastest growing trends in the construction industry is the increased popularity of designer outdoor living spaces.  An outdoor kitchen or living room not only adds to the character, value, and functionality of a home, it increases the home’s useable square footage for considerably less cost than under-beam construction.

According to a recent nationwide survey of the top 10 “must haves” in new construction (conducted by AVID Ratings Co.), the outdoor living room ranks as number five.  In fact, the survey revealed that homeowners were willing to forgo a media room or a dining room in lieu of an outdoor living space.

When the trend first began to take shape, homeowners were limited due to cost restraints and a narrow number of contractors with the needed skill set and industry knowledge. However, recent innovations in prefabricated modular construction have eliminated some of those roadblocks and are paving the way for those ready to plunge into outdoor living.

One Plus One Equals Simplicity
Joint venture partnerships between supply manufacturers have greatly improved the ease and overall cost benefits of outdoor living construction. Belgard Hardscapes, manufacturer of concrete pavers and wall products, is one such company that has created these partnerships with a variety of other manufacturers, including purveyors of grills, fireplaces, fire pits, and brick ovens.

”We wanted to provide contractors a portfolio from which to create entire packages for their clients,” said Belgard Vice President Ken O’Neill. “Offering a one-stop-shop scenario plus color palettes that all work together makes designing each project so much easier.”

Belgard’s latest venture has taken this concept one step further by partnering with Harmony Outdoor Living to create prefabricated modules for outdoor kitchens and living rooms. These modules, or kits, are pre-assembled in Harmony’s factory, combining Harmony fireplaces, fire pits, and fire tables with Belgard pavers and wall products to make outdoor room construction a snap. Kitchen modules can even be ordered with grills, sinks, and stainless cabinetry included. These modules come shipped on a palette and are easily set in place with a Bobcat.

“Certain installations that once took days or weeks can now be done in minutes or hours once the foundation is ready,” says Joe Raboine, President of Harmony Outdoor Living, Inc.

The use of prefabricated modules also greatly reduces the incidence of buyer’s remorse. “There’s often a disconnect between the homeowner’s vision and the finish product,” says O’Neill. “But with the prefab modules, what you see is what you get. And because the fabrication is done in a controlled environment, you get a higher quality product that’s more resistant to settling and is covered under a warranty.”

An additional benefit to homeowners is the ability to phase out their dream design by adding one prefabricated element at a time. A homeowner can start with a patio and later add a kitchen, then a fireplace, then a seat wall, and so on.

Sample Design Project


The focal point of this outdoor dining room is the fireplace that was built using four modular units: fireplace, chimney, and two wine rack walls.  Ample patio space was allotted for additional gathering space and walking room. Incandescent lighting was added to the chimney to highlight the piece and provide additional exterior illumination.

Kitchen modules can be ordered with or without the grill, sink, and cabinetry, and depending on placement can include a bar extension for additional seating.  This particular kitchen was designed to flank the fireplace, define the dining space, and operate solely as a cooking and prep area. It includes three different patterns of wall and paving products to vary color and texture and coordinate with the patio pavers.

Check back next week for a step-by-step guide to creating a modular outdoor living area. In the meantime, visit the Belgard Backyard section of our website for more information!

Going Green with Belgard Hardscapes

Homeowners looking for beautiful and eco-friendly hardscapes for patios, driveways, and walkways are turning to Belgard Hardscapes’ permeable pavers due to their ability to outperform both traditional concrete and asphalt paving in all areas—durability, wear, drainage, aesthetics, and long-term cost.

Belgard permeable pavers are installed over a gradient bed of gravel, which acts as a temporary reservoir and filters impurities before percolating down and back into the community water aquifer.  A self-sustaining home irrigation system can be easily created with the addition of an underground cistern and a pump.

With the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day less than a month away, what better time to make a commitment to sustainability? Request a free copy of the 2010 Belgard Catalog to view the newest products in Belgard’s environmental collection and learn design tips from America’s premier brand of hardscape products.