Planning Your Outdoor Living Makeover

Planning your ideal outdoor living space takes thoughtful consideration and planning, and Belgard is here to help you with every step of that process, from inspiration to completion and beyond.

STEP 1: GET INSPIRED

Before you get started, take some time to explore the options and consider what your goals are for the space. Do you want an area conducive to entertaining large groups? Are you looking for more of a quiet space to read and reflect? You will also want to consider issues like design schemes and kid-friendliness. Belgard offers a variety of tools and resources to help get your creative juices flowing:

  • Pinterest boards – Peruse an array of design ideas organized by project type.
  • Style File – Browse inspirational photos and collect ideas to save or share.
  • Project Visualizer – Upload a photo of your space and experiment with paver styles and colors.
  • Design Studio – Take virtual tours of 3D outdoor designs with fly-through animation.
  • Interactive Idea Book – Explore the world of outdoor design, including informative design trends videos and links for additional information.

planningguideSTEP 2: START PLANNING

When you’re ready to start planning your project, download our comprehensive Project Planning Guide, which offers multiple resources to help you create your outdoor living space, including info and tips on design, contractor selection, installation and maintenance. When you’re ready to start talking to contractors, visit our Contractor Locator Gallery to find a qualified designer and installer near you.

STEP 3: START TRANSFORMING

Once you and your contractor have agreed upon the design details, be sure to discuss the particulars of the installation process so that everyone is on the same page in terms of time tables, disruptions and overall expectations. Also remember to discuss any hardscape lighting needs and future improvement plans with your contractor so that adequate steps can be taken regarding the need for wiring, plumbing or other utilities. That will keep you from the headache and expense of having to rip up and replace a section of hardscapes later. Depending upon the scope of your project, you may want to warn your neighbors regarding the construction schedule if you think it might inconvenience them. Also, remember to invite them to your post-project celebration as a thank-you.

STEP 4: ADD SOME STYLE

For many people, this is the “fun” part. Modern outdoor living design mirrors indoor design trends in a number of ways — including furniture, rugs, throw pillows, lighting and decorative accessories. Enjoy filling your space with outdoor versions of all of your favorite indoor comforts, including appliances, sound equipment and tech gadgets.

STEP 5: ENJOY!

Now it’s time to enjoy living in your new outdoor space. Remember to follow these simple maintenance tips to keep your hardscapes looking as beautiful as the day they were installed.

Tips for Choosing a Hardscape Contractor

In many areas of the country, spring has already sprung. Even those still battling icy conditions can tell that it’s just around the corner. Time to get your outdoor living spaces ready for company! If you’re considering an outdoor living makeover, there are a number of factors to consider in choosing the right contractor. Get some tips on making the right choice for your project.

WHAT’S THE ADVANTAGE TO CHOOSING A BELGARD AUTHORIZED CONTRACTOR?

We take the Belgard name very seriously and hold contractors to rigorous standards. When you choose a Belgard Authorized Contractor, you can trust that the contractor is an experienced professional who is certified in hardscape installation techniques and is properly licensed and insured. By visiting our locator web page at www.Belgard.com/locator, you can find Belgard Authorized Contractors and Dealers near your zip code location and can even narrow your search by distance or by types of services offered. If your contractor is not Belgard Authorized, be sure to ask which certifications your contractor carries and whether he or she is a member of their local landscape association. This will at least be a good sign that they are committed to education and are up on the latest trends.

SHOULD I ASK TO SEE REFERENCES OR EXAMPLES OF PAST PROJECTS?

Absolutely! Ask to see photos of past projects both for design ideas and to get a sense of the contractor’s level of creativity and expertise. Even better, you may want to get an address or two and check out the workmanship up close. You will, of course, need the property owner’s permission first. But don’t be afraid to call the contractor’s references and ask tough questions about work ethic and accountability. At the very least, be sure to check out the contractor’s website for testimonials and project photos. In this day and age, there is no excuse to not have a good website that represents your business.  If the website is dated, that’s a good indication that the contractor is not overly focused on the details of running a great business.

design-studio WHAT SHOULD I KNOW ABOUT THE DESIGN PROCESS?

The more complex the project, the more important the design process. While it might not be necessary to see a design rendering on a simple patio, an outdoor kitchen or multi-level terrace is a different story. A design sketch or rendering will ensure that you and your contractor are both on the same page, reducing the chance of miscommunication. Belgard Authorized Contractors have access to 3-D renderings with fly-through animation through the Belgard Design Studio, which will give you a realistic vision of your future space, including furniture placement and how hardscaped areas will look with your existing home, exterior structures and landscaping. Be sure to ask if your contractor charges a fee for design and consultation. Depending on the size of the job, some contractors do charge a fee; however, this should be perceived as a good sign and indicates they have the experience and reputation to justify this expense. These fees are almost always deducted from the final cost of the job, but be sure and clarify that upfront.

 WHAT ELSE SHOULD I ASK A POTENTIAL CONTRACTOR?

  • Will their team manage aspects like landscaping, plumbing, irrigation and lighting – or will you be expected to handle this separately?
  • What’s the estimated start date and turn-around time?
  • What are the payment terms and options? Belgard Authorized Contractors also have access to the Belgard Preferred Payment same-as-cash financing program, which could help you build sooner or expand the scope of your project without overtaxing your financial resources.