Are you wanting a new deck or outdoor living space but don’t know where to start?

I want a new space outside but I’m unsure of what my options are?

Believe it or not we get it! You see pictures on Facebook, Instagram, websites, magazines, ads and so much more and wish that was your outdoor living space.

But my backyard is different from the ones I see in the pictures.

When it comes to guiding our clients towards their perfect backyard space, at Ace of Decks it is not unusual for clients to feel overwhelmed with deciding what works for their space. When processing those ideas and envisioning something similar in your backyard, it can be a difficult task when you realize the millions of different ideas, materials, and designs there are in today’s market. In this article, we will discuss why a consultation is the most important step in achieving that personalized retreat in the comfort of your own home!

What is a Consultation?

By definition a Consultation is: “a meeting with an expert or professional, such as a medical doctor, in order to seek advice.”

Although we are far from being doctors, our consultations take a similar approach to a doctor’s consultation. When it comes to designing a new space, there is a lot that we need to understand in order to know how to best serve you and deliver exactly what you have in mind. It is important for your outdoor living specialist to understand what you like and just as important to know what you DON’T like. Remember, this space is yours and we are only a resource to making your vision and your dreams come true. The more details we have about your lifestyle and how you envision yourself enjoying this space, the more we can tailor the project to suit your needs.

What does my outdoor living specialist need from me?

The first step in understanding what you are looking to accomplish is having a home consultation with an outdoor living specialist. The following key points will guide you through what you can expect from your home consultation to make this meeting as effective as possible.

“What are you looking for?”

In order to begin understanding your needs it is important to know what you want. No, we don’t mean “I am looking for a 20×20 deck.”

Kevin, what kind of answer are you looking for?” Great question, I’m glad you asked! In our experience, we are looking for answers like “Kevin, I am looking for a space to entertain my family. We have a large family and we spend a lot of time in our backyard and the deck we have is too small.” or “Kevin, my significant other and I just want a cozy space where we can be outside without having to worry about the weather.”

We want to know about you and your family and how this space will benefit your lifestyle. While you begin to process this new project, consider your family, how you want to feel when you step outside, holidays, birthday parties, your children and even your furry babies!

As you can see this part of the process can be rather intimate and we encourage you to trust your gut with this. In some cases, having an open conversation like this may feel uncomfortable. If you feel uncomfortable talking to a contractor about these kinds of things it could be a sign that they may not be an ideal fit for you and that they may not be able to capture all of the details that are important to you during this process. If this is the case, we encourage you to find someone you do feel comfortable with. Keep in mind that contractors will be in your personal space and if you have a large project you may be seeing them daily for a few weeks or even months. Finding someone you can trust and can be open with will help the process be much more enjoyable and easier to communicate through.


Inspiration is important for us! Did you find something that you like on social media or some sort of advertisement? Believe it or not, this is a great starting point to understanding your style and vision for your project.

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deck consultation

What can I expect from a consultation with an outdoor living specialist?

The Technical Aspects

Once we have established the most important aspects of your project, we can begin to get more technical. While doing a home consultation there will be many aspects of the project that need to be considered to ensure the project flows smoothly.

Finding a Layout based on your Backyard

No two projects will ever be the same. Every house is different, and it is important to find a layout that works best for your space. When finding a layout that works for your space there are many factors that will determine what layout works best. Examples of things to consider are doors, windows, electrical outlets, water spigots, vents, landscaping, walkways, existing structures, irrigation systems, and drainage pipes underground to mention a few. Often, these types of factors can present complications to the project or may even present limitations on what can be done.

Generally, the natural layout of your yard can guide us to what approach works best. A backyard with a sloped yard may be a better candidate for a deck to avoid re-grading the landscape. Possibly you have a flat backyard and a Techo-Bloc paver patio may be more suitable. Maybe you have a partially sloped backyard and you can incorporate a deck and patio combo to tie your space together. Analyzing your site can help with design, establishing a budget, and doing what is best for the safety of your home and family.

Exploring Materials/Products

An outdoor living space has become a high demand environment with more and more homeowners looking for it. Within this surge in popularity produces a surge of new developments of products, styles, and technologies. You may say that choosing what materials to use has never been more difficult. The art of combining materials, lighting, features, and accents to your space can give your space a special feeling that is unique to your home. Is your home more of a classic style? Is it contemporary? Do you have a beautiful view that you want to preserve? Do you want to use your space year-round? We listed a few of the many questions that will help your outdoor living specialist make recommendations to what will work best for you.

Identifying Key Features (Lighting, Heaters, Furniture)

Of course, there are many features that can be incorporated to your deck or outdoor living space to enhance the space and create something truly unique and special to you.

A few of those features include but not limited to:

  • Outdoor Kitchens
  • Fireplaces
  • Hot Tubs/Spas
  • Steel Framing
  • Waterproof 2nd Story Decks
  • Televisions/Audio/Smart Tech
  • Storage

The possibilities are truly endless! It is important to address what is important to you and to keep those key features in mind when designing your space and creating a budget. We often recommended working backwards. What will the furniture look like? Are you looking to have a dining table? Will you have any outdoor couches or lounging furniture? Do you want to use this space year-round or only when the weather is nice? Are we adding TV’s or lighting? The different types of features will help your outdoor living specialist design a space that works for your plans and accommodating those key features.

Establishing your Budget

The two ways of coming up with a budget. Do you prefer to design WITH a budget, or design TO a budget? Whichever you prefer, it is important to discuss what your investment could look like. Be sure to set the expectations that are important to you as the homeowner and for your contractor. Having an idea of how much will be invested will help us stay within your budget and identify how your space will be designed.

Future Planning

At Ace of Decks, it is very common for clients to have future plans of adding a complimentary patio or some sort of overhang on their new deck. With such an abundance of amenities that you could add in the future, it is important to plan and think ahead. The idea of breaking a project into phases sometimes is more feasible in terms of stretching out your budget over time rather than doing a project all at once and that is OKAY! Getting a design that depicts your complete vision will allow your outdoor living specialist to plan accordingly and build in a way that avoids backtracking. In the long run this will save you time, money, and many headaches!


In conclusion, many times we get people that feel like they don’t need a consultation because they either already have plans or because “it’s just a deck”. We realize that not everyone may be fanatical about creating a backyard resort, however we still recommended doing a consultation to ensure there are no obstacles to your new deck. Just remember that saving a few bucks up front can become very expensive in the long run. Save yourself the buyer’s remorse and talk to a professional!

Are you in the Chicago suburbs and feel like you’re ready to take the first step to your backyard retreat? Please click the link below to begin the process of turning your dreams into a reality!

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