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Our Process, Part 2: No Estimates Here! With Our Thorough Design Process, We Give You an Exact Quote

Second in a series of posts from Archadeck of Nashville about the ways “Our Process” benefits our clients.

While Archadeck of Nashville is known as a builder— deck builderpatio builder, etc.—it’s not enough to build a great project. Building is only half the work that goes into our award-winning outdoor structures and deluxe outdoor living space combinations. The first half of any great outdoor living project is the design.

Patio and firepit

How Long Will It Take to Design My Porch and Patio Combination?

This is a question we hear often, although the combinations may vary … patio and outdoor kitchendeck and outdoor fireplace3-season room and patio, etc. Designing your outdoor living project can take as long as building it, depending on … a variety of factors. There is only one accurate way to answer this question: it depends.


We’re not trying to avoid the question. With so many factors involved, the design process can take a week or it can take a month. Or longer, if the client needs more time to select materials or make other design decisions. Let’s look at the design process from inception to the moment we stop designing and start building—when you’ve signed the contract for your project.

What Goes into the Deck or Porch Design Process?

The first step to designing your new deck, porch or patio is making the initial contact. You control this step. It’s the most important step in the entire process. Until you call us, email us, or fill out the contact form on our website that asks, “How can we help?” nothing else happens.

The design consultation comes next, and if you’ve heard that our design consultation is free, that’s correct. At no charge, we will meet with you for an initial conversation about what type of project you have in mind. (During the pandemic, we offer a virtual design consultation or one with social distancing.)

Design laptop

In this meeting, we’ll touch on the basics including your timeline and the budget you have in mind for the project. We’ll talk about the project’s uses—how you want to use it and what functionality you’re looking for. We’ll talk about a site assessment and possibly a (very) rough price estimate. Note: We never ask you to make a decision based on an estimate. At the end of our design process, we will give you a precise quote for your project.

Why Do You Need to Know My Patio Budget?

Like many clients, you may balk at the word budget. It’s not uncommon for a homeowner to be wary when a builder asks about budget. We’re not asking so we can get as much money from you as possible. We understand why you might be cautious. Understand, though, that without knowing your approximate budget, or a range, we cannot guide you to the types of designs and materials that will work best. It’s not about us making as much profit as possible. It’s about you getting the deck, porch or patio you really want.

Calculator and piggy bank

During the design process, we may be able to take a project that’s potentially out of reach and make it more affordable. By knowing your budget, we might suggest a change in the design or a different material than one you originally inquired about that’s more cost-effective. You will need to trust us.

Through the initial design consultation, we gather the information we will need to start designing your project. The meeting will also help you get to know us. Does our enthusiasm match yours? Do you feel comfortable with the way we answer your questions? Do you think you can have a positive experience working with Archadeck of Nashville? We hope so!

Read more: Why Choose Archadeck of Nashville for Your Outdoor Living Project?

Why Do I Need to Pay a Design Retainer?

We go into detail about our design retainer in Part 1 of this series, so you’ll find plenty of answers there. In essence, when you give us a design retainer you get our design expertise, our time and resources and our full attention. We have won design awards; we are good at what we do. We will devote the time needed to get your project design just right, and our team will treat you like you’re our only customer.

With a thorough needs assessment, we will know what functionality you want from your project. The railings on a porch or deck, for example, might be different if you have young children or grandchildren than if you don’t. If you will have pets out on the deck, you may need a gate at the top of the stairs. Our design process includes a series of questions to uncover expectations that we might not otherwise know about.

Everyone’s favorite part of the design process? Our 3-D renderings. No other kind of “drawing” will give you the same clarity. With 3-D renderings, not only can you see the project design, you can also see how it will blend with your home. In many cases, one set of 3-D renderings is sufficient. Sometimes, the renderings enable a client to see changes they want to request. Then we go back for another round of renderings until you, the client, say the design is perfect. Not every local builder can offer this service. It’s one of the resources available with your Archadeck design retainer. A professional draftsman using state-of-the-art design software is a resource we have through Archadeck corporate headquarters.

How Do We Know When a Project Design is Completed?

Once we have your project design nailed down and you’ve selected materials, we can give you a quote. Throughout the design process we will have discussed materials. Are you looking for a low-maintenance deck or traditional wood? Are you in love with cable railings, or are standard black aluminum balusters and posts your style? Are you a huge fan of paver patios and hardscapes or is natural stone a requirement? You may already know what materials you want to use, or we may introduce you to new materials. Materials do affect the project cost, so we won’t offer a firm quote until those decisions are finalized.

Deck and seating area

Other builders will likely give you an estimate for your project, possibly before they have enough information about what you want. In that scenario, estimates can change, and you never know how much you’re going to end up paying. No homeowner likes that kind of surprise.

Read more: Archadeck of Nashville — Why We Are The Local Outdoor Structure Experts With Staying Power

At Archadeck, we don’t expect you to make a decision based on an estimate. With all of the information about your project’s design, including materials, we will give you a quote that works within your budget. Barring some major unforeseen circumstances, that quote will be the firm cost of your project, written into our contract. (Note: If you change your mind about some aspect after we start construction, then your project cost will probably change.)

When you sign a contract for Archadeck of Nashville to build your outdoor living project, the design process is complete. We’ll put your project into our schedule. It’s time to build.

Let Archadeck of Nashville design and build that amazing outdoor living space you have always dreamed of. Contact us today to learn more by calling the number shown to the right, or send us an email at

Read the first post in our series about the ways “Our Process” benefits our clients. Our Process, Part 1: With Archadeck of Nashville, You Have Our Undivided Attention