Fire Pit vs. Fireplace: Which is better for your space?

(5).jpg

When choosing an outdoor Fire element for your home there are two obvious choices that come to mind.

 One is the classic Fire pit, perfect addition to warm up those chilly nights and roast a few marshmallows over the fire with the family. Another feature that’s becoming more and more popular as the years progress is the outdoor fireplace. A beautiful design element, perfect for get togethers and having both friends and loved ones over as well as keeping those colder nights toasty as well. Both have low maintenance and many of the same capabilities.


You may be thinking, both sound so great how do you choose between the two?

No worries! We are here to help you out and give you an overview of factors to consider when choosing between a Fireplace or a Fire Pit.

Seating

After pic (1) - Copy.jpg

For starters, envision your future space. Who do you like to spend it with? Is it with friends? Family? Maybe both?

Depending on how many people and guests you may want to have at a given time or on average it could affect your decision making on whether you want a Fireplace vs. a Fire Pit. For example, Fireplaces generally have as much seating as you are able to put and extend in front of them, whereas Fire Pits typically have 360 Degree seating all around them.

 Also, with a fire pit you can add a built-in seating wall, which can give you additional seating and it feels like one cohesive piece with your firepit.

 However, don’t rule out a fireplace just yet, especially if you mainly only have mainly your immediate family at your home at one time! Fireplaces are still great options for anyone, just maybe consider the alternative if you enjoy hosting large parties each week and are looking for a larger amount of close seating to your fire!

 

Another side note to consider would be that while you can have more seating with fire pits, you also will have majority of the time more smoke coming from them and fireplaces are the exact opposite with less seating and less smoke. So, while you may gain space with a fire pit, you may prefer less smoke and prefer an option like a fireplace in the end.

Cooking and Add-On’s

traditional-patio.jpg

Next you need to envision what you are looking to do in your space.  Are you hoping to cook? Are you hoping to have more storage space? Or maybe something that doubles as another feature?

 Both Fire pits and Fireplaces  share many of these qualities. They of course can both have many different materials to light them, such as glass rocks or wood, and can also use gas or a regular flame to roast treats and eats on skewers, but mainly for cooking purposes, there are many more add-on’s for a fire pit. Some including but not limited to: a rotisserie, griddles, or grate, plus many more! Whereas Fireplaces you can again use skewers to cook or even add a pizza oven into the build of the fireplace itself, but that’s about as far as you can go with the add-on’s for a fireplace for cooking. So, we always say if you are into doing more “activities” with your fire element, the Fire pit maybe the way to go.

With that said, if you are looking for something with more add-on’s like space for storage of wood for example, Fireplaces can have many different designs where they can incorporate wood boxes while keeping their design and elegant look.

Fire pits can be a challenge to incorporate storage space into their designs, but they can often make up for it in doubling as another element. Many custom companies can make covers and tops for fire pits to be able to be used additionally as dinning or coffee tables. Taking the space to another level of functionality and unfortunately, fireplaces typically do not have add-on options like this available.

 

The Wow Factor

mag pics.jpg

On the other hand, if you care more about design over functionality and you are looking for something that’s going to stand out and elevate the look of your space, fireplaces may be the best option for you. While fire pits and fireplaces are both able to be potential wow factors for a backyard based on their design and materials, Fireplaces tend to be a big statement piece and make a bigger “wow” impression on guests. Due to their elegant feel and vertical designs, they tend to become a main focal point for the space and draw others in.

 

However, elevated design and a wow factor does come at a price. The average fireplace install is around $8,000, while the average fire pit install is around $2,000. So, if you are on a strict budget and watching your spending on your next backyard project, the fire pit is definitely the more cost effective option between the two.

 

kansascityhardscapes_.jpg

Overall, both are great options for any home and by reading these topics and putting them side by side, depending on your personal preferences and hobbies one may be better than the other for you and your family!

We hope that this blog has made that decision easier for you and has lead you closer to knowing which fire element is a better option for your space! In the end, you can’t go wrong with either!

 

 

Special thanks to the imagery from Belgard!

https://www.belgard.com/

https://www.houzz.com/photo/3360088-belgard-wexford-pizza-oven-and-outdoor-grill-collection-traditional-patio-milwaukee

 


City Permits and Regulations: What to Expect and How you can Prepare for your Hardscape Project!

building-permit.jpg

We know that obtaining city permits can sometimes be a headache and inconvience.  

Unfortunately, they take time, money, and can change the course of a project's schedule. 

We understand that this creates an obvious obstacle for many homeowners. However, have no fear! We are here to help you get all the necessary permits and regulations to allow you to create your dream hardscape space!

 


In this blog, we hope to better explain how permits are an important and a necessary part of the process for all hardscaping and home projects, and how as a homeowner you can prepare for them and know what to expect to see from them as you go through your hardscape project's process.

 

As a home owner, here is what you should expect and what you should prepare for during the process of getting a city permit:

 

Each City has different regulations and permit requirements

Leawood_City_hall.jpg

Starting from the beginning, city permits are required for a number of home projects and often times, especially as of recent, cities will have multiple requirements and will require you to have approval, plot and survey planning, and all the necessary permits in order to add on and create hardscaping projects onto your home and property.

Due to that each city has different regulations, the requirements will vary depending on the city. Some cities may require a simple city permit which we can put in approval for and obtain for you, and other cities may require you to go a little further and get a city permit, go in front of a board to get approval, and also get approval from a city commissioner.

Additionally, in our personal experience, we have found that the cities with the most regulations tend to be: Leawood, Mission Hills, and Prairie Village, and permits also tend to be needed mainly for Kansas cities rather than Missouri cities. With that said, when you are ready to move forward with a project and get started, it never hurts to do prior research on what your city requires of you to have. That way you can get an idea of what you will be looking at needing ahead of time for your project, which will be especially helpful if you live in any of the above cities where regulations are most common. City requirements are also frequently updated so it is also good to refresh yourself on what may have changed for your city as of recent!

However, regardless of whatever the specific regulations may be for your city, our team at Kansas City Hardscapes has a wide variety of experience with the processes of getting city permits and we are happy to do the work for you if you would rather not go through the process yourself.

While this is an additional service that we offer and have an additional fee for, by having us do it for you, it eliminates the headache of doing it yourself and also makes it so you do not have to waste your own personal time going through the permit process!

 

 

Permits and Regulations have potential to change your project’s timeline

progress pic.jpg

As we mentioned above, each city has different types of regulations and permits that it may require you to have before we can begin work on any hardscape project on your home. With that, each type of regulation and permit that is needed has potential to impact your final timeline of your project.

For example, you could live in Stilwell, Kansas and only need one permit which could take as little as a week for us to put in for the approval, obtain the permit, and get permission to begin the project.

Whereas on the other hand, you may live in Mission Hills, Kansas, which could have multiple regulations and permits and could take as long as 6 weeks for us to put in approval for permits, obtain the permits, and get permission to begin the project from the city.

This is important information to consider if you are planning to start a project, because without these permits your start date and completion date with us to will be pushed back until we are able to obtain the proper city permits and begin work.

However, once you begin the project process with us, we are very familiar with the permit system and what each city requires, and we will communicate to you and help you know what permits you will need to get and answer any questions you may have about the timing or the process of obtaining the specific permits. Then from there you can choose if you would like to obtain the permits yourself or have us obtain them for you. We always try to make it as easy and as fast of a process as we possibly can, but regardless, it is always still good to know ahead of time that having certain permits may cause a change in your project's schedule.

 

 

Permits and Regulations will have additional costs and fee’s associated with them

progress pic (1).jpg

Unfortunately, if you have ever had any experience with getting permits and regulations prior to starting a new project, you will know that there are always some extra fee’s associated with obtaining government permits. They are not usually very pricey, many can be as low as a $100.

Although, we know this can still be a bit of a headache, especially when you have a specific budget in mind for your current project. However, when considering what could happen if you do not have the proper permits before starting a project, you will be saving yourself a lot of time and money down the road.

Many alternate hardscaping companies may disregard these permits and processes, and not give it the attention it needs, which will cause you to be looking at an aftermath of thousands of dollars in fines and issues that the city will bring to attention at the expense of the homeowner. This is why at Kansas City Hardscapes, we do not cut any corners and we always make sure we have proper permits and are up to code before we start building on any project. Like they say, "the honest way is usually the easiest way", and without obtaining the proper permits, it will only cause an even bigger headache for you to have to deal with later on and burn an even bigger hole in your pocket in the process.

 

 

after1.JPG

In conclusion, We know that permits are a headache of a process. We also know that they are absolutely necessary to adding a hardscape onto your home and it is important to do the process correctly.

We will tell it to you straight, permits will take time and money, but taking the necessary steps to complete and get proper city permits for your project is a small price to pay in consideration to the alternative that you would have to pay later on if the process was not completed properly—and fortunately, we can do the entire permit process for you!

That way you can stress less and not worry about things like city permits and the process of obtaining them, and instead be able to put your energy towards getting excited about the addition of your new hardscape project!

 

 

Special thanks to The Shawnee Mission Post and 24hplans.com for the imagery!

https://shawneemissionpost.com/2017/06/14/leawood-public-works-and-information-services-directors-announce-their-retirements-63771

https://www.24hplans.com/do-i-need-a-building-permit/


All of the Hardscape Elements of Fall


The season of fall is almost here!

 

When we think of fall, we think of crunchy leaves changing colors, pumpkins, football games, back to school, spooky Halloween, grilling and tailgating with friends, Thanksgiving surrounded by family, and so many star filled, cool nights around the glow of the fire, making smores or sipping delicious warm apple cider.

 

These are all the special ingredients that make the warm moments of the season and components that make unforgettable memories and that we keep forever.

 

One of these special components is where you celebrate and create these fall moments. Here are some ways to transform your backyard into the perfect place to create those fall memories:

 

Fire Pits

1427148713747.jpeg

 

Fire pits are essential for those cool, fall nights. They not only give warmth and light, but you can always roasting marsh mellows or hot dogs with friends and family. Add a seating wall near the fire pit or gather chairs around to sit on, the fire pit will have plenty of room to accommodate everyone!

 

Today Fire Pits also come with many different visual lighting options, such as: glass rock, lava rock, regular wood, gas logs, gas powered, propane powered, and so many more options!

 

Fireplaces

Belgard2011_ADMSNC_Urbana_Celtik_001_.jpg

While fire pits are always a go-to for a fall retreat, Fireplaces are also a great addition to any backyard.

While they are nice in the summer, they truly shine in the fall. They have similar functions to the classic fire pit, but depending on your personal style you may prefer a outdoor fireplace. Surround the fireplace with comfy outdoor furniture and listen to the crackling of the wood as you enjoy a glass of wine with friends or curl up with a good book.

 

Fireplaces can be made in all different materials and styles, and you can even add boxes on the sides for firewood and other storage!

 

Outdoor Kitchens

lighting+4.jpg

 

The fire element is of course one of the most important ingredients to a good fall season, but so is the food element!

 

Spice it up with an Outdoor Kitchen! Outdoor kitchens are great for anyone who enjoys being in the kitchen and simultaneously loves entertaining outdoors. They can come built in with all the essentials: grills, sink, wine cooler, trashcans, liquor bottle holders, power burner, pizza oven, ice chest, as well as plenty of bar seating area! Add a beautiful large dining table and lighting to have both fancy and casual dinners outside!

 

Think how wonderful Thanksgiving dinner would be spent outside with all your closest family and friends sitting at the bar as you cook! You all could enjoy the outdoors playing games, chatting, and sharing a magnificent meal at the table. Holidays at your home will soon be the standing tradition with an outdoor space like that!

 

Grilling Stations

Bar-seating.jpg

Like Outdoor Kitchens, Grilling Stations have so much to offer in the fall season. Make your home the football pre game destination or you may even skip the game all together and enjoy it from the comfort of your outdoor space.

 

You can’t go wrong with getting the grill setup of your dreams! You can mix and match any add-ons you like! A popular choice being a mini fridge, built in spot for your Green Egg, smoker, rotisserie cooker addition for the grill, or power burner! Although, there are so many more choices, if you can dream it, chances are they make it!

Add a big screen TV and some comfy furniture to your outdoor space and your party will feel relaxed and at ease with all your game needs at your finger tips.

 

 

Any combination of these hardscape elements would be the perfect fall addition and with the season just around the corner, we know this has your wheels turning.

 

We can’t wait help you transform your backyard into a fall escape, ready and equip to celebrate and create all of your favorite fall memories and moments.

 

We can’t wait to see what you’ve got planned!

 

 

Special Thanks to Outdoor Living by Belgard 2017 for Imagery!

https://www.belgard.com/


The Woes of Construction Projects: It's ugly, it’s messy, and it will get worse before it gets better!


We are not going to lie to you. Anytime you do a home improvement project, things get messy and the outside of your home is no exception when you take on a hardscapes project.

image_uploaded_from_ios (1).jpg

It is the unfortunate side effect of any construction project, especially when you conduct a large scale project that requires large scale equipment and many hours of labor.

We understand, even while temporary, the look of construction isn't something optimal to have on your home and it may even scare many people away from taking on a home improvement project. 

Even so, we hope to reassure concerns with this blog, because we truly believe the "mess" of construction is a small price to pay for the major reward you receive at the end when your project is complete.

image_uploaded_from_ios (2).jpg

From the very beginning of your hardscapes project, be prepared and expect to see some construction mess during the process of your hardscaping project.

We know this can sometimes be the most difficult and challenging part of the process for many people. After all, it looks like the space gets worse off than it  was and it can be hard to watch your home turn into a work-in-progress zone. That's why here at Kansas City Hardscapes, we always try to do what we can to make the process more bearable or easier on the home and on our clients.

Whether that’s laying down plywood to help protect grass or other parts of your home (like your driveway for example), taking down a portion of a fence and then putting it back up once we complete the project, or moving any other home items that may be an obstacle. It is always a top priority and goal of ours to leave everything that is not within the project space, just as it was before we arrived. 

image_).jpg

Unfortunately though, no matter what we do to try to prevent the mess, the mess will always come. It is all part of the process and one of the woes of the construction. Simply put: We cannot implement a big change without a big process. 

image_uploaded_from_ios (3).jpg

However, little by little, as time goes on we can see progress and the project begins to take shape.

image_uploaded_from_ios (4).jpg

Slowly, your project vision starts to come to life, and what was once a construction mess starts to turn into the dream space you were always imagining.

image_uploaded_from_ios (5).jpg

Before you know it, we are in the final stretch, and while we finish up our finishing touches, the grass seeds we lay down will start to grow fresh, new grass, and in just a short while after completion of the project, the space will look like new.

image_uploaded_from_ios (7).jpg

Finally, the vision for your dream space is a reality and we can't wait for you to start enjoying it!

image_uploaded_from_ios (8)1.jpg

Overall, we cannot deny that yes, construction is messy. It’s not a pretty or a simple process, and the space certainly gets worse before it gets any better. As a consequence, we will never be able to promise there will be no mess during the time we work on your hardscapes project.

However, we can tell you this: The end result, the final product, the space that you now get to call home, is totally worth it in the end! 

So take another look at some of your dream project ideas that maybe you pushed aside. If you are letting the mess of construction influence your decision to take on the project, try looking at it from a new perspective—because once you can look past the mess, you may see a dream space worth pushing through for!


Technically anyone could do hardscaping, but should they?


Photo Apr 17, 2 14 50 PM_preview.jpeg

     If you are considering adding a hardscape project to your home, you may have begun to notice that there are many factors to consider.

     Of course, there are a few obvious factors that come to mind: the materials, the size, the design—but the most important decision that can often be overlooked, is the team that will make your outdoor vision a reality.

     “Overlooked” may seem like a strong word to some, but sadly it’s true. Money is usually the number one reason why, because hardscaping projects are expensive. Depending on the project, the materials alone can cost around $5,000 or more. So, for anyone who is trying to stick to a project budget, it can be hard to hand over an extra $2,000 to a hardscaping company when their landscaping crew said they could do it for $2,000 less.

     Which when looking at it initially, that’s completely understandable why people would consider other companies and individuals that don’t specialize in hardscaping. Why hire a hardscaping company when you could hire your landscaping company, an independent contractor, or even a friend or family member who enjoys home improvement work? It would seem to anyone to be the best deal, because technically, anyone can lay out pavers or pour concrete, and the best part is it also saves you money, right?

     It may seem to save you money on the surface. At Kansas City Hardscapes, we unfortunately see many home owners who struggle with the aftermath of choosing the wrong company or individuals to install their hardscapes. $10-20,000 projects that are only a year or two old need repairs due to issues with the foundation, water pooling, and retaining walls that are bowing. Now their $20,000 project needs $5,000 of repairs, and they are having to spend $3,000 more than they would have originally spent had they used a specialized hardscaping company from the beginning.

     We understand this can be hard to swallow and adding more money to a project is difficult, let alone when you there is a way to initially bring the costs down with someone who expertise isn't in hardscaping. However, this is one of those scenarios where the old saying “you get what you pay for” rings true. When you pay a lower price in certain industries, such as home improvement, you will get exactly the level of quality that you pay for. What level of quality you want all depends on personal preference, but let us ask you this—Do you want something that just works or do you want something that exceeds your expectations?

     We feel like it’s a no brainer. If you already are spending a large sum of money on a project for the quality of the materials and design, why not give the same amount of quality to the work that goes into the craftsmanship and creation of the project? That way its completed exactly how you envisioned and you know that you won't have any worries with it down the road!

     So when adding on that extra project cost for using a credible hardscaping company, think of it as an insurance investment. Take our company for example. At Kansas City Hardscapes, you are spending that extra money on the quality of craftsmanship, on a team of seasoned hardscaping professionals who know the ins and outs of hardscaping from construction to completion, and the peace of mind that your hardscaping project will look as good as new even 10, 20 years down the line. So that way, in a couple of years when issues would typically start to arise from poor installation, you can look at your beautiful hardscape project and thank yourself for saving yourself more money in the long run by going with a specialized hardscaping company.

     We will finish this post with this final piece of advice: Just because anyone could do a hardscaping project, it does not necessarily mean that they should. Do thorough research and make sure the company or individual you hire is credible. A good way to do this is to ask them their experience level with hardscaping. If they don’t know typical hardscaping terms, or don't have any client credentials, or they don't have a portfolio of images for you to view of past work, that is a major red flag. That tells us that they do not typically work in this field and that your project could likely be their first. We can’t speak for others, but if we are putting $10,000 or more into a project for our home, we would rather put our money in good hands that we can count on and trust to do the project correctly. The only thing harder than having to spend a lot of money on a project is having to spend all that money and having the project come out wrong and then having to pay more in the long run to fix it. Spending a little more on the experts now will save you the stress, time, and money of doing the alternative, and you will have a beautiful project to love for years to come!