Build a sunroom in Chicago, expand your living space
Troy Pavelka, design manager
Normandy Builders, Hinsdale, Ill.
Jack Steindl and Reg Marzec founded Normandy Builders 31 years ago and remain active as the principal partners, according to Troy Pavelka. Four years ago, they added partner Andrew Wells. “We specialize in home renovation,” Pavelka says. “We want to be competitive in the marketplace and on the front edge of what people want.”
What are the current trends in patio and sunroom design?
Troy Pavelka: "The trend is extending the living space outdoors. We get requests all the time for things like outdoor fireplaces or covered pergolas. We hear about outdoor kitchens a lot.
"Moving living spaces outdoors gives you flexibility. Sometimes, due to restrictions with the property, you can't always get what you're looking for within the walls. But you can sometimes add on an exterior space that's not really a full conditioned living space for less money than the interior space.
"There's a lot of challenges involved, especially with the freezing weather we get. We'll see wonderful magazine photos of outdoor kitchens in Florida or San Francisco that are hard to replicate because we have freezing conditions to worry about.
"Plumbing and mechanical requirements can be a real challenge. But it can be done, if you have the right space or configuration.
"Outdoor living spaces are popular for a number of reasons. People want to spend time outdoors, and this gives them a way to have some covered area without feeling completely enclosed. It feels like a nice built-in feature.
"The process starts with us educating people and letting them know what's best for them. There's some materials out there that companies will say are low-maintenance, but in our experience, there's nothing completely maintenance-free. Things still need to be regularly cleaned, maintained, sealed and waterproofed.
"Sometimes, natural products are the best choice. Even if they require a little more maintenance, natural materials have a beauty and warmth that can't be easily replicated with man-made materials.
"The economy has contributed to a lot of expansions and renovations like this. People have been holding their breath for 18 months, and they're coming to grips with the fact that they're going to be staying where they are for a while. And they think, 'If we're going to stay, let's go ahead and take care of some of the things that make our homes more liveable.'
"We tell people, 'If you're going to invest an extension of your home, do something that's going to match the quality of your home and add to the property value. This is real square footage, not a temporary structure. This is part of your house.'"