Qualified Remodeler

The Rise of Detached Structures

Patio covers and pavilions anchor the outdoors.

authors Patrick O'Toole 

Detached covered structures are increasingly requested by clients and delivered by remodelers as well as other outdoor living professionals. In a survey of remodelers conducted by Qualified Remodeler this spring, detached covered structures were cited as the second most common type of outdoor living project, coming after deck and patio construction, which was No. 1.

This stands to reason. As outdoor spaces become increasingly programmed with audio, video, cooking and dining functions (just to name a few), it makes sense that at least a portion of the space is covered. Sometimes these new covered structures are extensions off the main building—these fit into the porch category. But also, detached structures are wholly separate buildings, in the yard, away from the home.

And though this category of outdoor living projects is growing and diversifying, detached structures are not new. At the very high end of the residential design and construction market, pool houses—some that double as guest cottages—have anchored outdoor living projects for decades. Pergolas, arbors and gazebos are also detached forms that have been a mainstay in yards for generations.

The types of detached structures we see today go from the very simple—keeping people out of the sun and rain while outdoors—on up to architecturally significant buildings designed for cooking and entertaining. The important factor is that they are open structures, with enclosed areas kept to a minimum. Enclosed pool houses are great, but they are a different animal not relevant to this discussion.

All three of the following detached structures were submitted to the 2016 QR Master Design Awards. They represent a wide range based on budget and scope. There is an architecturally significant upscale structure containing a variety of entertaining spaces in Pinehurst, North Carolina. There is a 600-square-foot, modern structure that houses an ambitious outdoor kitchen and dining space in Houston, Texas; and finally, there is a 326-square-foot addition to a deck project designed for sitting out of the weather to capture views of Anchorage, Alaska. Taken together, they represent some of the best in detached structures being designed and built today.

The Magnolia Pavilion

Photo: Tim Buchman

Built for a two-engineer family in Pinehurst, the Magnolia Pavilion is the capstone of a much larger $1.5 million remodeling program that involved a significant addition to the main house, new six-car garage and pool area. A pavilion anchors the new outdoor living program both visually and functionally, says its architect, Tony Miller of Miller Architecture in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Photo: Tim Buchman

“The heavy-timber ceiling structure of the pavilion is designed for beauty and has no ledges or horizontal surfaces for birds to roost, or for the notorious Pinehurst pollen to collect,” Miller notes. “Horizontal struts looking up are the same size as the vertical brackets. The resulting floral pattern is the same as the magnolia blossom tree next to the pavilion. The magnolia tree’s preservation was an owner requirement.”

The outdoor pavilion is split into three sections; two turrets connect by a central breezeway. Its central section houses the outdoor cooking and bar areas to the rear and is fronted by a mahogany bar/island with room for several people to be seated comfortably. To the right is a “living pod” with plenty of room for comfortable couches and chairs. The living pod is arranged around a fireplace and a large retractable flat-screen television. A dining area is housed in the turret on the left. At its outside periphery, it anchors a pool/slide stairway structure. So the building that houses a range of outdoor living functions is an architecturally stunning addition to the overall program.

Photo: Tim Buchman

Major products used include: Elk TruSlate roof tiles; Taylor Modular Wirecut masonry; Western red cedar structural beams supplied by Carolina Timberworks; Danver outdoor cabinets; Earthstone pizza oven; Danver appliances and a grill/cooktop from Kalamazoo Outdoor.

Open and Modern

For this detached structure in Houston, built by Texas Custom Patios, the clients’ goals were clear. They sought a “patio cover” for an outdoor kitchen with a dining area and fireplace. In the end, they built a 352-square-foot structure, fully loaded for $64,000.

Photo: TKImages

“They wanted it to be a contemporary structure with grays and blues,” says project designer Justin Meyers of Texas Custom Patios. “To create that contemporary look, we used powder-coated steel posts. The flooring is travertine marble and continues seamlessly around the pool. And a granite table was built into the granite kitchen counter area, creating a great dining space. In the end, we met the objectives of the homeowner. They absolutely love their space.”

The clients were also specific in that they did not seek to create a large covered space in their yard. They wanted open sunlight on most of the pool area. Thus, the key challenge for the contractor was how to get all of the functions within such a small space.

Photo: TKImages

Major products used: light ivory travertine from Stone Quarry; lighting from Halo; a Heat ‘n Glo Dakota fireplace; Fire Magic outdoor cooking appliances; Bianco Antico and Charcoal Pearl granite from Stone Quarry; additional kitchen appliances from RCS, including the wine refrigerator and drawer appliances; and audio video distribution from RTI.

An Alaskan Outdoors

The pavilion in this project shows detached covered structures can be simple in appearance but accomplish numerous functional goals.

Photo: Treeline Construction

Built as part of a larger hillside deck project at a home in Anchorage, this detached structure includes needed storage within the seating area. It was also important that the structure be constructed with durable, low-maintenance products. The materials also needed to hold up well to possible intrusion from other residents, namely bears.

Photo: Treeline Construction

The goal was to create a firewood storage area near the house, a larger main deck with grilling area and a space for a hot tub. “Our designer created a multilevel deck with different ‘rooms’ and various storage areas,” says Jeannine Jabaay of Treeline Construction in Anchorage. “Each room steps down from the next. The deck is now a year-round bachelor-pad deck, great for entertaining, relaxing and taking in the view.”

Major products used include: asphalt shingles by Alaska Shingles, rated to 100 mile-per-hour wind loads; Simpson Strong-Tie structural ties; steel piles for the foundation; Penofin oil finish for the structural members; Trex Transcend Vintage Lantern decking; Feeney wire railing, blusters and posts; Odyssey strip and riser lighting; and strips of cedar for deck skirting. | QR

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