Architects of Family Life

Archadeck Nova Scotia and Case Design / Remodeling Halifax

Maurice Meagher, president and owner of Archadeck Nova Scotia and Case Design / Remodeling, Halifax, has every reason to be proud of the numerous awards the two franchises have won over the past 20 years.

Most recently, they received the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (Nova Scotia) 2022 ‘Renovator of the Year Award; the Best of Houzz Service for 2022, and, for the eighth consecutive year, the Halifax Consumer’s Choice Award.

But when we ask Meagher what aspects of his business have brought him the most enjoyment and satisfaction, what comes to mind is how he and his staff get satisfaction from the impact their work has on the lives of their clients.

“Admittedly it’s a fast-paced, deadline-driven dynamic, so there is pressure and I like that,” he says. Meagher describes the solutions his companies provide as unique because each property and each family’s needs are different, so there’s never a ‘cookie cutter’ solution.

“I think the key for the good people who enjoy this industry is getting validation by seeing what they’ve worked on and created, and how families have been impacted by living spaces made functional through customization that meets unique needs while adding value to the home,” he shares.

“Projects come to fruition relatively quickly, within weeks or a month, as opposed to massive types of construction which can take months or years. As a result, the designer, the draftsperson, the salesperson—whoever had a hand in it, in addition to the project manager and the trades—can see what happened on the ground and how it’s made life better for homeowners. I think that validation is a key part of why people enjoy working here.”

Located in Halifax, Atlantic Canada’s major urban centre, with a population of 480,000 which grew by 4.4 percent in 2022, and with a plentiful supply of older homes requiring renovations to meet the needs of 21st century families, it would seem that Meagher’s franchises are the perfect fit. House values are particularly strong in the area, and that, along with aging household stock in good locations, means that any work done well and wisely can greatly add to their value.

To show what can be done with an older property to make it fully functional, Meagher purchased a house on Windsor Street, which predates the 1917 Halifax Explosion and had not been remodelled since 1972, and redesigned and renovated it to fit his company’s needs for efficient office space. “Renovating it gave us a firsthand taste of how it goes and helped us appreciate what clients go through,” he says.

Creating a worry-free experience for clients is a priority and it all begins with communication.

“When we’re contacted we go out to the home to get a good idea of the client’s priorities: how they want to use the space, their timeline and the budget they want to work with, and then assign one of our designers to develop options that we can propose in full colour-renderings,” Meagher explains.

“Once the design phase is completed and permits obtained, we move to the build phase. The process is the same for both companies with a project manager assigned to oversee all the details,” he says. “It’s critical that we clearly establish what we’re doing from the beginning, that it’s well-documented, and that everyone has the same understanding of the scope of the work and the delivery. We also establish how often we’ll communicate and how we’ll do it.”

He explains that, “It’s different from 20 years ago because people’s expectations of how quickly information will get to them have changed. For the last couple of years, we’ve focused heavily on cloud-based technology to share information internally with our employees and externally with suppliers, manufacturers, trade partners, and our clients. Everyone has smartphones and wants rapid responses, and we can quickly look at a snapshot of the work being done. We post updates and keep clients informed so they’re not kept in the dark.”

Archadeck, North America’s largest deck and porch building franchise company was established in 1980 in Virginia and has built over 135,000 outdoor structures. Meagher was introduced to the company around the year 2000 when he worked briefly in the U.S., following graduation from St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, and was contemplating a return to his home province.

Impressed by the company’s professional, process-driven approach, and the opportunity to be an owner / operator backed by a national network of experts with proven expertise, he negotiated with them to establish a franchise operation in Halifax in 2001. Then, as now, it was an excellent market and centrally located, which enabled Archadeck to supply its outdoor living solutions to homeowners throughout the province.

Archadeck Nova Scotia custom-designs and builds decks, porches, patios, sunrooms, pergolas, fire features, and gazebos, and will include a complete backyard solution—with lighting, built-in planters, seating, and storage—which costs less than if purchased separately. If necessary, the designers take existing outdoor furniture into account—for example, a picnic table that requires a different deck from what a round umbrella table would need.

The design begins with functionality and traffic flow and looks at ways of creating separate areas, either by changing patterns in the floorboards or using structural elements such as pergolas to create “rooms”. Although the company is not a landscaper, the team will oversee levelling of sloping backyards and the construction of retaining walls and pathways with either natural or manufactured stone.

Although the vast majority of the projects Archadeck takes on are residential, the company will take on light commercial projects, such as restaurant patios or decks, or balconies and railings for multifamily residences.

With regards to “green” construction, Meager notes that the company recognizes its clients’ desires for environmentally friendly building materials, and looks to manufacturers who use sustainable materials, such as reclaimed wood or recycled wood or plastic for decking and railing, where the water used in their extrusion process has been repurposed.

The turnkey outdoor-living solutions supplied by Archadeck Nova Scotia satisfied so many customers that it wasn’t long before clients were inquiring about solutions for indoor living.

If Meagher could design and build them an outdoor kitchen, couldn’t he remodel their indoor kitchen? Or if he could build a sunroom, couldn’t he build an extension onto their house? An in-law suite perhaps?

The opportunity for expanding the company’s portfolio was there, and so in 2007, Meagher became the owner / operator of a second franchise, Case Design / Remodeling Halifax.

The parent company, with roots going back to 1961, is also a U.S.-based company and, like Archadeck, has an enviable reputation for expertise and quality, perfectly suited for Meagher to leverage into a successful business meeting market demands for remodeling and renovations.

Like Archadeck, Case Design / Remodeling offers turn-key solutions, a fixed price contract, appropriate warranties, and a consultation / design / build process, which takes into account specific, unique requirements.

Those requirements can range from maintaining the integral appearance of an older home while making it more functional, to using eco-friendly materials, and improving accessibility around mobility issues. Meagher himself and several employees have earned Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) designations and are qualified experts in helping seniors make modifications that will enable them to remain safely in their homes for as long as possible.

Among Case’s offerings are full kitchen and bathroom renovations, home additions, and extensions such as an ‘in-law’ suite or an income property; full custom home renovation and remodeling projects to allow for open-concept living with good sight-lines; basement and exterior renovations to improve curbside appeal, as well smaller improvement projects that might only take a day or two. It seems that no job is too big or too small.

With pandemic restrictions lifted, Meagher says people are travelling again and being exposed to things they like, seeing new trends and a broader range of materials, “so we’re continually getting a broader selection to accommodate them,” he explains.

“With Archadeck we’re doing more what I call combination projects, where we do the decks or patios, but we’re also doing lighting to make them more usable at night, and a lot of roof structures—everything from cabanas to screened porches. We’re doing sunrooms that are year-round additions and fire features, fire pits, and outdoor kitchens,” he says.

“With Case Design, we’re taking down walls as people are looking for open concept kitchens and with people working from home, even after the pandemic, we’re creating workstations for them or places for children to play.”

The two separately branded companies have over 60 employees, mostly full-time, for whom ongoing training is provided to keep up with the newest trends and materials, and they also work with some longstanding and crucial subcontractors.

Like the entire construction industry across North America, Meagher says one of his biggest challenges is finding enough skilled trades to get projects started and completed more quickly. He’s attempting to fill that gap by recruiting and raising the skill level through providing ongoing training.

However, his businesses do have many longstanding employees. “We have women in all roles, and they are a critical part of our team,” Meagher says. “We have experienced people from other parts of Canada and other regions of the world working for us, from trades to architects to designers to project managers,” he shares.

“That helps us in our ways of thinking and developing design solutions because they all bring different perspectives to the table. Diversity is a real strength to have in a group.”

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