Whether they live in downtown Denver or on a remote mountain lot, Colorado homeowners want areas where they can be outside. A peaceful outdoor retreat might entail a simple flagstone patio with a fire pit or an elaborate outdoor kitchen and fireplace.
For contractors in Colorado, one thing they have to consider when designing an outdoor living area for their clients is the impact that snow and freezing temperatures will have on it.
A place to gather
Fire pits and fireplaces are a focal point around which a design can be built, but for Colorado homeowners, they’re one of the most important elements allowing them to use their space year-round.
There are several things to consider when choosing a fire pit or fireplace.
One of the most easily overlooked considerations requires builders to get to know the homeowner and understand how they will use the space. Homeowners who like to entertain may prefer a fire pit to a fireplace.
“Most of our projects have fire pits because they allow a larger group to sit around and utilize the space,” Paul Fredell, owner of Fredell Enterprises in Colorado Springs, said. “What we see more often than not is that the older folks or the women tend to sit closer to the fire, looking for a little more heat, and the guys tend to sit a little farther from the fire normally.”
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Some fire pits are also mobile, allowing the homeowner to move it to accommodate a larger group or wind direction.
“With the winds we get in Colorado, there’s a downdraft problem on the fireplaces,” he said. “That can be an issue because you don’t have four walls surrounding you. … Depending on the direction of the wind, your fireplace may or may not be usable, whereas the fire pit you can move.”
Jake Harris, owner of Colorado Springs-based Jake’s Designs, pointed out that builders need to make sure their clients have the right infrastructure in place for their fire pits.
“Especially on these new houses, they’ll say, ‘Oh, we’ve got a gas line already plumbed out right here,’ and it’s this little half-inch thing that maybe creates 60,000 to 80,000 BTUs, which is great for a grill, but will not do a doggone thing for a fire pit,” Harris said.
Danielle Andrus was previously the managing editor for Colorado Builder, and is currently Editor for the Journal of Financial Planning.