Feature Article - October 2004
Find a printable version here

Got it Covered

Adding the right outdoor elements, including shelters, gazebos and building structures

By Kelli Anderson


Nobody wants a project to go wrong. But oversights happen, as Rod Emick, site foreman of Thunder Falls Waterpark in Mackinaw City, Mich., discovered when the 25-foot-square umbrella with a 1,500-pound column intended to go atop a slide complex turned out to be too heavy for the foundation.

"Unfortunately, we didn't realize how heavy it was," Emick explains," You have to do your homework."

Creative thinking saved the day—and money—when the umbrella was moved to shade a food-and-beverage area in the middle of the lazy river instead.

When it comes to pulling off a successful project—matching the right outdoor structure to the right needs and in the right place—these tips and reminders from experts in the field might just help:

  • Commit to operating within your budget.

  • Know what you want to do with the space; know its purpose.

  • Know what building materials are right for your application—wood, metal, fabric.

  • Calculate occupancy numbers for the structure carefully to determine correct size.

  • Have your structure fit a theme or complement other structural styles on the property.

  • Make sure the land is properly developed and prepped.

  • Find a company that is service-oriented, easy to work with, with a good track record.

  • If installing yourself, be sure to choose designs that are easy to install or, in case of an installation error, easy to get replacement parts.

  • Buy durable. Patrons are hard on everything.