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Picture the scene… It’s a Friday night in the middle of summer, time to collapse on the deck with a beer and a huge bowl of chips. You’ve just settled down in one of your comfortable patio chairs, reached for your drink, then you hear it–the noise you dread. The mosquitos are out….again… So you grab everything and retreat into the dark, cool basement leaving the bugs– and the sunshine–behind.

This was the weekly scenario at my house for several years. We just couldn’t sit outside at all because of the bugs. As for all those new, “innovative” anti-bug products, we must have tested them all and they just didn’t live up to their claims. It was time to tackle the situation and properly reclaim our deck.

Our first purchase was an 8 x 12 canvas-topped screen room bought from Sears.ca. This attached to the side of our house and allowed us to walk from the kitchen straight into the screen room. As usual, the installation instructions were terrible, but my husband and a friend nonetheless managed to set everything up within a day. Then we just had to buy some outdoor carpet for the deck, to stop the bugs coming up between the planks of wood.

This solution worked really well for several years and allowed us to sit out late into the night bug free. However, we couldn’t leave the screen room up over winter because the canvas roof wouldn’t cope with the snow load. Plus, every year the frame deteriorated a little more and we’d find ourselves with more and more little gaps that needing stuffing with foam. We decided that what we really wanted was something we could install and just forget about, something which would cope with winter conditions and which was going to last.

After some research on the web, we came across this option at Costco. With a polycarbonate roof and PVC panels, it could function as a 3-season room plus we could leave it up over winter. I talked with a work colleague who owned a free-standing model in the same range. She was really pleased with hers. I also read a great detailed review from someone in London, Ontario who was similarly happy.

However, I also came across some very mixed reviews on the Costo.com site. Comments referred to terrible installation instructions (“Took 4 of us 6 hours to assemble and a case of beer. ..trust me , your gonna need beer….”), leaking roof, damage from hail stones and the possibility of having to clear snow from the roof–which was something we definitely didn’t want. I was also concerned that it might get too hot inside the screenroom to be able to use it in summer. That side of our deck is a real sun trap.

We then went to talk to a local company that manufactures sun rooms and gazebos. They suggested the idea of a custom screen room with a permanent insulated roof. This would be a structure we could leave up in winter with no worries, but having screens instead of panels would keep the area cooler and more usable in summer. We could also get a skylight fitted which would help to let in more light to the adjoining kitchen in the winter. Plus if we ever changed our minds and wanted to go for the three-season option, it would be straightforward to switch out the screen for panels.

So someone came to take some measurements and said they would get back to us with a quote. I was really excited and all ready to sign up for this option if the price came back at a reasonable level. However… when we finally heard from them over a month later, the rough in-store estimate had magically doubled in price. I guess they really didn’t want our business. So we’re now considering building something ourselves. And for now, it’s back to the basement!

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