Spring Home Improvement

Embrace the big outdoors


Imagine transforming your outdoors into living space.

Jake Hoeskstra has done it hundreds of times, for families, offices, restaurants, and hotels. He can tell you each one is different.

Some are havens of solitude, integrating nature. Some are family gathering spots around an outdoor kitchen. Some are party central.

“The first thing we look at when making the most of their space is finding out how it will be used,” Hoekstra said.

Patios are just as part of Hoekstra Masonry services, but it’s where he and his crews are spending a lot of this summer.

Dreams discussed in February and March are being dug, poured, stamped and stacked across the region. Hoekstra has concrete and masonry customers across the Iowa. He’s been doing the work since he was 15.

In that time, he’s developed guidelines to walk customers through their projects.

“A lot of people try to do too much and risk cluttering up their space. They want to make it multi-use, but end up getting a space where you can do a lot of things poorly instead of a couple things really well,” he said.

Another tip: Manage your entry and exit areas. “Everywhere you put an entry, that’s one less place for a couch. So we look at traffic patterns, the way they are, and the way they want them to be.”

Next comes accounting for elevation changes that might not be apparent on a lawn.

“A lot of people don’t realize how fast a yard drops off,” he said.

Accurate measurements preclude surprises after the work begins.

Hoekstra advises a two- to three-month window for planning, depending on project size.  Customers can choose materials, surface options, and countless details.

Patios with stamped finishes are popular this season. Hoekstra has dozens of choices, including slate finishes, “the most popular by far, and the easiest to maintain.”

During summer, the concrete crew grows to 10, for projects across the region through July. He’s wrapping up a new city sidewalk in Wilton.

Hoekstra and a masonry crew of four are still lining up jobs for late summer.

They’ve done medical offices, restaurants, and lots of public buildings, including block-built water treatment plants across Iowa.

The masonry business really hasn’t changed in 500 years,” he said. His crews lay more stone than brick these days. He and his customers work with Kings Materials, and Hahn Ready Mix.

What has changed is water mitigation. Projects begin with detailed plans to manage rainwater and infiltration, giving years of life to outdoor structures.

Hoekstra said the biggest technological advancement in his business rests in his shirt pocket.

“This phone. I can keep in touch with all my workers and customers, send them photos of what we’re doing, show them different products, pricing, everything,” he said.

Jake Hoekstra, Hoekstra Masonry, Kings Materials, Hahn Ready Mix