All it takes is a simple spark to light a fire. Building off of the base of skills he first learned years prior in high school shop classes, Derek Pratt joined forces with his younger brother, Adam, and father, Dan, to launch Pratt Guys. Initially a custom home renovations and remodeling company, Pratt Guys has now found their niche designing custom backyard escapes.
“We love the outdoors, fishing, the St. Johns River and Jacksonville, FL” – The Pratt Guys
Seas for the Jacksonville-raised Pratt Guys weren’t always smooth sailing. When the market slowed in 2009, the flame that was lit in 2004 barely flickered. Like any other smart businessmen, the Pratt Guys focused on what they do best. For them, it’s relationships. “People like us because we work hard to establish relationships with our customers,” said Derek. “We don’t just come in, install new cabinets and move on. In some instances, we’ve actually become great friends with our customers.”
As time progressed, the group added additional services as clients pitched new project ideas. One of these requests inspired the company’s push into the backyard escapes world: the pergola. The Pratt Guys successfully molded their talents with concrete, pavers and pergolas and began making a name for themselves as creators of incredible backyard spaces. The company has garnered so much success in this new line; they will soon open a licensed retail store to display backyard kitchen options and accessories.
Their favorite assignment was a house in St. Augustine dubbed “The Ultimate Party House;” they designed and developed a backyard complete with custom-designed pools, decks, pavers, pergolas, lighting, fire pit, wine cooler, kegerator and even outdoor pizza oven.
How-to Steps for Planning a Fire Pit
Once you decide to add a fire pit in your backyard, how do you choose the perfect one for your home?
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
First, you need to determine its size. The choices vary from a small, simple basic fire pit to an elaborate and gigantic fireplace. It is important to consider the size of your backyard or setting and also how you plan to use it – do you have a small family or do you plan to entertain larger groups?
Determine a Budget that Works
For those who want to integrate the fire pit into the design of their outdoor living space, the cost to build and install a fire pit can range in price from approximately $600 to $10,000 and more. If you plan on doing it yourself, be sure to check with your local municipal office regarding specifications and permits before the work begins.
Gas or Wood
One of the biggest decisions, according to Derek Pratt, is deciding whether to use gas or wood for your fire. Gas is an easy and convenient way to light the fire quickly, but can be more costly and may not provide the warmth of a wood burning flame. However, wood fires can take longer to light and the embers leave more of a mess to clean up. For that reason, some home owners have hired the Pratt Guys to convert their wood burning fire pits or fireplaces into gas burning ones.
Once those decisions are made, then the fun begins. When it comes to the design, Pratt says creativity has no limits. Fire pits don’t have to be circular; they can be any shape or size. Gas equipped fire pits can be supplied with glowing glass fire rocks, which come in a variety of colors, or ceramic logs that look like the real thing. Grates can be added for cooking.
And that’s just the beginning. A custom size wood top can convert a fire pit into a table. An outdoor fireplace can include a stone surround and a mantle or storage areas while pavers surrounding the area define the seating or entertainment areas. With unlimited choices and imagination, it is possible to create the outdoor space of your dreams.
“It is absolutely endless what you can do,” Pratt said.
New studio address:
6967 Philips Highway