Q. Our family is planning some improvements to our house next summer. Part of the plan is to build an outdoor entertainment area. The ones that are the most interesting seem to be in the fairer climate areas south of here. We do a lot of entertaining during three seasons, especially the summer, because we live at the lake. It’s nice to have lots of guests and it’s even better when everybody stays outside. A carpenter who worked for us before gave us some good ideas, but I don’t think outdoor living spaces are really his forte. I have seen some sophisticated outdoor entertainment systems and I’m assuming these need to be protected from the elements. In the plan is also an outdoor kitchen and fire pit area. Who should we talk to about these expensive products for the best advice? — Adam on Big Long Lake

A. Outdoor entertainment has become more and more popular in the last 10 years for all the reasons you mentioned.

Outdoor design and products are very different than indoor materials and products. What you really need is a contractor that is a good problem solver. Someone who can take the time to incorporate the array of professionals you will need to accomplish the project you are planning.

Your project will require more than a carpenter; you will also need an audio/video expert, a landscape designer, a deck/patio builder and a kitchen expert, and all of them will want to be well versed in their field of expertise.

The A/V expert will need knowledge of the latest in smart home solutions, home theater design and construction.

A landscape architect or designer will want to put together the plan and help put together a budget.

And the kitchen expert will help problem solve the outdoor cooking and fire pit areas. The patio/deck contractor will want to bring it all together.

A project done right will last and be enjoyed for years and years.

Jeff Deahl is past president of the Builders Association of Northeast Indiana. Questions for the Square Corners column may be submitted to jeff@craftsman-design.com.

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