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Rental company creates custom patio installation

Project Briefs | October 1, 2007 | By:

A Virginia-based rental company encourages its client to think outside of the box.

Run-of-the-mill backyard get-togethers are the bread and butter for many tent rental companies. But when Event Rentals in Chantilly, Va., was hired to tent the entire back patio of a beautiful home, it was clear that the client needed something extraordinary. For a previous party, the client had chosen another company to do the tent, says Dave Painter, president of Event Rentals. The other company had made a common mistake, Painter says, by trying to “pound a square peg into a round hole.” It had tented the whole patio with whatever size would fit, by tying the tents together and guttering between them. When a big storm blew in, the tents blew down. After that, he says, the client “had a bad taste in his mouth about tenting.” Event Rentals was called in for an estimate on the new job, thanks to a referral from a gracious tent rental company in Pittsburgh. The customer had already seen several quotes, so Painter approached the job differently. “I asked him what it was about the other quotes that he wasn’t happy with,” Painter says. “He wanted a cover that would have a lot of wow factor, and if he did use it, he didn’t want the weather to be a factor.” Painter knew that what the client really needed was a custom installation.

Hot extras

Event Rentals designed and built custom tables for this event: 8 feet by 10 feet with an opening in the middle to accommodate a tree.

Pro pointers

“The party planners in the past didn’t want to spend any more money than they absolutely had to,” Painter says. “They just told the tenting company what they wanted, not what they needed. It’s sort of like going to the doctor and telling him what kind of medication you want rather than what’s wrong with you.”

Tip: Planners and vendors need to work together to educate each other on important event elements. Trust each other’s skills and experience in areas of specialty.

Key challenges

1. Custom installation. The client had a bad experience with non-custom tenting before, where a tent company tried to “pound a square peg into a round hole.”

2. Limestone building face, which marks easily. The tent could not move with the wind, or there had to be enough room so the tent would not hit the building if it did move in the wind. Rain was also a concern.

3. Marble deck. The event was too fancy for water barrels, and concrete blocks would not do on top of marble. How would the team anchor the tent?

4. Landscaping interference. The client’s landscapers planted trees in the middle of the deck in between site visits, meaning the original tent design would no longer be workable.

Stellar solutions

1. The client had the ability to purchase and store his custom tent, preventing future problems. Event Rentals set up the tent in the space before the event, to ensure that the custom frame fit as TopTec Products designed it to.

2. The tent design accounted for some building movement, plus a “safety factor,” to protect the building’s limestone. For the gaps between the tent’s high side and the building, Event Rentals provided skirting to carefully deflect any rain down the side of the building.

3. Tailor-made bolts installed in the marble solved the anchoring problem. An expert in architecture helped the team design a system that involved core-drilling through the marble and then core-drilling through the mortar and concrete underneath. Mortar mix was poured around expandable screws, and custom stainless steel pucks were placed flush to the surface of the deck. The tent was bolted safely into the patio’s layers.

4. At first, Event Rentals said it simply couldn’t tent the area over the new trees. But a compromise was reached: The client had the trees trimmed, and TopTec created that section of the tent separately, allowing it to be updated as the trees grow.

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