Never Too Early to Get Started – Part II

If you’ve read Never Too Early to Get Started, then you already have a general idea of how the ShadeFX process works. We’ve covered the timeline on a retractable shade as a stand-alone, but what if you require a structure as well?

If you aren’t familiar, ShadeFX customizes retractable canopies and roofs for both residential and commercial projects. Fitted to within 1/8”, the shade will seamlessly integrate with any existing structure, or structure to be built.

However, what some don’t know is that we also offer custom structure kits. The combination of our shade and structure provide a watertight, sun and rain retractable solution, unmatched in today’s market.

Stylish Custom Structure Kits

ShadeFX’s custom aluminum structure kits are a turnkey solution complete with our patented single-track retractable canopy or retractable roof. The commercial grade aluminum is pre-engineered, manufactured to custom size, and shipped, ready to assemble.

The structures are a minimalist and seamless design, powder coated to the color of your choice. Beam to post connections are flush, with no visible brackets, bolts or fasteners. Everything is connected within the hollow posts removing the need for onsite welding. Not only are they low maintenance, but also wind rated for 55-63 mph. For those looking for an elegant flair or added privacy, the structures are designed with an integrated curtain track.

Where do you start?

As noted in part one of our blog, a great place to start is with the budget. If you’ve done some research prior to reading this blog, you’ll have a feel for the cost of a custom outdoor structure and retractable shade solution. Our package of options, warranty and craftsmanship, position us well in the market to serve your need.

Concept (1-2 weeks)

At this stage, our Product Specialist will connect with all stakeholders of the project. Together, we’ll work towards a solution best suited for your space. We’ll assess your requirements and from there, provide a project proposal and a formal quote.

Design & Order (2-4 weeks)

ShadeFX Options

The design & order phase is where the project takes life. From dimensions to number of units, to options selected, these decisions help shape both the structure and space. Some customization choices include, but are not limited to:

Structure Options:

  • Powder coating
  • Rain management (gutters, water deflection)
  • Structure height
  • Post placement
  • Curtains

Shade Options:

  • Retractable canopy, or retractable roof
  • Powder coating
  • Canopy drop, fold, or stack when shade is retracted
  • Stabilizers
  • Drive options (manual, motorized)
  • Fabric selections (colors, fabric lines, characteristics)
  • Direction of operation
  • Front and rear valances


An extremely important consideration during the design phase is establishing how the structure will be mounted and secured. In the case of ground-level projects, concrete footings or a concrete pad will suffice.

However, when it comes to rooftop projects, the consideration of existing site conditions is crucial. From floor thickness to waterproofing membranes, these details will dictate if anchoring the posts are viable options. Alternatives, such as counter weighted plates or weighted planter boxers may need to be considered.

Stamped Drawings

We provide engineering stamps, if required. ShadeFX drawings can take 2-5 days depending on project complexity. The stamp can add another week or two depending on the jurisdiction. ShadeFX has a network of licensed engineers across North America to ensure the proper stamps are applied.

Other Additions

Plan to attach personal accessories to the structure? No, problem! Lighting, heaters, speakers, etc. can easily be added. ShadeFX’s hollow post and beam design allow for conduit and wires to be fished throughout. Best practice is to have an electrician onsite during assembly to connect the lines.

When decisions have finally been made, an order acknowledgement with details and cost breakdown will formally be put together. After it’s been approved, and a down payment has been received, the custom structure and canopy will be put into queue for production.

Build (6-10 Weeks)

Once the order reaches the top of our production schedule, ShadeFX can begin building. The custom structure and canopy will be built to exact specifications in our factory. The manufacturing time is dependent on the scope of the project.

Stand-alone units can be manufactured in as little as five to six weeks, while multiple connected bays with incorporated rain management can take upwards of eight to nine weeks. Be mindful of the spring rush, it can extend lead times by a week or two as well.

As soon as the order is complete, we will ship the product to site for assembly, as long as the site is ready.

Site Prep (1-6 Weeks)

While ShadeFX is busy building your shade solution, site preparations can occur. Preparing the site can be simple, but unexpected changes can and do happen quite often. Outdoor projects are usually at the mercy of mother nature and inclement weather conditions can put things behind schedule.

When it comes to commercial development, there are a few other traps that can delay a project. Factors such as budget and resource shortages, faulty equipment, city regulations, poor planning, unreliable subcontractors, overbooked crews, last-minute changes and waiting for that one important person to give approval. Avoiding these development traps can remove 4-6 weeks of deferrals.

Shipping (1 Week)

When final payment has been received, a tracking number will be provided. The kit will be carefully packaged in large crates to reduce the risk of damage during transit. Based on final destination, transit time can take between three to seven days

It’s important to understand packaging details such as crate dimensions and weight. It will help ease the process of offloading and hoisting materials, if required.

Installation (1-7 Days)

A stand-alone single bay ShadeFX custom structure can typically be assembled by two people in a day or less. Depending on the scope of the project and skillset of the laborers, installation time will vary.

If installation isn’t up your alley, or you think you have the skillsets but desire supervision, ShadeFX also offers services for comfort and reassurance. Our services range from a la carte to a full white glove service.

Overall Timeline

As outlined above, custom structure kits can take anywhere between 10 to 18 weeks. Here’s the breakdown:
Concept and Proposal: 1-2 weeks
Design and Order: 2-4 weeks
Build and Site Prep: 6-10 weeks
Shipping: 1 week
Installation: 1-7 Days

It’s important to understand this overall timeline does not include the waiting period for a permit, or any delays in site prep.

As many know, permits can be a hassle. In most circumstances, a permit is required before breaking ground. These permits ensure that the project plans comply with local standards, zoning and construction. Best practice is to check with your local city hall to see if a permit is required in your jurisdiction. Although we can help with providing technical information, the permit remains the responsibility of the purchasing party.

All things considered, ShadeFX custom structures are the ultimate solution for rain and sun protection. Whether it’s a residential or a commercial project, we can tailor our structures and services to suit your needs and style.

It’s never too early to get your project started to avoid probable delays. Rain or shine, snow or fallen leaves, our facility will keep your project moving forward, as long as it’s completely in our hands.

Let’s plan a project today. We’re here to help.