Hey y’all! It’s been a while since I’ve updated you on what’s been going on around the 4th house. Since I got the green light to kick off the boot & start walking again, I have been busy trying get things back to “normal” around here.
Remember my excitement at participating in the One Room Challenge again this spring? I was happy to find a way to join in even though I had a broken foot & was under strict guidelines about what I could physically do. I chose to work on our backyard since it required more planning from me & all the heavy duty work had to be done by contractors or my DH with my limited help.
Well here we are 3 months later & I finally have an update on my backyard makeover with patio extension. Catch up on all the original details, planning, DIYs we covered over the 6 week challenge here:
I planned things out according to what I would take the longest – or so I thought. One of the 1st steps we took was to submit a request to the HOA to extend our patio by about 6′.
While we were waiting for that, we got several projects done including:
- Create a garden with seating
- Build a mobile bar table – this has since turned into a potting table that lives on the side of the house closest to the garden
- Mobile outdoor projector screen
- Build a mobile enclosure for the fire pit
- Bonus: Grill tool holder – this was not in the original plan, but has turned out to be 1 of the easiest & most practical projects we’ve ever done.
Almost exactly 3 months later, the HOA finally approved our patio extension. There was a lot of confusion between the contractor & the HOA over what was being built-in to the patio and what was not. Nothing was. Every single thing is meant to be mobile. I like choices.
The lesson learned – when submitting a request to a very strict HOA, do NOT include the contractor’s quote or the detailed design plans. Both of those will probably include all the projects being worked on whether they include permanent structures that require approval or not. Include only the details of permanent or semi-permanent items like extensions & built-ins.
*Note: Usually the contractor will submit HOA requests, but I would suggest either going over it before they do or submitting it yourself. Consider yourself the project manager of your home improvement project.
I usually like to provide as much information up front as I can so there’s not too much back & forth with questions, but this time that backfired. In the end, I sent them this:
We got approval within a week. Great!
Since it took so long to get approved, the contractor was ready to go the following Monday.
Here’s another area that can go really smoothly or not so much…
Since my contractor was out of town for an extended period building a custom home, we used a new contractor who came recommended within our area. Wonderful customer service, the jury is still out on the subs.
I was super excited to see the excavation & even more excited to see rebar!
The concrete went down the same day. That meant we could get to work laying the brick border. Yay! Naturally, the goal was to stay true to my green design vision & use bricks leftover from when the house was built.
Except that the sub said we didn’t have enough bricks, even though they originally said they could get more if we needed them. Instead he suggested carving out a border.
We are open-minded so we listened, asked (lots) of questions, and agreed to try it. Secretly we were saying to ourselves that there surely was enough bricks & even if there weren’t it would be a very negligible amount that we could substitute new bricks. But we pushed forward.
The concrete went down with the carved border & all – then later that day, so did the rain. Not sure if anyone was paying attention to the forecast but these things happen, right? Most of the concrete was fine but there was 1 specific section where the rainwater fell from the roof line & ripped it apart.
It took 2 days to dry out, but we got the concrete patched & had several days of no rain!
We picked out a stain color to have the border “carved out” & stained.
We did NOT like that. At all.
Having long careers in IT, both DH & I pay a lot of attention to detail.
Now being in the design industry, I am even more meticulous about practically everything.
This carved & stained border had many issues:
- the carved line was not straight & the width of the curve was not the same as the straight aways
- the stain line was not straight within the carved groove
- the stain shows every. single. bit. of texture in the concrete AND
- the stain color sort of went with the brick, but it’s not brick soooo…
These things seem small, but they would have driven me crazy every time we were chilling outside. Plus I still had my heart set on my original design.
DH was gracious enough to pull all the bricks from the garage to see if there were enough. There were. He even laid them out according to my original plan and still had some to spare. So we called the contractors back out to show them exactly what we expect.
After almost 2 weeks – technically 3 months & 2 weeks – a patio extension that could have been done in a day or 2 max is close to complete.
There are a few little BIG things that have to be corrected.
- the extended patio’s slope needs to be altered slightly for water run off
- the extended concrete needs to be a little smoother
- the texture of the extended concrete needs to match the brushed concrete on the original patio
- the groove between the original patio & the extended patio needs to be consistent across the entire width of the patio
Other than that, it looks great!
Now you might say that this plan is too simple, maybe even boring. I say it’s classic & lends itself to many different design possibilities. Yes, we could have gone with stamped concrete or a more exotic look in our backyard complete with a tiki hut & bar, but… We won’t live here forever & it is really important for resale to have a look that is so versatile that anyone can do anything with it.
Plus we love the look. It looks like it was meant to be there, like it was installed with the house not as an afterthought.
Now the only thing that bothers me ever so slightly is that in my original plans/layout, the concrete portion of the extension was exactly the same width as the existing patio. The brick was laid so that it started at the edge of the house – in the spot where the carved & stained border was.
Because of that little snafu, the bricks are further out than we wanted by 6″. The more I look at it, the less it bothers me so I’m okay with that.
Honestly, the only other option we considered was a semi-permanent patio extension using large pavers bordered by or accented with brick.
Since we did something similar at our previous home, we knew the work that would be involved in excavating & leveling the pavers. It is hard backbreaking work that’s worth it in the end but not so fun in the scorching Houston sun.
So we decided to do this instead so the pros could do what they do best & much faster than we could.
My advice when dealing with HOAs:
- Keep building request(s) simple. The simpler the better for a speedy turnaround.
- When in doubt it’s always easier to talk things through rather than communicate via email.
My advice when dealing with contractors:
- Speak up. Do not hesitate to point out things that you don’t like or ask about things that don’t seem quite right to you. Better safe than sorry.
- Always inspect the work along the way, NOT just when it’s “complete”. It may be too late then. Actually…
- It’s NEVER too late to inspect & speak up. Even if you didn’t do it throughout the project, there’s always time. A good contractor doesn’t just do great work, s/he also has great customer service & will always want to make things right.
Obviously, we did not complete the One Room Challenge in 6 weeks but we didn’t give up on it. We are not completely done but have decided to regroup and revisit our options later. For now, we want to enjoy our backyard again.
We’ve already watched several movies on the projector screen. And we have gotten back to chilling out here every day & grilling almost every day.
We sit here to chill, talk, roast marshmallows (& other things). There’s even a tabletop for this fire pit (not shown) that we can put drinks & snacks on. LOVE!
I know you’re wondering if it’s really “mobile”? Well, in the sense that it is not anchored to the yard or the patio, it is. The bricks are secured to each other with construction adhesive & together, my husband and I are able to pick it up. The actual “pit” is 1 we’ve had for years – it was bought at an end of year sale from Lowe’s I think. Anyway, this idea was total a success!
The garden went through a small change for the better and it is thriving now. I love coming out here, seeing the growth & harvesting veggies.
So while we enjoy our patio & garden, we are trying to stretch out summer as long as we can. Harvey helped the kids have a longer summer & the heat is now helping it last a little longer. We’ll see what changes we make in the Green house backyard in the near future. Until then…