Time to Get Dirty

This week was another big starting point week for us on our renovation.  On Monday our backyard landscape overhaul began!  Bear (our furry person) is just as excited as we are, can you tell?!

When we first put an offer on our house the lawns were completely dead; like crunch under your feet dead.  The sprinklers had stopped working during one of the weeks that it as over 100 degrees and no one noticed that none of the plants were getting watered because the home was vacant, so all of the lawns and many of the other plants around the yards died or are very close to dying.  We had a landscaper friend of ours bid a new sprinkler system for the yards, front and back, as well as new lawns during the Inspection period portion of our escrow so we knew it was going to cost us a minimum of $10,000 going into it. We also knew that we wanted to add a pool.  That “simple” idea has now turned into a full blown yard renovation project that we jumped into with both feet this week.  Literally, with both feet because the yard is completely torn up and you can’t get around the dirt without walking through it, see?!

 

We also met with our Pool contractor for the first time on Monday!  That was super exciting and I can’t wait to see what he draws up for us (though I’m not looking forward to the price it’s gonna cost LOL!).  As with most of the projects we do, the original pool plan has already changed like 3 times and we haven’t even had the plans drawn up yet.  The planning and designing process of renovation often goes through a LOT of changes from first thought to final product and for me that’s the fun of it!  There’s usually a ton of different ways to do something, and figuring out what’s best for the space is like a big puzzle and coloring book smashed into one.  Our landscaper helped us get a better feel for his suggestion of the pool placement by spray painting an outline of the pool onto the ground.  That helped a ton to be able to visualize how the pool would fit into the space.  Sometimes talking through design isn’t enough to help you make a decision. If you’re a visual person like me, you have to measure it out and actually see how it will all fit before making a decision.

(You can’t see the whole pool outline but those painted lines are the edge of the pool closest to the house.  Yup, we’ll be cutting into the concrete to make it the size we want and to have a better fit and shape for the yard.  More work but it will be a much better result.)

Whoever designed our yards originally put a lot of thought and care (and money) into the yard.  Cement planter beds line the backyard and are full of excellent soil.  There’s also a cement mow strip under 90% of the fence which keeps the wood from touching the dirt and allows less critters to get into our yard.  They also put a lot of irrigation in, but unfortunately time has run it’s course on the irrigation system, so we’re replacing all of it.  The good part about replacing all of the irrigation is that the new system will be much more efficient for the plants and grass that our landscaper will be installing.  So this week, that’s what our landscaper has been working on so far.  He’s ripped out all of the old sick and dead plants that were around the edge of the backyard, as well as saving those that could be saved to use elsewhere.   He’s been removing the old irrigation lines making room for brand new irrigation.  He’s also spent a good amount of time helping us to plan out the new design for the yard, listening to our ideas, (vetoing some of my husbands overly creative ideas lol) and helping us come up with the best design for our space.

(This crazy jumble of pipes will be a lovely new irrigation system someday soon.)

At the beginning of the week our backyard looked like this, prior to any work being done:

You can see all of the plants around the edges of the yard, those are now gone.  The “grass” is still there, or at least it was when I left the house this morning, but I expect it will soon just be dirt as well.

As of this afternoon the backyard looked like this:

Less plants, more dirt, dirt, dirt.  But eventually there will be new planters, beautiful healthy plants, a huge sprawling lawn and a pool!  We decided to dig into (ha ha, I’m punny) the potential this yard holds since it was the potential of this yard that drew us to this home I am so excited to watch it become what it will be.  It’s a big dirty job and someone’s got to do it, so I’m glad we hired a landscaper!

 

CalBRE # 01984572

I’m a full time wife, mom and Real Estate Agent and I blog about the real dirty honest stuff about renovation; like what living through a house being torn apart is actually like, the real costs of upgrading, DIY vs hiring it out, etc.  If you like what you’ve read, follow this blog to receive an email with each new post!

Demo Before Reno

The Renovation has begun on our home.  When you think renovation, what comes to mind?  A beautiful finished project, or the dust and mess, contractors, hammers, nail guns, noise galore?  Well when I think of renovation, I think of demolition. Before you do the work to make something in your home or outside of your home beautiful, you usually have to rip it all apart first lol.  For some the demolition process is stress relieving, I mean you can save yourself hours of therapy I’m pretty sure by just picking up a sledge hammer and whacking into things.  But you can also cost yourself a bunch of extra money if you don’t know what you’re whacking into!  For others the demo part of renovation is anxiety inducing.  Ripping into a perfectly fine wall to expose who knows what issues beneath.  But with renovation comes demolition.  They go hand in hand.

The fun part of demolition is that is usually happens relatively quickly.  Then you’re left to live in the wake of torn up sheet-rock, dust, insulation, nails, dust, pipes, more dust, etc.  For us Demo day started week before last.  I actually didn’t even know we had begun until I got home from work one day, walked through the house and saw this.

To clarify, we had decided to open up the enclosed back patio, I just didn’t realize the work was starting that day.  We hired a friend of ours to take down the walls to the covered patio returning it to it’s original post and beam covered patio status.  My husband arranged for our friend to start working on it that week, but didn’t remember to relay that information to me, lol.  For some, walking into a demo zone would freak you out, but for me, a huge smile spread across my face, I jumped up and down in excitement and took this picture and texted it excitedly to my husband.  I may have issues, but that’s beside the point. Demo had begun!  The reason I love demo so much is that you get to see immediate change.  All of the hours and tossing around ideas and potential plans are put into action!

Now you may be wondering, why would you rip open a perfectly fine enclosed patio?  Let me give you several reasons.  First of all, the previous owners enclosed the covered patio on their own, and not very well.  The walls didn’t go to the edge of the slab so water seeps in under the walls.  Walls that have electricity run to them.  Water and electricity, not a good mix.  Second of all, I don’t think whoever enclosed the patio thought it through first.  I see this a LOT as a Realtor.  People enclose a patio thinking it will give them extra living space but more often than not it just creates an odd mostly unusable room that it either too hot or too cold or both.  In our case, the sun faces the patio during the heat of the day, and there was no heating or air ducting run to the enclosed patio room, so it was basically a giant useless hot box.  To top it off, our dryer vent vents into the patio area, so not only was a hot, it was humid and dusty.  It also wasn’t added with permits.  Why does that make a difference you might ask?  Well, if you’re a home owner and you’re truly wanting to add value by adding square footage to your home, having the area permitted so that the County Records reflect that added square footage is the way to go in my opinion.  You will pay a little more in property taxes if they reassess your property because of the permits, but you’ll be gaining value by having square footage that you can actually claim (and is added correctly) if you ever decide to sell your home.

Back to our giant hot box/enclosed patio.  This is what it looked like when we bought the home.  A long narrow room that cut off the view to the backyard.  Trust me, these pictures make it it look better than it actually was.  The functionality of the room was just not there.  You can see by the staining on the floor where the water used to come in, and even though there were windows and fans, there was very very little air circulation.

The thing with renovation is that it can be a little scary for some.  You’re taking something that is mostly usable and making it unusable for a while.  It always gets worse before it gets better.  Sheetrock comes down quickly, but the outside of our enclosed patio was entirely stuccoed, and stucco does not come down so easily.  Our friend ended up using a diamond blade to cut the stucco into pieces to remove it.  We needed the posts and beam across the top that were the original covered patio to stay intact, so he couldn’t just go bashing down all of the walls, he had to take it down piece by piece.  Here’s our patio after a couple of days of demolition.

If you’re looking at these pictures and thinking, wow, that doesn’t look that dirty, you’re absolutely right!  Our friend is amazing at cleaning up after himself when he’s done for the day.  I can’t say that’s true of all contractors, so if you hire someone to do demo for you, make sure you’re clear with them what you expect.  We still needed to be able to access our yard through the patio since our dog goes out there, so he was fantastic about picking up anything that could be a hazard to the dog.

A few more days in and it looked like this!

Just taking the walls down made the whole yard feel bigger, plus we gained about a foot and a half of usable space on the patio because the person who enclosed it built the walls in line with the posts.  So a foot of cement past the posts and 6 inches of wall where the posts are made for a small narrow enclosed room.  Now it’s a spacious wide open 40 ft long covered patio!

And here is it in it’s current state.  All of the walls are down, stucco is off and insulation is out!  You even get a camo of Bear, our Golden Retriever 🙂

Now you may be thinking, um Christina, it looks worse that it did as an enclosed patio.  You’re not wrong.  It’s looks worse in it’s current state.  But this won’t be the finished product.  Let me share my vision for this space with you, dream with me for a minute if you will.  Picture shiplap on the ceiling (Jo Gaines and I are like BFF’s if you didn’t know, lol, just kidding), but seriously shiplap running horizontally across the entire ceiling.  We’ll be keeping the ceiling fans, not THOSE ceiling fans, but we’ll get some nice outdoor ceiling fans and we’re having the electrical for them rerouted to the house since the electrical was run to the exterior walls that came down.  The roof will be replaced when we do the addition to the front of the house and we may do a metal roof for the covered patio.  For the posts that come down, the bottom 1/3 of them or so will be getting wrapped with a stacking stone of some sort and trimmed out to look more substantial and much more attractive than they currently are.

I know you’re anxious for some before and after pictures! Ready?!  Ok, here you go. . . .

Look past the mess and you’ll see why we opened up this room and one of the reasons why we bought this house.  See that canyon view back behind the house in the bottom picture there?  That was completely blocked off by the enclosed patio and also by some trees that were there that we’ve taken down.  We now have a wide open usable patio and in that dirt section back there, there will be a pool.  Potential.  That’s why we bought this house, for the potential is has and the amazing yard it will have.

The demo has began, walls are down and our patio is now a usable space. We’ve already enjoyed sitting out there almost every evening this week, enjoying the cool breeze (that we can feel now that the walls are gone)  a glass of wine, a few games of Cornhole and taking in the view that we can now see (once we look past the insulation lol). That’s the thing with renovation, it’s a process, sometimes a very loooooooooooong process, but in the end it’s (almost always lol) worth it!  If you’re in the middle of a renovation or plan to do one in the future, don’t forgot to enjoy the in between part of the process.  It doesn’t have to be finished to be fun.  If you’re going to live in it and through it, you might as well enjoy it!

 

CalBRE #01984572

I’m a full time wife, mom and Real Estate Agent and I blog about the real dirty honest stuff about renovation; like what living through a house being torn apart is actually like, the real costs of upgrading, DIY vs hiring it out, etc.  If you like what you’ve read, follow this blog to receive an email with each new post!