Outdoor Living Project

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We're getting ready to do some major work on our backyard. We call it our "outdoor living project" and we're pretty excited about it. :)

Basically, we're going to:
  1. Convert our breakfast nook windows to a sliding glass door 
  2. Build a 12' x 12' deck right outside the sliding glass door
  3. An add a gas fire pit extension to our patio!!

We had an idea of what we wanted to do but didn't know EXACTLY whatt we wanted. After meeting with 5 different contractors, we decided to go with Robco Fence and Deck for these reasons:
  1. Andrew, who is actually Robco's VP of Operations, came out to meet with us and was very personable and very knowledgeable.
  2. He came up with a nice design, quickly and easily.
  3. Their pricing was inline with all the other quotes we got.
  4. Right-off-the-bat, Andrew showed us lots of options to think about and choose from.
  5. They were very willing to work with us to get exactly what we wanted, even though we weren't exactly sure what that was.
  6. They are Better Business Bureau accredited and had a ton of really good on-line reviews.
  7. Bonus: They have a really cool "app" that helps facilitate communications between us, the project managers and contractors as well stay on top of project details and progress.

We just put a deposit down and are meeting with them tomorrow morning to finalize the project. I'm super excited, mixed with a little apprehension. I really love how our backyard looks now and it's hard to envision what these major changes will look like when it's all said and done. Will I regret that our yard will be even smaller now? Will the deck just be too much in our small backyard? Will it make part of the patio where our table and chairs will be seem too crowded and make me not want to sit there because it'll feel too closed in and dark and yucky? lol. I just don't want huge regrets, especially when we're about to spend so much money. That would suck.

BUT... we really want easy-access from the kitchen to the grill so we can entertain easier. Currently when we try to host "outdoor parties", it seems like 95% percent of the time we just end up inside. Doh! We blame our current setup of having to go through the sun room and down some stairs to our patio where are grill resides. Even though it's not THAT far, it's inconvenient to have to go through 2 doors and stairs to get outside while carrying raw meat and food. And you know, when things are inconvenient, you are less likely to use it!

With this new setup, the pros are:
  •  It'll definitely be easier to get to the grill and outdoor sitting area. 
  • We'll actually have 2 dining areas, one right outside our door, so we'll be more able and hopefully more willing to eat impromptu meals outside more often. 
  • Adding a gas fire pit to that is, well, just icing on the cake! Just think of all the smores we can make now without having to drag out the current fire pit and mess with the wood beforehand and ashes afterwards (not that I ever do - lol). 
and cons:
  • I will miss my breakfast table view for sure
  • The patio area will definitely be more closed-in. 
  • We won't be able to have a direct view of the play set from our patio table anymore, even though sadly, as the girls have gotten older, they don't use it as much. sniff, sniff. BUT, we will be able to see them from the deck or the fire pit should they decide to. 
  • Sadly, my kitchen sink view of it, one of my fave things about this house when they were little, will probably be hindered as well. :(
With all that said, here are the "BEFORE" pictures.

1. The breakfast nook. All those craft bins will certainly need to find a new home, which isn't necessarily bad thing as its clutter sometimes (ok, more like almost always) makes me cringe. I already have a place in mind!

2. The unfettered view from the windows now. I've always loved this view, especially in the fall and especially when kids are playing in the backyard. This, I KNOW, I will miss the most. Post project will be a view of a 12x12ish deck. 

3. Here's a view of the house from the corner of our backyard. I have always loved how the back of our yard looks. It's "interesting" and not boringly flat. The sun room/fishbowl adds character, I think. It's very white, though, so a deck would add some nice coloring, making it even more interesting. :)

4. A little better view of where the deck will go and of the flagstone patio I've loved so, of which we will be losing half! But the patio is too small anyway, AND we'll be gaining a gas fire pit extension that will go further into the yard towards where I took this pic.

5. Here's a view of the yard/patio from the sun room door. The gas fire pit extension will be made of pavers leading out from around where the right 2 bushes are towards the cryptomeria. Can you envision it?

6. And 2 more views from the sun room door, just for more perspective.

Here's what the deck will look like. Hubby built this model using TimberTech/Azec's Deck Designer, whose composite decking products we'll be using. Pretty cool, huh?

Here's option 1. It's basically a 12x12 deck with a 5' x 7' landing for our grill:

But then we had the lovely (and more costly, of course!) idea of extending that landing to 8' x 7' so we could have room for a storage bench or mini bistro table. Just can't decide if moving the stairs out further will make the yard seem even smaller than it already is. Well, that's why the experts will be coming out tomorrow to help us decide once and for all! 

So there it is. Like I said, excited and apprehensive. What do you think? Wish us luck!

Update 12/15/15: Well, after meeting w/ Andrew again and Jason, our project coordinator extraordinaire, I am nothing but excited about our new project. No more apprehension! In fact, we are so confident that our deck plan has grown even more. haha. Andrew off-handedly mentioned the word "barstool" and things just took off from there. We came up with some fun and exciting ideas and they break ground today! Woo hoo!! Here are our new renderings. I was able to include an actual picture of the house, to get a better feel of what the final project will look like. Pretty neat, huh?

Below are some more professional ones done by Jason, with the fire pit and all. I just wish our backyard was actually as big as some of these drawings make it seem! As you can see, we decided to extend the deck to span our sun room and are adding a bar top that looks over the play set. We figured this was a fun way to add extra seating, for kids and adults alike, to dine or just hang out. So what was originally going to be a "grill landing" has turned into more entertaining space which meant our grill had to find a new home. Funny how things work out sometimes. :)

Now Juan and Wilbur are here to get started on it, digging footings, so here we go!! Will just add pictures below, as work progresses. :)

12/23/15: We missed out on a day of beautiful weather waiting for an inspection at the start of the project and now the weather has not been cooperating! It's been pretty rainy around here which has delayed work on the deck, but Juan and Wilbur were able to make decent progress, despite. It's lookin' pretty good, don't you think?

During this "down time", Jason, the hubby and I have been trying to iron out the patio design. The more the weather delays us, the more we keep "improving" on our project, ie spend more money. lol. Jason has been awesome to work with - very patient and helpful in bouncing ideas off of, getting new renderings and quotes and thoughts, in general. He's always quick to respond, too, which is REALLY nice. Here's the latest update and rendering:

We're considering just replacing our old flagstone patio because after drilling through one part of it to pour footings, they realized that there was no concrete slab to support it and that eventually, it would just crumble away with no solid base, which it was already starting to do some. We've really enjoyed that the beauty of that old patio, though, and that gives us the option, now, to expand it a bit, something we've been really wanting to do. Then Jeff came across a picture of a fire pit patio with some lovely seating with a back wall (it was the pretty pillows that hooked me - lol), so we are considering that as well. I think we need to stop surfing the web or we just won't be able to eat for the next year or two! haha.

Update 12/27/15: Well, the holidays have brought our project to a grinding halt. It's too bad because, OF COURSE, the weather has been pretty decent. Figures! But they did make some progress on Christmas eve and we were actually able to step out on the deck. Loving it so far and just can't wait for it do be all finished!

Merry Christmas from our deck thus far! Note: This pic was taken using Big Sis' Black Friday self-stick while wearing shorts. lol! Did you guys get to spend the day in 77 degree weather like we did? :)

Update: 1/4/16: Well, the guys were able to come in on the Saturday after the New Year and make some more progress. Deck is almost done!! Juan is here on his own today finishing up the deck railing in 41 degree weather. It's a time consuming job - lots of balusters to individual put on, but it's lookin' great!

Update: 1/6/16: We have railings!

See them all?

AND a bar top!!

And patio demolition/removal began today! Surprisingly only a tad bit sad to see the old flagstone patio go.

Tomorrow is the day for the breakfast nook windows to sliding glass door conversion...

2/11/16: Life's been a blur and I haven't been able to keep up with the progress on our project ere well on here. Plus I'm trying to decide whether to split this post into 3 separate ones (Before, during and after) or just leave it one huge one. Any opinions? Anyway, here's a big jump to where we are today It's another day filled with a flurry of activity. They've been infrequent lately but welcomed as we are getting very close to the end of this project! Patio guys, stone haulers, electricians and the gas guys are either here or have been here. It's a balmy 34 and we are soooooo close!

Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

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Venia | OrganizedBites.com said...

How exciting! I think you'll love it...I know I would.

Christine Yoon-Taylor said...

Thanks so much Venia!! Well, we went over everything yesterday and I am happy to say that the apprehension is gone! Yay!! Can't wait to get this baby going! :) Thanks for your sweet comment, girl!

Kathy said...

So exciting!