if you give a mouse a cookie……

by Sep 26, 2016ModArchitecture0 comments


part 2 – progress

4:02 a.m.

Day 13 of the #presslerhouseproject

I’m not sleeping well.  My head is spinning with plans and questions and what-ifs (and second guessing what we are spending on all of this…).  What started as a back yard improvement project has turned into a comprehensive major rehab of our entire exterior hardscape.  When we bought this house 19 years ago, we liked the house and loved the neighborhood.  In raising our 3 kids here, we quickly realized that this house is truly something special.  The interior layout is extremely livable and after some aesthetic tweaks, all we could have ever wanted in a modern home.  It’s a one-off home, so you have to take my word for it.  I’ve been in thousands of homes in my 13 years in real estate.  None have ever tempted me to move.  That says a lot.  It’s not the biggest or the best, but it’s perfect for us.  Except the yard, which had no where to go but up, and where this story continues……

 day 1 – demo just about complete. the orange string to the left is the final elevation of the patio. we need some fill!

What we have learned so far:

  • I hate MUD! 
  • Hire an architect!  It will be money well spent. Poor #chrismageearchitect is getting several calls a day from us and the contractors.  Not only did he come up with a killer plan that we mere mortals could never have imagined, he is both the answer man and the voice of reason.  The contractors appreciate having the plan to follow with the details in place.  As it all comes together, it’s very exciting to see 2D come to life in 3D.
  • Hire a great contractor.  Ed Bryant Construction came very highly recommended.  We’ve seen his work, and he was well worth waiting for.  We were in the queue all Summer.  His crew is hard working, conscientious, and best of all, they are perfectionists!
  • If you give a mouse a cookie…….he’s going to want a glass of milk.  We read that book to our kids hundreds of times.  But that’s what this project has been.  As long as you are doing this, why not do one more thing……
  • The economy of scale.  Along those same lines, it truly is less expensive and makes sense to do some things together.  After we agreed on a price for the majority of the project, Ed gave us a great price to finish it off and do the driveway as well.  And since we are already so torn up, it seemed like a great idea to get it done.  (Until they tore up the old driveway yesterday in the rain  – see ‘I hate MUD’ above)
  • Construction is messy and LOUD!  It’s kinda fun to see the bobcat bopping around the yard, but the constant stream of dump trucks and cement mixers is getting old.  So is the mud (see above) and the noise!  The cats are enjoying watching the workers, but are not too happy about the big trucks.
  • An old house is never ‘square,’ and it takes a lot of fill to make things level! 
  • No matter how well planned, you have to make split second decisions along the way.  See above. Again, so glad we had #chrismageearchitect to help with this.
  • It’s a helluva lot of work to build retaining walls.
  • Good drainage is exciting and awesome!  Through this we have had the opportunity to run new underground downspout lines.  And we are getting a new driveway drain.  If you have ever had an old drain line back up, you would understand our excitement!
  • People who work out in the elements every day are completely badass and have our utmost respect!
  • It’s really fun to see progress at the end of the day.  Below are some photos of the ongoing work.

laying out the new patio. hard to see in this pic, but the orange line indicates how far the ground needs to be built up to make it level.

getting ready for the new retaining walls and downspout lines. The a/c was hung on the house in preparation. The breeze block wall saved!

patio prep work. the porch stairway has been temporarily removed and new solid cedar 8×8 porch supports added as well as another new downspout line

footers poured for the new retaining walls and original breeze block wall securely in place!

our elderly asphalt drive is really taking a beating with all the heavy trucks……to replace now or later?

our first weekend with the new patio – well, the finished fire pit and the compacted base. could not resist a few tiki drinks with neighbors…….

forming the retaining walls along the bedroom wing

the patio is poured and beautiful native stone aggregate finish exposed.

the process of exposing the aggregate.

problem of the day – laying out a perfect grid pattern when the house is not perfectly square.

view from the living room of the freshly cut expansion joint grid pattern on the patio

the mismatched t-111 siding on the garage (left), and the original 9″ redwood tongue and groove siding on the house (right). you can also see here how the blacktop drive goes right into the garage. time to finally make it right!!

we originally had a two car garage (right) and one car carport (left). the garage walls being removed in preparation for the new concrete slab floor! (of course we had to completely empty the garage, too. but that’s another story. the garage walls will be rebuilt with tongue and groove fir siding to better match the existing redwood.

interesting look at the house with the garage stripped down into a 3 car ‘carport.’ a little out of proportion., but interesting nonetheless. might be good for families without junk, but that’s not us!

side view with the stripped down garage. this side will have paths and steps to connect front to back.

the other side of the house – with new steps formed and ready for the concrete pour.

….and we bit the bullet. old driveway out!

we’re having trouble containing our excitement over our sexy new concrete garage floor!! no more kick stands sinking in asphalt, y’all!

more of my favorite – MUD – as we prepare for the new driveway. yay!


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