This Landscape Design Project is my favorite and I will miss coming to this house every day. I am lucky enough to meet great people and help them find answers and solutions to issues in their yards. It a great job. Some times we meet about a drainage issue, an irrigation problem or they have finally made the decision to revise the landscape that has overgrown the front of the house. Lately the calls have been to add some LED lighting around the back yard. A handful of times a year it’s something that requires a fully designed landscape plan. Really enjoy those, especially when it comes time to add color to the full scale landscape architect’s plan. Takes me back to when I was a kid.
Last summer I had a request for a screen room. Seems simple enough. I always approach projects with the mindset of what I would like to see happen if it were my house, so off I went to the drawing board.
This would be a second floor level screen room on a deck. It had to be a statement piece, and it had to connect to an existing roof line. Customer said, “let’s see what you can come with…and I think I want a fire pit somewhere too, and just in case, think about what if we want to add a pool – maybe”. And there should be some way to connect it to the back yard and the customer’s home office… Actually, all the individual elements of even a project like this are things we do anyway. Fantastic conversation.
My mind was whirring through the litany of questions to be answered. Second floor kitchen also means a walk out basement and that indicates the need for a transitional space and how are we going to get there from the driveway? The grade already slopes away from the house at odd angles, so there will be some machine work and landscaping to do. Also have to renovate the irrigation to fit the new arrangement and figure out how to use led lighting to extend the length of time they can enjoy these new spaces, plus add safety. What about the trees that are in the way, will the County let us remove them? This thing is getting huge. Great, here come the permit issues. Love this stuff. Not the customer’s problem, they just wanted “a nice screen room off the back”. “And maybe a place for some chairs and the grill”, she added.
Two weeks later we had a design concept (yes, colored in) and when I laid this out on their kitchen table…
There was a moment of silence or two, possibly some cursing under his breath, and then My Customer only asked one question, “When can you start?” I asked for some details about their lifestyle and how they thought it would look at the end so we could spec the materials and wouldn’t you know…
Thank you Pinterest?
My Customers sent me 25 different boards of ideas! Guess they had planned this for a while. We sorted through the possibilities over the next two weeks while permits where being processed and narrowed it down to what both made sense and was a good value.
Our carpenters had already spec’d it out with me, we had provided all the design, elevation and deck engineering drawings so we got it approved by the County pretty quickly. Standard stuff.
Our discussions led to other non-structural details like beams and exposed ceilings in the screen room, a new door out of the home office where there was now a bow-window and finally to material orders. Should we change the outside fixtures and what about the color of the glass for the fire pit, what about electrical and gas supplies, drainage, landscaping and can we connect power to the shed while we are at it? So many details to cover and coordinate but possibly the most fun I’ve had.
Hurdles? There was the process of getting an upgraded meter for the gas service to supply the HPC 250,000 btu fire pit burner. All I can say is start early on that one. Its like getting an appointment with the doctor. Weather was definitely the number one factor. Delivery of materials and on the fly, modifications to the grading, drainage and irrigation systems, the additional requirement of a LDL beam to open up the patio space under the deck was a brilliant call by the carpenters. The changes for material unavailability such as the under deck ceiling that no one had in the amount of square footage we needed – these could keep you up at night. But we had daily conversations and as the Customers saw it coming to life they wanted to have more input. That’s why we discussed progress and options, daily. Because as it goes from paper to being alive and 3D, that is to be expected. Talking daily and walking the site in person plus having done so much research on the front end, the Customer’s goals were very clear in terms of functionality, style and appearance. These folks had great ideas and were certain in what they expected and that conversation every day helped keep things on track.
Maybe I should just put up a hammock in the trees. Do you think they’ll notice if I hang out a while longer?
Want to see more? Visit our Houzz site below and “like” the project, but here are a few sneak peeks:
Most importantly, if you have an idea in your head and need help getting it moving toward reality, send me a message. We’ll have fun with whatever it is and I’ll make sure it turns out just as nice.—John
John Gallagher, AMJ Landscaping