All The Ups And Downs Of Emily Bowser’s Front Yard Renovation (Part 2!)


I’m baaaaaaack. Right here with half 2! I left you with a cliffhanger (aka a spot to take a break) with my storage doorways being put in and completely hating the whole lot about them. Choosing up the place we left off, at this level, it’s Might eighth 2021. We began this journey on April nineteenth 2021. Inside these brief few weeks, my contractor Ron and his guys received quite a bit completed. They ripped up the entire entrance yard (as a result of each inch was lined in concrete), eliminated and changed the sewage line and the water line (BORING), ripped up the fence alongside the left aspect of the driveway, ripped out the insides of the steps and patio (all rotted), had the entire space graded away from the home, introduced plumbing and electrical to the entrance yard (outlet and tap to the appropriate of the gate for eventual irrigation for the inexperienced house and an extra outlet on the patio), put in a french drain alongside the entrance of the storage, poured a brand new driveway and walkway to gate and stairs, constructed a brand new wall the place the fence was alongside the left aspect of the driveway and a half wall in an L form to separate the driveway from the (eventual) inexperienced house, pulled the storage out to the depth of the steps after which (lastly) the storage doorways went in. Dun dun dun…

I imply, no remark crucial I suppose. Possibly I must be glad that the workmanship up up to now appeared good? I shouldn’t have been too stunned although. Going even additional again, in Might of 2018 we had our entrance gate/fence ripped out and changed: 

Earlier than, 2016 
After, 2018

The gate they put in in 2018 was good for like, 6 months? After which each 2 months we must have them come out and shave it down or transfer the hinges. It could continuously get caught (one time leading to our tenants being unable to depart the yard) or be too free and bounce open. I’m not a door scientist however I consider the difficulty was that the body of the gate was made with wooden. Probbbbbably as a result of I couldn’t afford the rest on the time and my contractor knew it so he didn’t give me an choice. In 2020 sooner or later, my husband had had sufficient and received a advice from a pal of ours and had this new and improved gate made:

Photograph was taken actually as I’m scripting this.

Let this be a lesson: higher high quality is all the time price it. 

Except you’re broke and also you simply want a gate for two years when you save up.

Alas, It’s been there for two years and we’ve not had one difficulty. So when Ron slipped his slippery self into my life once more, I used to be clear: the storage doorways should be identical to the aspect gate. And I meant *like them* in that they should be in a metal body and in addition in the identical type. Easy vertical wooden planks, no fancy enterprise. So now let me present you a side-by-side of what I requested for vs. what I received:

Ugh. Though I’ll say, the framing of the storage doorways is nice, it was the execution of, properly, the whole lot else. What I requested for isn’t onerous so they really appeared to exit of their technique to make this as dangerous because it was. To me, if that they had by no means added the border – that I didn’t ask for – it will have been advantageous. I *suppose* they added it as a result of there’s a metal body on the within of the door that follows the identical strains of the border, across the outsides and thru the center. I believe they thought it will be simpler to connect the wooden to the body if they might drill straight by means of the wooden into the body after which cowl their screw holes with the wooden. They didn’t suppose by means of how the handles would work and have been identical to “F it”. I complained instantly however regardless that they have been ready to try this enormous record of issues above in 2.5 weeks, the handles wouldn’t be remedied for MONTHS. Oh, we’ll come again to this saga. Spoiler: it will get worse earlier than it will get higher.

Again to Might 8 2021…

That is the patio and stairs within the technique of the rotted wooden being handled. I want I had extra photos however I had a job and missed a little bit of the demo. The storage doorways was in step with the home, however as you possibly can see above, they’ve been pulled out to the width of the steps. Earlier than, the patio acted as a pure cowl for the appropriate aspect of the storage which we discovered helped with the flooding in that storage and helped shield the wooden on that storage door higher (as a result of the overhand was overlaying it). The patio, or actually only a touchdown to place your stuff down and unlock the entrance door, was additionally very skinny, simply the width of the steps (40”). So we determined to increase the patio out 2 ft to match the road of the planter you possibly can see right here.

And sadly no, that jasmine plant didn’t make it by means of all of the upheaval, though not for lack of attempting. Fear not, I planted a brand new one.

The subsequent section was stucco-ing the concrete partitions, seen right here:

And framing out the steps and patio:

Photograph out our entrance door:

The place we have been in mid Might 2021:

This course of was painstakingly gradual. The framing occurred in mid-Might. The primary week of June they stucco-d, put within the bases of the railing, and waterproofed. 

First week of June:

the crimson substance is the waterproofing

I used to be out of city for an enormous chunk of June/July visiting each of our households that we hadn’t seen in literal years. Most likely why they didn’t really feel a rush to get issues accomplished. It’s now July twelfth. Whereas we have been gone they got here by to “repair” storage gate 2021…y’all. Y’ALLLL. You’re going to die:

I l.i.t.e.r.a.l.l.y. thought I used to be being punked. HARK! They even bolstered the border I stated I hated and wished eliminated. All I did was textual content Ron that precise photograph with zero rationalization. Apparently, he got here by the following day to have a look at it. Extra on that later…

As soon as we have been again on the town they put in a easy railing which I selected utilizing this super-secret insider design tip: Authorized, Least Offensive, and Least expensive. 

Cat tax for studying to this point.

Subsequent, I began enthusiastic about tile. I had a superb quantity of leftover tile from our again patio and made my husband pull all of it out with me so I may see how way more we must order to do that house as properly. For all you questioning, sure, we tiled the again patio. Final I checked in with you we had painted it briefly till we may save up for the tile I wished. No, there’s no formal reveal but however you peep it on this Halloween submit from final yr, OR I’ll prevent the additional click on and you may see it on this BTS from that shoot:

The chaos represents my life. The tile is fairly although 🙂

V skilled tile math occurring right here.

The waterproofing burned off within the sizzling sizzling summer time warmth, which is why it’s now not crimson in these photographs, they usually needed to reapply. However again to the tile for a second as a result of I do know individuals need the down and soiled on it. It’s the Cross 2 and Circle by Tierra y Fuego. It’s attractive and handcrafted. It’s not low-cost and it was not free. The associated fee to do each areas was slightly over $5,000 and should you embrace customized sanded grout, in all probability round $5,500. I drove to San Diego to select it up as a result of it saved me a bit on transport. It was a straightforward course of and they’re a stunning small firm. The tiling price was included within the $60,000 funds for this house and once we discuss again yard I’ll pull up the data on the labor and we’ll go to all of this once more.

Observe the crimson hue arising off of that waterproofing

*insert massive sigh right here* We’re on the place within the story after I notice each how arduous and lengthy this was (and nonetheless is. Spoiler alert: it’s been a yr and we aren’t accomplished people!) and in addition feeling fairly proud that we’ve actually scraped this ish collectively. We’re each freelancers, we by no means know the place cash goes to come back from or if it’s going to come and each time we do one thing like this it’s an enormous leap of religion that jobs will come from someplace to pay for it and for our very costly Los Angeles life. Nevertheless, it’s additionally why typically this stuff get stretched out. Ron “fastened” the storage doorways (we’ll name it ok), I’ll save the close-up for Instastories right now as a result of I solely have video of it, however you possibly can see slightly on this pulled-back photograph. All Ron wanted to complete what we had paid for was the tile and we merely couldn’t afford to purchase the supplies. Delta hit and so did our work. My husband misplaced a job he was speculated to be on for a month a few days earlier than it was supposed to start out, and manufacturing for me got here to a screeching halt as firms tried to adapt to what the brand new variant meant for enterprise.

We had spent $60,000 and our home was nonetheless form of, properly, miserable. Don’t get me flawed, Andrew was having fun with slightly additional respiration room in our storage and it was good to know that scary issues (like an exploding sewage line) have been taken care of, however we didn’t actually need to be on the market. For some purpose having an enormous filth patch screams to individuals “DUMP YOUR SH*T HERE” and we have been continuously coping with different individuals’s trash in our yard. It was uninspired, to say the least.

Summer season become fall and the home remained the identical. I bear in mind someday, after one other particular person had dumped their trash in our yard, I had a surge of vitality to attempt to make the house the most effective it could possibly be and to cease wallowing that it wasn’t “accomplished”.

We spent a weekend eradicating the massive chunks of concrete and a few leftover development junk from the eventual inexperienced house and it’s humorous, as quickly as we did that folks stopped dumping. It’s the Disneyland concept I suppose: should you hold it clear, individuals received’t throw their trash on the bottom. Despite the fact that the patio was a bizarre pinkish hue from the waterproofing sporting off, I put two of our CleverMade Tamarak chairs onto the patio and began having fun with the house for what it was, not what it will be. Not in contrast to when our yard was filth for six months as a result of we couldn’t afford landscaping but.

Throughout this time is after I began enthusiastic about what I wished from the 16’x16’ tiny plot of filth down by the driveway. I had lastly hopped to it and began harvesting from our orange tree out again and leaving a crate of oranges with Goal baggage (from our many Goal shoots in 2021) for the neighbors to take after they walked by. Andrew and I each actually loved how excited individuals would get (particularly children) and how briskly they’d go. There are solely so many oranges we will eat and we have been glad to share.

*Goal didn’t approve of nor are they accountable for these oranges

I made a decision that between the yard and the entrance patio, we actually didn’t want any extra hanging-out spots. I *could* have briefly thought-about hedging the factor in and placing a sizzling tub on the market however alas, that sounds costly (and slightly bizarre?). We may simply panorama it and make it fairly, however why not make it fairly AND edible? Possibly I used to be nonetheless impressed by the Ron Finley Masterclass I devoured in the summertime of 2020 in regards to the significance and actuality of city gardening. I discussed in my yard submit that I assumed possibly we will match a small raised backyard on the aspect of the again patio, however now sitting on the entrance patio trying down, I noticed it made far more sense to place it out right here and go larger. The again patio could be higher suited to extra hanging out house (or mayyyybe a wooden fired sizzling tub HIIII Goodland, slide into my DMs please). 

This can be a lesson that typically taking your time on a renovation might help you make extra thought-out selections. That’s my reframe of this YEAR PLUS journey anyway. I’ll come again to the city gardening thought. Let’s get again on chronological monitor…

My cleaned up however unfinished entrance yard, full with Tamarack Chairs, a dust patch, and my model new (used) minivan! Take a look at the jasmine plant that simply needs to reside!

Round October 2021 I began to get involved about our wet season. The patio was meant to have tile on it so it wasn’t weather-appropriate as is. Sure, I do know, it’s completely nuts that we began this journey in April 2021 and at this level we’re in October 2021 and it. Had. Not. Rained. Isn’t that wild? 13 years in Los Angeles and it nonetheless surprises me. October twenty fifth 2021 got here the primary actual rain. Why do I do know the precise date, properly, wouldn’t , MY GARAGE FLOODED.






I believe I went catatonic and didn’t communicate or really feel issues for days. The drain that ran from the left aspect of my home to the road failed. Enormously. The water constructed up on the again aspect of the wall as a result of the drain was not large enough to deal with the water that we’ve realized, funnels from each of our neighbors straight into our yard. It was over 3 ft deep and wanted to go someplace. Water finds a approach. It finds a approach. I went into my aspect of the storage (left) and it gave the impression of a faucet was operating. It discovered a crack and pushed its approach by means of the aspect of the home, one thing that had not occurred earlier than. It’s onerous to see water in photographs, however we’ll submit some movies on Insta-stories.

*insert even deeper sigh right here* We dried out the storage, fortunately it didn’t last more than a day, and patched the aspect of the home:

After it flooded AGAIN AND WORSE a few months later, we drilled a few ugly holes within the wall itself so the water may go down the drain and thru the holes. It’s not fairly nevertheless it will get the job accomplished. Yep, undecided how one can reframe that one. Fortunately my aspect of the storage has seen quite a lot of flooding so the whole lot is in bins however Andrew’s aspect is NOT so, yeah, that was tremendous enjoyable.

In January of 2022 (sure we’re lastly in 2022 at this level within the story) we pulled the set off on shopping for the tiles and I had accomplished a little bit of analysis and determined we must always put money into portray our dwelling with Tex-Cote paint. We had painted once we moved in in January of 2017 and we had main points with cracking on each homes. Apparently, most homes should be painted each 5-7 years anyway (I had no concept) however we had patched and painted the home quite a few occasions and the cracks simply stored coming. I began trying into it as a result of the paint job from just some months prior was already having problems with chipping and cracking. Tex-Cote is meant to assist with that, together with the apparently confirmed declare that it saves vitality and reduces cooling prices. If that’s true, it will be nice since our again home is black and just about a solar magnet. I used to be most taken with the concept that I’d by no means want to color my home once more and the lifetime assure that if we did have an issue they’d come out and repair it freed from cost. We used CAT Exteriors and had a superb expertise. It was $22,000 (each homes plus all exterior stucco partitions) they usually have financing choices, which we’re doing, obvs. We truly don’t even begin paying on it till November 2022. The unique plan was to pay it off once we refinance. With rates of interest going up, it might not be price it for the reason that rate of interest on it’s 5.99%. We’ll see the place mortgage charges land once we are prepared. Facet observe: our mortgage fee is okay, however we pay mortgage insurance coverage due to how little we put down, which is the principle purpose we’d refinance. You’ll be able to examine all our boring mortgage stuff right here if shopping for a home for under $22,000 down pursuits you (get it?).

So subsequent I picked up the aforementioned tile and the customized grout was delivered in early February, almost 10 months after we began this journey. Tiling began instantly…

View out the lounge window

Sure, the railing does come into our window view, sadly. “Security” and “codes” ya know?? My hope and prayer is that the brand new jasmine plant needs to reside as a lot because the final one and climbs everywhere in the railing ultimately. That is the principle purpose why I didn’t care an excessive amount of in regards to the type of the railing, I’m hoping it will get roughly fully lined within the subsequent couple of years. You’ll discover that is the place we stated goodbye to our outdated jasmine plant. It had some injury from all the development, my panorama man stated it was in all probability as a result of a number of the branches have been bent when at completely different occasions it needed to be pulled away from the home. Additionally, I wished the painters to have the ability to get this spot simply. 

For context, how a lot of the railing we see from our sofa. Additionally, DAFFY.

Sadly, I had a dying within the household and flew to Maryland final minute to be with family members, so I fully missed the paint transformation. Andrew needed to keep behind to supervise all of that as a result of it was fairly a manufacturing. The prep to the completed product can take a couple of month (therefore the value tag). I’m not educated on it sufficient to provide you a full lesson on how Tex-Cote works however I do comprehend it requires an intense blasting of your home to reveal (and worsen) any cracks, to allow them to get in there and deeply restore the weaknesses. Then there are a number of layers of product to color on, and the tip consequence (should you may have a look at it aside from the home) is a thick, malleable substance. It’s as should you took 10 layers of gaff tape and caught them to one another. The bendable high quality is what permits the home to maneuver slightly with out inflicting cracks. Solely the final layer is the colour of your home. 

One of many cracks on the again patio after being uncovered even deeper
The again home mid-process earlier than changing into black once more

The “after” of the paint in all probability isn’t going to look as superb because it feels as a result of we didn’t do something drastic however consider me, it’s so significantly better. Cracks are gone and the whole lot appears so clean. One other beauty of the paint that I’ve realized is that it’s WAY simpler to wash. For instance, if a fowl poops down the aspect of your white home, you simply must spray it with a hose. Prepared for the “afters”?

Peep Daffy 🙂

Tile! Eventually! Just a bit sneaky peek earlier than the furnishings and crops are added. I hope so as to add a tall planter on the far finish with crops that create a privateness wall so it doesn’t really feel like we’re attempting to look over our neighbor’s fence and into their yard. It’s a slim house, from the home to the within of the railing is just 5 ft large however the entire house is 17 ft lengthy. It’s been a problem to determine furnishings for certain, however we’ll come again to that at a later date. 

She’s nonetheless a sillylooking woman, however she’s mine. The crack that simply wouldn’t hand over, the place the brand new wall on the appropriate (gate aspect) connects with the home, is gone and has not come again. All of my doorways open and shut and lock with ease. I don’t fear each time I flush my bathroom. The storage is but to flood once more (nonetheless suspicious) and we’ve a stunning patio on which to look at the sundown. It’s onerous to inform from this angle however there’s a gate that closes on the prime of the steps that we simply want so as to add one thing to so Daffy can’t stroll proper by means of. After we do, we will sit out right here along with her and never fear about her wandering off. Puck does no matter he needs and would leap proper over it however Daffy, not a lot. She’s can’t do such dextrous issues.

This can be a good place to pause. I assumed I’d get to the backyard however that really doesn’t occur for a few months (and remains to be in course of). So up subsequent: we’ll discuss my 16’x16’ field, what I plan to do to cowl the bottom of my neighbor’s fence, how my newly planted jasmine is doing, a less expensive technique to do irrigation, what it’s wish to shovel literal TONS of gravel in 100-degree warmth, and plenty and many backyard goodness with Eden of All the way down to Farm.

I’ll depart you with this photograph of the field proper after we had soil added and did some boring drainage stuff that we’ll discuss subsequent time. 

To be continued…

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