Midway (of which I have no recollection) through our project we were told that we would need to have our back patio area dug down to meet the new back foundation of the house. Why this wasn’t discovered before we sent our project out to bid and before our budget was determined is one of the many mysteries of the renovation bidding process. At a time when you are overwhelmed with details someone might say, ”hey, you will probably need to dig down here” but it gets lost in all the other minutiae that you are trying to decide. So thousands of dollars that we don’t really have later, we hired Design Tech (who did our front windows) since we did not feel inclined to use our contractor.
In order to lay the concrete slightly sloping away from our building they needed to dig down about 4-6 inches. You don’t want your patio to be level or slope towards the building because in heavy rain or snow moisture will get in. Since there is no access to our backyard it meant having to remove bags of dirt by going through the house. Sigh. We felt a little better when we saw that they covered the floors and walls in plastic. We had to vacate our bedroom and move our bed, clothing and toiletries that we would need into the living room. The projected duration was estimated at two weeks. Our original contractor informed us they would not be back until it was done (mainly because I think they were ticked off that we did not hire them for it). We didn’t need any more commotion in the house anyway.
One of the problems with pouring concrete is getting the color even throughout the entire slab. We couldn’t get a mixer through the house or a pump truck so we chose blue stone tiles set in concrete, and anyway the tiles looked nicer. This stone is fairly expensive but it is good quality and we wanted to do the patio once and not have to worry about it.
Before doing this type of work you may want consider your plan for the backyard and any potential fencing. Now is the time to put in fence posts because you can set them permanently in the concrete making your life easier later when you install a new fence. We knew that ultimately we wanted a wooden fence so we chose to install 6 basic 10′ long pressure treated posts and then later we could decide what style and height we wanted it to be.
You will also need to consider drainage. We selected a trench drain which runs nearly the length of our patio and ties into our building’s waste line.
There were four stages to the project: digging out and removing the dirt, tying in the drain, pouring the concrete and then laying the blue stone tiles and grouting. Here is the pictorial progression:
The project ended up taking almost three weeks to complete because of some minor issues but we are happy with the results. Because we had to dig down, the rest of the yard is now 6 inches higher than the patio so my wonderful husband started work on a timber retaining wall so the dirt wouldn’t seep onto the patio and clog the drain.