2012 Home Renovations – Part 03 – Clearing the Trees

We had a total of 8 trees cleared by Yellow Ribbon Tree Experts.

Despite a high wind advisory – we seldom have even a breeze here – and at or below freezing temperatures, the guys soldiered through the process and you can see that the back yard is now a much more open space.

We had two motivations for clearing the trees that we did. One was to reduce the possibility of a tree falling onto the Lanai, the other is to remove trees that would be susceptible to dying when we spread some of the earth that we will be removing from the dig area throughout the back yard.

The original conception for our lanai included a retaining wall that would step up to a maximum of about 7 feet in the North West corner. We were concerned that this would become a focus of the pool area rather than merely a supporting structure.

After much discussion, Rich (of DC Enclosures) came back with a suggestion to essentially re-sculpt the back yard to lower the actual hill. The excess dirt would be distributed around the lower back yard and will result in a much more level back yard. This newly leveled area then becomes what we will be seeing as we look beyond the pool.

Our view from the kitchen is now much clearer, I’ve never had such a clear view of the backyard neighbor’s house

The view from the lanai is now much less cluttered


While I wasn’t really focused on the trees for my “before” pictures for contrast here is the area near the shed before

and after

My only real regret is that our Redbud tree had to go. We planted that a few years ago, long before we ever conceived of this pool project. It used to be within the semi-circular retaining wall near the center of both pictures above.

2012 Home Renovations – Part 02 The Before pictures

2012 Home Renovations – Part 02 The Before pictures

Critical to any project is knowing where you started.

I’ve chosen 9 vantage points from which to check out progress.

Beginning by looking out of the back of the house, you can see the view from our current patio sliding door.


Then, stepping out onto the driveway we can see the view through the current lanai, then to our shed and then down the driveway.


Then stepping off our property to get a look at the bulk of our existing retaining wall

After that, the view FROM the shed

And then a survey of the back yard from the far corner


Then, from the front of the house you can see the existing retaining wall, the driveway and the side of the house where we’ll be doing some drainage work


Finally, looking from the front patio down our walkway across the turnaround pad and from the garage respectively.



2012 Home Renovations – Part 01 The Project – Pool, Lanai, Driveway, Retaining walls

2012 Home Renovations – Part 03 Clearing the Trees


2012 Home Renovations – Part 01 The Project – Pool, Lanai, Driveway, Retaining walls

A few months ago, while visiting relatives in Florida, Michelle went out to take in the neighborhood. She came back from this not just a little excited and told me that they’d found a house that was in foreclosure and that I should come and take a look-see.

The house was nicely appointed (what we could see from the outside) with an *enormous* lanai complete with a covered area with ceiling fans, a pool, an outdoor shower and plenty of room to spread out on the paving-stone deck.

We weighed the pros and cons of purchasing this as a second home and, helped by the realization that foreclosures are primarily the purview of speculators and homeless people, we distilled our desire for the place principally to it’s great outdoor area.

So, rather than saddle ourselves with the massive initial debt and ongoing obligations that go with owning such a property, especially considering that we really would only be able to enjoy it a few times a year, we have elected to take what we felt was best in that place and build it into our current home.

The project seemed pretty simple at first, how hard can it be to put in a pool with a screened enclosure?

They call our subdivision “Indian Hills” for a reason. Our house is set reasonably far back on just under a half acre of land with the front yard sloping down toward the street. The back yard is level behind the house for all of *maybe* 3-5 yards before it starts to slope upward. What this means is that we need to make our own level ground. For some reason you don’t install pools on an angle 🙂

Because our yard slopes, not only toward the house but also from West to East, there are drainage issues to consider. Add to this that we have a deteriorating railroad-tie retaining wall supporting our driveway – both of which are original with the 1970’s era house – and we end up with the following project:

  • Clear area for pool and lanai out back (about 25′ out from the house and about 42′ wide) including removing a bunch of trees
  • Pour retaining wall along one side and the back of the enclosure area to a height of about 4′
  • Level out as much of the remaining  back yard as possible to minimize the size of the needed retaining wall, otherwise this would need to be almost 7′ high
  • Install 28′ by 12′ by 4.5′ deep pool with an Endless Pools Fastlane
  • Build a drainage system to handle the backyard runoff that will be impacted by the retaining wall plus take all of our downspouts and route them appropriately away from the house
  • Remove and replace the existing driveway and retaining wall

The pool will be furnished by DesJoyaux pools and DC Enclosures will be building the Lanai and overseeing the construction related to the other aspects of the project.

We expect the project to span from February 11 until some time in May.

While we were trying to visualize the project, we were provided with some preliminary plans that serve to give an idea of the overall scope and impression of the project. We’ve since redesigned the pool to be more purely rectangular.

This first drawing shows the overall schematic

Here we see the pool as it is supposed to look coming out of our laundry room

This perspective is looking back *at* the laundry room door corner from the far side of the pool

And this one is an overview from a point slightly above our shed on the hillside


2012 Home Renovations – Part 02 The Before pictures

Web Comics that I recommend

Questionable content: Fun romantic indy comic. Start at the beginning to make sense. Over 2,000 strips so far so enough reading to keep you busy for a while.

XKCD: A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language. Be sure to hover over the comic with your cursor for extra insight.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Topical, skeptical and a bit cynical.

User Friendly: No longer being produced – go to the first one and start. It’s about a small company and the inevitable conflicts between IT, marketing and management.