2012 Home Renovations – Part 14 -Backfill of pool retaining wall complete

Continuing along at our rapid-fire pace, back fill and leveling around the pool has been completed.

The French drain was installed behind the lanai retaining wall and the gap there was back filled and tamped

The back yard has been recontoured into pretty much its final configuration. There will be a bit more done once work is completed on the cement slab next to our shed. The dirt will be sloped up a bit both at the shed and at the retaining wall that is front and center in this picture below. The idea is to help encourage water AWAY from those areas to be guided away by both the slope behind the retaining wall and by the French drain to the catch basins that were put in near the beginning of this project and then out to the front yard and street.

The hill that used to be in front of the shed has been largely leveled. We have opted to replace the originally planned stairs that were to lead up to the shed with a low incline ramp that will run from the beginning of the retaining wall (part closest to us in the picture below) and ending even with the remainder of the legacy slab near the middle of the picture. The yard to the right will be contoured to butt up against this ramp and match its incline.

For contrast here is how the yard looked before. Basically it was a steeper, shorter ramp up with a more significant hill beginning closer to the house.

And we continue to make significant inroads into our “Dirt Everest” in the front yard.

In the beginning, Michelle was hoping that we would find some significant boulders so we could pull them out to use as show pieces. I don’t think she realizes how fine a line it is between “cool boulders” and “immovable objects that will mess up your project”. But she was thrilled that one was found and put where she can evaluate what to do with it. It’s pictured here just right of center, somewhat framed by more rubble from the driveway and the pile of gravel that is being used for the French Drains.

2012 Home Renovations – Part 13 – Backfill has begun Electrics have begun

2012 Home Renovations – Part 15 – Rest of driveway by house removed, Electrical, Gas and Water Returns in place

2012 Home Renovations – Part 13 – Backfill has begun Electrics have begun

The French Drain has been installed around the pool base and has been tied in (as far as I know) to that of the driveway retaining wall. It’s at this point that you realize exactly how much trust you have to have in your contractor and in the subcontractors. There is not a lot you can do about the subs unless you REALLY don’t like who’s on site or unless you want to very much micromanage the project. Our commitment to this project was predicated on a number of factors but high among those was our confidence that the two primaries on this project – Rich from DC Enclosures and Scott from DesJoyaux pools – were trustworthy and competent. We have visited sites and spoken with people who have worked with both companies and with Rich and Scott in particular.

If you are going to do this on the cheap, or you think you need to keep an eye on things because you are worried about cut corners, the only way you are going to do that is to either work from home and endure MANY interruptions or take time off work and oversee the project. S

Anyway, today back filling began, you can see that there is no longer a gap around the pool

Okay, maybe a small gap where they haven’t quite finished laying down and tamping the layers of dirt around the outside of the pool. Note in the picture below that the East wall is now gone from the current screened patio.

The air conditioner has found a new home, out of sight and hopefully out of hearing too…

From ground level you can see that the filter unit is still the most prominent feature of the pool wall. Those black hoses to the right of the filter unit are the Fastlane hydraulic hoses.

Driving the bobcat up and down the driveway is providing some de facto tamping which will help prevent later settling. Note the conspicuous absence of the air conditioner. It used to be between those two upright brown pillars.

Below is the retaining wall from our neighbor’s side. We will be tinting this a brown color of his choosing to try to make it aesthetically pleasing. Of course the change from “rotting pressure treated wood” to “solid retaining wall” is enough to have him very pleased with the work as it is. Note the holes in the wall that provide additional protection against hydraulic build up should the French drain become blocked or prove inadequate to the task.

That large pile of dirt is now starting to shrink as more and more of it is hauled back for back filling and, next, to build the driveway back up.

Inside the house, our small, maxed out 20-spot electric panel has been replaced with a larger 30 spot unit. Even though we have verified that the feed from the street can handle a 200 amp load, the feed from the meter to our existing unit is only rated at 150 amps so we elected to not upgrade to the greater capacity at this time. Even though our electricity needs are greater in many ways than were those of people in the 70’s (Computers, large screen TVs, room lighting) most of those items are so efficient these days that the actual consumption has increased only minimally.

2012 Home Renovations – Part 12 – Retaining walls revealed

2012 Home Renovations – Part 14 -Backfill of pool retaining wall complete




2012 Home Renovations – Part 12 – Retaining walls revealed

Today the forms were removed revealing the new retaining walls. Michelle has some reservations about the height of the wall at the back of the lanai. In the original plan it was supposed to step down as you go from left to right finishing off maybe 2 feet off the ground

When we revisited this so that we could NOT have the 7 foot high section on the left, we ended up with a plan where the wall would be 4 feet across the entire back and we would resculpt the hill in the back yard to accommodate this. However I think “the cheerleader effect” had taken over and she was blending the best aspects of both plans in her head and was taken aback when only the latter plan “won”.

As you can see the wall looks pretty formidable. But if you consider that the hill it replaces was as high if not higher for much of its run AND the concrete pool deck has yet to be poured. There will be another 6 inches shaved off of the perceived height of the wall.

Here at the top left of the wall you can also see an extension that will hold back part of the re-contoured back yard hill. This will allow us to put a ramp from the back yard up to the shed. There *were* going to be steps there but 1) we still wanted to be able to move dollys and other wheeled things between the house and the shed and 2) that would have introduced the first steps to the property and I kind of like the idea of a “stepless ranch”.

The East wall of our existing lanai has been removed. Note the air conditioner to the left. This is its last day on this side of the house.

More of the driveway has been removed. Only enough of it remains now to support the air conditioner and we’re avoiding the various utility conduits

Below we have the basis for a French drain in the making. A large corrugated tube with holes with a sock over it to screen out muddy particulates. This is embedded in gravel (you can see this against the retaining wall in the picture above).

2012 Home Renovations – Part 11 – Second round of cement pour completed

2012 Home Renovations – Part 13 – Backfill has begun Electrics have begun


How to stop CVS automated prescription calls

** Update December 8, 2018 **

Whelp, finally got fed up with their shenanigans and switched pharmacies. The final straw for me was their terrible app that had so much trouble letting me pick with method I wanted to pay with (hint, it just picks the first one it finds if you have more than one available). Also they kept switching my prescriptions to “autofill” so when I would actually want to refill a prescription it would be ineligible.

To the CVS management who believes that being so aggressive is the key to success. I presume your target demographic is confused elderly baby-boomers. What you are doing is not only annoying but is poor form across the board. Adiós muchachos

** End Update **

** Update March 1, 2014 **

Jeremy (in the comments below) pointed out that the second number is to opt out of that annoying reminder that your prescription is ready. Presumably you already know when it will be available and you just happen to not be able to immediately run out and pick it up. It will keep for a few days…

** End Update **

It’s a minor annoyance but when my phone rings it’s because it’s somebody I want to talk with, or there is a problem at work. I don’t want to be called because I might need a prescription refill or there is one ready and waiting for me.

For some reason there are two numbers you need to call. The first one is absolutely simple:

To opt out of the refill reminder calls dial 1-866-514-4965. It will default to opting the number you called from out but will ask to confirm this and ask for any additional numbers.

Not sure why, but the second one needs for you to speak with a person:

To opt out of the prescription ready reminders dial 1-800-746-7287, you’ll need to yell “more options” into your phone and then yell “Opt out of reminders” to be taken to a person who will remove your number(s) for you.

I suppose it’s a useful reminder for some folks but I prefer to keep track of my own stuff.


2012 Home Renovations – Part 11 – Second round of cement pour completed

The forms are up and the upright portions of the lanai and the driveway retaining walls were poured today.

From the current lanai

In the picture below, if you look on the left side of the pool closest to us and at the far end, on the left side of the pool wall facing us, you can see the fittings for the heated water outlet and inlet respectively.

Originally the heating was supposed to be integrated into the filtration unit. But the distance we are mounting the heater away from the pool meant that the filter pump would need to be on high all the time to circulate the water through the plumbing even when the heater was not being used. It was more cost effective (and will be quieter) to split out the two systems and use a separate  booster pump to circulate water through the heating system only when it is needed and then use the iAqualink system to tie everything together.

The driveway retaining wall looks like nothing so much as a fortress bulwark. I’m very glad our neighbor is on board with this project.

2012 Home Renovations – Part 10 – First round of cement pour completed

2012 Home Renovations – Part 12 – Retaining walls revealed

2012 Home Renovations – Part 10 – First round of cement pour completed

I took a picture of the signs for the principals on this project, DC Enclosures and DesJoyaux pools.

The site is always organized, even in the midst of rain and the chaos that naturally accompanies any sort of renovation work. At the end of the day everything is wrapped up nicely. Tarps are in place where dirt may be subject to rain , silt fences are set up to prevent mud from traveling and excess erosion, bales of hay keep mud from sliding down the driveway into the street and the work site is free from trash and unnecessary junk. All of the workers have been pleasant to deal with and, most importantly, Michelle feels very comfortable with ALL of the workers. Not only in terms of safety but in terms of competence. Everybody knows what they’re here to do and they do it professionally.

DC Enclosures have done much of the work with respect to the pool installation. They worked on another pool nearby and were suitably impressed with the technology that they have made a point of learning to do the installs under the tutelage of the DesJoyaux folks who have been on site to oversee the pool aspects of the project. DC Enclosure’s role at this point is largely of contractor as they subcontract out tasks that are not their specialties. Their direct participation will again kick into high gear when it comes time to actually construct and assemble the Lanai. I believe much will be constructed off site under more ideal conditions than you find on the job site with final assembly and tweaking being reserved for our back yard.

J&A Concrete, with Stasio leading their efforts, are the ones who have done the all digging and much of the prep work.

Again, I sound like a broken record. But the pile of dirt in front of the house is bigger still! Rich tells us that MANY people are stopping as they drive by in order to ask what is going on. Apparently our project is something of a mini-sensation in the neighborhood.

As expected, things are slowing down a bit now as finer work is being done. Below is work that was done on Day 7. Day 8 consisted of a morning meeting between the major players and decisions being made for the questions that have come up.

Here are the usual Patio views

followed by a peek inside the pool where you can see the floor and walls have been poured

And the overview. If you look to the left of the filter unit, you’ll see two hoses snaking away from the pool wall. These are the hydraulic lines for our fastlane.

And the foundation for the driveway retaining wall

Our original plans were to move our air conditioning condenser unit down the driveway – closer to the front of the house – so that we would not be able to hear it from the lanai and then place the pool heater, Fastlane pump and the Salt system alongside that. The new plan is to drop the condenser unit over on the opposite side of the house and relocate the pool machinery up by our shed and put up a small wall so that it all would not be visible from the lanai. Those changes, plus the increase to the size of the driveway and other decisions made this morning are going to run me about another $10,000+. These are typical of the kinds of things you do when you have a chance to see where you’ve made it so far and then project forward to where you want the final project to be. I’ve been careful to try to limit scope creep. But some things you just cannot resist doing. I’ll be posting a full accounting of this project’s costs at the end much as I did for my major Master Bedroom and house renovations , near the bottom you’ll see a link with a PDF for the project’s costs.

Beyond that, day 8 was relatively short with a bunch of rebar work where cross pieces were attached to the uprights embedded in the retaining wall bases.

2012 Home Renovations – Part 09 – Rebar for the pool and its retaining wall is up

2012 Home Renovations – Part 11 – Second round of cement pour completed


2012 Home Renovations – Part 09 – Rebar for the pool and its retaining wall is up

When I came home from work today, the pile in the front yard was even bigger than when I left. I’m starting to think I should leave it there, carve into it the faces of some famous people and charge folks admission. It really is quite the sight.

This is day 6 of construction proper (ignoring the tree clearing step). The start date was Monday February 27.

The big advance for today was that a lot of the rebar work was completed.

First the usual views from the existing lanai

Then peering into the pool you can see the rebar making up the bottom

And the retaining wall in the back yard is showing the skeleton of its eventual final form

The trench for the base of the driveway retaining wall has been dug, in the back you can see how they’ve creatively strung up my coaxial cable (orange) so they won’t be running heavy machinery over it.

Looking at the trench from the other end show the steps that it needs to accommodate the down hill

And here is the view from the top of the driveway. Obviously we’ve been parking next to the street lately…

2012 Home Renovations – Part 08 – The pool walls are up, half of the driveway is gone

2012 Home Renovations – Part 10 – First round of cement pour completed