We bought a house here in Northern California about a year ago, and during the various inspections that we paid for an issue came up. It wasn’t a huge deal breaker kind of thing so we bought the house.

The issue is this: underneath the corner of the kitchen that backs up to the deck and backyard there is dry rot. It’s not terrible, everyone told us we could ignore it for years if we wanted to, but it’s there. And related to this, underneath the house our crawlspace is really wet. Not “lake under the house” wet but much damper than it should be. And this is because of two things: 1. there are vents cut into the walls to allow air to come in and circulate and dry out the crawlspace. However, previous owners put in giant planter boxes right against the house and now many of these vents are totally blocked. So pulling out the wall boxes might alleviate 90% of the problem. 2. The backyard has a steep slope, we’re below our neighbors, and the yard itself isn’t graded correctly so water runs right into the crawlspace. There are some “french drains” installed but they’re poorly and cheaply done and aren’t doing a thing to catch this run off. Combine this with the fact that the backyard has a small pond and waterfall that is broken and now stagnant, and the yard is covered with ugly ivy that is a haven for every rodent in the neighborhood and we’re looking at a long term mess.


This year, thanks to the kindness of the stock market, we have some extra cash so we decided to address these issues. We’ve been told by multiple people that the dry rot repair would be cheaper and easer to tie in with a kitchen remodel as they’re going to have to tear out cabinets, windows, and floors. So we’re going to do our major kitchen remodel too.


Anyway, today we begin phase one of the landscape remodel project. This phase will tear out the ivy, lower the back walls by a few bricks to make the yard less steep, tears out the waterfall and pond, and in fact the entire lower level of that part of our yard. And then they’re going to bring in a Bobcat to regrade the entire lawn, install not one but TWO drain systems, pull up the existing (broken-ish 20 year old) sprinkler system, and run the new drains to the front yard.

The backyard currently looks like this:

The side to side tilt is me.
The lemon tree won’t survive.

So that whole first level with the pond, the palm tree, and the lemon tree and little deck will be torn out. Unfortunately the trees won’t be able to get saved. All that ivy is getting torn out. We know for a fact that there are pack rats living in the ivy – last week my Terminix guy warned me about, and I quote, a flood of rats trying to get into the house. Lovely.

The front yard is being completely torn out.


The whole front wall is coming out and the lawn is being ripped up. We’re doing a ton of drainage and irrigation work and when it’s done there will be stone steps up to the house, a gentler grade, and no grass whatsoever.

Mowgli says “what up?”

That ugly creepy bush comes out, all the dead junk in the front goes, and the only thing being kept is that pink bougainvillea. And the dog, who is going to be mighty crabby about all this because he won’t be able to have a doggie door or go outside and be nosy for about six weeks while the work is in progress.

Once phase one is done we get into the kitchen work. And then once the kitchen guys are done with exterior work (ripping out the dry rot) then we start phase two of the yard. That phase includes building a bigger new stone patio, adding a fire pit and new wall in the back, installing the sprinklers, and all kinds of fun stuff. Phase three, which is up for debate right now, would add an in-ground hot tub in the backyard corner.

So basically, once we’re done, we’ll have a pretty nice party pad. 🙂

I’ll be snapping pics and posting updates (and likely crying a lot) so stay tuned!




4 thoughts on “DEMOLITION DAY”

  1. Yeah I’m bummed about the lemon tree too. It makes lots of good fruit. We are going to plant some new citrus trees though! Hubby is very PRO hot tub. I want to see more numbers come in before we proceed. 🙂

  2. Sounds like a lot of changes but it’ll be nice to get it all done and out of the way. Boo for the rats…tell them they can’t stay unless they pay rent. =-) And Andrew works hard, he deserves a nasty hot tub.

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