Category Archives: silicon valley

Backyard Demolition: It’s Been So Long That I Stopped Counting

So we’ve decided that since my husband’s been a very good boy this year, we’re adding a spa to the backyard remodel. We also have a gas fire pit and some extra walling that need to get built. Woot.

So… first much trenching and digging has happened.

Trench along the fence




Then they started to lay down pipe for gas, water, and power.




The yellow pipes are gas. The big white ones are the new drainage pipes.

Then they started digging out the pit.

Spa Pit Part 1



Spa pit


It’s a really big muddy hole because it was raining a TON last week.

The pile of mud removed from the pit is pretty awesome looking.

I wanna climb it. So does Mowgli. The contractor’s kid did.


Then they laid down gravel at the bottom of the pit and then rebar-ed the living daylights out of the frame. So tonight we look like this:


Spa framed out


The pipes around the side are where the spa jets will go. The pipes at the bottom are intake and swirly pipes. And then there’s a light that will get placed in the side. They’re hoping to get it roughed out fully this week. We did find out that we’ve (shockingly) got an electric problem so we might have to call our contractor back to upgrade our main electrical panel at the house AND we need a gas meter upgrade so it’s unlikely that we’ll be spa-ing it for Christmas. Ah well. Progress is progress!


Kitchen Remodel Day #40

Ok, big update. Since I last posted kitchen pictures, much has happened. Aside from needing kickplates and handle hardware installed, the cabinets are all up.


The counters are all in, as is the new sink, the composter, and the garbage disposal.

We’re waiting on the corbels (the fancy under counter brackets) to come in to install under the new kitchen bar so there are janky two by fours installed right now.

And then all the walls got painted and the under-cabinet lights got installed.

Then they started working the the floors. We were missing quite a chunk of hardwood floor from where the old range and appliances were. They’ve done a nice job of matching the new wood to the rest of the house. It actually looks better right now because they’ve done more layers of polyurathane and stuff on the top layer.

Appliances are delivered today. Woot!

On the outside, they re-did the demolished stucco and repainted chunks of the exterior so you can barely tell we had a giant hole in the house.

The landscapers finished up with some planting.

That pot is new. That purple salvia was about the size of my fist a month ago so the plants are growing like crazy.

The “monster plant” in the backyard got transplanted to the top of the hill and it looks like it’s doing well.

We’ve started work on phase two of the landscaping so the deck got torn out on Friday.

Where my deck at?

The new problem will likely be the pergola columns. They SHOULD have been built on top of a concrete pier for safety and stability. It looks like they weren’t. Sigh.


Anyway, they’re saying two months on the deck and spa but we’re running into the rainy season so we’ll see. Hopefully we’ll be cooking in the kitchen this week though!

Kitchen Remodel Day #29

Much progress has been made in the kitchen.


Our new non-dropped ceiling with recessed lights and not, you know, a lightbox from the ’60s.


Then they started finishing up the dry wall.

The exterior’s getting ready for stucco.


Then the texturing on the new walls to match the old walls:


Then the kitchen cabinets arrived and got warehoused in the garage. So pretty much all of the kitchen was in the garage.


Cabinets started going in:



And more building for the bar:



And as of today we’re really close to the cabinets being completely done!

Today the counter top guy came to pattern for the counters, which will be installed starting Wednesday. It’s so close I can taste it!

Kitchen Remodel Day #22

I haven’t been posting much lately because it’s been a lot of electrical and gas work and that’s not so very photographic. Since we’re moving the location of both the range and the sink, plumbing and gas lines had to be re-routed. We added a ton of power outlets because the kitchen didn’t really have that many and it’s nice to be able to plug in where ever. We did finally confirm that the upstairs office, which is an addition, IS on the same circuit as the kitchen, and they didn’t use the heavier duty electrical wire that they should have – it’s not a hazard but it’s lame. Because we had the lines moved, the guys had to spend a lot of time crawling under the house – I don’t envy them that at all. I did have Terminix come out to clear out all the dead rodents and do a little housekeeping down there so it wasn’t totally TOTALLY gross. Just, you know, mostly gross. Poor guys.

Anyway, everything’s been framed out inside.

This entire wall is new – it used to be entirely window and sliding glass door. That window is less long than it used to be. And the corner had a fair amount of rot.

New recessed lights have been installed to replace the lame chandelier and light box that were installed in the drop ceiling.

We’ve now got a new gas line in place.

And some new pipes in the air overhead.

And the exterior got all ready for the new stucco.

As for the electrical, well they had a few problems trying to figure out what switch flipped what light. In their defense, it was kind of stupid. So they had to cut some holes to trace and clip some lines.

And the new wiring looks much better.

Then we got held up for a little because we had to have a “rough inspection.” Which we passed. Then the drywall went up because today there was a drywall inspection. So now the kitchen looks like this:

So that almost looks like a real room, right?

We’ve also had additional landscaping done. Added some new plants to fill in some big bare holes. Got them to finish up the front (we’d left part bare in case the contractors had to go into the front gate).

So now we’re looking like this in the front:

We filled in the area in front of the fence.

Some new decorative grasses outside the fence line to hide the fence and generally fill in a big empty trench.

And we moved some stuff around and added new stuff to the top of the back because it was pretty bare. Some new roses, added some citrus that we already had. Staked some plants to grow UP along the wall to cover it.

Next up – priming the drywall, getting the stucco up outside, and the kitchen cabinets land at the end of the week!

On a related note – Mowgli’s getting a little antsy.

Jailbreak! But on the wrong side! Dag!

Kitchen Remodel Day #10

I knew stuff was getting serious this week when I came down to this on Monday morning:

This meant that for the entire week, in order to get out to our garage kitchen, we had to go out the front door and around to the side of the house. Which means our neighbors, if they’ve been paying attention, have seen me in my jammies with OJ and breakfast every morning. Ah well.

The plastic went up to minimize the outdoor debris because, well, we didn’t really have exterior walls for several days.

Whole chunks of stucco and sheet rock were torn down.

They decided that the kitchen bottom corner was in fact the worst of the rot, so all the rotten lumber, plus the lumber around it (remember, dry rot is a fungus and so it crawls and spreads and grows) got torn out and replaced.

Windows started to get installed.

And because we’re actually shortening one (incredibly useless) sliding door and big window, they had to do some additional framing in to build part of a new wall. And then install the new windows and sliding door.

We’re excited about the new patio door as it has a built in doggie door. We used to have an insert but there was a good sized gap between the insert and the real door so tons of insects and junk would fly in. Not any more!

Well, once there’s, you know, not holes in the walls to the outside and crawlspace.

The interior – Mowgli sees the daylight

Speaking of Mowgli, this week has been better – he’s settled down some and hasn’t pooped in the house so hooray for that. He’s still not loving it though.

This sucks.


The other fun this week – Terminix pulled three dead rats out from under the house. He thinks we may have gotten rid of them all finally. Fingers crossed that they’re gone and not, you know, living upstairs now.

Kitchen Remodel Day #5: The Whole Point

Friday was less interesting in terms of radical demolition, but it’s the day when the real point of the whole thing began. We started this project because we’ve been told there’s some dry rot under the corner of the kitchen. Dry rot is a fungal outbreak caused by dampness that eventually eats away at the firmness of the wood and causes it to crumble. And when the infected wood is, oh, the foundation corner of your house, it’s kind of important to address it. And we could have waited a few more years, but then the rot would have crept up and eaten more of the wood. There was also no point in fixing the dry rot if we didn’t address the fundamental issue – dampness under the house – so we tackled the drainage issue with the landscaping first. The good news is, we ran a test of our own and the new french drain seems to be working like a champ, at least when you stick a hose in it:



It’s a little hard to see, but there’s a good amount of water running out of that pipe. They were able to tie in to an existing line so we didn’t have to tear up sidewalk and re-cement it. Hooray! Anyway, the real test comes in winter during the rains but I’ve got a good feeling.

Anyway, on Friday the guys were climbing under the house quite a bit to get a feel for the dry rot under the kitchen. They reported to me that there are at least 3 dead rats in traps down there – ick – so I’ve got Terminix coming out next week to deal with that and spray for bugs. Anyway, they tore out a bit more of the stucco in the corner that has rot to see what’s going on


And yep, there’s some rotten looking wood down there:

The good news is that the inspector a year or so ago wasn’t sure how high the rot had crawled, and a few feet up from the corner it looks like this:

And that’s not so bad looking – some tool gouges there but it doesn’t look like there’s any rot. So we might not be in terrible shape and might have caught it before it got really nasty – there was a chance it could have crawled up into the upstairs bathroom and that would suck. They’re back tomorrow to keep working so we will know more in a day or two. But all in all it looks like it might be a pretty quick repair. Generally what you do for dry rot is cut out the bad wood, put in new wood, and then treat it with an anti-fungal. But the key is that you have to eliminate the wet, which hopefully we did. So once this is all done, we should be good for years to come. *fingers crossed*

Kitchen Remodel Day #4

The last thing the guys said to me today was “Just so you know, you don’t have any doors or windows now.”


They weren’t kidding.


That tarp scared the crap out of Mowgli. He came running and barking at it. It’s covering what we call the monster plant.



And where the sink used to be:


And from the inside:

Did I mention we can’t use the family room anymore? Yeah. And we’ve learned that we made the right call in keeping some window along the sink side of the wall because it’s friggin hot without it.


Kitchen Remodel Day #2

Last night we broke in the hot plate with some canned chili. In the garage. Cuz we’re fancy.


We took a closer look at the remnants of the kitchen and found some legacy old tile.

That black tile is seriously ugly. Glad we didn’t own it. Also, hideous blue wallpaper once graced the walls.

The red and the wood floors are so much better. Anyway, here’s what happened today:

They are scoping the walls to see what’s in there. They also pulled down the drop ceiling today.

The electrical is actually less messy than I expected. We are fairly sure, however, that when they added the home office they failed to, you know, pull additional power to the office where, you know, where there might be computers pulling down a lot of power. You know, from the kitchen, the other room where there’s a lot of appliances. So we’ll be getting that fixed. We’re also pretty sure the kitchen electrical isn’t up to code so we’ll be getting that fixed.

I do like the classy way they set up the toilet trap.

They also started the tear out for window removal.

So today was noisy and productive. Off to enjoy constant power and silence.

Kitchen Demolition Day #1

Today we went from this:



To this:



Everything but the drop ceiling is gone. All the old appliances are in the garage. The sink, well,



In the meantime, the guys helped me set up the temporary kitchen. In the garage.


I couldn’t get any farther back to take this picture because, well, my car is parked there. So yeah, gonna be good times. For months. Tonight we cook on a hot plate. Like a boss.

Landscaping Phase 1 Complete

Well more or less complete. It was supposed to go 6 weeks, it went 9 weeks. There’s a couple of things to fix but all in all we’re basically done with phase 1. And it’s looking good!

They got the drip system for the plants installed and it’s been programmed and it’s up and running daily. Here’s what it looks like:

The front all cleaned up and mostly planted:


A few of our plants are backordered so they cut the holes for them. And we asked for the section in front of the gate be left unplanted so the kitchen contractors have access to haul stuff around.

Some of the plants are starting to settle in and flower:

The dog run has been partially planted. Again, we’ve left access for the future contractors so it’s not fully planted:

The back is filling out. Again, there are some plants on back order that are missing and they’ve had holes cut. But they’re starting to root and are getting watered.

But it wasn’t officially “ours” till we planted this:

And Mowgli’s pretty happy with the remodel. He especially likes that they left a pile of mulch in the backyard.


We needed phase 1 to be complete because today the kitchen demolition starts. We found out late last week that the entire kitchen needed to be emptied out. I’d thought we had a little more time but nope. So we spent most of Saturday and Sunday emptying all the cabinets, buying temporary shelves, setting them up, stashing the kitchen in other rooms, emptying the bulk of the fridge, and so on. So now we look like this:


The good news? These ugly hateful lights are going away:

Actually, that whole dropped ceiling is going away. In the meantime, Mowgli’s pretty peeved that he’s got to be penned upstairs for weeks.

Jerks keep pushing me around in my own house.

We begin cooking in the garage starting this evening. Microwave, hot plate, and crock pot, here we come!

How was your weekend?