Deck vs. Patio with Drainage Concerns
Julie Smart Koob, REALTORMarch 15, 2014
So, we finished our addition in January 2013. We decided to hold off on putting anything outside the sliding glass door for a couple of reasons.... 1. To allow the area to settle and 2. To figure our what we wanted. Now, we are ready to kick it back in to gear and we want to use our door. The door is a 12-foot sliding glass door, with the two end panels being fixed and both middle panels able to slide. Building codes require a minimum three-foot landing outside of any glass that goes to the floor. The height from the threshold to the ground is approximately 36 inches, which I believe will require a railing. I am very willing to take out the large bed, and we will probably be taking out the two Sweet Gum trees (corner of the house and by the neighbor's fence). This side yard is our alternate drain field, so on the off-chance the primary fails, I do not want to put in stamped concrete, but instead a paver patio. We do get some standing water (takes about two hours to soak in) during heavy rains in the space about four feet from the door, so thinking drainage will need to be addressed.

The other concern is setback from the rear property line. Any structure on a footing should be 25-feet from the line. The corner of the addition is about 22-feet as we received a variance from the County. However a patio has no setback.

I would love the outdoor kitchen and fireplace, but think that may have to be added in a year of so. My initial thoughts are a landing to satisfy the building code, with steps leading down to a large patio, and a walkway leading behind the house to the driveway. So, with all of that, what are your thoughts?
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J. W. Bruins Architect
I would consider a deck with steps down on both of the sides perpendicular to the house wall. thus maximizing usable area.
    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 5:52PM
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You have a lot of things going on here! First of all, work on the drain lines. Will make a difference in whatever plan you use and needs to be done first anyway. If you have water issues, even with drain lines?, then probably pavers aren't going to work too well because of the ground constantly shifting.
If you want this outdoor space to be a kitchen at some point make some rough sketches of the things you want and how much space they would take. I don't think you can take the deck to the property line, and I can't imagine wanting to, so figure out how much space you actually have to deal with and if your desires fit into that space then you will have a better idea of how to make it happen.
    Bookmark   March 16, 2014 at 12:23PM
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Julie Smart Koob, REALTOR
So, I have met with a landscape designer and here is what she came up with. At first it was truly overwhelming, is I have realized I've got to break it down in to manageable sections. First priority is the patio. Now that I've got the design, I'll get estimates on the construction. I am guessing I will not be able to do it all at once - thinking the kitchen, fireplace and seating walls will have to come later. My hope is to get the stairs, patio, firepit and sidewalk leading to the driveway. The thought is that when I add the seating walls and fireplace, the firepit could become a raised bed, maybe for herbs?

So here are my questions, trying to figure out the placement of the kitchen. It was designed so that a portion could be covered later, if we ever decided we wanted shade. IF we chose to do that, is the kitchen in the right place? Thoughts?
    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 5:15AM
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Revolutionary Gardens
I'm going to assume that your designer is familiar with space planning and constructed elements so as long as you had those conversations and she implemented your feedback appropriately, your kitchen's in the right place. It comes down to how you plan on using the space, how you'll cook, etc. As you've probably seen, kitchens eat up a lot of space.

My bigger concern is if the fireplace is to be wood burning, to make sure you go high enough on the chimney. If you do build a structure over the patio I'd hate to see strong winds push the smoke under the roof.

I have a few clients in Fredericksburg and out on the Northern Neck so I'd love to talk with you about your kitchen. We're moving heavily into outdoor kitchens and I'm a dealer for a number of great lines, we could take the rough footprint you have now and develop something really cool.
    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 5:36AM
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That is a great design, but I have to agree with mfwolfe that drainage needs to be addressed first. Anything you put there, other than perhaps an above ground deck, will eventually shift or crack from freeze and thaw if there is a lot of water in the ground. It would be a shame to put in that lovely patio only to have to dig it up later to address drainage issues. I suggest you have a drainage and erosion company that is owned and run by engineers take a look before you start spending money.
    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 5:46AM
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Julie Smart Koob, REALTOR
Thanks so much! Drainage will definitely be addressed! The County required a French drain to be put in with the addition; the drain runs behind the addition at an angle from the rear corner. My thought is anything needed will be able to feed in to the existing drain. Luckily once you hit the wood line it all slopes down, eventually feeding in to the James River.
    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 5:51AM
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Revolutionary Gardens
Maybe it's different on site but I'm not seeing anything in the pics that freaks me out as far as drainage. It's a pretty flat lot from the looks of it, which is most likely why there's water sitting there. We'd set the patio a little high and also raise the grade against the house so we'd be pushing water away from the house. A simple well with a buried drain in front of the crawlspace access keeps that door in play. In pic #2 it appears the grade drops away as we get away from where the photographer was standing so a little smart grading is all that's needed to push the water past the back corner of the house. Again, my opinion MIGHT be different based on actual conditions, but between the photos and the OP's description, I think this is a pretty simple fix for an intelligent professional.
    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 6:04AM
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garden design online
I try to design some.
    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 6:37AM
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Julie Smart Koob, REALTOR
We are hopefully starting the patio this week! I've moved all the bird feeders and the current patio set from the drive so that the bobcat can access the yard. Found out the county had recently created a setback exception for my area... If a structure is open on three sides, they allow the structure (i.e. the landing) to go as close as 15 feet to the property line. Whew, dodged a bullet on that one!

The patio will be constructed of Eagle Bay Chatham Stone in the Richmond color, with a soldier course in the Cottage Stone. The step risers will be in a ledger stone in the Wisconsin color, and then limestone treads.

I will try and add pics as the project unfolds!
    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 8:39PM
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Julie Smart Koob, REALTOR
Well, I guess it's time to show some progress...
    Bookmark   September 8, 2014 at 9:28AM
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Julie Smart Koob, REALTOR
And the final product!
1 Like    Bookmark   September 8, 2014 at 9:31AM
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