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Legends in Landscape was hired to create a unique landscape design for the Graffius family in San Clemente, Calif. They love to entertain and cook for their large family and group of friends. Family gatherings of 20 or more people are common for this couple. Their greater than 3,000-square-foot early California Craftsman-style home left little room on the property for the outdoor rooms they wished to create. Since the home is raised on a hillside, the views of the ocean and valley could not be obstructed. In the afternoon sun exposure in the kitchen and family room made indoor dining and entertaining impossible. The home has several interesting angled exterior walls with accents of mortared manufactured stone. Rough-sawn wood trim accents the home. Design Phase o Front Yard One major challenge of this project was to improve the first impression created by a large, plain garage wall. To create an interesting first impression, we designed a masonry and wood fence/wall that incorporated the architectural elements of the home into the front landscape. The 30-foot fence/wall was designed with four pilasters each 10 feet apart. Each pilaster was to have the same angle as the home. Eighteen-inch walls connected the pilasters. The walls and pilasters were to have the same stone as the home and caps to match gray concrete trim surrounding the windows. Wood fencing to match the wood balconies on the home would top the walls. To balance the front hardscape, a fifth pilaster was added to the opposite side of the driveway. o Side/Rear Yard The back yard was a bigger challenge. This long and narrow back yard needed space for an outdoor kitchen as well as an entertainment area. We also needed to consider the great view of the ocean and valley, the difficult western exposure in the windows, and a desired lawn area. The customer also had a large side yard that we were able to take advantage of. Multiple outdoor rooms were created for the side/rear yards. - Kitchen/Dining Room - Corner Window/Patio Cover - Family/Entertainment Room - Breakfast Nook - Utility Area o Kitchen/Dining Room A 90-degree-angle pizza oven/barbecue grill combination was designed for the outdoor kitchen area. The 7-foot tall pizza oven was designed to reside in the intersection of two 7-foot counters on a 90-degree angle. One of the countertops contained the barbecue unit, the other a sitting area. The sitting area was designed so the guests were facing the chef. A step and raised area around the rear of the counter was created. For the countertop, the customer chose polished deep gray concrete to match their house trim rather than tile or slab tops. Manufactured stone faced the unit below counter level in the front. Stucco to match the home was used above the countertop of the unit. o Corner Window/Patio Cover The western exposure inside the home prevented afternoon television viewing within the home as the setting sun was so bright. To minimize the exposure while maintaining the light and airy feeling of the room, we designed a patio cover that wrapped around the corner of the house. This 10-foot wide patio cover followed the rear of the home and made two 45-degree turns as it moved from the front to the side of the home. To maintain the Craftsman style, the patio cover was designed for construction on top of four 3-foot pilasters matching the fence in the front. The corbels at the ends of the joists were milled to match the trim on the eaves. Rough-sawn cedar painted the color of the house trim was used on the wood structure. o Family/Entertainment Room For evening relaxing and family entertaining an outdoor family room was designed. The customer requested an outdoor fireplace as the focal point of this area. They had a picture of a fireplace with curved lines that they wished to incorporate. To use the desired curved lines and still try to maintain the Craftsman style, we added straight lines around the firebox, a straight, thick, custom, grey concrete seating area around the fireplace at 90-degree angles similar to the shape of the outdoor kitchen, and added the home's manufactured stone to the lower 18 inches of the fireplace/entertainment area. Stucco to match the home was used above the seating area similar to the outdoor kitchen. o Breakfast Nook Along the side yard, we created a small area for relaxing in the morning. A future fountain that can be viewed from an inside office will also add to the quiet retreat in the breakfast nook. o Utility Area We designed the side area near the garage as the utility area. While the majority of the patio material was to be interlocking concrete pavers, the utility area was designed for concrete. Here the customer is able to hose the area and avoid problems with sand, etc. Materials Rebar, rebar, and more rebar. When constructing 7-foot masonry structures in an area where the soil expands and contracts continuously due to the effects of earthquakes, they need to be built carefully. Although 6- by 8- by16-inch concrete cinder blocks would pass city inspections, we used 8- by 8- by 16-inch blocks on the project. More than 200 square feet of the El Dorado brand manufactured stone, Meseta fieldledge, was used in the front and rear yards. This product is manufactured from light aggregate, Portland cement, and permanent mineral iron oxide pigments. This stone was used on the front pilasters and fence, the rear pilasters for the patio cover, the pizza oven and the fireplace. Although not always necessary, this stone was mortared to match existing mortar on the home. Manufactured stone is commonly used in construction today due to its lower cost and high quality. Rather than building a masonry firebox for the fireplace, a Heatilator manufactured outdoor fireplace insert, the Out42, was chosen for its size and stainless steel components. It is UL Listed for safety and quality and comes with a 20-year Buyer Protection Plan. Earthstone of Glendale, Calif. manufactured the insert for the pizza oven. We used the smallest oven, Model 60, with a cooking area of 23- by 26-inch. This oven provides a capacity of two-to-three 8-inch pizzas or eight medium-size steaks. Earthstone also manufactures two larger residential ovens. For wall and pilaster caps we chose the French Gray colored Stepstone brand pre-cast Classic Wall Cap System. This color matched well with the custom colored concrete fireplace seats and Kitchen countertop. We used the 2 1/2-inch thick by 10 1/4-inch wide by 24-inch long double bull-nosed pieces on the walls to obtain the correct width to cover the 8- by 8- by16-inch mortared cinder blocks with the manufactured stone veneer. These, as well as other brands, are available in radiused pieces also. Construction Phase o Permits Most cities or counties require construction permits for masonry structures taller than 6 feet, most wood construction, and utility lines. We not only had to obtain city permits, we also had to obtain engineering approvals on the masonry construction of the pizza oven and the fireplace. Rather than pay an engineer to draw our construction plans, Nathan Larson, our lead mason, created them on the computer and we had an engineering firm inspect and stamp them for approval. This saved us money and allowed us to have the customer agree to the detailed plans prior to approval. o Layout The most crucial part of the construction phase was the layout of the project. We carefully marked all hardscape structures with marking paint prior to soil excavation. During this step we made changes to the plan as required. We also had the homeowner inspect the markings. o Utilities The fireplace and barbeque required a natural gas hookup. We added electrical outlets for the fireplace and kitchen area, as well as outlets for future fountains. All utility-line trenches are required to be at least 18 inches below grade in the City of San Clemente. In addition, gas lines require a tracer wire to be wrapped around the gas pipe for future locating. We dug the trenches, laid the gas and electrical pipe and added mechanical connectors to the gas pipe. For electrical conduit we used 3/4-inch Schedule 40 pipe. For the gas line we had to use 1-inch gas pipe to obtain the desired capacity of the fireplace and barbeque. We were able to pressure test the gas line and pass the preliminary city inspection. We then subcontracted a plumber to connect our gas line to the main gas line for the home. It is good practice to check with a plumber before gas line installation to determine where he/she prefers to make the connection to the house. o Drains Four-inch brass drains were added inside the barbeque structure. These drains allowed for condensation within the unit to drain away. The drains were tied into the existing drainage system. We appended some drain pipe to the existing drainage system to provide drainage for the new masonry and patios. Concrete/Footings All footings were formed with 2- by 4-inch wood and #4 rebar was used to extend the tensile strength of the concrete. The rebar was installed horizontally in the footing supported by 3-inch concrete dobies. It was installed vertically above the footing to strengthen the masonry structure. These were installed per the construction drawings. The first course of masonry block was installed before the concrete completely cured. We dug, formed, installed rebar and poured all hardscape footings for an area simultaneously. For the backyard, we poured the custom-formed back pilasters at the same time as the footings for the fireplace and kitchen area. This worked well as we were able to order a full truckload of concrete for the pour. Concrete is priced by the cubic yard. Any amount less than a full truckload incurs short load costs, which we were able to avoid. When the footings for the walls and pilasters were poured in the front yard, the utility area patio and the caps for the kitchen and fireplace were poured at the same time. Also, by pouring the rear and front pilasters separately, we were able to build only five pilaster forms by dividing the pour schedule. Masonry o Pilasters The pilasters were designed with an angle to match the home. It would be questionable if we could exactly mimic this angle with masonry block, so we decided to form the pilasters with plywood and pour them with concrete. (See Concrete/Footings above.) Rear pilasters were poured with the post cap, CC66, base carefully placed 1 inch above the top of the concrete. Front pilasters were poured with electrical conduit running through the center for future post lights. Pre-cast concrete caps were mortared to the pilasters. The pre-cast concrete caps were installed on the pilasters next. Six-inch squares were drilled in the center of rear caps before installation to allow for the post cap. The caps in the front were drilled in the center to allow for the electrical conduit. The difficult part of this task was to ensure the caps were level individually and with each other. This was accomplished with the use of string lines, levels and the entire crew. o Pizza Oven/Barbecue Combination The pizza oven, barbecue unit and storage doors were purchase by the customer prior to commencement of construction. Detailed measurements were taken of the unit size, the installation requirements, etc. to ensure the proper placement of the masonry block structure and the utility hookups. 1. The masonry block was built to counter level initially. 8- by 8- by16-inch masonry blocks was used for most of the structure. The base of the eating counter was built with 12- by 8- by 12-inch masonry blocks. This part of the kitchen area had an 18-inch overhang for seating, so it required extra strength to support the concrete countertop. All cells in the masonry block were grouted. 2. The pizza oven was inserted and the chimney was installed next. 3. The block was mortared around the oven. 4. All masonry was scratch coated for the final finish. 5. Dry pack was filled between the oven/chimney and the masonry. This prevents heat damage. 6. Firebrick and trim was added to the front. 7. For the formed concrete counter tops and seats we formed the tops, and then we hired a local, professional concrete pumper, David Leese and finishers, Martin Anderson and Will Gonzales to provide the "finishing touches." The customer later polished the tops to acquire the desired appearance. 8. All gas and electric hookups were installed. 9. El Dorado stone was applied to the front with thinset and was then mortared for appearance. 10. The remaining structure was stuccoed. 11. As an added finished touch, we added three pieces of El Dorado stone above the opening of the pizza oven. o Fireplace The fireplace was constructed similarly to the Pizza Oven. The seat was constructed first. Then the fireplace insert and chimney were added. The block was mortared around the fireplace structure. In order to create the curved sides of the fireplace, we formed the curve from plywood, attached it to each side of the fireplace, and filled the form with concrete. Steps 4-11 from the Pizza Oven/Barbecue were also done with the fireplace. Additional steps included adding the special window surround El Dorado pieces around the firebox opening and adding the 6x8 mantel to the front. Carpentry o Patio Cover The tricky part of the entire patio cover was the hardware required for the 45-degree angle changes. Most of the brackets required for construction are manufactured by Simpson Strong-Tie Company and can be purchased through suppliers. Simpson does not make the bracket that we needed for the 45-degree angle. As a result we had to have this bracket custom made by an iron welding shop. We used #1 Grade Douglas Fir hand selected rough-sawn lumber for the structure. The posts were all 6 by 6 inches, the headers were 6 by 8 inches, the ledgers were 2 by 6 inches, and the joists were 2 by 6 inches with the custom millwork corbels. All wood was primed first and then painted to match the trim of the house. o Wood Fence The same grade wood and painting process was used for the front fence. The fence was built with 2- by 6-inch boards spanning the top. These were connected 1 inch below the cap of the concrete poured pilasters (before veneering) with L-brackets. Then 2- by 4-inch boards were mounted for the bottom of the rail. Next, 1- by 3-inch horizontal wood slats were evenly spaced between the pilasters and attached to the top and bottom. Finally 2- by 2-inch boards sandwiched the wood slats at the top and bottom and were nailed in place. Hardscape installations like the Graffius project are extremely rewarding for a contractor. Each major part of the project spanned approximately one week of construction. Legends in Landscape would like to thank our customers for allowing us to create the hardscape we designed, our crew for the excellent product they created, Nathan Larson, our lead concrete mason, for his leadership and advice on the masonry construction project, and all of our vendors and suppliers who made this project possible.

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February 17, 2019, 11:12 pm PST

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