How to Create a Backyard Oasis When Your Backyard is a Rugged Hillside
Breathtaking, long-range and panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean are the highlight of our project in Las Canoas. We are turning the steep hillside into usable space with a multi-tiered, multi-decked approach that is dramatically expanding the outdoor living area and opening the interior spaces to the beautiful outdoors and Pacific Ocean.
We are adding a pool, outdoor dining deck with trellis, separate lower-level firepit deck, and a covered observation deck for reading and relaxation with hammocks on an upper level . This project has required extensive site planning and multiple levels of review including review by the Homeowner’s Association and a Coastal Commission exemption. We officially broke ground in late December after many, many months of planning and design work.
Grading, Piles, and Grade Beams
Because we are building on a hillside lot, the building codes require deepened concrete piles that must be embedded into bedrock to provide stabilization. These piles must also be connected horizontally in two directions to resist lateral movement from earthquakes. You must use heavy equipment and cranes to do much of this excavation work, including the large pile driller for the grade beams. Massive amounts of steel and rebar were twisted into cage like circular structures to be inserted into the excavated pile holes and were then filled with concrete. In addition to this, we added extra concrete footing reinforcement next to the existing house using a “slot cut” method of construction, which prevents the existing footings from failure. On the day of the concrete pouring, it looked like an extraterrestrial invasion on the job site when the long funnel from the concrete truck extended over the house and into the backyard.
Revisions & Modifications
As a design-build firm, we have the ability to improvise and pivot quickly if we or the client suggest a change in the design. A hillside lot is very complicated and it is not always possible to predict on paper how everything will work out in the field. This occurred as we were excavating for several piles. The elevations were not as we expected from the survey. We were able to take control of the situation and adjust the design and structural detail accordingly to avoid delay and costly change orders.
We are excited to be moving forward to the next concrete forming and pouring the remainder of grade beams and piles as well as the swimming pool!
Learn more about this project in our Portfolio: Las Canoas