Prerequisites for BBQ Island:
All utilities that the BBQ island will contain needs to be completed (e.g.
electrical lines for outlets and lighting, gas lines, water lines, ...)
I realize that the BBQ Island is not a part of the pool, but thats OK.
Its a part of my overall backyard plan and I wanted to document it like I'm
doing with everything else. I would have to honestly say that this phase
of the project really had me stumped. It was one of the reasons why there
has been such a big delay from finishing up the pool. I must have changed
the design for the BBQ / Fireplace a bunch of times before I finally decided
what I wanted to do. The problem is that the backyard is so small that
when I collected my bids, most of the subs thought I was crazy to want to do a
BBQ island, Fireplace, AND and Firepit. They were probably right.
If you recall, the picture to the right show the original decking area and the
proposed locations for the BBQ and Fireplace. I didn't realize it until
I started to do the deck bids, but this would not work. For some reason, I
just have a hard time conceptualizing just how much space something is
going to take up on the deck until I can see it first hand. I wanted patio furniture
in the middle of the deck, but couldn't see from my drawing just how little
room is left on the deck when the BBQ is turned facing the pool and away from
the wall. That was the first problem. The second problem was that by
having the Fireplace where its located on the drawing, the drainage would be
very difficult to achieve. The shape of the Fireplace would serve to
retain water rather than channel it away from the deck. This caused a lot
of heartburn for the decking subs trying to come up with a way to achieve
maximum drainage. Also notice at this juncture, there was no thought of a
this led to my second revision. The red lines
represent where one of the decking subs wanted to put Deck-o-Drain.
Deck-o-Drain collects water from the deck and channels it towards the ends where
it runs off the deck. The new design was better in a couple of regards:
- More space on the deck - The BBQ island was moved back to
the wall where a lot more space would be opened up on the deck. After
measuring it, I found that a patio table with four chairs would actually fit
in the center of the deck. The trade-off was that the BBQ island had
to shrink in size (no raised serving counter or side counter) and had to be
turned around such that the person cooking had to face the wall rather than
face the action in the pool area.
- Drainage issues are drastically reduced - by moving the
Fireplace off the deck and into the corner, this would allow the decking sub
more options in designing the slope of the deck to insure water would be
properly directed off the deck. There would be no bulky structure on
the deck itself getting in the way of drainage.
At this stage, I had also added a 30" Firepit in the middle of the
deck. I was over at Ray's (Gas sub) house and saw his Firepit and thought
it was pretty cool. You can see the hole in the center of the deck. The idea was that I
could use it in the winter and in the summer months, I could drop a flat
circular lid on it and have the patio table sit on top of it. It wouldn't
take up any space that way and no one would be the wiser. Still, this 2nd
revision wasn't without problems of its own. When I called in all the BBQ
subs in to do bids, I found out that all of them thought that the space where I
wanted the Fireplace was too small to do one. One sub said that he had
never built a fireplace that small and didn't know if he even had a flue that
was small enough for the size of Fireplace he would have to build to make it fit
into that corner. As he sized it out, he estimated that it would have to
extend a couple of feet onto the deck in order for it to be the right
size. He also mentioned that having a Firepit and Fireplace that close
together would insure that people sitting between the two would be roasted to
medium tenderness. He said, "You know, it might be nice to just have
a couple of trees back there instead." Hmmph. The second sub basically
said the same thing. At that point, I knew that I had to start looking at Plan C.
After much deliberation, here is the final plan that I came up with.
The biggest change was that I had to get rid of the Fireplace and replace it
with a row of seats. It was tough getting rid of it, but later the subs
came back and told me that it was more ornamental than anything anyways.
Usually, you don't get much heat from it because the opening is so small.
One of the subs said for his own fireplace at his house, he had to throw some
kind of fire-proof board on top of his flue to maximize the amount of heat that
would come from the front opening. At that point, I was pretty convinced. As a result of that big change, it meant that the gas run I put in
for the fireplace was pretty much useless. That's alright. I think I might
have paid about $100 for that small run. One benefit of this change was
this meant I could move the BBQ island up and have it centered better near the
middle of the deck. As a result of not being so squished near the
equipment area, I changed the plan from a 9ft island to a 10ft island. I
decided to make a full-blown outdoor kitchen by adding a utility sink and a BBQ
light to the BBQ and Wok/Side
Burner, . It would also have a GFCI protected outlet in case I needed it
for some small appliances.
Anguishing over the sub choice
Ok, now I was ready for the subs. The first sub I talked to was from
Valley Hardscapes. The owner from Valley Hardscapes invited me over to a
nearby subdivision that was about five minutes drive from my house to check out
another job he was wrapping up to show me what he could do. I brought
along my digital camera and here's what I saw:
He did very nice work! He said that one of the trademark features of
his work was creating benches that had an angled back for better comfort.
I sat down at the fireplace seating to see for myself and he was right. My back
just sort of melted into the seat. It was very comfortable.
After talking over a few things with him, I found out that he wanted $1800 for the BBQ island alone. In addition, they
wanted to charge me $3500 for
the Fireplace. He did great work, but whoa - that was a tad bit more
than I wanted to spend. He told me during our conversation that he lived
in a $500K T.W. Lewis home. Now I knew how he could afford to.
thing that I REALLY liked when I was there was this cool looking Stainless Steel
BBQ light that
he was going to attach near the BBQ unit. It kind of looked like some
hi-tech microphone. You can see it in the picture to the
left. It was a stainless steel "Bullet" light that
attached directly into the countertop through some screws through a base
mounting bracket. I asked him about the light and he told me that it was a
new product that Focus Landscape Lighting International recently came out with. He said that
he picked it up from Ewing Irrigation one day when he was there to pick up some
other supplies. He asked the guy if he had any flexible BBQ lights and he
pulled out this thing. He says that its about the 4th or 5th one he's
installed so far and his customer's rave over it. I liked it because it
had a really contemporary design and it was stainless to boot. I really like the stainless look. I
looked at the model number off the box and wrote down the info for the light in my notebook and went on my way.
The next sub that I talked to was actually a Tile sub. His name was
Mike. I got his name from a neighbor who did his BBQ and Beehive when he
was having his pool built. I explained to Mike what I wanted and he said
that he would cut me a deal. He said that he would do the following work
- 9' BBQ island built out of solid 8" concrete block and includes
choice of standard tile for counter top and stucco exterior. In this
he would cut the holes for the drop-in BBQ unit, the kitchen sink, and the
wok unit I wanted.
- 6' Bench seat built out of solid 8" concrete block with standard tile
for the seating area, some tiled accent pieces, and exterior stucco.
- Standard waterline Tile around the entire perimeter of the pool (95 feet).
- Repair the pilasters needed for the new 8' RV gate to meet the fencing/barrier
requirement prior to Pebble Tec. (doesn't include the gate itself)
I had to ask him again to make sure I heard that right - he would do the whole
shooting match for $2000? No way. I couldn't believe
it. How was this possible? Was he planning to build it out of
sticks? What's the deal? I had talked to other BBQ subs and they bid
it similar to the first sub, so I knew he was way under-pricing it. Then I
found out why: He wasn't a licensed subcontractor. No
insurance. No bond. That means no 2 year warranty (enforced by the
Registrar of Contractors). He could go
out of business at anytime and I couldn't do anything about. Yikes.
I anguished over the decision for a couple more days, and finally decided to
do what I said from the beginning of this project I WASN'T going to do - hire an
unlicensed subcontractor. Don't try this at home - :) I decided to
do it for the following reasons:
- He wasn't doing anything structural with the pool. Had this been
anything that dealt with the structural integrity of the pool, all bets
would be off. All the stuff that he offered to do was cosmetic in
- My neighbor used the same sub to do his BBQ and Fireplace and it turned
out great. In fact, thats how I came to know of them. I wandered
into his backyard during the construction of his own BBQ and Beehive
Fireplace and asked them to come over and bid out my job. The
situation was a little different with my neighbor though. He contracted with a
pool builder, who subcontracted out the BBQ to him. So
effectively he was working under the pool contractor's license.
- He did my neighbor's BBQ 3 years ago, which meant that he was still in
business. In fact I found out that Mike ran two crews,
so I knew they were busy with work.
- Mike currently does a lot of work for a bunch of
different valley pool builders including some large ones. That means
something when you can repeatedly earn the trust of multiple pool builders
- $2000 is $2000. What can I say?
Still not the best of reasons considering the down sides, especially the
insurance liability. You can flame me privately later if you want :)
Mike was a very engaging guy - very funny and liked to tell a lot of stories. I told
Mike that I was going to put his work on the Internet and make him a star.
I told him that he would get
more referral work if he did a good job. He seemed very intrigued by
this. I began to notice a trend with all the subs that I mentioned this
to. I'll cover that more in depth in the final "Lessons Learned"
section when the pool is complete, but people seem to take things to the next
level when they know they are performing for an audience and that people are
watching. The cool thing is that I'm the beneficiary. He asked me if I knew how to put together a website. He
said that he's always wanted to do a website for his company. I said,
"Maybe we can work something out..." hehe.
me to go over to another client's home in the same neighborhood to check out his
work there. I asked if I could bring my camera along to take some
pictures. He said of course. Here's what I saw when I got there.
I got distracted immediately by the waterfall. Check out that pool. It
had a full grotto in it. Man, I was
stunned. And I didn't even get a picture when the homeowner turned on the
waterfall for me. There was actually three waterfalls on the pool. The
other two were smaller and were on either side of the grotto. I didn't get
a wide enough of a perspective to include them in the picture, but trust me, it
was amazing. The guy who did the waterfall was actually there at the time
finishing up painting the BBQ and Fireplace that Mike did. He said that the waterfall was all
artificial - stamped concrete I think he said it was, but he
had turned it into some kind of art form. Very nice. I asked him how much he charged for something like
that and he said
that it was roughly $10,000. The homeowner was some IBM executive.
It looked like he was putting in close to $100K on his backyard alone. As I peeled my eyes off the floor, I turned
my attention to the reason why I had originally come. I swung around to the pool
deck and saw this:
Very nice - things were still wrapped in plastic as
the painter wasn't quite done yet. Mike said he did the complete works for this
guy. He also did some seats that I didn't get a picture of. I really liked the color combination. I talked to the guy
who painted it and asked if he could do the same for me. He said,
no problem." I got his business card and we left.
What I was asking Mike to do was going to be much simpler than
the work at this other client's house. This client had almost half an acre
lot. He had some definite possibilities. He could space things out
however he wanted and just let it fly. I definitely did not have that
luxury. In the end, I told Mike that I just wanted a no-frills BBQ that
was functional. He agreed that would be the best course of action given my
situation. It looks like we were all set. He agreed to be there
first thing Monday morning to start work with his crew.
Monday, October 21, 2002 - 9:33am
crew arrived at the house just after 9:30am on
Monday. It seemed like they had a couple of pallets of 8 x 8 x 16 concrete
block loaded on the back of their truck when they arrived. They quickly
unloaded both pallets of block along with the bags of Portland cement, sand, and mortar
and quickly moved it to the back of the house. They left the concrete
making materials including the mixer near the backwash pit on the side of the
house where they set up their mixing station and moved the rest of the materials
near the pool equipment.
Measuring out the BBQ
The first thing Mike did was measure how far from the back edge
of the house to start the 9 ft BBQ island run. You can see
that in the first picture below to the left. He had one of his crew member
hold a string from the back of the house to the wall so that he could measure
how far away it would be. Fortunately, the extra electrical outlet I had installed
just barely cleared the left edge of the BBQ. In the next picture, you can
get a feel for how long the BBQ island is going to be and where all the utilities are going to be. The gas
line for the BBQ and Wok is dead center of the island. Notice there's nothing for water
yet. Its kind of funny, but I actually decided on the fly the night before
that I wanted a utility sink. I asked Mike about it when he arrived
and he said there was no problem. He would just lay down a pipe for the
main and a pipe for the return. I would be responsible for the rest.
Okie-Doke. The last picture shows the right edge of the BBQ better.
If you take a closer look, the gas line for the Fireplace that will never be is
right to the side of the block. It will just stick out there and be a part
of the landscaping. I'll probably end up hiding it behind a plant or
Making changes on the fly
As I eyed the area where the island was going to go, it still
seemed kind of small. With a BBQ, Wok side burner, a utility sink, a BBQ
light and the outlet, it left little room for countertop space for plates and
other utensils. I asked Mike what it would be for another foot of
island. He said it would be $75/ft. He said that if he did that, he
would also have to add another access door for sure. He said that with a
9ft island, trying to get away with a single access door was already going to be
difficult, but adding another foot would almost certainly require it. The
access doors are there so that you can get to the gas devices and do the
hookups. But they also double for access paths to storage areas. I
asked how much more that would be, and he said it would be $80 to add another
door, and that I would need to buy the door panel as a separate expense. I told him lets do it. It
was a 30 second exchange as I stood there watching them.
That's one thing
that's been nice about my whole pool building experience. If I decide
during the work that I want something changed, I can do it on the fly working
with the sub directly. He gives me a price on the spot and I say Yay or
Nay. Had I gone with a pool builder, it would have been much more
difficult to do. Most likely they would tell me it was too late to change anything.
Especially when the subs are at the house doing work. Even if the pool builder's superintendent was there on the spot, he/she would
most likely have to relay the request back to the main office, where someone
in the sales department would have to look it up in the official price sheet
give me the official marked up price. That takes time and that's assuming
everyone involved is available right at that moment. And if they're not
available, the sub is most likely not going to wait around until people are
found. They're on the clock. Time is
money. If it wasn't specified upfront in the contract, its a pain to
change things. I was liking this GC thing more and more.
BTW, Mike had some real interesting stories to tell me about the
cut-throat pricing agreements he's had to accept being an unlicensed sub for the
pool builders that he's done work for (and he's done work for a lot of them,
including BIG ones). I won't tell those stories here out of respect for
Mike, but if you want to email me privately, I can share the stories with
you. Its a fascinating look into the dog-eat-dog world of the construction
industry and the big guys screwing the little guys because they can.
Anyways, back to the BBQ. In the next series of
pictures, you can see one of the crew guys moving some dirt away to extend the
BBQ island another foot to the left. This will give me more overall
countertop space. In the next picture, you can see Mike show me where the
zero elevation point is as he points to it with his finger. If you look at
the enlarged version of that same picture, and follow the vertical line that
starts where his finger is pointing (betw the two blocks) and follow it to the
block above where the line ends, you will see a little black mark in the dead
center of that block. It may look like a piece of dust on your computer
screen, but its actually a mark made by Mike to denote where the 12" raise
spa deck level is going to be. He just marked that spot to show me where
the different elevations were located. The BBQ itself would be at the same
level as the pool deck which sits 4" above the zero bond beam level.
This pool deck would be 12" below the raised spa deck level. In the
last picture, you can see Mike measuring the depth of the island. Its
going to be about 32"-33" from where his thumb is marking the tape
measure to the wall.
Pouring the Slab
Once everything was measured out, they started to place concrete
block around the BBQ area to create the form which will hold the concrete
footing/slab foundation in place. They measured out the slab area one last
time to make sure that they were giving me at least 10 ft of BBQ island space.
Before the actual footer/slab can be poured, one last thing
needed to be done: putting in
the pipes necessary for the utility sink. Mike didn't have any extra PVC
with him and I only had some 3/4" PVC. Fortunately, there was a small section of
2" SCH 40 PVC laying on the ground left over by the plumbers or gas
sub. The section was only a few feet in length but just enough to do the
job. I would have liked to run over to Home Depot to pick up a 2" 90 degree
elbow and bring it up with a short vertical section, but Mike didn't want to wait around. He said he
would leave enough working area so that I could do that later. In the
pictures below, you can see one of the crew guys cutting a section of 3/4"
SCH 40 PVC that will be used to feed the sink from the main. The second
and third pictures show the two pipes together in the ground prior to pouring
the slab. When I bring the 3/4" PVC line up, I'm going to put on a ball valve
so that I'll be able to shut it off/on right under the sink. The 2" output pipe
will head straight down into the ground after traveling a few feet from the BBQ
island. I'll dig a 3 ft or so deep hole and fill it with river rock so that the water has someplace to
go. This sink won't be used heavily, so that should be sufficient.
I'll mostly use it to wash my hands or rinse some vegetables off and other small
things like that when we're cooking.
After the PVC was done, we were ready to start the
footer/slab. Some of the crew guys started to work the mixer and
wheelbarrow while another worked the slab. Here are some pictures of them
pouring and shaping the slab.
The slab itself is anywhere from 4" - 6" thick.
It only takes about half an hour to an hour or so before they will be ready to
start laying the block. In the picture to the right, one of the crew
members holds up the GFI outlet to show approximately where it will be located
on the backsplash once the island is built up. The flex tubing that the
electricians left behind was about 4ft in length - more than ample to get just
about anywhere on the island.
You can see in the first picture below how they buried the PVC
pipes under the block form. Mike placed a small bucket right over the
pipes inside the island. After the concrete was poured, it left a nice
hole in the slab that would allow me to work with the pipes and add the 90
degree elbows. The smaller 3/4" PVC will feed the faucet from the
main water line. The larger 2" PVC is for the drainage. The
area just to the left of the island in the first picture is where I'm planning
to dig a 3ft deep hole and fill it with large river rock. The drain pipe
will feed into that pit to receive the water from the sink. That depth should be
enough to allow the water from the sink to drain away and soak into the
earth. Actually, had I did the job right, I would have used the black ABS
piping rather than PVC. The black ABS piping is rated for kitchen sinks
where its more resistant to harsh chemicals and anything you want to throw at
it, but I don't plan on really putting much down this BBQ island sink other than
clean water. PVC would suffice nicely.
Starting on the seating
While a couple of the crew members worked on the BBQ footer,
Mike started to set up the form for the footer for the bench seats that would
curve around the other side of the BBQ island. The seat would be placed in
the location where the Fireplace was going to originally be located. The guys
set up a small section of 6" flexboard form and secured it with some #4
seats would look similar to the one shown earlier from Valley Hardscapes, just
without the fireplace in the middle. When Mike first met with me, he
brought along a little album that had pictures of some of his work. I
noticed that all his bench seats were the straight 90 degree variety for the
bench backs. Not very comfortable. I told Mike that I really liked
the curved/angled seat that I saw from the other sub, and Mike said that it
wasn't a problem. He normally didn't make his seats like that, but that he
could do it for no extra charge. He would do it similar to the picture to
He said one thing to keep in mind was that in order to get the
angled seat back, the bench would be extra deep. And given that my deck
was relatively small and cramped as it was, it would require that the seats
encroach onto the deck by about 16 inches or so. That would eat up a lot
of real estate. From my earlier deck picture, you'll notice that with a
circular deck with a 9ft radius, that would leave me only about 12 inches of
space from the deck's edge to the property line. Not very much spare room.
In any event, I knew I needed to compromise some deck space if I was going to
get some comfortable seats. So that's what we decided on.
are some pictures of the finished footer for the seats. Unbeknownst to me
at this time, this bench would turn out to be the biggest blunder so far in the
whole project. Can you guess what it is from the pictures? I didn't notice it until
later. It was actually due to miscommunication, but so far, up until this
point, things had gone pretty smoothly. I'll discuss the issue more in
depth a little later.
One thing I noticed about Mike right away was that he was a
no-nonsense kind of a guy when it came to his job. He wasn't one that
liked to be bothered by a lot of deviation to what was agreed upon. I
don't blame him in a way. When we first started discussing the specifics
of the BBQ, I told him that I wanted a island for a BBQ and a Wok/Side
Burner. He asked me if I had picked them out yet. I told him I was
planning to go to BBQs Galore to pick them out. He said that the guys were
going to be forming the countertop later on that afternoon, so I needed to
decide how big the holes was going to be for the BBQ, Wok, and utility sink by
then. I also told him that I wanted to add a light to the BBQ and the only
way I could do that was to tap into the GFCI outlet. He said he could work
Riding with Mike
He said that he needed to stop at BBQs Galore to pick up something
for another client and asked if I wanted to come along. I said,
"sure" since I needed to get the hole sizes. As we drove to the
BBQs Galore store 20 minutes away, I got a chance to ask him a
lot of questions. The thing I was wondering the most was why he didn't
want to just get his license. He said that he had been tossing that around
for a long time, but when he had the money
(for the training and the exam) he didn't have the time, and when he had the
time, he didn't have the money. He said that now, he had already paid for
the classes and the exam, but he didn't have time to do it. I told him
that it should be considered an investment. Investing time now would have
HUGE dividends later as he could command twice as much for each job than he was
making now. I told him what the other sub bid out my job for, and he wasn't
at all surprised. He said that he realizes that he could only command
about half of what licensed subcontractors charge and that it was solely because
no one really wants to take a chance with unlicensed subcontractors. He
told me not to worry though. He said that he would fully warranty ALL his
work for 2 years just like any licensed contractor. He mentioned that for
my neighbor, he had to come back to take care of a few minor things and that he
fully wanted to honor that. I objected and said, "But you had to do
that since you were working under a pool builder's license at that time and he
was liable for problems. With me, there is no such
arrangement." He laughed and told me not to worry. He said that
if there were problems, he would come back to fix it and no questions
asked. On the way there, he also gave me a glimpse of the treatment he
gets from pool builders who are constantly trying to low-ball him on prices even
though he already charges only half of what other subs with charge. This
was something that really made him upset and I could tell by his colorful choice
of adjectives that this was not a favorite subject of his. I just
encouraged him to just get his license no matter what it took him since he was
effectively taking a loss of income on each job that he took.
When we finally got to BBQs Galore, I saw a nice 3-burner
Stainless Steel BBQ by Turbo that looked pretty decent. It had the
Rotisserie and back burner. I asked the sales rep about the cut-out
size. He gave me a sheet with all the numbers and I handed it to
Mike. I did the same with the Wok/Side Burner and we were now in
business. Mike told me he was going to drop me back off at the house and
go on to another job site. He would be available for any questions, but he
was going to leave my job in the hands of his experienced crew. When he
reached my house, I thanked him for the ride, and got out. He reminded me
that his guys needed to know the size of the sink before 1PM or so because they
were going to be forming the counter about that time. As soon as I told
him I would be looking for my sink during lunch, he raced off
towards his other job.
Looking for the kitchen sink
I immediately jumped into my car and raced off towards Home
Depot in search of my utility sink. I knew the guys would be measuring the
counter for the holes in less than an hour so I had to get the sink fast.
When I got to Home Depot, I noticed that while they had a couple of nice 21
gauge steel utility sinks, they didn't have any faucets that were made for the
2-hole sink that both had. I raced to the Great Indoors which was
fortunately close by, but left as soon as I saw that the cheapest sink they had
started at $100 and went up to $300 ... just for a lousy utility sink.
I only had one last place to look: Lowe's. Fortunately, there was a Lowe's
near the Great Indoors. When I got to the section for sinks, I asked the
sales guy about a sink for a BBQ island. He said that he had just the
thing and took me to show it to me. Perfect - the sink he showed me
included the faucet and the drain/strainer with it, and it was only $44 for
_everything_. Pretty cool. When I got back home, I saw that the guys
had made huge progress. This is what I saw when I went around to the back:
I got slightly alarmed when I saw that they had already set the
GFCI outlet. I had told Mike I wanted to tap into the load side of the
outlet so that I could power the BBQ light, but it appeared that the outlet was
close to being completely set in concrete if not already. I quickly dialed
his cell and told him of the dilemma. I asked if they could stop the work
on the outlet, while continuing other parts of the BBQ while I wired up the
electrical for the light. He said that he couldn't just stop work on the
BBQ and that it would cost him to stop work all of a sudden. I asked about the
outlet and he said that there were other ways to work the issue without having
to stop work. He said that he was almost finished working with the client
at the other job site and would be back over soon to talk over the outlet issue.
can see how the outlet was already set by masonry blocks and mortar. None
of the flex tubing was exposed so I didn't know how he was planning to work the
issue. I asked the guys if they could stop work on the outlet until Mike
arrived, but their English wasn't that good. And since my Spanish sucks,
that didn't help matters any. However, sensing my concern, I think they
got the idea, and started to work on the bench seats.
They neatly started arranging a set of 8" x 8" x
16" concrete block around an arc and stretched it from one end of the BBQ
and curved it around until it hit the wall. After that was done, they
started on the second layer. You can see the two layers in the picture
below in the middle.
When I came back out, I noticed that they went even further with
the outlet on the BBQ. By this time, they had pretty much enshrouded the
outlet completely in concrete. Where was Mike? I called him up again and
let him know what was going on. He reassured me that everything was going
to be fine and to just let the guys continue to work.
Mike called up one of the guys from his cell phone. I
didn't know what he said, but afterwards, I saw one of the guys pull the flex
tube from behind the BBQ and leave it exposed. Ahhh. Ok, I see now,
he was going to just leave a part of the run exposed so that I could tap into it
from there. This wasn't the best solution as I would have like to put the
light on GFCI protection (load side of the outlet), but it would have to do.
At this point, they were already starting to form the
countertop. I noticed that the way they did their countertops was lay
steel rebar across the opening on the top, place the thinnest 4" masonry
block across it, then fill in the gaps with concrete. Only small sections
then needed to be filled with concrete. In those sections, he placed a
small plywood board across some rebar rods, then fill it with concrete. I
know this way was the more economical way to go, but I wasn't going to
complain. Not with what he was charging me for the work. I've seen
other subs put a form around the whole thing, put a sheet of plywood on top, and
pour a solid 4" slab of concrete. That kind of countertop slab was
definitely more durable and robust, but hey, what the hay - I'm not planning to
sit an elephant on the counter.
I didn't buy the utility sink a moment too soon, because at this
point, they took the sink and formed the opening for it by laying it right into
the island and building right around it. You can see some pictures of it
At this point they had pretty much wrapped up the countertop and
finished putting in all the holes. Next, they started to apply the base
coat (scratch coat) on the outer surface of the BBQ. This would be the
foundational coat for the final coat that they would texture tomorrow. One
of the guys told me that the coating was nothing more than a mixture of mortar,
portland cement, and sand. It was mixed to a very thin fluid consistency,
kind of like toothpaste. Here you see some pictures of the finished
coating. They would let this dry overnight before coming back to apply the
finish coat and texture along with putting in the 4" backsplash on top of
the BBQ back against the wall.
If you look at the middle picture above, you'll notice that they
pulled the electrical flex tubing out just enough so that I would have access to
it. You can see it through the hole near the back of the BBQ wall. I
would now have to cut through the tubing and tap into the line for the BBQ
light. Not a big deal, but I would have to pick up a few more parts at
Home Depot to make it happen. Mike told me that they were going to let the
thing dry overnight, then apply the finish coat, then texture it the following
day. They would also finish up the bench seat tomorrow as
I looked towards the bench seats again, I noticed that they had only laid down
two rows of 8x8x16 block. I asked Mike, "I thought I was going to get
16" of sitting space alone. Where is the seat back going to
go?" Mike stared at it for awhile before realizing his mistake.
There was an extra section of block missing. We talked it through a little
more and I suggested that he could just add an extra row of 8x8x16 block
sideways in the front to get it. He said, "No, then it may be
susceptible to cracking since we would be putting it on a different
foundation. He said that he would move it tomorrow and fix it then.
I didn't realize it at the time, but our understanding at this point was still
not in sync. There would be yet another incident the next day. It
all goes to show that communication is so vital. Sometimes, you have to
just put it down on paper before you get your point across.
That pretty much wrapped up a hectic day of BBQ building and
buzzing around town looking for BBQ items. And I still wasn't done.
I wanted to clean out the area where the PVC pipes were laid to insure that it
wouldn't be difficult to work with later. I wanted to do before the guys
started work the next morning. After they had left at 5pm or so, I went
back outside and chipped around the pipes where a bunch of concrete had
fallen. I dug around the pipes for some clearance and decided to just add
the 90 degree elbows since I was already working down there.
I could have done it later, since there was ample room for me to
work down there, but I wanted to chip away a lot of the excess concrete that had
fallen into the hole while it was still fresh and easy to remove. Since I
was down there already, I decided to just put the elbows on at the same time and
seal them up. And that puts a wrap on the first day for the BBQ.
Tomorrow, we'll be re-doing the bench seats and texturing the BBQ.
Landscaping Utilities - Back
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