We built our home during 2020 and after a long wait we finally began our backyard renovation in the summer of 2022. You can check out the full reveal here and my saved video highlight of the entire process here.
Now that the backyard renovation is complete, I’m answering all of your questions. Let’s dive in.
Why did we wait so long from our house being complete to starting the backyard renovation?
There are several reasons:
Money – Building the home, moving, and some upfront things we needed all cost a pretty penny. We wanted to save up a bit more before starting on the yard since we didn’t NEED to do it right away.
Design – Another big reason we waited was that we wanted to be absolutely sure on what we wanted.
This is going to be our home for a very long time and so since we have the ability to design the yard from scratch, we want it to be exactly what we wanted (within our budget).
We went back and forth for a long time on wanting a pool, not wanting a pool, wanting a hot tub, an outdoor kitchen, a pergola, and then having to decide what we truly wanted that we could actually afford.
Picking the Company – The final reason it took so long to start the backyard renovation was finding the right company.
We began interviewing companies for our backyard renovation in May 2021 and interviewed 6 different companies. We were extremely picky with who we wanted to work with. After meeting with 6 companies, seeing how they implemented our wants and visions into their designs, and scouring reviews, we finally picked one and were able to move forward.
Picking a company for your backyard renovation is honestly the most important part of the entire project.
Interviews – We spent months interviewing 6 different companies before deciding which one we wanted to go with. All too often we have heard horror stories of people picking a company and then they never show up, or are always late, never communicate, aren’t available for warranty work, do bad quality work, you find out they aren’t licensed, the list goes on and on. This is why we were so picky.
Design – Additionally I was extremely picky with the design. In fact, in the end I ended up designing the backyard. I did draw inspiration from the 6 designs we saw, but ultimately ended up creating something that none of them had presented us.
Now this was more-so a me thing. I am a perfectionist and with how much we were paying I wanted the yard to be absolutely perfect with no regrets, and I had a pretty long wish list.
Honestly all of the designs were great and my husband said he would have been happy with any of them. But seeing all those designs is another reason I was glad we met with 6 different companies when planning out backyard renovation. They each had a different take on what we told them we wanted and it was nice to see all the different ideas they came up with.
Outcome – Ultimately we are extremely happy with who we went with. They were communicative, did great work, and we trust them to come back and do any warranty work. They had amazing reviews which was one of the key things that led us to picking them.
At the time that we embarked on this backyard renovation, we were still in the post pandemic ripple effect where a lot of materials and labor were being effected.
Luckily we had no labor issues as the company we went with did not sub out their trades and instead all employees were in house.
However we did encounter supply issues with one thing: concrete. The shortage of concrete is what turned this from a 12 week project into a 6 month project. All other aspects happened very quickly, but we had a 3 month wait for concrete.
June – They cleared the yard, dug the pool, added plumbing and rebar reinforcement
July – ran all the electrical (I feel like this could have been done sooner, but they knew we were on the concrete waiting list and were in no rush because of that)
August – Nothing
September – Nothing
October – CONCRETE!! They finally poured the concrete and then things moved FAST. Then they came and filled in all the trenches and leveled the yard. Installed the coping, built the waterfall, installed the water line tile, installed the decking.
November – A slight lull in progress as we waited for inspection. Once we passed they did the Pebbletec coating on the pool. The next day they come back and acid wash the coating and then we were able to start filling it! It took a little over 24 hours to fill. Last thing they did was install the artificial turf.
Picking the finishes for our backyard renovation was relatively easy. The finishes that your company has for you to choose from may vary from what we had available to us. A lot of the selections were from local vendors so I don’t know how widely distributed their products are.
Additionally we really didn’t have a lot of freedom with picking finishes. The way the companies we met with worked was they already had a list of options that we could choose from that were available from the vendors that they work with.
You may think that doesn’t sound great because you want to hand select exactly what you want, but I assure you they still had a lot to pick from, and for someone like me who will look at every single option to find the perfect choice, having a set amount of items to pick from was actually really helpful and time saving.
Pool Color/ Finish – For example, they had a book of pebbletec colors for us to pick from. We knew we wanted a white shade for the look we were going for, and they only had one white shade as an option. So boom, decision made. Pebletec is the name brand for the finish of the pool. Pretty much all pools in Arizona are done in this finish, it wasn’t even a question of what finish we wanted, it was just what color of pebbletec did we want.
Waterline Tile – They had a wall of tiles to pick from. We knew we wanted white or light grey and they only had one that fit that, so that’s what we picked.
Decking – The decking was a bit harder. They had 3 tiers of decking materials from least to most expensive. To help keep costs down we only looked at the cheapest tier (which was really hard because the other tiers had some really beautiful options).
Doing that was a great way to help with costs since we had a lot of decking in our design. Again here we knew what look we were going for, a light gray or white. They had two options that fit that aesthetic, but one was more gray and one was more tan/cream so we chose the gray one since it matched our other finishes the best.
We went with travertine pavers for the decking. It’s fairly common here in Arizona because it doesn’t get as hot as other surfaces. I can walk barefoot on a travertine paver that has been in the sun, whereas a concrete paver immediately burns my foot.
All in all picking the finishes was pretty quick and painless. I suggest going in with an idea of the vision you want as that will help you make decisions quickly and not get overwhelmed or distracted by all the options. You can even bring in photos to show them if that’s easier for you. Pinterest is a great place to start!
Selections: As stated above, we simply picked from the options that our company presented to us, but here is the information I have on our selections if it is helpful
Decking: Travertine pavers in the “mini versailles” style (mix of 6×6 12×12 and 6×12 pavers) Color: ancient castle, english walnut, Icelandic, Noce, QDI light, Pearl marble
Artificial turf: Manufacturer – Tiger, 80oz face weight 10 year warranty
I get a lot of questions about the dogs in relation to our backyard renovation. Mostly in regards to them going in the pool and the artificial turf.
Pool – My dogs hate water so they don’t go in the pool. I am very glad for that since their fur would be a nightmare in the filter and a wet husky takes forever to dry.
Artificial Turf – Regarding the artificial turf, they love it! They can run and play on it and yes they can go to the bathroom on it. The rain helps clean it but we also purchased a cleaner to help with that. You just hook it up to your hose and spray it down, it’s that easy!
I’ve been told that the artificial turf does get hot in the sun in the summer. However in the Arizona sun everything is hot and my dogs are just used to going out less. As of writing this post we have experienced up to 105 degrees and the turf is still fine to walk on.
Because of the system we went with maintenance is super easy!
The pool pump runs each night and cleans the pool (we did the upgraded self cleaning pool remember). There are pop up heads that, you guessed it, pop up and clean the pool by blowing any dirt and debris towards the filter. The pool also has a built in chlorine tank where you put the chlorine pucks so you don’t need that annoying chlorine basket bobbing around the pool.
The only maintenance we need to do is weekly we test the chlorine and PH levels, empty the filter basket and skim and brush the pool. all-in it takes maybe 5-10 minutes.
We are currently choosing to care for the pool ourselves.
So while we are not spending around $150-$200 per month to pay a company to come and care for it, we have had to spend money buying all of the chemicals and supplies.
Buying the chemicals ourselves is an upfront cost. We’ve had to buy a few things that have ranged from around $80-$100, but the packs should last us a few months. We will continue to analyze the cost of caring for it ourselves and I will update this post if we decide to switch to paying for a company to care for the pool.
Water and Electric Bills – The water bill to fill the pool was less than $50, but the price for water where you live can vary. We have not noticed a bump in our electric bill to run the pumps each night. The systems now are very efficient and we run them during off-peak hours.
This is the most frequent question I get about the backyard renovation, and I will answer it. But know that the cost can vary SO MUCH depending on so many factors.
Pool Size – The main things that can effect the cost of a pool is the size of the pool and the features/materials you choose. Overall our pool is on the smaller side which did help with the cost.
Pool Features – The pool features can also wildly vary and alter the price. You can choose to do a built in cleaning system, different types of pool systems, salt vs chlorine systems, water features (like a water fall or bubblers), lighting and sound packages, adding a heater or a hot tub, and more.
Materials – Finally materials can play a huge part in the overall cost as well. What you choose as your waterline tile, your decking, and any extra materials like waterfall stone will all impact the price.
Smaller pool, added a waterfall, added a built in table, lighting package, self cleaning pool upgrade, upgraded chlorine and UV system, chlorine instead of a salt pool, added phone app and controls capabilities, base tier waterline tile and decking options.
Depth: 3.5-5 ft
Perimeter: 82 ft
Length: 23.5 ft
Width: 17.5 ft
In floor cleaning system
In pool table
Hot Tub/Spa – Ultimately we ended up cutting a few things to try to get the price down. We heavily debated adding a hot tub, but that would have cost another 20-30k.
Minimal demo – our backyard was just dirt and rocks before this project since it was a new build home and we chose not to do anything to it before this project and just lived with nothing in the backyard for 3 years. This means there was not a huge fee for them demoing the backyard.
Material choices – We chose from their stock options and didn’t have any custom requests. We also chose from their lower tier/cost materials when we could, like with the decking.
Pool Heater – We chose not to add a pool heater due to the extra cost. Living in Arizona we just didn’t feel like we needed it and they aren’t very common here. We can always add it later if we want to.
The company we worked with was a landscaping company who partnered with a pool company. Due to this we had 2 bills, one for the landscaping company and one for the pool company.
Pool total: $59,475
This includes: excavation, plumbing, steel, electrical, shotcrete, waterline tile, interior finish (Pebbletec), pool equipment, permitting, clean up
Backyard total: $29,573
This includes: water feature (the landscape company actually built the pool waterfall), built 2 half walls, all the pavers/decking, pool coping, irrigation and drainage, lighting package, artificial turf
Backyard renovation total cost: $89,048
Here is the pricing on a few items i get frequently asked about:
Artificial turf: 895 sqft was $6,578
Decking: between the pool coping, patio, and yard boarder we had 1,296 sqft of decking material. We used travertine pavers and the total was $10,271
Waterfall: The plumbing cost for this was rolled into the pool plumbing cost, but for the build of the waterfall, the stone veneer, travertine top, and the scuppers the total was $1,770
Upgraded in-floor pool cleaning system: this to me is a necessity and just part of the cost of a pool, but some people choose to forego this and use the external pool vacuums. I hate the way those look and they’re cumbersome to deal with so to me the in-pool cleaning system is more than worth it. It cost $3,709
As of right now, none!
We painstakingly thought through this backyard renovation for 2 years and I truly think we added everything we wanted that our budget allowed, and throughly thought through the placement of everything based on how we will use the spaces.
If budget would have allowed I did want a hot tub and my husband wanted and outdoor kitchen. We can always add an outdoor kitchen later or a free standing hot tub later if we want to.