Hardscapes for New Construction Homes

Spring keeps teasing that it’s coming, and I know our clients throughout the Valley are anxious to be able to spend time outdoors without having to bundle under multiple layers just to survive a few minutes in the yard.

And with the Spring comes meetings with new clients, either with homes they’ve recently moved into or ones they’ll soon be building, and I’m reminded of the importance of experience when it comes to building hardscapes around a new construction home.

Failed Hardscape in Kimberly

Don’t get me wrong, experience is ALWAYS important when hiring any kind of contractor.  It’s your home and you want it to be perfect.  But in the setting of a new foundation and most often 8-10 feet of uncompacted fill around it, a beautiful hardscape can end up looking like the project on the left.  That’s a real project, built in the Fox Valley about 2 years ago.  We didn’t build it – we were called in post-failure to assess damages and suggest ways the project might be returned to its original beauty.

In this case the problem wasn’t the newness of the home, but the issues present here are similar to those of a new home – there are soils incapable of supporting the weights being brought to bear on them without help.

And to date, there are no tools that exist, no matter how expensive or state-of-the-art, that can compact 8+ feet of uncompacted clay fill that sits against a new foundation.  Not without turning your foundation to rubble, anyway. Most compaction equipment can only reliably compact 6-8″ of clay fill.  Deeper than that, gravity and time are the only tools that work.

So how does one build a beautiful patio next to beautiful new house, with grand (and very heavy) steps leading to the patio doors without turning into the above mess in a short time?  There are two primary ways – the least expensive is time.  Wait a year or two, to allow the fill to settle.  Letting a hose run on the area can expedite this process. Or if you don’t want to have your lawn torn up a year or two after it was seeded? We can build that beautiful patio right now, with the heaviest elements of it (steps, grills and fireplaces) supported on a pad of concrete, some with footers that extend below the frost line, and some that tie to your home’s foundation.

To take this route is more expensive. But when has the highest quality, most enduring work ever been the least expensive?

If you have a new construction home or are planning to build one, we’d love to hear from you.  We can design and build a project that will be beautiful for years and years.