• 12 Armadillos

Redoing a Backyard: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

This blog post has been over six months in the making.  Dave and I were so grateful to move to a new house last July to be closer to Christa and her family. We loved our house and didn’t even mind that the backyard was not that large. The only complaint I had was that our patio was teeny tiny.

Dave bravely put me in charge of trying to sort out the backyard.  We love being outside so having an outdoor space was very important to us.  We were not sure whether we wanted a pool or not.  I was still freaked out about Isabella’s pool incident years ago, but figured since this was going to be our house until at least the girls graduate from high school, that we should go ahead and do a pool. Dave agreed with the understanding that we were going to put in every precaution to keep the kids safe.

We came up with a budget and then I found 5 different companies that built both pools and patios.  

Tip #1:  Budget.  Whatever you think your budget will be, be prepared to go over by some amount.  I did not really realize how expensive the cost could be.  However, it is worth the investment to us since we will use it so much over a long period of time. Make sure you budget small things (patio furniture, accessories, umbrellas, etc). 

Dave and I interviewed all 5 companies.  I learned quickly that everyone said something different.  One company said salt water was the only way to go, the other said only go with regular water. One company swore by pavers, the other spoke highly of stamped concrete. 

One challenge we ran into was our roof line.  Several of the companies had a hard time trying to figure out how to extend the roof.  Only two of the five companies came up with a design we liked. 

After weighing the pros and cons of each company’s price/design, we made our choice.  We didn’t go with the least expensive company, but instead went with the design we liked the best. We were super impressed with our pool company’s presentation. 

The three components that we were most excited about included the vaulted wood plank ceiling, double gas fireplace, and barstools in the pool.

The timeline the company gave us was about 3 months.

Tip #2: Timeline.  Be prepared to go over on the timeline.  Backyard company’s try and be “optimistic” to get your business. 

Tip #3:  Referrals. We knew 2 people who used this particular backyard company. They were both very pleased with the end product, but one of the two was not pleased with the timeline/ project manager.

The company staked out our backyard October 8th. The next few days construction went fast. 

Tip #4:  Materials. We almost cheeped out by not doing with the remote and the LED lights.  We are SO glad we changed our mind! Walking to the side of the house to turn everything on would have gotten old fast.  Also, the colored lights are so very cool. Worth every penny!  We went with the stamped concrete and are very pleased with the look. We also hired an audio and visual company to install speakers and an audio system. I feel this was money well spent!

Tip #5 Milestones/Payments.  This is where we screwed up. The pool company assured us that they were going to work on the pool and patio simultaneously. They tied all of the draws into only the pool project. THIS is a HUGE RED FLAG!!!! Do not make this mistake!!! We asked over and over what incentive they had to finish our project in a timely manner if we had paid them most of the money at the start of the project.  They kept saying, “trust us, we want to get your project off of our books”. 

October 10

October 11

October 24: Wrong spa tile installed.

October 27

October 30: Correct spa tile installed.

November 9: Stamped concrete is shown to us. It is finished right before Thanksgiving.

December 14

December 15: Fence put back up.

January 2: (Most pools take 6 weeks to complete).

The first part of the pool (pouring concrete, gunite, wire) went fast….and then NOTHING!!!! We had a huge section of our fence torn down for over 2 months.  The weather was so nice and we would have days and days and weeks where nothing was done….no workers…everyone around us had workers, but we did not have people show up. From our prospective, the pool company had 95% of our money and after 3 months we did not have a working pool and we did not have any of our outdoor kitchen completed.  It was like the company took our money and ran. 

Here is an analogy.  Let’s say the pool cost $10.00 and the patio cost $5.00.  After 3 months, the company had $14.25 of our $15.00 and we did not even have 30% of our project complete.  We could not go in our backyard because it was a mud pit, our dog lived at my sister’s house for over 3 months because of the hole in our fence, and the kids could not go outside because it was too dangerous.

My husband tried to talk to the owner, but the owner refused to take his calls.  Instead, he had the lead designer try and deal with Dave.  I will say, by this time, I was over the COMPLETELY AWFUL customer service.  When you spend this amount of money, you expect to be treated with some type of consideration.  Not this pool company, they just did not care.

When they were trying to get our business, they bragged about a computer program where we could log in and see updates/ schedules on the progress of our project.  Sadly, they stopped using the program after a few weeks when they realized they didn’t have any workers to send to our house.  

January 2nd I sent the pool company 2 pictures.  I said how unhappy I was about the lack of progress on our project.

Here is what I don’t understand about this company.  We live in a fairly new neighborhood that is rapidly expanding.  Many of our neighbors have asked us if we would recommend our pool company.  Sadly, we told them that we would not.  

January 5

After my email, the company finally rounded up some workers.  Things went pretty fast.  Things got done.  We were so happy we were starting to change our mind about this pool company. 

January 7: Finally water!

And then they went back to their normal poor business practice.  We had a pile of garbage in our yard for weeks and weeks that we kept asking to be removed.  They just did not care. It just sealed the sour taste  in our mouth.

January 10: Enjoying spa for first time.

January 14

January 20

January 28

January 29

February 1

What did we learn?  We learned that it is VERY important to do lots of research when you chose a company for such a large project.  When we started looking up information about this company we started seeing lots of complaints for similar things.  Chose a company that is HUNGRY for your business.  

All of the people working at this company are nice.  Being nice, doesn’t mean you are a good business owner.  I saw the owner come to my house one time over almost 6 months.  The project manager came probably 10 times total over 6 months.  I saw how they treated some of their subcontractors and it was pretty sad.  They would send these people out to work over and over when the supplies were not there.

On a postive note, we are so grateful and love our backyard!  We still have a few minor touches (bowls for ends). The only thing we would have done differently was use another pool company.  My question for you, who is ready to come over and enjoy the pool with us? 


Brenham, Texas


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832-752-9963/ 832-428-6741

E-MAIL: 12armadillosllc@gmail.com

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