Arpad Builders – Big Imagining in a Small Space
Essential elements united for timeless comfort.
Creating a comfortable oasis in one’s home takes more than good furniture and a shady spot to pass away Santa Fe’s glorious summer days. It is also about building a solid infrastructure to deal with situations a homeowner might find more annoying than inspiring.
On this project, Arpad Builders, LLC and its leader Tom Treece took on an older Eastside adobe home on a small lot that needed its landscaping to be reimagined. Arpad Builders removed the existing concrete patio and did away with the concrete walkways. With a focus on drainage, lines were installed from canales to gravel-filled French drains.
A six-inch gravel bed was installed to aid in rainfall drainage and flag stone rests upon the bed. Together, the elements aid in ground penetration for the precious rain.
Arpad Builders, LLC is an award-winning Santa Fe-based general contractor with experience in the building trades dating back nearly 50 years. This entry is part of the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association’s Remodelers Retrospective, which invites members to show off some of their favorite past projects.
Resolve drainage issues that caused structural damage discovered during a whole remodel of a 900 square foot, 125-year-old Eastside adobe on a 2000 square foot lot. Adding to the small lot’s drainage problems was a 250 square foot, orphaned “courtyard” accessible through a garden shed door or a bedroom window. That “courtyard” received 550 square feet of roof drainage.
Limited outside space available for proper drainage and percolation. The total unused patio area was about 600 square feet. The patio had a well-established apricot tree which was a major attraction for the homeowner. Saving the tree was paramount.
A room with the most structural damage was demolished and rebuilt for acceptable soil retainage and water drainage. An adjacent adobe-walled room with a river cobble footing needed significant shoring and waterproofing. I had previous experience reinforcing water-damaged adobe walls. We applied typical waterproofing methods for a retaining wall along the new and old walls of our project house in the orphaned courtyard. We installed a 250 gallon above ground cistern below a canale and plumbed it to a wall hydrant in the garden shed to be used for landscaping. A cistern overflow was installed into a catch basin with the relief line going into the main patio. The garden shed roof drained into a gutter and downspout emptying into another catch basin connected to the drain line exiting to the patio.
The orphaned courtyard was surrounded on 2 other sides by a neighboring home of the same, or older, age and construction techniques. We felt it very necessary to do some amount of protection for the neighbor’s foundation and walls as well. The courtyard grade was adjusted to slope away from the neighbor’s house and toward the end of the courtyard nearest the main patio and the garden shed catch basin. The adjusted grade was then covered with shower pan liner and round gravel.
The useable patio space was converted into a giant French drain system. Grades were lowered, trenches and percolation pits were dug, then lined with landscape fabric and filled with gravel. Drain lines from the orphaned courtyard were extended through these gravel beds and into the pits. The remaining house canale was drained into a catch basin. That basin was connected to a drain line which directed water to another 4’ square by 4’ deep landscaped fabric-lined gravel pit 8’ away from the house in the patio.
Once the trenching and percolation pits were completed, landscape timbers were installed to define the patio space. After the space was defined by the timbers, the entire patio was lined with landscape fabric followed by the placement of crushed gravel and compacted. This was the final drainage step before the patio was topped with large, fitted flagstone. Finally, pea gravel was placed between the flagstone slabs. The patio and roof drainage system was complete!
This project was completed in 2015. We have had no drainage issues from either the homeowner or the neighbor. The new patio space, while the same size as the previous space works as a more relaxing place for morning coffee or an evening barbeque as well as a large catch basin for rain and snow melt.
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