It's always rewarding to get a phone call from an old client about a new project. This call came from the young couple in Manayunk whose kitchen we did almost a year ago (see Manayunk Kitchen Remodel). No longer newlyweds, they were expecting their first child and wanted to ensure things were safe and sound for her arrival. Their house sits on a steep hill (as many in Manayunk do), and it has a funky layout. The backyard is the roof of their garage, which sits a story below their first floor and faces a small neighborhood parking lot. The garage has a 12" thick concrete roof, on top of which was about another foot of dirt and grass. The garage, which hadn't been used in decades, had a simple steel door and was dark, stinky and dank with moisture.
They were concerned about the structural integrity of the concrete roof and, hoping to use it as a functioning garage, wanted to alleviate the moisture while making sure their backyard wouldn't collapse onto their car. Good idea.
Our in-house structural expert helped design a plan to open up the garage for access, reinforce the roof, install a new drainage system and then build a deck on top, giving them over 320 square feet of new living space in the process.
We began by removing the existing garage entry door and most of the exterior wall of the garage. We then dug footings along the side walls and installed four steel I-beams along the roof of the garage, using a steel lift to set the beams onto steel columns. Thank goodness the mason brought four big guys along, or I think I'd be in a permanent back brace.
Then it was time to remove much of the existing grass and dirt, grading the yard towards the front of the garage. We covered an industrial drainage membrane with four inches of clean crushed stone, providing an optimal drainage system to run into the new gutter.