Contractor’s Corner | Babble Around the Water Cooler

By Dan Put

Published on May 1, 2020

Before & After. This hidden gem makes for great office views.

Every job starts with a phone call, and this particular call was no different — except it’s not every day that your job site is an office building that was built in the early 1940s. When we arrived to meet the customer, we were given a tour of the grounds and a checklist of wishes.

But just like everything in life, things can change in a splash.

“What’s behind this door?” I asked.

A hidden oasis in the middle of an office building.

“Oh, that’s just an old courtyard that is really run down,” the owner replied.

When the door opened, a vision instantly washed over me: a quant space where employees could unwind while at work, even if only for a few moments during the day.

My face must have given away my enthusiasm, because before I had the chance to share my thoughts, my new customer knew he had made the right phone call.

The space was bordered with offices on three sides and open to the outside world above by cantilevered roof overhangs.

Planting the courtyard.

The offices that surrounded the courtyard were empty, mainly because no one cared for the view. This was all about to change!
First came logistics. How would we get materials in? How would we get machinery in? How would employees be able to interact with the space?

On the far end of the 11-foot-wide courtyard were two masonry wing walls. We removed those just enough to bring in materials and equipment. The opposite end had a glass wall and a doorway that employees could use to reach a new composite deck. Proper planning, open communication and a little elbow grease made this project come off with very few, if any problems.
As expected, all the offices surrounding the courtyard are now occupied. In fact, the office had to hold a lottery to see who got first dibs!

This has been one of our favorite projects in recent memory, and we continue to get compliments on it all the time.

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Designer: Put’s Ponds & Gardens, LLC
Size: 10 x 15 feet; 2 ½ feet deep with 35 feet of cascading streams
Composite Deck: 11 ½ x 12 feet
Components:

  • Landscape plantings with drip irrigation
  • Masonry work

Time to Complete: 5 days
Crew: 3
Buyer’s Cost: $22,575

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