Urban Outdoor Living

This project started with big ideas, creative thinking, and a lot of features. Consultants wanted an outdoor dog bathroom that filtered the unwanted scent and pee, without a lot of effort, and without walking ten floors down from the penthouse. They needed a framing structure that was removable, but didn’t want it to appear temporary or pieced-together. The planters, originally, were to be solid concrete so they’d never rot or deteriorate. However, not all dreams are possible. The structural engineer informed us that this would be too much weight for the roofing system. And the challenges continued: the client wanted travertine tile for the kitchen and bar, but how do you incorporate a 1” deck board and a 2” travertine tile all while keeping the floor level? Covering up all your roofing membranes and safety tie offs does not meet code, and can cost a lot if the roof deck ever needs servicing. If you build lighter planters out of wood instead of concrete, it would defeat the whole maintenance-free, modern look. Above all, when you are entertaining or private dining, it’s essential you don’t create tripping hazards, level changes that constrain space, or drop off points.

Outdoor living spaces and decks not only add value to your home – they enhance the experience of being at home and expand leisure space for your family!

We decided on Duradek (a synthetic waterproof sheet vinyl) for waterproofing the dog run area. This product is not affected by the acids in urine and will last for ages. We redirected the urine with ¼” per ft. slope, so pee would run off into drains connected to the drainage system of the building. To make it appealing for the dogs, we simply added maintenance-free synthetic turf. But wouldn’t this start to smell over time? We worked with the plumbers to install a water hose system that can easily wash away any remnants of urine or poop.

That connected to other concerns. How did we provide service access to roof area, drains, safety tie offs and plumbing areas? With the consultants we carefully defined areas that would need servicing, then built hatches with flush mounted stainless steel handles and picture-frame borders. Rather than trying too hard to hide the hatches, we said “they are here, let’s make them look good”.

Planters! What to do about these planters? Instead of pouring heavy concrete and voiding the roofing warranties, we drew up lightweight pressure-treated wood framing. But even the best of treated lumber will rot quickly when submerged. So, after framing and sheeting the planters we added Duradek sheet vinyl to waterproof the insides of the planters. But then, how does the water escape? We installed DDS Duradek plumbing drains at the bottom of each planter, connected via the roofing system to building drains. Having protected the insides, we installed Wolf serenity decking horizontally on the outsides of the planters, and travertine tile on the top ledge, to give it the concrete look.

The final obstacle to overcome was getting different building products to meet at the same height, for a safe, seamless transition from kitchen and dining area to fireplace and relaxation center. We ordered the Silca grate system, which screws directly to the framing. This area was framed a little lower, to allow the travertine pavers to meet up level with the Wolf serenity decking. The product is also made from high quality plastics that will never rust, rot or deteriorate as years of water pass through it.

With all this, we were able to achieve the look the consultant aimed at. The dog run was successful and after two years’ continuous use, creates no smell of contaminants or urine. It eliminated the work of going down to main floor every time the dogs needed to use the doggy room! All the roof hatches were built to support the overall look of the deck, while providing access to service the roofing system. The planters and kitchen are my favorite architectural touches: a maintenance free area to grow your favorite herbs and flowers, while cooking in and enjoying the outdoors. In the end, structural support was no problem because we were able to decrease the weight by over 50%. The whole area was completely seamless, all while providing different and more durable products for the dining and eating area. What better way to enjoy the outdoors?