Landscape Contractor / Design Build Maintain

AUG 2017

LC/DBM provides landscape contractors with Educational, Imaginative and Practical information about their business, their employees, their machines and their projects.

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Right TDH Landscaping, A Monkton, Md., based landscape contracting firm, installed a precast wood-burning outdoor fireplace, firewood boxes and seatwall for a home in Baltimore County, Md. According to Nathan Boliek who oversaw the design and installation, it is critical to set the footing for the fireplace below the frost line. "In our area we have a freeze-thaw that reaches at least 36" deep," said Boliek. "With any kind of heavy structure, we have to have the footings below that to prevent the structure from heaving or sinking." The seatwall was covered in stucco and capped with tread stock. The fireplace and adjoining firewood boxes were covered in stone veneer and Foggy Bottom thinly cut stone. The hearth was capped with cut thermal bluestone. Left All projects encounter obstacles. This project in particular necessitated the excavation and removal of a considerable amount of soil: 250 yards of it. "There was no back yard, there was nowhere to build," said Kroger. "We had to excavate and remove the soil mostly by hand because access to the yard was limited. This had to be done before work on the fireplace foundation could begin. August 2017 29 Putting It Together TDH Landscaping built a precast wood- burning fireplace, hearth and chimney measuring approximately 6' wide, 4.5' deep and 10' tall for a residence in Balti - more County, Md. The unit was installed on a frost-free footer poured one inch wider than the fireplace. The entire unit, including the seatwall flanking both sides of the firewood boxes, was constructed using concrete masonry units. "Although the fireplace itself came from a kit," said Boliek. "We custom designed and built the wood storage box- es that flank both sides of the fireplace." Design Resource Group's Todd Kroger chose to freeform and custom build a wood-burning fireplace. The unit mea - sures 15' tall, 8' wide and 3' deep with a 42" firebox. It was built using concrete masonry units finished with stone veneer. The contractor installed a gas log lighter, which assists in start - ing wood fires. The mantle for the fireplace was made from reclaimed lumber, which was originally part of a dairy dating back to 1916. "Custom fireplaces are a little better because you can meet the clients needs and wants," said Kroger. "They are not so ordinary like the things you can buy off the shelf at the store. There is more per - sonality to them." Weighing The Costs The professionals we spoke with agreed that gas burning units are more convenient to operate and maintain. How - ever this convenience comes at a cost and added complica - tions. "The installation of gas lines is a highly specialized trade." said Kroger. "Most contractors have to subcon - tract this work to someone experienced working with gas lines. This adds to the overall cost." Selecting fuel type is only the first step. If budgeting is a concern, Kroger and Boliek advised to check out prefabricated modular fireplaces, which are a less ex - pensive option. "The kits come in pieces and form the shell of the fireplace," said Boliek. "They are generally less expensive and easier to assemble when compared to custom units." All Said and Done Throughout this discussion with ex- perienced builders of outdoor fireplaces, attention was called to a key factor in delivering a knockout punch – planning, which is crucial in all areas of the pro - cess. Any mistakes found after construc- tion is completed can severely impact the success of the project and reputation of the builder. "You have to research and plan to get it right," said Kroger. "Once it is built, it isn't going anywhere." LC DBM >> Modular ready, to finish (RTF) outdoor fireplaces have become an increasingly popular alternative to precast and custom-built outdoor fireplaces. These units are significantly easier to install and less expensive to build than the traditional free-form or precast units discussed in this article. These units can feature: • Fully welded galvanized steel frames • High temperature ceramic cement board cladding • Modular construction • Wood or gas configurations • Ready to finish in as little as one hour A version of this type of outdoor fireplace can be found at . An Unorthodox Option

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