In my opinion (& Nathan's too), nothing screams "Summer is right around the corner" better than the smell of a bonfire. Am I right?
Last week I shared how to build an outdoor space, in phases, but I failed to include any fire pit options or heat sources! And if you live in a climate like ours (the Midwest)… than you know these are very necessary, especially if you plan to use your outdoor space to it's full potential... aka into the cooler Fall months. So, here are some great stand alone options, gas and wood burning! I've included some really neat tabletop options as well & a few outdoor heaters (something we would love to purchase one day!)
Gas Burning Fire Pits
Wood Burning Fire Pits
Last Summer, we had a fire pit area added to our backyard. When we moved into our house in 2017, we had to take down a huge tree in our backyard… and ever since we took it down, we were using the stump area as a fire pit, in hopes to burn down the stump. Last year (2019), we finally decided to have a fire pit area built on top of it... I guess you could call that our "Phase 1" of the backyard refresh. (more information on that whole process later in the post)
This year, I shared that we had a concrete patio poured - we had a small existing patio... but it was in rough shape. It was too small for the outdoor dining space we wanted & it was badly pitched towards our house (which is a big no-no). We had the existing patio ripped out and nearly tripled the size of the patio and butted it up to our fire pit area, so we could accommodate a large dining space and have a lounge area to sit & relax.
Some people asked "How come you didn't do a paver patio?" or "Why not do stamped concrete?"
The simple answer to that question is because after talking to a few people about pavers, we didn't think pavers were appropriate for where we live... we knew that eventually we'd have a lot of weeds come through the pavers and we didn't want to deal with that down the road. As for stamped concrete... not many people know, but stamped concrete is more expensive than regular concrete. It requires more labor because they have to stamp the pattern and then also stain the concrete afterwards... in order to make it look like pavers. Moral of the story: concrete was the most inexpensive option and the option with the smallest amount of maintenance.
Back to our fire pit area - this is something I haven't shared before... but it has to do with hiring companies to do any type of job for you. Specifically, I'll be talking about our fire pit being installed, but this advice could apply to any home improvement job.
We decided to hire out the fire pit project, because neither Nathan or I enjoy doing outdoor work. Looking back on it, we tell each other that we could have done it... it would have taken much longer but we think we would have been happier with the finished product if we had done it ourselves.
Earlier I mentioned that we had a huge tree in that area, which means there was a huge stump. We initially had the stump grinded down but you could still tell that the yard was raised in that area. Upon hiring our contractor to do this fire pit, we clearly told them about the stump area and how it would need to leveled. They acknowledged it and said it wouldn't be a problem. Fast forward to the firepit being complete... the fire pit was NOT level. The bricks were bowed in an arch and you could clearly tell they did not properly level the ground... we had to have them come back on two different occasions to "try and fix it" - but honestly, it's still unlevel. Now, if Nathan and I had done this ourselves and it ended up being unlevel... we would have been okay with it - but we paid a lot of money to have this done (mainly because we knew it needed to be leveled) and we were not happy with how it looked.
There were also a few minor issues that we ran into with them, such as them not consulting us on brick colors, brick patterns, etc. They took it upon themselves to make design decisions without running them past us. They also claimed that the work would have a 1 year warranty, but when I went back to check the paper work, there was no mention of it.
Luckily, we are still in contact with them & they say they are coming back to "fix" it once again. In the end though, here are a few guidelines to follow when hiring someone to do any home improvement work for you:
Always shop around & get multiple quotes - ask for references from friends & family (look at online reviews if you can)
Make sure whatever you sign states there is a warranty or something similar, incase you are not pleased with the final product.
Never pay in full - pay a percentage up front (before the work begins) and the balance upon completion.
Be EXTREMELY clear about your expectations... design, colors, sizes, etc.
Make sure you (or your significant other) are home when they are working.
Don't be afraid to speak up while they are working - if you see something you don't like, mention it right away. Otherwise it may be too late.
In the end, we do love our fire pit area & the imperfections are very minor. Do we think we overpaid for the service we received... yes, but you live and you learn. I'm sharing in hopes that someone else takes a little more precaution than we did before hiring out a job!
P.S. - we used a friend's reference for our concrete patio and we couldn't be happier with how it turned out - so we really did live and learn!