When Ian Bainbridge and his family moved into their Victorian home, it had a boring concrete terrace between the house and the back garden. So he decided to replace it with something he had created himself, something that had far more character and was made from reclaimed brick.
“We had been in our turn of the century terraced house for about 10 years when I finally got round to starting work on the terrace. We had already done a lot in the house – converted the loft, extended the kitchen, opened rooms up downstairs and redecorated significantly. I had been longing to do the patio since moving in but my wife insisted the interior spaces were more important to deal with first – and she was probably right! In some ways, however, once I had started, doing the work was easy. I had a solid concrete base that was flat enough to work on. I took advice from builders and they said that as long as I levelled it out where necessary, there was no reason not to lay the “new” bricks on top of it. It would avoid the need to use hardcore.
I say “new” bricks because they were new to us but had clearly had a former use elsewhere. From the beginning I knew I wanted to use reclaimed bricks, I wanted to create a look that would blend well with the house. While the front of our property is grey brick, the back is red. I, therefore, quickly decided that to complement the walls of both the house and garden, I would have to use either a similar brick or perhaps a red terracotta tile. We spent several weekends trailing round salvage yards – either not quite finding what we wanted, or not being happy with the price. I also spent night after night surfing the web – and eventually found what I wanted on an auction site.
Over the years, when digging up the beds out in the back garden, I had turned up an old stable brick every so often. At some point in the past, there must have been a yard out here that was floored with them. I had amassed a pile of about 10 or so of the thin red bricks with a diamond pattern, and, in my searches for a material for the terrace, had considered trying to find more of them but they seemed to be rare. This site, however, featured hundreds at a reasonable price. The only down side was that I would have to hire a van and drive four hours to pick them up. My wife thought I was mad – but I was on a mission!
Terrace with Character
I made a bid for the bricks, won them and then picked them up. The following weekend I set about laying my terrace. Spreading sand, mixing concrete, laying it out and positioning the bricks – it took me three long days to complete the work. Although I was happy for the terrace to have a fairly rough finish – I knew it would add character – I still had to make sure each stable brick was lined up properly. They were also somewhat uneven in depth and so the levelling out took longer than expected.
The Right Look
I bought a long piece of drainage brick in the same colour as the tiles and sunk it by the French windows. The new patio was higher than the old one and I wanted to avoid flooding in heavy rain. I also made some low brick walls to the right of the terrace, filled them with soil and plants and made a herb garden. The terrace now looks like it has been behind our house for ever. The whole family love it – including my wife, who no longer complains about the time it took me but instead enjoys sitting out on it, in the sunshine drinking her cup of coffee!”