It used to be the dream of every skateboarder to have a wooden mini ramp in their backyard. Rob Dyrdek’s house used to have just two wooden quarterpipes, a box, and a flatbar, and that was pretty much considered a skatepark. But that’s weak compared to the kind of real e-skate people are building today.
Certain pro skaters — Shane O’Neill, Chris Cole, and Leticia Beefaroni — have full-on skateparks at their houses, and plenty of other sponsored and non-sponsored skaters have smaller backyard set-ups. Curious to know how these kinds of projects come about, we reached out to Kyle Berard, the one guy leading the charge in #ResidentialSkateboarding.
Some may remember Kyle from when he skated for World Industries and Consolidated, or when at 16 years old he won Tampa Pro (still the youngest to do so). Well, nowadays he’s making little kids (and 30+ year-old kids) jealous of his backyard skate spots.
So we talked with him to find out what it’s like turning houses into skateparks and how much it’ll cost to turn the curb in front of our office into a sick launch ramp.
How did you get into doing residential projects instead of public skateparks?
I moved back to San Diego with Matt Mumford about 7 or 8 years ago. We were still skating, still making a little bit of money from it, kinda like “Time to get a job” but also “I don’t know, maybe we can keep it going for a minute.”
I started doing DIY spots around San Diego and LA just to skate. It was just another part of skateboarding that was super fun. Eventually I started my own thing. We didn’t have a name, we didn’t have anything, but here and there I’d make a couple bucks and we’d have a new place to skate. I started getting more and more calls and all of a sudden it was like, “Oh shit. This is my job now.” So it became this like, “Hey we’re building spots in this ditch” to “We’re doing backyard remodels and these people are paying a lot of money to do this.”
What’s the difference between working at someone’s house versus a random DIY spot?
Working at someone’s house is stressful. A lot of the time it’s a husband and wife and there’s a lot of, “Well, if he gets the ramp then I want this,” and I’m like, “OK, what if we blend this together?” Sometimes they go for it and sometimes they don’t.
The best design stuff happens when they’re like, “We can blend that into this and do a planter box over there, but we can smith grind it.” I really love blending residential traditional hardscape design into skatepark stuff.
We did one private job that was 4,500 square feet. We needed a retaining wall on a hillside, so I told the guys, “You might as well make the next leg of this whole thing skateable.” So retaining wall slash China Bank it is.
If the homeowners have kids who skate, are you talking to the kids about what kind of obstacles they want?
Absolutely! Sometimes kids don’t have the best designs but I take into account exactly what they want and try and make it more skateable. You just have to keep in mind like, “What would I want to skate when I was 7?”
Have most of your clients been “rad dads” building stuff for themselves and their kids?
We work with pro skaters too. They get their first house, you gotta keep skating in order to make the money, so it’s somewhat of a private training facility. Those are fun because they know I skate. Not every client knows I have a skating background, they just like what they see on Instagram.
When I work for someone like [Collin] Provost he’ll be like, “Hey, do a week in the backyard and just fuckin’ go for it.” Someone like Provost will trust me with the design. I’ll show him what I want to do and he’ll tweak it a little bit but we’re on the same page already. There are other clients that want a “half pike.”
Is it stressful building stuff at pro skaters’ houses?
Sometimes it gets stressful because you work for these people that you’ve adored your whole life and then they trust you with their most prized possession, their house. It’s a pretty intimate process.
I worked for Andrew Reynolds and his daughter Stella. They wanted a mini ramp with a lot of flat. Obviously we’re all super fans of Reynolds. That puts this crazy extra pressure. I had a poster of him on my wall and now I’m building for his daughter. This could go fucking horribly wrong.
Everything was going good and then it rained and I realized, “Oh shit, this needs to be done for Stella’s birthday.” His daughter’s birthday was on a Saturday and the Sunday before it wasn’t ready to pour. I dropped everything and drove back up to LA. I was like, “I’m gonna ruin Andrew Reynolds’ daughter’s birthday party because they’re not gonna be able to skate it. We’re gonna rush through it, it’s not gonna be dry, it’s gonna be a piece of shit.”
I got it poured Wednesday and Thursday we poured the flat. On Saturday I was waiting to get a call like, “Hey man, it’s still wet.” But everything was OK.
How much does a concrete mini ramp cost?
It’s a square footage price. Sometimes we get sticker shock when we’re like, “That mini ramp’s gonna be $10,000.” But then you add it up for them and show them it is a lot of work.
If you just want a slappy curb, I’ll come up and do your slappy curb for materials and a day rate. If you want a real park, we have to sit down and make plans and go to the city and do all that. I’ve done projects for $1,000 that are fun as shit, but we also just finished one for $120,000. It really does just depend.
Which of your builds are you most proud of?
I really liked Provost’s house because I felt like we got exactly what we wanted. We left it to where if he wants to invest more money into it he can, or he can skate it like it is and it feels complete. He’s on an acre and a half, so he has enough room. Colin’s house was the first time it was like, “Man, we can do whatever.” We could build something small, we could build something big, we could build it in sections. All kinds of stuff.
Some of the stuff that looks higher end with the planter boxes and certain trees, I like doing that. I really like camouflaging everything to where you roll up on it and realize it is skateable. Any of those projects where the wife and the neighbors don’t mind looking at it. Those are the hardest. You don’t want to put an eyesore in their front yard.
Which other pros have you built stuff for?
We did Figgy’s house. He lives right next to Provost so you can go over to Provost’s then go around the corner and skate Figgy’s. It’s pretty fuckin’ awesome.
I worked for Theotis [Beasley], we did a mini ramp for Shane O’Neill, we did a bowl for PLG a few years back. We did a skatepark/backyard remodel for Leticia Bufoni. We did a couple different things at Ryan Decenzo’s house. I really like the way his thing came out. We built one at Trevor Colden’s house. Manny Santiago, we did the flat and then he had his friend do all the skate features later. We did [Dan] Drehobel’s concrete feature out front at his place. He designed it, then when we built it he was like, “It’s too steep!”
Do you know anything about Brad Pitt’s skatepark at his house? I was kinda hoping you’d built it.
Not too sure about Brad Pitt’s house. I think CA Skateparks built it. Pretty hilarious there is a full capsule back there for his kids to skate.