Man surprises sick wife with ‘shock’ reno

For the past year Marissa Velarde has been in and out of hospital after being diagnosed with a serious heart problem.

What she didn’t know was during that time her husband was chipping away at their backyard working on a surprise project.

He single-handedly turned their concrete yard into a dream resort that features an impressive tiled-waterfall feature, to make his wife feel like she’s always on holiday.

At first Bobby, 53, erected a pergola with chairs where he used wooden slabs from Bunnings to help transform part of their yard into a deck.

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That part Marissa was aware of, but over time, particularly when the coronavirus pandemic hit Australia, Bobby expanded on his original plan, deciding to turn their entire yard into an oasis after Marissa was considered “high risk” and unable to leave their family home.

After she had a stroke last August, doctors discovered Marissa, 50, to have cardiomyopathy, a hereditary disease of the heart muscle.

Doctors inserted a defibrillator into the left side of her chest which acts as a trigger if her heart stops.

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In between her multiple hospital visits, which included several operations, and her time recovering at home, Bobby was working away on his big plan.

It wasn’t until last month that Marissa finally got to see her husband’s “beautiful” project in all its entirety.

“I was so touched. I had been so worried about my health, the medical issues, but then to see the finished project so beautiful just lifted my spirits,” Marissa told

“I loved it and felt so happy and grateful to be home with my family.”

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What makes it even more special is that Bobby doesn’t have any building experience. Instead, he runs his own structural engineering business called Residential Inspections.

“He isn’t just an engineer, he’s a cook as well. I hardly cook,” Marissa said.

She joked that the moment she shared his transformation in the popular Facebook group, Kmart Hacks and Decor, women bombarded her post asking if he had a brother.

“He does, but unfortunately he is not very handy,” she laughed.

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Bobby divided the backyard into several sections for Marissa to relax and enjoy including an alfresco area, man-made waterfall section, and he also created a secluded mini-garden for her to sit by.

The materials from the tiles, to the wooden slabs and tools were all bought from Bunnings while most of the furniture was from Kmart.

Marissa told she was “really shocked” by the huge reaction from the post – and so was Bobby.

“I was like, ‘What is going on?’” she said after it clocked more than 3500 likes and hundreds of comments. “But it’s such a good feeling. So many people love it and they’re so amazed that it makes us feel so overwhelmed and so happy.

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“I was telling Bob, ‘People are in love with you and your handwork that they wish they can take you home with them,’” she told, laughing.

“He was shocked as well by the reaction.”

His secret talent was met with endless positive feedback with many describing his work as “amazing” and him as a “wonderful husband”.

“Stunning! Do you hire him out? Hahaha,” one person joked.

“So jealous – you have one handy hubby. It looks amazing,” another person wrote.

“What a thoughtful fella you have! Plus very talented,” said a third.

“WOW! Bloody stunning,” wrote another, while a fourth person said, “Well done husband!He’s a keeper.”

Others wished Marissa well and hoped she enjoyed her time in her new, well-deserved space.

“Wow it looks amazing, I hope you’re feeling better,” one woman wrote.

It’s not the first time the mother-of-two has had her post in the group go viral.

Earlier this month she shared a photo of her DIY polaroid Christmas tree filled with 200 hanging photos of family members.

It attracted 5000 likes and almost 1000 comments from people blown away by her “outstandingly genius” idea.
She told she came up with the unique idea after realising she would not be able

to visit her extended family for Christmas back home in the Philippines, due to coronavirus restrictions.

“I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, with COVID we can’t even go anywhere and visit our family overseas which we do every year at Christmas,’” she said.

“So I thought maybe I could do this (photo Christmas tree) and have them ‘here’ with us.”

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Serena Maddox

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