Monday, September 8, 2014

Year of the Landscaping

I finally took a picture giving you a lay of the land. What you have is a lawn that slopes toward the house where it is absorbed into the ground and some of it channeled around the east side of the house seen in this photo or across our driveway and into the deep ditch beyond. It wasn't an ideal situation. The other thing that we wanted to fix was our front step. To step onto our porch from the sidewalk was about a thirteen inch step up. Okay for me but not for mother-in-laws or grandparents with bad knees who must scale it. About three weeks ago, I was simply going to pour a step in the middle to make it easier but it didn't solve the drainage problems. So we took out the old sidewalk and are preparing the area for a new one.

The new sidewalk will be higher which will create a barrier for water running back down the slope at least on the western three-fourths of the house. The eastern fourth will still have to run around the east side of the house but I plan to help it along by regrading up near the house, installing a flower bed with some sort of barrier to help funnel the water away from the house. Before all of this, our basement has always been dry but I would like to keep it this way by solving problems before they occur at less convenient times. The new step up onto our porch will be a measly four inches which should be much easier on the knees. Right now we are just waiting for a dry spate of weather so that we can actually do the pouring of the concrete. I'm not going to complain because the crops look absolutely perfect here. I suspect people will be getting near to 300 bushel per acre yields in areas with better dirt than we have here in this area. Still, I'm sure we will see at least 240 to 250 bushel per acre here which is unheard.

While the concrete fellow was here, I asked him if he would be interested in quoting pouring our driveway seen above. It is asphalt that has buckled, cracked, heaved and shattered and grows a pretty good crop of grass during the summer. It is a hard surface that keeps the cars out of the mud on years like this year but it really is an eye sore. It also was not pitched correctly the first time so water from the street and the uphill 60+ acres, runs down along the street edge into our driveway, part of the way back up towards the garage and then off over the edge of the ravine causing a huge gully to form. The top soil from along our driveway is slowly being carried away down the hill and I really don't want to part with it.

Our garage on the other hand also has problems. The concrete was poured on not well packed soil and without any reinforcing. As a result it is severely heaved and broken into a dozen plates. It is like a miniature version of earth tectonics. Plates floating and crashing into each other forming pressure ridges and such. When we first moved into this house, I had to shim the sides of the garage door by three inches so that it sealed up against the concrete and made a mouse proof barrier to keep vermin out. This winter, it heaved some more and I could probably shim it another six inches on the outsides just so the garage door seals across to the middle point where the actual door still touches the concrete. So I had the concrete quote that mess as well hoping I could get a mass discount.

We had already agreed to doing the sidewalk and when he came back with a quote for the garage and driveway, it was a little more than I wanted to pay. Right now I am focused on residing the house and figure that if push came to shove, a well sided house would bring better returns than a nice driveway and garage floor if we should have to sell it in the short term. I told the concrete guy that it was outside of my budget and that we would rater get our house sided first and see what money we have left over before finishing the driveway and garage. I put a line out there and wanted to see if he would bite. Almost immediately, he told me that the quote he gave me was a rough quote and that he would do a better calculation to see if he could come closer to our budget. The next day he came down to only $500 more than what I told him our budget was so we shook hands and are getting them done as well.

Since he is here already along with lots of his tools, he would like to start on the garage sooner rather than later so for the last two days, I have been spending my mornings cleaning out the garage. The large power tools too heavy to be moved down to the basement, I am moving inside next to our kitchen area where we have a breakfast nook that we use only to store incoming mail and such on. Anything water resistant for several weeks it going on the backside of the garage and away from view of the road in case thieves get tempted. The water sensitive stuff and high dollar power tools are getting carried a wheelbarrow full at a time around the back of the house and schlepped into the basement. Other low dollar and not as water resistant/rust resistant as the other things is being carried under the deck and some of it covered in plastic. I still have a couple more days left before they will be here to tear into my garage floor and I'm still on pace to get the rest of the items out. This time of year usually give us pretty stable weather and in most years it is usually hot and dry. I'm hoping now that most of my garage is now outside and scattered around, that at least the stable weather holds up. Otherwise our neighbors might end up with lots of items scattered across their lawns.


sage said...

You know things are getting bad when you have to mow your blacktop!

warren said...

Don't tell anyone, but as a business owner forced to quote stuff that I don't always know about, I sometimes just have to guess. That usually means that quotes are fact, I usually expect to negotiate. Sounds like your balking paid off well!

Ed said...

Sage - Amen!

Warren - I expect it too which is why I dangled the hook out there by telling him a "budget" that was below what I was willing to pay. At the end of the day, we are both happy which means it was a good deal all around.