Tuesday, August 28, 2012

More Patio Progress

Brian had another day off from work and made more progress than expected, laying all the patio stones!  The patio is approximately 21' x 17' so we'll have plenty of space for outdoor living.  Once the pavers were laid, we spent a fair amount of time this evening sweeping polymeric sand into the cracks and then running over the entire patio with the vibrating compactor to set the stones.  After adding water, the patio should be firmly anchored for many seasons to come.  Next up, fire pit, wall caps, sitting walls, and grill installation....

Monday, August 27, 2012

Pavers, pavers everywhere

The backyard is starting to come together...dirt piles notwithstanding.  All the prep work last weekend paid off in the form of patio progress this weekend.  We had a few other things going on this weekend and got rained out on Sunday afternoon but still managed to lay most of the patio and, since Brian had the day off from work today, built the second, bigger retaining wall.  Each wall block weighs about 60 pounds and the wall took 14 blocks per row, times 4 rows, equaling about 3300 pounds or a ton and half.  We should have called this an outdoor P90X workout and charged people to come over and lift the blocks!  Ultimately, we got all the blocks moved from the pallet in the front yard over to the back wall but this job is one that we're glad to have done.  And we're really happy with the way the walls are turning out.  We'll finish laying the patio, plant some bamboo and flowers around the retaining walls, install the fire pit, get a grill ordered and installed, and be ready to enjoy the patio - not quite in time for summer but hopefully in time for the fall.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

End of a Long Weekend

We worked rather hard this weekend for not much visible progress but we're learning that sometimes that's how it goes.  Brian's friend Tim was in town on Saturday and was a huge help in moving the heavy pavers and wall blocks into the backyard - the pavers are just under 20 pounds each and the wall blocks are about 60 pounds so there's a lot of lifting involved!  And Adam came back today (thanks, Adam!) so we had plenty of help over two days but there was even more prep work to be done than expected.  It didn't help that we had a false start on Saturday afternoon with the patio layout and wall.  At first, we thought we wouldn't need a retaining wall at all on the right side of the patio but then it became clear that there was too much slope to just taper the landscape as planned.  Then we figured we would install a retaining wall flush against the patio and spent a fair amount of time laying string lines, measuring it out, and digging a trench for a straight wall (see the first picture).  And then...we reconsidered.  Putting the wall flush against the patio would mean that the wall caps would look like a border on the patio - but only on that one side.  We decided to sleep on it and this morning came up with a new and better plan but one that required basically starting over.  We've now installed a curved retaining wall a few feet off the patio and will have landscaping between the wall and the patio to give the patio some more green space and shape.  So, we had to fill in the original trench, dig a new one, and install each 60 pound wall block - not an easy task but we got it done!

Then we had a rain delay when the storm hit so we moved inside and grouted the kitchen backsplash.  We continue to creep towards completion in the kitchen.  We still need to install the crown molding over the cabinets but it's all starting to shape up now.  Once the rain cleared, we want back out and moved the gravel around (because what better time to move gravel than after it has rained and is extra heavy?) and compacted it down to create a level patio.  I'm glad we did the parking pad first to get some experience because there's very little room for error on the patio - it needs to be straight from side to side but sloped slightly away from the house so we need to lay string lines with the gravel, sand, and the pavers to keep everything straight and level.  It's a much more involved process and likely to be a lot slower but we're ready now to get started on laying the stone next weekend.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Garage framing... Slowly

And I mean sllllllooooowwwwwlllllyyyy. Framing guys got the LVL's up and looks to be ready for the joists and 2nd floor. Hopefully they'll make some good progress tomorrow and Friday.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Parking Pad Completed

We spent another long day in the backyard but it paid off in a finished parking pad!  As usual, the finish work took nearly as much time as the bulk of the project as we had to lay the outside rows, cut the angles into the pad, and install the edging.  We used a masonry blade on the circular saw to cut through the pavers and it worked really well - but was incredibly dusty as you can see!  We'll still have to do a bit more work on the pad when we install the driveway strips but for now, we're calling this project done and moving next weekend to the patio installation.  Current paver count - three pallets down, nine to go.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Paver party

We spent a long day in the backyard but made a huge amount of very visible progress, laying nearly all of the parking pad in one day.  We owe a huge thank you to our friend Adam, who gave up his entire Saturday to come and haul concrete pavers and sand around our backyard - the extra set of hands was a tremendous help!  The pavers are CST Contempra in Hickory - a nice mix of gray and brown - and we have two sizes, 9 x 9 and 6 x 9, that we're laying in a 3 by 1 pattern.  We finished prepping the pad yesterday and went over it another time this morning with the vibrating compactor, then laid in and smoothed a base of sand (every grain of which had to be shoveled into a wheelbarrow and then trucked to the back - thanks again, Adam!).  Then it was time to lay the pavers - all 350 sq ft of them.  I have to say, I was surprised at how much we got done in a single day - it's much faster than tiling once you get going.  Tomorrow will be less sheer effort and more skill as we need to install the edging, add the outside rows, and then cut the pavers on an angle to finish up the pad.  More pictures to follow!    



Friday, August 10, 2012

Landscape project day three

Not a lot got done visually on my last day off Wednesday, but I did get a lot done. The concrete contractor came to cut a straight line at the garage door. Don't ask why this wasn't done when they poured the pad! It ended up taking us a couple hours of hard labor to cut and smash through 10 inches of concrete in some parts, but the pad is now straight and ready for pavers tomorrow if the weather holds up. We also got a jump start on seeding part of the backyard. Another few weeks and hopefully we will have a beautiful outdoor space! And no the framing contractors haven't worked all week... I think I could have built the garage faster by myself.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Landscape project day two

Lots more progress today on the yard. I moved around all the dirt piles and smoothed everything out as best I could. The pavers and sand were delivered so as you can see there's a ton of work to do in the coming weeks! We'll plant some grass in the back tonight to get the lawn established to finish off the day. Still no framing contractors today so the garage is still just a few walls.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Landscape project day one

About five hours ago I was thinking the $30k quotes for our landscaping were not so bad. I may have even contemplated calling one of them as the start of the project was a bit overwhelming. I'm off the next few days to get a head start and the first big delivery was this morning. Two dump trucks dropped off 16 cubic yards of crushed gravel base material. Most of the day was spent moving it to the parking pad, spreading it around, and running over it with the plate compactor. This job would be impossible to do without the Bobcat and at one point I thought was impossible to make progress with just one person. However, with the Bobcat it apparently is a one man job! Most of the base is where it needs to be or staged in a convenient location for use later. Tomorrow some of the 14 pallets of pavers are coming as well as the setting sand. Currently I'm taking my siesta, but will probably go drive the Bobcat later and move some of the mountains of dirt I've been growing in the backyard.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Bobcat and Bunnies

We spent the weekend playing in the dirt, getting the turnaround pad and driveway ready for a delivery of gravel this week and pallets of pavers shortly thereafter.  Our framing contractor continues to move at a glacial pace (as you can see, the framing is exactly where it was a few days ago still) so we've stopped waiting for him and are proceeding with the DIY portion of the garage/driveway now.  In order to prep for laying the pavers, we had to dig several inches down for the parking pad and driveway strips - which doesn't sound like much until you multiply several inches by the approximately 90 feet of our driveway.  In short, we were very grateful to own the bobcat this weekend!  It took two days but we're in good shape for the next step, gravel, now.  Then it's sand, tamping and leveling, and eventually pavers and grass.  There's still a ton of work, and a lot of weekends, ahead but this was a good start.

And on a more cuddly note, we discovered a clutch (nest?  brood?  I'm not sure what the technical term is) of teeny, tiny bunnies living in the overgrown grass of the yard.  I was carrying tools across the yard as we were getting ready to start work on Saturday and saw something furry wiggle right as I was about to step on it, leapt to the side, and then came back to investigate.  And there they were, several baby bunnies wiggling around in a little hollow.  Since they were right in the path of the bobcat, we built them a protective cover out of scrap wood so they wouldn't get squished (of course, we removed it when we were done each day so mama bunny could get back to them).  I'm afraid we may have some deaf bunnies after the bobcat trundled right by them for several hours this weekend but at least they are still safe.  It's just a good thing one of them moved at the right time for me to notice them because bobcats and bunnies do not mix!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Backsplash almost done

The backsplash turned out better than expected. The tile isn't something one would pick to exactly match white marble, but the end result is great. It adds an interesting texture and shape to the kitchen. We just have to grout it and it's all done. Our contractor also framed a little more of the garage. They're not the fastest crew on the block, but hopefully they'll get it done. All of our materials for the outdoor hardscaping will be here next week so lots more work ahead... And lots of Bobcat driving!