Thursday, April 11, 2013

I want a front yard. Still.

Oh, where has the time gone?

A whole season has gone by and we seem to be back where we started LAST April. Ugh. We'd shifted a lot of our attention to our facebook pages, and have been keeping in touch with friends and neighbors, but when it comes right down to communicating a story... there's nothing like a blog.

So we're back.

...where we left off. As I said before..... Ugh.

So, I re-read my last post and we were about to start work on our front concrete patio slab.... more specifically, tear it all out. Also in the plan was to tear down the awful chain link fence. The plan also included designs to tear out the breezeway concrete and recreate a stamped concrete (brick-like pattern) all the way back to the garden. It was an impressive (and lofty) goal.

So we did what anyone in our situation would do. We broke up the plan into smaller phases and got to work. Soon after our last post, we clipped the chain link fence apart and chucked it out with the poles for the scrappers. The problem was that several of the poles were embedded in really big chinks of concrete, especially where the front gate was. Not that we didn't expect that; we just cut the other poles off at ground level and planned on using the front gate poles as leverage (leaving them intact) to get those meteors of cement out after the slab was gone.

So, chain link fence gone.

Next : the concrete slab.

This is where pure robust energy and drive got in full gear, got behind me, and kicked my arse.

Ok, since this is intended to be an educational blog, I'll tell you what I did. Coincidentally, I will also be telling you what NOT to do. Kind of clever how it works out that way with me sometimes, eh?

1. First, get an eight pound sledge hammer.
2. Start whacking away at a 30 year old slab of concrete chipping away fist sized chunks of slab until your back gives out.
3. Spend a week with a blown out back unable to move.
4. Then, after a month of healing and relearning to walk upright, you beg your very kind neighbor to help your husband with a rented jackhammer.

My recommendation is to skip right to step four. Needless to say, I barely touched the jackhammer. The guys worked it over pretty hard, and vice versa. It took ALL day, and the slab was only 10 x 18.

To be fair, we did not plan on taking out the entire slab all at once. That was just too much of a project for us and we were not prepared to demo everything. DH borrowed a 12" concrete saw and cut a 10' line through the concrete, effectively cutting our project into 2 sections: the part directly in front of the house, and the breezeway.

Note the large 300# (42" x 8" x various sized) blocks of limestone to the side of the house on 2x4s. Those are intended to be the new base of our wrought iron fence. (Thank you, Rob and BJ Wheeler!)

 Once we had a 2" cut line through the concrete from the sidewalk up to the house, it was pretty easy to determine what had to go. Hence, the jackhammer.

We also rented a 9 cu. yard dumpster for the job, the smallest we could get. It's pretty amazing how quickly concrete can fill up a dumpster. We needed it.

While the guys broke up the slab, I gingerly chucked small pieces into the dumpster. I was still on the mend and no intention of a repeat performance of moronic proportions. We started early and finished late. It was not easy work, but I do know it was a lot easier (and exponentially more successful) than playing whack a mole with a sledge hammer.  It literally took the guys about 20 minutes to bash apart what had taken me weeks to do.

So, after the part of the slab in front of the house was in itty bitty pieces and assembled peacefully in the dumpter... we came across a spot of bad news. There was a lot more concrete buried underneath.

It was demoralizing. 

The good news is that it turned out to be mostly cinder blocks and fence post support base, but those had to be dug out, and broken up, and we needed to return the jackhammer to the rental place (Steffin's Tool Crib on Pike Street) -- but it was still a lot more work than we expected. The old adage of, 'expect the unexpected' was definitely at play here.

We figured there might have been a porch at the front of the house. There seemed to be enough support for it.

It took another week to dig out the rest of the concrete blocks and chunks.

Then we found out about the City of Covington's Facade Grant... That REALLY put things on hold for a while. . . . . .

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