Friday, April 12, 2013

Problems we plan to encounter: Breezeway Concrete

The plan to de-horrify what we call the 'breezeway' (the area between the East side of our home and the West wall of our neighbor's house) involves determining first whether or not we wanted to JUST remove the concrete slab in the breezeway, or remove it along with the bricks underneath.

I find it ironic that what I want to have is brick (or brick looking) the way it was originally intended: a patterned brick layout that moves water away from the house. Not too complex a concept, I know. Form AND function.

After we removed the front part of the concrete slab, we realized from the side cut of the breezeway/walkway is that there were bricks still there. The previous owners just paved right over top of the bricks that were there.

This leaves us with the question of, 'do we remove all of it and start over, or do we try to save the old bricks?'

The answer, for me, is: try to save the old bricks. Why?

1.) because I think it would be cheaper,
2.) I like the idea of saving the historical brick, and
3.) I think it looks cool. 

Why not save the original brick?

1.) It may not be salvageable
2.) It might be quicker/easier to chuck it all and use stamped concrete
3.) Herringbone schmerringbone

 Ok, I still think the herring bone could look very cool. The picture above is of the original brick layout with a French drain to the side, keeping the water away from the basements. I'd like to hope we've got something like that under our concrete, but it could just be too much work for the outcome. Decision is yet to be made.

 Here's one of the other issues we'll have to face: the removal of 4-6" of the concrete alone will be a big height adjustment. Just take a look at how far up the bottom step is buried in concrete below. And then there's brick below that.

Can you imagine the size of the dumpster(s) we'll need to remove all of this?

 Oh, and the basement access. Another big problem. We built the base of the basement door (the stone build up) right on top of the concrete. On top of the brick. I figure if we remove the concrete we'll have to demo the stone base and rebuild it 4-6" lower. And we may have to move the electric light switch in there too, because it might be too high once the basement door and frame is lowered.

 And the air conditioner unit.

You can see here the entire breezeway can be seen from the sidewalk, so I'm hoping the City is amenable to working with us on the improvement plan back to the garden.... but there will be a lot of minor changes we'll have to deal with along the way.... and that's where the costs can sneak in.

You can also see how the cracks in the concrete above have expanded and the concrete has sunk even more over the past year since the City tuck pointed and re-bricked the neighbor's west exterior. You can see the new low spot in front of the basement door where we now have water puddling after it rains. (They ran the massive scissor-lift back and forth over the concrete for weeks, not doing us any favours. Heck, that's what started this whole mess in the first place!)

I should probably just plant the front yard with flowers, work on getting bids on the iron fence, and focus on interior updates while we wait for a kind word from the City.  :-)


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