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Fresh Blacktop

20 Jun

 

 

 

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So, I realize driveways are not exactly the most glamorous things to read about but I’m going to write about mine anyway. Aside from the fact that longtime readers will know that this driveway has been nothing short of a saga, it’s a been a real game changer for me. Coming home after work and pulling onto a flat, solid and tidy surface makes me feel much better about coming home. The first thought when I arrive home is no longer a reminder that I need to have this damn driveway paved. Its also a much nicer greeting to visitors in contrast to the faded, buckled and crumbling one I had before.

I had a hard time coming to grips with the fact that driveways are not DIY projects. I think in part to quell my fears, I had about 10 estimates done; which was about five more than I really needed. I talked to neighbors, checked references, made spreadsheets and found phone book coupons. In the end, I went with a local company who exceeded my expectations in professionalism and quality. They worked with me to solve an issue I had with drainage and worked incredibly neatly along my flower beds as well as in between the house and the fence, which I’m sure was no easy feat.

Do I wish it was done with stone, pavers or stamped concrete? Yes I do, but the return on investment was just not there. So, in the end it was a practical choice and I’m happy with it.

After it was all done I realized the walkway to my front porch looked like trash so I removed all the old pavers, rebuilt the base with new sand and stone and then laid them back down. I would have liked to replace the existing concrete pavers with brick or tumbled cobblestone, but I decided to use what I had. The more I thought about it I liked the contemporary twist that the larger, sleeker concrete pavers gave in juxtaposition to the house anyway.

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I did have to purchase a few new ones, that’s why some are brighter than others, but after a while I’m sure that the colors will bend. You might also notice the unpainted section on the steps. That’s there because when I replaced the pavers I had to remove the front steps and the railing that was attached to them. That railing needed to go eventually since it was an aluminum one that was likely done whenever they put the siding on the house. This summer I plan to fix that by  building a new wooden one in the Craftsman Style to suit the house. If you look closely you’ll see that this picture also is a good way to get a glimpse at the twin house next door built just one year prior to mine in 1929.

Both the new walk and the new driveway need to mellow out a bit and then I can seal the driveway and contemplate staining the concrete pavers down to a richer, less concrete-y color.

In the meantime, I’m going to start gathering ideas for that railing.

Fence

30 Sep

I’ve been working, working, working like crazy in  the backyard to get a fence up before it gets too cold. Earlier this year I had an estimate from a fencing company to install a wooden stockade style fence, according to them it was going to cost me around $2,500 to go around the perimeter of my backyard. That was simply cost prohibitive so I decided I’d have to do it myself since over half  the cost was in labor.

One post at a time and one carload of lumber at a time,over the course of several weeks I was able to patch together a six foot privacy fence. It took much longer than I expected and was a job that would have gone much faster had I had a helper but I did it! I used the panorama option on my IPhone to take the pictures so you can get the whole idea of the backyard, the fence is not really bowed in the middle, that’s just how the phone patches together the pictures.

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I also did the other side

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I did not finish the fence behind the garage yet, and I’m not sure I will this year. I’m tired of fencing. I will however, add a gate between the garage and that segment of fence so I can hide my trashcan behind it and not have to open the garage every time I want to get to it. Once the wood dries out, I’ll also stain it and the pergola a semi-transparent dark brown hue. I would also like to add a gate to the front of the driveway. I was thinking something like this but only 4ft high.

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The backyard is MUCH more private and I think it helps it look a bit more tidy. I am left wondering about a couple of things though. The first is that the driveway is very narrow and the gate needs to swing in. What type of hinges do I need in order to get the gate to tuck in neatly behind the 4×4 post when open as not to loose any additional space? The second, just how long do I need to wait to stain this? I’ve gotten a lot of conflicting advice, anywhere from 6 weeks to a year. I’m not keen on waiting a year and I don’t want to wait so long that it needs to be pressure washed before staining to clean it.

Pergola Day Four

3 Sep

It’s pretty much all done! Spent today cutting and placing the rafters. I used a Kreg Jig to make pocket holes and then screwed the rafters in from the bottom. The Hurricane Clips were not going to work because I couldn’t find galvanized screws small enough. I just need to sand and then add some corner brackets to sure it up. Once the wood dries out I’ll stain it to match my future fence.

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Pergola Day Three

2 Sep

I was able to get the first sets of rafters cut and hung today onto the posts. It was a painstaking process using my junky battery operated drill to bore the holes until my neighbor came to the rescue with a giant drill which made light work of the holes. Once I was able to use his drill the real work came down to getting the holes to line up correctly on the last set of rafters since the rafter that would be closest to the house could not be tacked into place to drill because a screwdriver could not fit between it and the house. I needed to push the bolts through first and then drill the holes precisely where they belonged in order to slip that rafter onto the bolts. That didn’t so easy and there was a lot of trial and error but I eventually got it.

So this is what I ended with today.

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Tomorrow I’m hoping to finish off the rafters. After some hemming and hawing about how to hang them I think I’ve decided to use a type of joist hanger called a Hurricane Hanger which will keep me from having to notch and screw each rafter. I found them at Home Depot tonight after sorting through a pile of metal thingys near the lumber. I have high hopes for these. I’ll post a picture tomorrow so you can see what I mean.

Pergola & Fence

20 Jun

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Alright, so school is out for the summer and I was hired for summer school at the last minute so I am a much happier camper. The words “you’re hired” still lingered in the air as my my thoughts immediately turned to what my pergola was going to look like, how I was going to build it and what it was going to cost me.

As I did more research I found out this was going to require a permit and a drawing. So I did the best I could and submitted what you see above. I also put the fence and the pegola on the same permit to avoid paying the fee twice.

Well, the good news is that my first venture in getting a permit was a success. However, the town wants me to pay another fifty bucks because they say I need two permits, one for the fence the other for the pergola. I think they are being greedy, but they’re the boss so I guess I gotta do as they say.

I also called Dig Safely New York and they will be coming out “sometime before July third” to mark any underground utilities that I’ll need to look out for.

Younghouselove is going through a very similar process with their deck and their not having an easy time with it and it’s making me very nervous.

If anyone has any suggestions about how to improve the pergola plans I’d be more than happy to take some advice!

Good News & Bad News

27 May

Good News First:

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I finished up almost all of the painting a couple weeks ago and I’ve had a lot of complements on the paint color so I ‘m happy with how it turned out. I was also able to replace the skirting around the base of the porch and paint it to match the trim to keep things looking neat.

You might also notice new flowers I planted along the driveway. Most of these plants I found on Craigslist or in the five dollar section at Lowe’s. The flowers are Peonies, Coreopsis, Blanket Flower and Daylily. I think all of these plants should do well in the full sun this bed gets.

In other news… I was finally able to upgrade my porch furniture to what I always had in mind. Patio furniture is not cheap so in order to do it I had to  sell my old set and use some birthday money to make up the difference. The rocker and the glider came from Lowe’s and then I sprung for the cushions and pillows at Target. The coffee table and end tables were flat-pack furniture from Walmart and were less than 30 dollars and the rug is something I  have had.

IMGP0236 Last week Home Depot had a sale on landscape timbers and I took advantage of that to use them to line the edge of my driveway (and to smash my index finger with a sledge hammer). My driveway is plain old falling apart and I ‘m hoping to be able to disguise that fact with a combination of these timbers and the flowers I planted along the other side. I’m not really sure that either of these two things did the trick, but the timbers definitely help to keep cars off the neighbor’s grass. 

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I also got a great deal on pansies at the Public Market for the flower boxes and those have been planted and seem to be very happy doin’ their thing in the window boxes.

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Bad News Second:

Looks like I’m not working summer school this year so I not going to be able to put up the pergola I wanted to in the back yard or install a privacy fence. In fact, I wouldn’t doubt it if these were my last projects for the summer. Oh well, I supposed it will help me to become a little bit more patient and to enjoy what I have been able to do.

I am however, looking forward to reading about what all the other bloggers are up to this summer and perhaps refinishing the top of my dinning room table. Unless anybody can save me from this agony by advising a solution to water rings. I’ve already tried to iron them out, (which was most successful, but not quite good enough), mayonnaise and Restore-A-Finish.

Itty Bitty Paint Update

15 Apr

It rained most of the day today so I wasn’t able to get very much painting done. However, I wanted to get a better idea of what the house was going to look like once the trim was done. This is what I did get painted before I had to stop. The cream really helps to soften the gray and it actually makes the color look like a really complex blue/gray in person.

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