Friday, November 20, 2009

Patio

Lauren and I were married in the summer of 2002. We bought our first house that fall. The house was a fixer-upper (which when said has the same syllables and cadence as mother-f@%ker). Our first anniversary we decided that instead of doing something/getting gifts, we would build a brick paver-patio off the back of our house. We figured we would get years of use out of a patio, grilling and hosting parties and having fun that it would be worth giving up any type of vacation/anniversary gift. To keep costs down we decided we would do the work ourselves.

The weekend before our anniversary/vacation my friend Bob helped me dig out the 17 by 10 foot area that would become our back patio. I am not a rocket surgeon and Bob (although very smart) is not a brain scientist. It took us the better part of the weekend to figure out how to level the ground that was on a 20 degree pitch.

That Monday, July 14th, was the start of my vacation. I had a few palettes of brick pavers, a few yards of sand and five cubic yards of modified stone (gravel) delivered to my house. All three components of the patio sat on a driveway which I shared with our neighbor. I was determined to have the driveway cleared that day so my neighbors could park their car. Monday July 14th I set out at 8:30 am to clear the driveway. Anyone who has done a paver patio knows that you need to fill the area with modified stone, tamp it down, add sand and then put the bricks into place. Let me tell you, moving five cubic yards of stone, by shovel and wheel barrow, is an incredibly difficult physical feat for a person who is not used to doing that kind of labor.

By 1PM, that Monday afternoon Lauren found me, whimpering, curled up in a semi-fetal position against the garage. She asked me what was wrong and if she could help. A week before we had just found out she was pregnant and I did not want her to exert herself, so of course I said no. She did help with building the patio but all the heavy lifting was done by me. My bones and muscles ached. I was covered in sweat and dirt. My hands were covered in blisters. The mini mountain of five cubic yards of modified stone, that I spent 5 hours moving, still looked like four and half cubic yards on my driveway. I was dehydrated and tired. I felt defeated and I may have started to cry. Lauren said she would get me a sandwich and beer.

When I finished my lunch I set out to finish the project. By that Friday the 18th of July I was done. It was the single most difficult home improvement task I have ever tried. I promised myself I would never do a paver project again. We only got to enjoy the patio for one full summer because the very next year we moved to Florida. I never got a chance to fully appreciate the hard labor, sweat and tears that were put into that project.

A few years, and two houses, later we moved into our current home that needed some serious work on the back patio. The screened-in porch was all rotted and falling apart. The posts that supported the roof were water damaged and rotting. From a safety standpoint we needed to fix it. The concrete slab was uneven and cracked from years of settling. It seemed kind of silly to build a new patio just as we go into winter but it needed to get done before the ground froze. Lauren and I weighed all of the possibilities of doing it ourselves. I started to have flashbacks to the last time we worked on a patio. Tears may have formed in the corner of my eyes and I may have started to involuntarily twitch. I remembered my promise to myself.

Long story short, we hired my brother's neighbor Mike. It took Mike about a week to do the whole thing. He knocked out the old porch, replaced the support posts and did a paver patio. Mike did an excellent job. If you live in the Philly suburbs and are looking to get a patio done, email me and I will get you his number.

The best part of Mike's work is that he did not cry once.

Neither did I.









15 comments:

Mainline Mom said...

Wow, nice! Too bad he doesn't live in Texas. My neighbors in Phoenixville had a "friend" do their paver patio the summer before we moved. He didn't live nearby. It took him like...a month at LEAST...maybe two? After the first week or two he just stopped working full days, and then he just stopped coming every day.

Bogart in P Towne said...

I think I would be sitting out there tonight...cigar in hand, scotch in the other, remembering.

Just remembering.

The pain, the tears, the blood. Then I would laugh knowing that I truly had made it because I could just write a check and things get done.

"Winner, winner, chicken dinner" would be my celebration cheer.

Ali said...

My dad can do just about anything. He's a retired fire captain, and you know all those guys are handy! Over the years he's added on a master suite, build a pool house, added a detached garage, turned the attached garage into a family room, etc.

Our kids both have summer birthdays, and we always have their joint party at my parents house to take advantage of the swimming pool and large shaded backyard. One year my dad decided he was going to tear down an old wood deck and do a paver stone patio. I don't think I've ever seen him sweat - or curse - so much! It looked absolutely gorgeous when he was done - the morning of the party!

Laura said...

my husband and I decided to put up a wood fence about 4 months after we got married. We started out great, but after about 2 hours I was ready for a divorce. We were covered in sweat and dirt. I hated him and he hated me more. After day 1 he said he would put the tools away while I showered and started dinner. That night it poured rain. I woke up and asked, "You put the power tools away... like you said... right?" He said, "NO" and we ran outside. He took one step into the yard to save the drill, slipped in the mud, and fell on his back. Since I still hated him I smiled and went back to bed. Yes, we're still married and no, I have never done another project with him... I've hired every one of them out.

SciFi Dad said...

I did interlocking brick one summer when I was 16. Mostly, my job was hauling wheelbarrows full of gravel, sand, and stones from the front to the back.

I'm still amazed I survived that summer.

eclectic said...

These projects need to wait until the boys are older. Three cubic yards of river rock wheel-barrowed and bucket-carried from our driveway to the opposite sideyard behind the house this past Spring... our children still hate us, but I thought we supervised things very well. ;)

James said...

Moving stone by wheelbarrow sucks. SUCKS.

kalki said...

It looks awesome! But I'm surprised to hear that you more or less met your match with the first patio. I would have believed you could begat anything...so to speak.

(Thanks for your continued comments and such during my extended absence from the web. I'm back, baby!)

Anonymous said...

Looks awesome! And no sweat! I'm glad you hired someone. No whining! We're all winners here! Especially you! Enjoy it!

Daddy Geek Boy said...

I know the feeling of starting a job and partway through realizing how impossible it is, but you have to finish.

Congrats on your first patio and your latest. Looks great.

MrsDoF said...

You will have some sweet memories with that patio.

JP said...

Outsourcing is wonderful! Next time, build a deck. The planks are way lighter although the colorful metaphors still abound...

No_Newz said...

Bet the people in your old house are enjoying the fruits of your labor and tears. Mike does good work.

James (SeattleDad) said...

Looks good William.

As part of our remodeling project, we just laid a 8'x5' entry area with pavers. Luckily it was flat, but unfortunately had an angled slab to match up to. So I chipped away pavers to make little pieces that would fit the angle. Bout killed myself all over again.

Melinda said...

Looks terrific. Time to party!
I like home improvements when someone else does them for me.