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Blog — "construction"

Contractor vs Architect

Heidi Shenk "construction" "garden" "outdoors" "projects"

Finally I feel as though I have something good to write about when it comes to the fence. Remember way back when? A jackhammer had arrived and then there were fence posts put up. Then a whole lot didn't seem to happen because it happened so slowly. I grew up in a house that always had projects going on. My dad is a woodworker and he spent a lot of time building houses as well. So when I thought of a DYI backyard project, I imagined a few weekends and we'd be good to go-- that's what always happened when my dad was building things. Give him an afternoon and he'd have an entire room trimmed out arts and crafts style.

That's a craftsman. I guess I didn't consider how architects approach things. No offense (and I don't think any will be taken because all architects I know openly admit to this), but architects are too nerdy about the design for their own good. When I suggested to Andrew that we use an old door instead of building a fence gate, I was immediately shot down. The second time I suggested it, I was shot down. And the third time? You guessed it.

I told my dad, now I finally know why he used to always complain about the architect when he was in construction. And now I finally know why contractors and architects are seemingly always at each others' throats. My dad, joking about the door situation, said something like, "You know what your problem is? You didn't put in a change order with the architect."

The next day, I told Andrew, "That's it-- I'm putting in a change order. The gate needs to be redrawn as a door in your blueprints." And I got my way.

Maybe my dad was right after all.

In other news, despite the slow, thoughtful process of the architect in constructing our backyard, things are finally going in the right direction and we're nearly done! Here are some other photos to enjoy--

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The Beginnings of a Cedar Fence

Heidi Shenk "construction" "garden" "home" "outdoors" "projects"

Progress on the fence is now noticeable, and noticeable progress is the kind that I like to see. Andrew's parents were in town for the weekend with the intention of getting the ball rolling a bit more. While it was expected that more would get done than did, there was a bit of a road block. Two steel posts needed to be removed and apparently they were installed very well with about 3 feet of concrete going down. So the jackhammer arrived once more. Steel post removal and new cedar post installation ended up eating an entire day's worth of work.

Sunday was spent beginning to install the back wall of the fence-- I stayed out of the laborious portion for fear that I may not do something right (which is often the case in the other half's mind) and let Andrew's parents pitch in. It wasn't a job that required four people anyway, so I just enjoyed catching some rays of sun and documented the progress. As for today, the project came to a standstill with 100 degree weather keeping us inside to enjoy a cool air-conditioned house. The fun will continue next weekend.

Here's the progress:


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The Cedar Has Arrived!

Heidi Shenk "construction" "garden" "home" "projects" "tools"

All of the concrete that was sitting in the back yard is now gone. It has been replaced by a heaping pile of red cedar. Not only does it look great, but it smells great too! The lumber truck arrived yesterday afternoon, trying to squeeze through our narrow alley. That was not meant to be-- unless of course the truck didn't mind losing a side mirror or two. So the wood had to be carried plank by plank down the alley to the back yard.

The next step was digging post holes. This is clearly not as loud of a project as the previous one only by default because it didn't involve a jackhammer. Three foot holes were dug out and 6 by 6 posts were set in concrete. 6 by 6! Yes, rather large posts though the plan is to have a pergola on one side of the yard for some shade. The pergola will cover about a third of the space. The hope is to get some fabulous flowering vines to creep up around the pergola for a cozy green space. I currently have a Black-Eyed Susan started in a large pot with a trellis. I am beginning to think that this would be fully appropriate as it is the Maryland state flower. Their flowers are such a vibrant bright orange and when I think about the other options such as wisteria or roses, I would rather lean away from the frilly pinks and purples.

Needless to say, the back yard and fence is making some progress bit by bit.

Post hole-- don't fall in!

Cedar and cement mix ready to go.

The tools-- spade and post digger.

Red cedar


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An Update

Heidi Shenk "construction" "garden" "home" "projects"

There is a huge hole in our backyard.

The next step will be getting rid of that heaping pile of concrete. One option is to rent a dumpster for a day, while the other is to rent or borrow a pickup truck and haul it out in loads by ourselves to the nearby Potts and Callahan Company which recycles concrete. I'm looking forward to having a patio surrounded by my flowers and veggie plants, but it seems it will be a long time until that comes to fruition. After the concrete is removed there will be other items on the list: filler dirt, stone pavers, fencing to be put up, and pergolas to be built. I'd estimate another three to four weekends. But it'll be worth it in the end!

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Jackhammer and Sledge Hammer

Heidi Shenk "construction" "home" "projects"

I haven't written in quite a while, mostly due to the fact that I was on vacation. Also due to the fact that this week we went back to school and that always entails quite the preparation to gear back up for the kids. I've really geared this blog toward projects thus far, so it really seems appropriate to jump back into the cyber world with a loud bang, so to speak.

Our latest project is a much less peaceful one than those I've previously written about. When we purchased our house last June, the only thing we did not like about the house was the designer concrete parking pad in the back and the lack of fencing. We never have a problem with parking in our new neighborhood and the parking pad is so small anyway that it is pretty much impossible to park either of our cars there. In addition, we loved having a patio with plants and a veggie garden at our old apartment. It was great to be able to have a small pocket of green space within the city. And it is great to let Lilah have some outdoor space aside from the park. She loves being able to nap outside when it is nice out. While the rest of the house was a complete rehab job and in great condition, we knew that this parking pad would become our huge project, soon to become our back yard.

So, the first step to making this our back yard is to tear out the concrete parking pad and a concrete block wall. We are definitely DIY-ers so Andrew set off this morning to rent a jackhammer to add to his sledgehammer and pick. After the concrete has been taken out we'll take it to a concrete recycling facility, get some filler dirt, put in some stone pavers, put up a wood fence, create a veggie garden area, etc. Needless to say, this will be quite the extensive project.

A few before pictures for documentation:

And I promise, next post will be a bit more peaceful! No jackhammers involved! What home have you been working on?

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