Trogdor - the old oil burninator

Have I told you all the story of our old oil tank? Well, if not, we turn it into a firepit with a hinged lid and handle. (We just put the hinges and the handle on last night, which made me think of it.)

Anyway, we decided to name it Trogdor, since the old feet kinda look like eyes and the opening kinda looks like a mouth. I have to say, it's pretty cool. All it needs is some paint.

A List of Accomplishments

This weekend felt different. Strangely unproductive, yet, a lot got done. I guess it's just nerves. I feel like I want to go home right now and keep up the work. I'm at work work right now and feeling very useless and unproductive. People keep blaming me for not being organized when it's themselves who aren't organized. I feel sad.

But anyway, this isn't a work blog. It's a house blog. Maybe going over everything that got done over the weekend will make me feel better for 5 seconds.

1. Concrete was poured! Even though it's not the smoothest, most level surface in the world - we're really happy with the way it turned out. It'll work out great for both uses.

2. I finished the rock wall! I'm really happy with the way it turned out. I even have a large amount of extra small rocks that I'm sure I'll find a place for elsewhere in the yard.

3. We picked up the basement windows and glass. Those may or may not get put in this week. We tried putting them in with cement, but the cement is too runny. I think we need mortar. I may do some internet research on it later.

4. We finished wiring on the garage and everything works!

5. We bought exterior lights and interior bulbs for the gargae and got them working. We have one more exterior light for the back of the garage that we'll put in tonight perhaps if it stops raining.

6. We cleaned the garage and the garage attic. There's actually room to walk now! Imagine that...

7. Using the concrete we didn't use on the windows, we poured a step to the side door of the garage. It's not quite tall enough - not enough concrete, but it's a start. Another bag should fill it right up.

8. We got a new push broom and swept the driveway. (You wouldn't believe how much dirt was on that thing.) Our old push broom just was too worn to work. The new broom did a hell of a job and the rain today has really washed off the remaining dust. When it dries, it'll look 200% better.

9. We began cutting into a stupid hill in the backyard, taking the dirt with the skid steere and dumping down the backyard hill. Even though it's not fully gone - the backyard looks much more open already!

10. We bought some flowers. It's amazing what a couple of hanging flower pots will do for an exterior. We also got some small flowers, which I'll plant somewheres in the yard. We need some color for the 9th party.

So, it was a highly productive weekend. I'm really happy with everything. Too bad I'm having a cruddy time at work this morning.


I need to vent. Again. Here's the bottom line: I need a 12X12 concrete slab poured at the back of my garage. It will serve two purposes.

Purpose number A: Wedding Day Dance Floor (you try and rent one - they're expensive as heck!)

Purpose number B: Shed Floor for Mike's future expansion of the garage. (Less than two years and he's already outgrown a two car garge.... incredible, but not unpredictable.)

So, I should start out with the cost of my basement floor: $270. That's just the concrete. How do I know? I paid the ready mix company separately from the laborers. I think I may have told you guys all this already. Now, the basement is around 25X40 - approx.

A few weeks ago Mike and I headed to the DeepHo to buy some Quickcrete and perhaps rent a mixer. I was thinking to myself at that time - it can't be as expensive to do it yourself as it is to have an entire basement floor poured. And I was correct. It's MORE expensive. To make a slab 12'X12'X4 or 5" you need over 100 80lb bags of Quickcrete. Did I mention they're over $3 per bag? In fact, I think they're more than $3.50 per bag. And then you've got to mix the stuff.

I was sooo pissed. Doesn't make any sense to me - doing it yourself is more expensive than having someone else do it. MUCH more expensive. For a couple weeks I've been steaming over it. But the fact is, that's the way things are in the wonderful world of quickcrete.

So today I broke down and called Fucillo - the same ready mix company the poured my basement floor. Unfortunately, the proposition is still expensive. A 12X12X5" pour comes out to a cubic yard value of around 2.5. For delivery, they have a 4 yard minimum. Normally $80 per yard, but for Saturday delivery, they ask another $5 per yard. So in total - 4 yards works out to be $340.

WHICH - if you'll read back a couple of paragraphs - is still a lot more for a little shed than my entire basement floor. I'm sure they discount in bulk and I'm sure my floor dudes got some kind of contractor discount. But COME ON people. It's nuts, isn't it? I even called a couple other companies - they had comparable or more expensive prices and some did not offer saturday delivery.

I think the way to maximize this situation is to pour the entire 4 yards. I think that would be like a 14X14. There are calculators all over the internet you can use if you're interested in finding out for sure for yourself. So Mike has a bigger shed and we have a bigger dance floor. Or Mike has a little porch on his shed. woop-de-doo.

The lesson here, Quickcrete is expensive for medium size projects and completely out of the question for large projects. If you have 2 or more yards to pour - call in a ready mix company.

Wires, Ditches, and How to Make It Work

I had a realization on Monday. In three weeks - I have to power at least 5 strings of x-mas lights, 4 star lights, and a massive stereo system in my backyard. The problem with that, of course, is that my garage currently operates on extention cord power. With one outlet extender.

The garage has been wired for power for months - but the necessary wire to power it all up, UF 8-3 or 8-something is $2.99 per foot and it's 80ft to the garage from the breaker box in the house. That works out to around $250 plus breakers and the outlets themselves. (Outlet boxes and all other wiring is in already.) So, about $300. Ouch. I haven't wanted to spend it.

But this backyard wedding affair is forcing me to spend the dough. Mike's pleased as pie. He's wanted power out there since day 1. So we went to the home depot on Monday night and bought everything. And yesterday, Mike dug the 4ft deep, 1ft wide trench necessary to bury the wire. All 80ft of it. No small task, for sure.

Of course, now the side yard is a mess again after we just got finished cleaning it up. Tonight hopefully Mike can run the machine over the whole thing to smooth it out. And then we've got to hook up the wire to the breaker box in the house and the one in the garage. I'm not sure Mike knows exactly what he's doing... but as long as he's confident and doesn't kill himself in the process, I'm fine with that.

With power to the garage active - I'll have all the juice I need to run all those lights, the stereo, and more.

Rock On

We tackled the rock wall this weekend. Would you believe after all my research, we just ended up slapping rocks against the dirt? Yes, I know it's not the right way to do it - but I was running out of time fast. And, I must admit - it looks decent. Kind of rustic. I'll get some creeping flowers that grow over the rocks and I think it'll look great.

Plus, we put down the pea stone, which looks fabulous next to the rock wall. I really need to get you guys some pictures.

On Sunday, we also went to the dump and got rid of all the old plumbing that had to be removed when the house went up. We also had some scrap metal, a tire, and some misc other stuff that went. Then we put our trash bin back next to the house where it belongs. (It too had been moved for the lifting process.)

This week my goal is to finish up the very end of the rock wall and get the forms all set for Mike's 12X12 garage addition. I want that poured by weeks end.

Also, we're hoping to get the garage electrified. The wiring is expensive, since Mike needs 220 - or whatever it is - from the house to the garage (a good 75 freakin' feet). But I need mad plugs for our upcoming backyard evening wedding. You know, for lighting and music purposes. Lucky the garage is already wired for plugs 'n stuff. We just need to hook it and go.

The incredible Change

I totally forgot to snag a pic for all you housebloggers out there who wanted to see the finished result. Oh my god. I pulled into my driveway last night after work and nearly died.

It looks FREAKIN AWESOME... oh, excuse me, I need some New England flair here to properly describe it... WICKED AWESOME! Ok, that's better.

All the concrete is gone. The front yard, side yard, other side yard, and back yard are flat and B-utiful. Plus, the slope is such that water and other nastiness will flow away from the house and garage instead of towards it.

I can't even describe how excellent it is. You guys would die. The before & after is unbelievable. Plus, over 1/2 the big 'ol dirt pile is gone. Maybe we can sneak the rest out back without those damn Andersons raising hell.

And the price on sod isn't that horrific. Sod for the front and side plus loam would be $2000. The back, probably another $1500. That's not earth shattering, really. I'm thinking I may do just the back for this upcoming wedding event. I have to figure out how I can swing it though. It'll take some financial manuvering, for sure.

I'll get back to you on that.

Smooooth Operator

This morning Nick Mitchell and Dusty arrived bright and early and dug right in... literally. 15 minutes after they had arrived, Dusty had already taken 1/4 of our giant dirt hill and put it in the front yard.

You see, the goal of today is to properly grade the entire yard - at lease around the house. We're hoping Dusty will use as much of our leftover dirt as possible, while still keeping the level of the yard looking natural and flowy.... you know, no more weird hills and vallies.

Goal number dos is to get rid of all our excess concrete. If you remember, previously we had a small basement space where our boiler and oil tank were - this was made of concrete. So, of course, all of that was demo-ed and put in a pile in the backyard. Plus all the fieldstones that used to be holding the house up were cemented together too - so all of that is in the same pile, plus some misc. concrete. And so Nick is bringing in huge dump trucks to get it all out of there at $40 a ton. Resonable, I guess. I just have to have it gone.

I can't wait to see it tonight!

Clean up clean up everybody do your share

Clean up clean up everybody everwhere - is the next verse to that #1 jam if you wanted to know. It's true. It's time to get all the concrete out of the backyard.

Our original plot was to get a demo dumpster. But upon talking to our friend Nick Mitchell, Mike discovered that because of dumpster weight limits, it would cost approx. 2.71 bragillion dollars to get rid of our concrete jungle. So that's very depressing on the one hand. On the other, Nick offered to get rid of our concrete plus grade our front yard for the price of what it would cost him to dispose of the concrete. He estimated about $1200.

So basically, it's a buy one get one free situation. We pay to get rid of the concrete, and he gets rid of it and grades out our front yard! That deal's not too shabby... I just wish I still had like $10,000 in my account to feel warm and cozy about the whole thing. But you got to do what you've got to do. Nick's all booked in September, so if we don't take him next week, we don't get it done... unless we pay approx. 2.71 bragillion dollars.

Nick asked Mike if we wanted grass... oooo how I want grass. And not just plain 'ol ordinary grass. SOD. Growing stuff reeks. Especially for me because I touch a plant, and it dies... or makes me itchy. Me and plants just don't get along so great for some weird reason.

I know sod is an expensive proposition for us and our large property. I'd want it in the front and in the back too. (No sick jokes guys.) And of course we'd have to put loam down first because we live in a sandbox. No soil whatsoever. I want Mike to get a price on it. Wouldn't it be so cool if suddenly the price of Sod plummeted because of a world-wide-sod overstock? Maybe some SOD company will read this and think "I'm going to use their house as the ultimate before and after picture for our marketing campaign in exchange for freee sod!" You never know. I should pitch that to some sod co's.

Or, maybe the price wouldn't be so horrific. It would be sooooo worth it.

Imagine - nice fluffy grass. All new and pretty. Those Andersons wouldn't say my yard looks like shznt then now would they?

The moment

It arrived. The moment every weekend warrior dreads and awaits with sweaty anticipation from renovation day one.


This is when you get to find out if it was all worth while (monetarily speaking, that is). Are they going to notice the meticulous care you took designing your home, putting in your electrical sockets, and sanding your drywall? Are they not going to notice what you haven't gotten around to fixing yet. Are they going to care that several massive projects are still in the unfinished phasse?

We have soon to find out.

I have to admit, I jumped off a cliff and locked in a refinace rate - looking to accomplish several things, most of all consolodate and lower my monthly so I can finish these durn renovations. Plus rates are going up, home values are going down. And I'm trying to slip my hat under the door before it slams shut.

I spoke with Madame Appraiser this morning. She was available a las lunch time. Knowing my insanity would prevail if I procrastinated our appointment - leading me in a futile effort to tidy the house and finish projects that can't be finished - I aggreed to meet her at the house at 1pm.

She seemed sweet. We walked around the house. She didn't pick and poke at everything, which was good in some ways, bad in others. She took some pictures - I hope they represent a good cross section of each room and not an undone crappy one. She took some notes. I tried to tell her about at least the updates she couldn't see - phone, cable, internet redone and in every room for one - new windows. She didn't let on any hints as to how everything was looking.

Within 20 minutes it was over with and I was on my way back to work - numbers swirling around in my head. What if it comes out to $400,000? What if it's only $240,000? Will it reach my ideal of $320,000 or at least $300,000 as I tried to predict it would be? I can't dwell on it. I just hope they're kind enough to get me into the loan I want.

Who Hates the Andersons?

I do, I do!

Well, with the basement done and the yard leveled, we've got ur standard big 'ol pile a dirt in the front yard. Problem is - we can't afford to get it trucked away, and the free fill sign just isn't doing anything for us.

So Mike went over to the Anderson's house on Sunday - you remember the Andersons, right? Those nasty neighbors who only abutt us in the way backyard who nearly foiled this basement project by standing up and bitching about their mother's well during the conservation committee meeting? Yes, I'm getting all angry just thinking about it.

They were angry because when we first bought the house we cut into their property by accident. (ie, we trimmed some brush - should've sent them a landscaping bill) They complained that they had to pay for a survey - that they didn't tell us about. They complained about a bunch of tires in our backyard that we inherited from the previous owners.

In short, they love making my life a living hell. But I did send them a nice apology card and $200 for the survey - which they never cashed. And we cleaned up all the tires at a cost of $300, which they never said thank you.

Anyhoo - Mike goes over there to ask them if we could put the dirt in the backyard. It's clean fill - wouldn't effect the 90 year old mother's well. (Which, by the way, our neighbors told us, has old tires stacked against it. So much for concern for keeping your own yard clean - but it's ok to complain about the neighbor's yard... sure, I get that one.)

What did the Andersons tell him? That our house looks like Sh*t. Now why would you tell that to someone you don't even know? It really burns my blood how just plain cruel that is. Especially when you see people working on their house, sweating it out every day to make it better. Putting in everything they have. Putting in late hours.

Mike was polite. I'm glad I wasn't there - I would have just broke down and died. I can't take that level of just plain I-Hate-the-world-ness.

They told him, "we can't stop you if that's not conservation land."

So I wrote a long email to Heidi over at the Bourne Town Hall conservation office today. She was really nice when we were going through the permit process. I hope she doesn't think I'm just trying to get back at these people. The word is the Anderson kids are waiting for the 'ol lady to die so they can subdivide her land. Just wait till they try and build a house in my backyard - that's where I'll get them back. But for now, I just want to get rid of the dirt and improve the condition of my backyard.

Bird Poo

The floor looks awesome! There were two or three places where the concrete obviously dried a little too quick when they tried to smooth it, causing yuckiness, but those places are at the back of the basement anyway.

And the baby birds nesting in the beams (actually right on top of a lightbulb) have already pooped on it. Isn't that gweat? Hopefully they'll be grown and flown out soon because I don't need to be cleaning poo for months on end.

I hope this means we can start reconnecting plumbing and heat this weekend.