Two-Hundred and Five.




“Above all else, we must never find ourselves idling,”

— W.



The original owners of our house had a slate patio.  Either they or the second owners decided to do away with the slate patio and pour a concrete patio.  Trouble is, they did the absolute worst possible job.  They may have broke records for how not to do a home improvement project!

Anyway, the photo above depicts a shiddy shed they built beneath our Florida room.  Plywood straight to the ground where it soaks up all the rain and snow…  2×3 studs which are absolutely worthless and no two are at equal distances from each other, electric that would shock you, and a floor that…  well, let’s keep scrolling before the blood pressure continues to rise.


Ninety percent of the roof was properly installed and caulked to prevent rodents from entering.  But do you know what happens when someone is too lazy to do the final ten percent?


The holes are mouse tunnels.  The black is urine.  There were a number of dead mice in the insulation.  Lucky for me, they did not have access to the house.  When I pulled this panel down, the amount of acorns and mouse feces that came down with it was just shy of the requisite amount of shit needed to justify burning the whole house to the ground.


We are beyond repair.  It must go.  It. All. Must. Go!


The glass half full version of our home is that it is turning me into quite the capable homeowner.  Prior to this project, I have rebuilt the master bedroom with my Dad’s help, refinished the garage, the living room with new dimmer LED lights, dining room, one of the bathroom, a guest suite is done to the 9s and, of course, the laundry rehabilitation center.  So let’s see where this goes!


I began digging holes to install three new supports for the Florida Room, but then later decided to remove them because the room seems fine as it is and there is no way that ramshackle shed was doing anything in relation to support, anyway.


So once all the walls were taken down and the concrete support tubes were poured, I decided that I might as well keep going.  Smash goes the concrete!

Now you might be thinking “Wow he took up all the concrete, the rock base, and the rebar/wire mess already.”  Well, you’d be wrong to say that.  Even though every book published on concrete since the days of Aristotle in ancient Greece makes mention of the need for a sufficient base… the prior homeowners here figured they knew better.  They did not.


The concrete was between two and five inches thick, without a single expansion gap in the entire 396 square foot slab.  Not an ounce of metal.  Not a pebbles worth of base material.  They simply decided to throw 12,000 pounds of solid concrete on top of mother earth in a climate that sees 3-10 feet of snow per year and assumed that it would be stable.  It was not.  It was cracked and heaved and raised all throughout.

The good news is that the lack of metal made it very easy to break up.  The bad news is that if they had the metal installed, I wouldn’t have to do any of this!


But while I was at it, I decided to dig down and find the drain line that runs from my garage to the woods behind our property.  Glad I did!

The old pipe had several cracks in it with trees entering because it was a cheap plastic pipe.  But it also had two Y’s in it that didn’t go anywhere and were not even capped.  They just through a rock over the opening before back-filling!!

Almost threw in the towel that day.  But alas, here is the replacement section with clean-out.

Oh, about that clean-out..  the old owners installed over 100 feet of plastic pipe designed to take water runoff (and grass clippings, and leaves, and sand, and dirt) without a single clean-out along the whole line!  I now have two.


You can see the two Y pipes here.  See the dirt on the inside of the Y opening?  Shouldn’t be there.


This is the first trailer load heading to the dump.  Not bad for a Buick, eh?  You might be surprised to know that in front of all that wood is 2,500 pounds of concrete!  The trailer is rated for 1,750 but I am not going to let some sticker tell me how to run my jobsite! ; )


Really gotta hand it to Ohio Steel and their Made in the United States of America trailer!


Midway.  The concrete was broken up and carried out to the trailer without the assistance of any power tools.  Brawn carried the day.



Originally I intended to break up the concrete just where the Florida room was located.  I was planning to do the other 2/3rds at a later date, but then this happened.

What really had me frustrated was I had a few estimates done to see what it would cost to have a new slab poured and I was completely shocked to find out it would be $5-8,000.  When I did a material cost, I was around $1,500 at retail price levels so I knew these three people were ripping me off and could not seem to find anyone willing to work for a reasonable wage.

So Clydesdale force to the rescue.

If there is one thing I know for sure, it is that Scotsmen are good very experienced in moving large rocks!


I went to Athenia Mason Supply here in Clifton and was impressed to find out that laying beautiful commercial paver stones would only be a marginal increase in cost over concrete- and would look one hundred times better.  So I needed to start with a nice, clean, level ground that was eight inches below the back door.

Using a come-along, I pulled those 200+ pound tubes right back out of the ground.  Then I did exactly two wheelbarrow loads of soil before deciding that if I wanted to get this project done this summer, I would need to rent a machine to help.


I secured this Dingo walk behind track skid steer from Herc Rentals (formerly Hertz Rentals) in Fairfield.  Let me explain the value of this machine…  I expected the excavation and grading with the machine to take two days.


It took four hours!

So in the middle of this process, I called Athenia Mason for the stone and sand base material delivery.  I couldn’t believe how fast the excavation took!



The next morning, at 6:45am, five yards of quarry process stone and two yards of coarse sand were sitting on a truck in front of the house.  I wasn’t aware of the ability to bag this stuff like it was coming from the food store, but there it was!  Two thousand two hundred pounds per bag!

Oh and the cost?  $38 each.  For comparison, at $4.18 per one-half cubic foot of QP from Home Depot…  this would have cost $225.72 per bag, or for a total of $1,128 just in base material.

I love Home Depot, and I spent a lot of time there…  but when it comes to bulk, the lesson here is clear.


This image is the result of all that quarry process (QP) stone, a mere six or seven hours later.  The two remaining bags you see in the photo are the coarse sand that is layered on top of the QP, once I compact it.  But that would wait for the next morning because the sand must remain undisturbed until the pavers are in place.

Oh the pavers are the new pallets you see in between the sand bags.  I put that QP down so fast that I called for a rush delivery on the paver stones.  Unlucky for us, there was an insane downpour and windstorm during the delivery- but save for some grass damage from the forklift, we got through that unscathed.  A neighbor’s tree came down, though.



Day one with the pavers complete.  It took some time understanding the random pattern, but once we figured it out- the rest moved much faster.


Day two.


Edge guard nailed in place as I worked forward.


Day three.  Complete.

Between laying the pavers, there was many more projects going on at the same time.  The biggest time consumer was the funding project (work).  Additionally, I built that new piece of chainlink fence you see in the distance and installed a gate:


I thought this was a fairly genius way to maximize the width of the gate and still have it neatly secured to the house.  In a couple months this post will be painted white, once some of the pressure treating chemical dries out.

Additionally, these posts do not touch the sidewalk below because it would interrupt the natural flow of water and I had bigger plans in mind for that water: I installed a drain on the outside of the retaining wall with a miniature catch basin which dumps into a garden bed further out into the yard.  What wall?



Obviously it is not completed yet.  I bought these stones from Home Depot since I needed so few of them.  But Home Depot ran out of stock and I need to check back to get the remaining 30-40 blocks.  The drain pipe goes beneath this wall (3″ Schedule 40 PVC… unlike the junk that was installed previously) and out to the garden.


And when it was all said and done, Mandy chose to sit in the dirt…

So the project is not complete, but all the major stuff is done.  Presently I am cleaning up the yard and trying to reorganize before moving forward with the next steps.

Next, I’ll insulate the floor under the Florida Room, install new electric for LED lighting and a couple ceiling fans, then I’ll install a plywood ceiling and seal it… 100 percent… so no animals find a new home in there.

Then we need to get a fire pit, some decent furniture, and enjoy it!




4 thoughts on “Two-Hundred and Five.

  1. Hilarious writing. I enjoyed all the puns in the article.
    Excellent work on the project.P.S: I helped a little bit. 😜


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