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You know those old couples who sit out on their front lawn side by side in folding chairs and watch the neighborhood goings-on? Yeah, that was us. Except we were watching other people work on our house. Our driveway, to be precise.
Up till now we’ve had a pitted, disintegrating asphalt driveway that we’ve just lived with. The Chief works on cars out there and it’s not pleasant to lie on your back for hours on a surface that looks like this:
It finally made sense to replace the driveway, and I think it might be one of the most joy inducing house projects for the Chief. Not only was Someone Else doing the work on his property, it was going to make his life a million times more comfortable. It would let him work under cars comfortably as well as simply and easily roll out a tool cart, an engine lift, a jack, without the hassle and danger the old asphalt presented. To keep costs down, he did all the prep work of removing the old paving and creating the foundation and forms for the concrete. This included spraying the dirt down to make it easier for the mini-earthmover to remove it.
You can see how far down he had to dig – about 6″. We did not use rebar in this pour because metal is a lot more expensive than cement right now, and it is cheaper to do a 6″ slab of concrete (very thick and sturdy) than to do 3″ of concrete with rebar.
With the driveway all dug out and prepared, it looked about like this. The forms have not yet been installed here but it gives you the wide angle picture.
About 6:30AM on Saturday, a half hour before they were scheduled, the crew and first concrete truck arrived. The Chief sprang out of bed and went to go over the morning’s plan. They taped up plastic on our house and the neighbor’s to ward off splatters, then backed the concrete truck to the far end of the driveway. Here’s the very first cubic foot being poured!
By 7:15 we were out back in our folding chairs, sipping tea and coffee respectively, and having a wonderful time watching the guys make our driveway look 1000 times better.
After a while we relocated to the front yard to watch that part of the pour. Here the crew is leveling out the driveway.
After leveling, they float it with two different types of floats (flat paddles on long poles) that push the gravel down and make the surface of the concrete smooth.
Once the concrete has been floated, expansion lines are marked to create some give in hot and cold conditions.
The weather was blessedly perfect for pouring concrete – not too hot, not too cold, cloudy and damp but no rain fell. This gave them plenty of time to work the concrete into a perfect finish before it started to harden. From start to finish the whole job took about four hours. It took EXACTLY two cement mixers’ worth of concrete. We were nervous we’d be a measly couple of yard short and have to tap into the third truck we had on call, but with a little bit of smoothing the crew was able to fill the last spot and still have one or two shovelfuls of concrete to spare Here is the final product.
That’s a massively improved driveway, don’t you think?
I’m remembering how just over a year ago we replaced the warped wooden garage door and beam with a new steel I-beam and a beautiful automatic garage door. With this new driveway poured, I think we’re about done with this part of of the house. Our neighbors have been giving us thumbs up as they drive by, so everyone is a fan and we’re the rock stars of the week on our street. That feels pretty good! Next up: maybe we’ll finally take that 5 gallons of exterior paint and and repaint the house at last. Till then, I never thought I’d be so pleased with a broad expanse of concrete paving. How do you like our new surface?
I think it’s about time I gave you a proper post about our granny flat remodel project.
granny flat, n. Self contained accommodation within or built onto a house.
The Chief and I have dreamed and planned since we got married of paying off our current home and expanding it as our family grows. When we eventually move, we’d like to keep it as a rental property and source of income. The next steps we have planned over the next 3-5 years are to convert and expand the covered patio into a generous master bedroom and bath, and to build two rooms onto the back of the house for a mud room/laundry room/project room and a man cave.
The first step, though, is to get our house generating some income by renting out part of it as a granny flat. The Chief is excited because this is allowing him to expand the plumbing and electrical capacities of our (1 bath, 1020 sq. ft) house and put in “everything this house should have had in the first place,” according to him. We’re remodeling with cash from our recent refinance and consider it a permanent upgrade as well as an investment to produce rental income.
I loooove planning and designing stuff, and the Chief prefers execution, so we’re a good team. I work on graph paper and think about things like sightlines and traffic flow in the rooms, and he looks at my plans and tells me what might need to be tweaked to work with the realities of where joists and pipes and such are.
This granny flat idea has already gone through several changes on paper over the last two years (yes, I think that far ahead!) but basically here’s where we stand as we break ground. This is the “before” corner of our house that is getting remodeled. The main room has been our bedroom and is now becoming the granny flat. To orient you, the bottom wall with the window marked in it is the wall in the above photo.
Now here is the plan with the changes we’re going to make structurally – walling it off from the rest of the house, busting into the covered patio/storage room to add a full bath, putting a door and new window in the south wall, and adding a kitchenette and closet.
The way we work, there will probably be some minor tweaks regarding placement and dimensions of things as we see what fits with the situation as we go. For instance, we will probably do an under-counter fridge rather than a slighly larger free standing mini fridge as pictured above, and the door might not go precisely where I drew it. Because the Chief is so handy, we can make it work that way! It’s fun and sometimes we get our best ideas when we’ve already gotten halfway into a project.
What do you think? Are you excited to follow along with us as we make this thing happen? Would you put a granny flat onto your own home? Aren’t you jealous of me for getting to specify fixtures and colors from scratch instead of having to work with somebody else’s bad decisions? (I think that’s my favorite part so far!)
We currently have a TON of projects happening in and around our little home. I’ve got one more month till my due date, which means we now have somewhere from 0-6 weeks left to run around doing projects like chickens with our heads cut off. I am definitely feeling a bit overwhelmed and I know the Chief is too! There’s just so much in an in-between state right now, and we both would like more time to rest.
Here’s a sneak peek of a couple of the things that are going on.
The Bedroom: We’ve moved into the front bedroom and though there are still some piles of things we don’t know where to put, we got the basics in place. Most notably, we managed to fit all our clothes into a smaller closet.
Here’s the nice big closet we shared previously – and you can see down the hall into the front bedroom that we’ve moved into as we cleared out this room.
I drew up a plan for the new closet on paper and the Chief executed it. The plan looks a little crumpled since its trip to the hardware store in his pocket :)
The Granny Flat: Major demolition has occurred. Here’s what the room used to look like when it was our bedroom.
Here it is getting demolished.
The Driveway: And last but not least, the very old, very crumbly, cracked, and pitted asphalt driveway is being replaced with blessedly smooth concrete. The Chief took it all out with a mini bobcat and sometime this week the new one ought to get poured. Pictures to come on this one.
We’re busy! I hope you enjoyed a glimpse of the many things keeping us on our toes.