Masonry and Concrete

A lot of new things happening around the exterior of the house these days. None of it by me. I am too lazy to get off my ass, so I hired a couple of guys to do some masonry and concrete work. Take a look at the photo below. At least two new things are visible here – new service walkways out to the sidewalk and around the side of the house, and the top quarter of our chimney has been replaced.

New things. New walkways. New top half of chimney.

New things. New walkways. New top half of chimney.

First, the chimney – it was just sort of falling apart and needed repaired. This felt like throwing money down the drain since we never use the fireplace (and have no intentions of ever starting)… but I guess it needed to be done. The chimney still vents our water heater and furnace. I’m not blown away by the brick match, but the mason insisted that the greenish hues in our current brick just isn’t matchable anymore. Oh well.

Chimney Repaired.

Chimney Repaired.

While he was here, I twisted his arm into doing a quick stucco repair. This is the sort of job you’ll never be able to get a professional to do unless they’re also replacing half your chimney.

Stucco repair.

Stucco repair.

We ended up replacing all of the service walks on the property. The old ones were fine, but had sunk significantly since installed and resulted in drainage issues. When we replaced them, we made sure to pour them nice and high next to the foundation so that we had a chance to slope the ground away from the house. Here’s an example. Back in 2012, I posted about doing some work on the flower beds in front of the house. I posted the following picture – notice how much of the stone pavers are showing. At least 6″ – Maybe 8″.

little wall

little wall

Now here’s a similar angle – that whole wall of pavers we constructed has been eclipsed by the new walkway. We’ll have to come back through with some top soil and cover some of the edges of these new walkways.

New sidewalk. Notice how high it is compared to the ground.

New sidewalk. Notice how high it is compared to the ground.

Another thing the mason did while he was here was to patch the foundation parging in a couple places (it’s the discolored part of the foundation visible in this photo):

New sidewalk around house.

New sidewalk around house.

All that is great, but the exciting part is in the back yard. Remember after we built the new garage but never bothered to build a sidewalk to our back door? For the past year, this is what our back yard has looked like – small and crumbling porch and stairs, the first step was super-tall, and the walkway was old pavers rather than concrete (and my daughter KP always made sure there was a pile of saw dust on each and every paver…).

Terrible Walkway.

Terrible Walkway.

But now, HELLO NEW PORCH AND PATIO

New sidewalk from garage to back door.

New sidewalk from garage to back door.

New steps, porch, patio.

New steps, porch, patio.

Finally, I had the concrete guys construct a small valley gutter around the garage to help with drainage issues. The general rule of thumb about drainage is that it should always drain away from buildings rather than towards buildings. But that’s not really possible in our case, especially since the ass who designed our garage (that was me, by the way) probably should have poured the garage slab about six inches higher than it was. Oh well. Too late now. Also, there’s a tree in the middle of our yard that doesn’t really let us play with grades at all. Short version is, we’re draining the back yard towards the garage, so I wanted a bit of a gutter to help divert water around the structure. I dunno if it will work or not. We’ll find out when it rains. Here are some pics.

Valley Gutter - Curb to divert water around garage.

Valley Gutter – Curb to divert water around garage.

Valley gutter around garage.

Valley gutter around garage.

Valley gutter around garage.

Valley gutter around garage.

The next step is to order a truckload of top soil and fill in the spaces around the new concrete and regrade the yard a bit. I’ll keep you posted.

2 comments to Masonry and Concrete

  • martha

    It all looks very nice! Isn’t it wonderful when someone else does all the work?? At least until the bill comes!

  • Looks great! I’m going to be looking into this myself for a few projects. I’m always thrown off guard by the price of stuff like this…then the internal battle of whether or not to try to DIY begins. Sometimes is just better to have the pros do it…especially when it only takes them a couple hours and its done and over with.

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