2014 ended with a really big event … and it all started with a crack in the garage floor. Just enough friends have asked for photographs and news to make this page worth putting together, but it will also be something we can look back on in our dotage and be thankful it’s behind us.

For years an ever widening crack in the garage floor had been worrying us and repeated patches had not really helped beyond providing a temporary relief. After some years we finally realised that “something had to be done”. A friend of ours is a local contractor and we asked him to look at the problem and to dig out and replace the floor – which he did most excellently (job #1). But then things started to escalate …

While we had him on site we talked to him about replacing/repairing the crumbling front steps and walkway with a beautiful stone flag version. This was a job that we had wanted doing for some time and it seemed a shame to miss the opportunity (job #2). These things have a way of growing and so, we also asked for a solution to the flooding we get around and sometimes under the back door in snow-melt season and that then developed into a “while you’re at it” renovation of the adjacent gravelled area we have had herbs and the BBQ on into the creation of a double sized stone flagged patio – real, huge 3-inch thick stone flags (job #3).

All well and good … except that while excavating for the foundations of the patio they uncovered one end of our septic tank and found a broken pipe and shortly after, worse, a huge crack in the tank. There was no option then but to gulp and get down to replacing the tank itself (job#4). This left a corner of the garden looking like a WW1 battlefield. We are looking forward, with some excitement I might add, to spending next spring and summer taking the opportunity that has been to granted us to extend flower and shrub plantings and to reduce the area of what we laughingly call a lawn. Maybe a proper herb garden?

Finally, Brian-the-contractor pointed out to us that part of our drive, crumbly tarmac in need of beautification, actually sloped ever so slightly towards the garage when it should all slope away … after humming and hahing we calculated that replacing the drive – to be done in attractive stone and river gravel and not the pre-existing tarmac – was only going to be a tad more expensive than installing the necessary drainage to solve the problem and so (job #5) a new drive is going in … mind you, it won’t be finished until next spring as the winter snows arrived before completion.

There is also a job #6 which will be the replacement of the front and back doors – but that is a simple matter. The result – no more drafts we hope.

And so … here is an annotated photographic record of the “month of the big machines”.

 

The Garage Floor

This was the original job, and all that we anticipated being done when we started things moving. Very pleased with the results, especially once we saw what the original floor was really like as it came out – a large section was seen to be unsupported and no metal reinforcing grid was found in the concrete floor. It’s a surprise we hadn’t fallen through it years ago.

The old floor ... it took days to clear the place of its contents, much of which ended up under tarpaulins in the garden

The old floor … it took days to clear the place of its contents, much of which ended up under tarpaulins in the garden

The old floor broken up with jack-hammers

The old floor broken up with jack-hammers

Debris ready for hauling away

Debris ready for hauling away

"The BIG Truck"

“The BIG Truck”

Crushed stone for the sub-floor

Crushed stone for the sub-floor

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Ready for the stone foundation

Foundations levelled and ready for the concrete to be poured

Foundations levelled and ready for the concrete to be poured

Concrete arrival

Concrete arrival

The "Spider's Eyes" ... we were having a quite morning cup of tea with the newspapers when the concrete truck backed up and looked in at us with its spider's eyes

The “Spider’s Eyes” … we were having a quite morning cup of tea with the newspapers when the concrete truck backed up and looked in at us with its spider’s eyes

All done - beautiful

All done – beautiful

 

The Steps and Walkway

This was not such a big job. The original steps were sound enough cast concrete but beginning to flake. The path the led up from was thin tarmac with weedy cracks … now it is a thing of wonder and a beauty to behold.

Ripping out the old tarmac

Ripping out the old tarmac

Capping the concrete steps

Capping the concrete steps

Finished

Finished

 

The Drive

This is a pretty big job which is partially completed but which will have to wait now until the spring for completion – the old tarmac drive with weedy cracks was ripped out, a deep crushed stone foundation laid and a new 25ft culvert installed in the drainage ditch by the road. The culvert was extended several feet on either side of the drive and surrounded by large stone blocks. Next spring the drive will be edged with stone paviers and flower beds created over the top of the culvert extensions and then the whole drive will be topped with small river stone pebbles. It should look very snazzy and will certainly entail plenty of gardening and hard labour to make the front garden tach up to its new status.

Removing the old drive

Removing the old drive

Loading the first of several trucks with debris

Loading the first of several trucks with debris

Taking delivery of culvert stones

Taking delivery of culvert stones

Skilled masonry

Skilled masonry

The finished culvert

The finished culvert

 

The Patio and Septic Tank

This should have been a relatively easy job – just remove the old gravelled patio and replace it with stone flags but in excavating for the foundations we found that the septic tank, which was partially below the patio, was sadly deteriorated and leaking and we had no option but to have it replaced. As a consequence we have run up against winter and although the below ground work, and new drainage arrangements outside the back door, have been completed the stone flags cannot be installed until next spring … considering the area is about to disappear under feet of snow that is not really a hardship.

The digging out and replacing of the septic tank necessitated very heavy machinery on the lawn which has been wrecked in that part of the garden. Consequently rather than replace it with turf we have decided to create an extended perennial and shrub bed in the area and also a more formal herb garden. A second garden pond will not now be happening, even though we had the machinery here to make it really impressive.

The old gravelled pation with herb inserts - this was in preparation for the builders arriving when we were raking off and removing pebbles that we will re-use later elsewhere

The old gravelled pation with herb inserts – this was in preparation for the builders arriving when we were raking off and removing pebbles that we will re-use later elsewhere

Starting to clear the patio area - so far all is going well

Starting to clear the patio area – so far all is going well

Everything nice and neat with the lawn unaffected

Everything nice and neat with the lawn unaffected

"You've got a broken pipe, mate. No problem, we can fix that in 20 minutes"

“You’ve got a broken pipe, mate. No problem, we can fix that in 20 minutes”

"Ah - looks like the tanks cracked. You have option A or option A"

“Ah – looks like the tanks cracked. You have option A or option A”

New septic tank arrives

New septic tank arrives

The old tank is pumped out (the neighoours must be loving this)

The old tank is pumped out (the neighours must be loving this)

Out with the old ...

Out with the old …

... and in with the new

… and in with the new

Under that soil mountain was once a lawn

Under that soil mountain was once a lawn

Finishing off - to be continued next spring

Finishing off – mostly to be continued next spring

But then we had a few cold but snow-free days and a bit of initial fiddly flagstone laying was started. This next picture is an “artistic” one showing out stonemason hard at work cutting stone … the light was just right.

Cutting stone

Cutting stone