Monday, July 24, 2017

Project House Update: Hitting Pay Dirt

This is a story that has been in the works for months. And only like half of that is because of my laziness in telling the story. I'll start at the beginning.

I follow a lot of blogs. My favorites are the DIY/home improvement/design ones. And in following blogs, I will enter just about every contest one of these bloggers' posts. If it's a Rafflecopter contest, I am in.

And being decent at math, I should have realized that, eventually, odds would dictate that I would finally win something. Back in Oct, Sarah of Ugly Duckling House posted a story about leveling her backyard along with an entry for a free power tool rental through Home Depot, her sponsor for her post. I entered and didn't hear anything, like normal, so I didn't think twice about it.

Cut to several months later in December when I received an email from Sarah saying I had won. She had chosen someone else randomly first, but they never responded so I was second. I had won a $500 credit to use for some sort of power rental at Home Depot! Yay! And she needed a response by the following Monday of what I'd be using the rental for. Boo!

Dan and I immediately started going through our project list to figure out which ones would benefit from power tools and which ones we were ready to tackle. The front runner was the drainage around the shop. When it was originally built, the contractor didn't bring in nearly enough fill dirt and it had been an 18 month fight to keep erosion at bay. Dan had always talked about assembling some friends, buying tons of dirt, and moving it with shovels and wheel-barrows. My thought was that we could save a bunch of time and friendships with using the rental towards a small Bobcat. He didn't believe there was enough space to maneuver a Bobcat around the shop to get the dirt where it needed to be. He wasn't convinced easily, but we drove to Home Depot, measured one of the little Bobcats and he was finally on board.

I worked with the company who was sponsoring the rental and scheduled for the Bobcat to be dropped off for a Friday and Saturday in February. This gave us some time to get our ducks in a row, mainly ordering dirt, and for the weather to warm a bit.

Turns out, as that date approached, my in-laws wanted to swing through town and stay with us to visit some friends and they were quickly roped into sticking around through the weekend to help out. Free labor is awesome.

Here are some 'Before' pics. It's hard to grasp the angle of these slopes in pictures, but most of them weren't walkable. You could see the paint line at the bottom of the walls where the dirt had eroded, leaving the unpainted concrete underneath. In some spots, this unpainted line was several inches thick.

Once things got going, they went fast. Dan ordered 21 tons of dirt. It sounds like a lot, but 21 tons only translated to 21 cubic feet. It was still a lot of dirt, but in the end, we wouldn't have minded more. But when it's piled up on a (too small) tarp in your driveway, it's a lot. There's a tarp hidden somewhere under there, I swear.

I made Dan and his dad come up with a plan first so we could all be on the same page. We needed agreement on priorities and which areas needed the most dirt and which things needed to not get run over. I worked from home since all the rental stuff was in my name and I let those two men have at it. We were lucky because the man who dropped off the rental told us that we were free to keep it until Monday morning for no charge since no one else was planned to use it before then.

Dan and his dad got into a rhythm very quickly. Dan drove the Bobcat and would pick up a load of dirt, drop it approximately where he wanted it, and his dad would spread it around with a shovel while Dan went to refill. In the span of four to five hours, they managed to move and dump almost all of the dirt.

With one day down and the in-laws gone, we had made all the progress we had planned to make. However, we had the Bobcat for two more days so we went going to let it go to waste. In spite of the rain that began, Dan and I set out to landscape all this dirt that we had moved. Over the course of five years, we had formed a large pile of river rock that had been removed from random places around our property. This pile was huge and we've tried to move it by hand before and it's so incredibly taxing. I'll get two buckets into it and give up. But we had a Bobcat, which changed the game.

In order to keep all this new dirt in place, we covered it with a layer of river rock. Dan would bring over a load of rock and I would fit them, interlocking, over the dirt. I was pretty helpful at first but lost steam quickly. In hindsight, I was battling the beginnings of a cold which I am claiming zapped my energy.

Dan did a great job, though. When he too was out of energy, he at least had the foresight to move extra loads of rock to spots around the shop that we could place in the future. I mean, it's kind of a tripping hazard right now, but that's just more motivation to work on that sooner rather than later, right? He even made friends with a rattlesnake that had built a home inside the rock pile.

Here are the 'After' pictures. We've had several big storms over the past few weeks and it's held up well. There will be some additional work that needs to be done, but we'll do that at the tale end of monsoon season. The best part is I can now walk the exterior of the entire structure without sliding down an incline!

Dan even had the skills with the Bobcat to not run over my little plants.

I'm really glad things worked out this way! Big thanks to Sarah and Home Depot for hooking me up with this prize! Sometimes Dan and I over-complicate things, but being able to use this little Bobcat saved us so much time and sanity. I would highly recommend it!

1 comment: