Thursday, April 22, 2010


Last Friday, we had a landscaper come over to discuss what he could do for our front stoop. He is a friend of my brother, who lives way over on the other side of city, so whatever I have him do, I kinda feel like I need to make it worth his time to drive 30 minutes supplies in hand.

We discussed what I would love, (big porch, soft flower bed lines), what I needed, (the stoop and the stoop only), and overall the colors, style, and cost of the bricks, retaining wall pieces, and landscaping. He brought books, his measuring wheel, and his ideas of what could be done. He didn't give me a "look" when I whipped out a sepia print of the front of my house with my thoughts, and gave him one to take home. He explained how he wouldn't need a permit to do what I wanted, but to check anyways, as he hasn't ever done work in our city.

He actually sat down and gave out some neat ideas, and I didn't once feel rushed. He did show up late, BUT that is usually expected when my brothers are involved. He was super polite, and excited by the project. Hmmm... that contractor sure seemed like a bore at this point.

The next day, I drove out to the "yard" to check out the color samples of the paving brick and retaining walls. His suggestion of one kind of block, due to the easy calculations and strength, (thus less labor for cutting and placing) was the one I really liked, as it looked crisp and new. I did fall in love with something called Country Manor, but it had that "Old World" charm, including smooth out corners, and faded color. Christopher would not have been a fan.

So now everything was picked out. I made a list of what I wanted, (including these awesome moon shaped steps) and looked up plants and shrubs for the landscaping that will be taken out and need replacing. I just had to sit back and wait for the estimate. Oh, and I had to call the city.



The only good thing that came out from chatting with them, (pleasant as they are) was that I now have till June 15th to get the stoop done. HUGE relief, especially after I found out that due to an increase with new construction pulling away from the homes, we would be required to pour a new trench foundation along the existing structure, and rebar it into the walls. It wouldn't have been too bad if they only wanted a foot or so, but NO!!! They city requires a full 42" foundation, new concrete, permits, and inspections for any expansion of the original stoops, into certified porches. We could, however, use the exsisting foundation and build, no permit required, a new one with the same measurements currently in use.

I finally decided to go ahead and jump, make that leap and go big. Our landscaper would be willing to help dig the trench and attach the rebar, if we had a separate company come and pour the concrete. FYI Landscapers don't like to mess with concrete, thus the retaining wall design.

Great!! I'm dancing, I'm worried about cost, I'm scaling back on landscaping plans (flowers can wait!).

Then the clouds rolled in.

While pulling the permit, the city questions a previous repair and completely smashed all hopes and dreams of a longer porch. Our foundation, prior to our purchase, had a huge crack along that wall. If we put rebar into the already weakened structure, we may be putting the house in a position to have a wall cave in. In addition after I received this news, I checked out the warranty that came with the repair work that had been done, and we can't touch that wall by drilling into it, or we void the contract.


Not missing a beat, our Landscaper checked his schedule and plans to come out AGAIN, on Saturday. Remeasure the areas, and discuss options.

Based on the INITIAL estimate that has now been scrapped!

The work that would be done: Removal of current stoop, replaced with a 6x15 porch.

The result would be: A beautiful porch to sit on, and watch the kids ride their bikes between the driveways, new landscaping, and eventually a back porch.
It would be in a beautiful rustic red brick color with brick pavers on the top.
* Crushed limestone footing/foundation to stabilize. (prior to chatting with the city)
*42" rebar enforced poured concrete foundation. (post city chat)
soft lined redwood mulch plant bedding, filled with my pick of the most amazing plants, flowers and shrubs.
An additional amount of red brick pavers to put in (at our own time) a patio in the back yard, to extend our leisure area.
Oh and have I mentioned the beautiful carved stone, half moon, steps. (I think I am in LOVE!)

Estimate: Here is the not so fun part. He came to get measurements, but couldn't quote me at home, as I needed to pick out brick pattern, color, etc. Little bit disappointing

Once I had picked that, he would be able to take the measurements, and product numbers to the yard to get a price for the deposit needed to purchase supplies. This would take a few days, after all he does work 10 hour days doing landscaping, and running his own business, which is small enough that he doesn't have someone solely responsible for handling estimates.

With that in mind, I did the math, and came up with a number around $1400 for the supplies. He is trying to help with the labor cost for us, so until we know what we are doing, he is waiting to figure that in as well. BUT guesstimating, the original project would probably end up between 2700 and 3200. basically, my taste in a plants would raise the final cost, along with the labor.

The overall service of the professional giving the estimate:4* out of 5 stars Well he is a friend, so he was easier to approach. But because he is a friend, I almost feel I NEED to go with him. Which is why i am less than happy, as cutting ties with him means I put Ian in a hard place. Also I never chatted with him after the initial meet, but was on speaker phone with him and my brother. Once again because he is a friend and it was just easier for Ian to chat with me. So we will see how he really is, once he comes back over, and I throw my new plans at him. His rating may drop or rise, depending on how quickly, at this point, we can pick a date to begin work!

He may regret taking me on as a client!

More to come...

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