Friday, August 23, 2013

One Step at a Time

After more than a year (maybe even more than two, I'm losing all track of time) of dithering, waffling, and run-of-the-mill indecision, we finally took care of this minor disaster:

Our back steps were cracked and deteriorating, and Bert had a great love of pulling chunks out and putting them back in, like a puzzle.

There were rust problems around the railing.

And they had been held together by a few boards for quite awhile now.

We went back and forth on what to do, from steps constructed out of large rocks, to a small wooden deck and steps, to pre-formed concrete steps, to having concrete poured on site, to pouring concrete ourselves. You see, some champion dithering going on.

The ultimate plan is to cover the patio in flagstone (we were hoping to do it this fall but with Baby 2 arriving in T - 6 weeks, I'm guessing not). So we decided to rule out the deck idea. The large rock plan was the next to go, because we figured it was just a bit too rustic for our Cape Cod-ish house. So that left us with some sort of concrete steps, which we decided we would cover with flagstone to match the patio.

First we called a local pre-form company. The price of the steps alone was about $1100, plus we would have to have demo the existing steps and have footers placed before they would deliver the steps. Next option please.

In the midst of all this, a sidewalk around the corner from us was being replaced. After spending a good part of a morning sitting on the curb across the street with Bert, watching the concrete truck pour the sidewalk and the crew scurry around smoothing and shaping, I suggested to Keith that we get a quote from that company. So we did. And we liked their price for not only pouring new steps, but demoing the old ones, removing the debris, and expanding the small set of steps that go from the patio to the lower part of the sidewalk that runs through our yard.

We got a price on a Friday, and by the following Wednesday the site looked like this:

It took a crew of four men about 3 hours to demo the steps, dig out the area for expanding the lower steps, and place all the forms.

My big job was putting this sign on the back door so I didn't throw my pregnant, forgetful self down into the pit.

On Friday morning at 7:30, much to Bert's delight, the "mixer truck" pulled up. He even had to take his little mixer truck out while he watched.

Within about 40 minutes, they were off to pour at another site, returning a few hours later to put some finishing touches on the steps.

We were able to walk on the steps the next day and couldn't be happier with them. We opted to have holes left to add a railing of our own, though they could have provided one. Note to self: ask Daddy to build railing. In the meantime, those patio chairs are meant to keep Bert from taking a tumble off the side.

Now the lower steps are the same width as the back steps, and we plan to run flagstone across the tops of them as well to make them look a bit more seamless. In an ideal world, we would cover the whole sidewalk with flagstone but that is probably a bit beyond the budget at the present time. Right now, it is just nice to have wide steps to go down, especially when carrying wash to the clothes line or bringing in groceries. It felt like we were walking a tight rope before.

And Bert has a big dirt pile to play in, which he has been dragging his Tonka dump truck and digger to daily. Such a dirt ball.

Seriously, the added benefit of entertainment for Bert made having a professional do this job seem like an even better decision. Bert hung out on his stool at the back window pretty much the whole time they tore out the steps, even while they used the jackhammer. He was enthralled the whole time the truck was here and watching the crew run back and forth with wheelbarrows full of wet concrete and pour them in the forms.  He asked Saturday morning if the men would be back to do their work. Lucky for him, after our neighbor saw what a good job the crew did, he had them replace a section of his sidewalk on Wednesday so Bert had a second round of entertainment.

We are kicking ourselves that we didn't have this done sooner, and are happy with our decision to let a pro do it versus trying to do it ourselves. I can't even imagine the logistics of us doing it, with how long the steps would be torn apart and what we would have done with all the debris and what we would have spent on materials to build a form. Yep, making our only part of the job signing the check was the right call on this one!

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