Happy September, readers! And welcome to the latest update about your favourite little homeowners. When you last checked in with us, we were awaiting some final foundation fixes from Simon, to make sure our basement never leaks again. We were originally waiting for a nice sunny break in our unusually wet summer, but then time kept marching on, and it turned into September before he was able to get started on it.
The original plan was to split the cost of the smallest backhoe they rent with my parents, who were looking to do some digging in their yard too. Everyone checked their calendars and we agreed work would start at our house the first week of September, then move to Momma and Poppa’s house once the big digging here was complete.
We rented a backhoe/tracker BX25 from the Home Depot in Cambridge, which rents for $289 per day, $867 per week, or $2168 per month. They also only rent them on a first-come basis, so we lucked out on the morning we went to get it when we saw someone just bringing it back to the lot. You aren’t able to reserve either, so we had to take the backhoe that morning. I met Simon at Home Depot before work, slapped down my credit card for the $300 deposit, and then he hitched it to his truck and brought it to our house.
Simon started work at the back of the house, where things were easiest to access with the digger. Step one was gently removing our fence over the driveway so he could get the backhoe into the yard.
Step two was pulling up all of the stupid, terrible, no-good patio blocks which I hate (and smashing some in the process, just for good measure), so he could dig down to expose the foundation. There was also the small matter of the short wooden privacy fence at the back corner of the house, which also had to come down temporarily.
And here it is, look how cute! And also so, so expensive.
He started digging in the back corner, which is where the worst of the cracks was at the back of the house. It turns out that the post for the wooden fence was no longer secured in the concrete block that was poured once upon a time, so now water was just funneling down next to the foundation. That’s not good for business.
Once the rear of the foundation was exposed, Simon didn’t see any cracks, which is good I guess. The cracks we saw on the inside didn’t make it all the way through to the exterior, so Simon just “tarred the hell out of it” (his words) and filled it back in.
The digger was just slightly too wide to make it down the side of the house for the other half of the digging, so this will be Simon’s next task, done by hand:
The biggest of the trouble cracks from the winter was about halfway down the wall, just past the window you can see. He has already completely patched and repaired the crack at the front right corner of the house – that one was discovered and fixed in the first month we were in the house.
Our grass didn’t do so well under the movement of the backhoe, so most of our yard is a barren dirt field right now. But don’t worry, the weeds that were there before are hearty and resilient, and they will be back before you know it.
A small number of the patio stones were smashed, they’re sitting in a pile in the driveway for when Simon feels like taking a load of things to the dump. The patio stones we can still use are stacked neatly behind the shed:
We kept the backhoe for 4 days, and while it went to my mom’s house, it didn’t get to stay and do any work, because her dogs barked at it constantly. So the digger went back to Home Depot. The additional charge on top of the deposit was $785.03, which I’m quite sure is the week rate for the 4 days we used it.
Simon will be back this week to carry on work at the side of the house, and put some of our things back together. The privacy fence between the house and the shed will be going back up, and our fence across the driveway is already back in place. We’re not sure what we’ll do with the patio space, we might just leave it for the winter and deal with it in the spring. We’ll be grading the dirt at an angle away from the house, because that’s just smart, but beyond that, we have no plans yet.
Wait, that’s not true. Our plans are to spend as little money as possible, because we’re both feeling sucked dry right now. These aren’t even fun house improvements that we can actually see.
Up next from your heroes: replacing the windows in the basement before winter hits, and finishing the foundation fixes once and for all.