Retaining wall construction begins!

You can literally taste the excitement and lack of money at our house this week, readers. Construction has begun!

I called the landscapers on Monday to confirm some details, and they were optimistic about starting work on Wednesday. By Tuesday afternoon, their crew was dropping off heavy equipment in our driveway, ready to get cracking at that concrete the next day. I came home to this:

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They squeezed them both into the driveway, with only enough room for one car to park overnight. I made a quick call to the city to beg and plead for an extra day of overnight street parking starting that night, and it was no problem at all.

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When they were dropping off the equipment, Dan spoke to the crew and asked if they could rip up the interlocking brick walkway while they’re at it with the driveway. The equipment drop-off crew knew nothing about our project and were only here to leave backhoes in our driveway, so they couldn’t give us an answer. Here’s why we hate the interlocking brick:

Our driveway isĀ just too narrow for two cars to park side by side, but only just. In order to avoid the terrible park-behind-each-other-and-play-car-swap-6-times-a-day thing, I park my car on the brick walkway. Because it’s right there next to the driveway, taking up precious driveway space that could be used to nicely park my car.

There are two problems with this.

1. There is now no walkway up to our house from the sidewalk, and visitors and the mail carrier and the poor paper kids have to squeeze between our cars to get to the front door if we’re both home.

2. Parking there everyday for the last almost 4 years has left divots in the walkway, which irks me. Count this as the only reason necessary for why we’ll never have an interlocking brick driveway.

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And don’t get me started on the bushy plants immediately next to the walkway. I walk through them every morning to get to the driver’s side door of my car. I don’t care about them at all, and I usually step directly on them as I get to my car, but they won’t take the hint and they keep on living.

As a quick side note on the walkway, if the cars are not both in the driveway, it still forces visitors to make a zigzag to get to our front door. This strikes me as entirely unnecessary and we plan to change it this summer. The finished driveway will go right to the edge of those plants, which we will then dig out and make a straight pathway to the front door from the sidewalk.

Zigzag entrance

The real construction started on Wednesday morning as promised. The crew arrived early and asked Dan to move his car so they could get to it. Leeloo the dog politely greeted the fellows as she went out for her morning walk, which I hoped would mean she wouldn’t spend all day being anxious about the strangers outside.

They were breaking up the concrete slab as I was leaving for work. When I got home, I was pleasantly surprised to see they got all the concrete up on day one:

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They also took out the brick walkway. I’m a happy camper now.

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Some wooden beams were taken out on day one, but they kept the fence and the wall intact. It had a really healthy lean going on at the end of the day, so they propped it up against the neighbour’s lawn so it wouldn’t completely fall over.

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After the crew was gone, we took a little wander outside to check out our new surroundings.

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They started excavating a little bit in the backyard, at the back of the driveway. Leeloo now has a construction zone and a big giant hole to navigate around when she uses the backyard facilities. It’s temporary, dog.

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A Dan, for scale.

Day two was kind of a wash, it rained for most of the day so the crew was only out in the morning. They took down the fence, which already makes for a dramatic change in the view from my kitchen window.

I took pictures this morning after it snowed last night. Not sure if we’ll see the crew here today, but it’s supposed to be above zero this afternoon so maybe they can keep working? I don’t know enough about retaining walls to answer that question.

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The wooden retaining wall is still there, holding back all the dirt from my driveway. But here’s something positive to latch onto – the first delivery of blocks for my new retaining wall also arrived on day two:

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Now there’s a retaining wall material you can set your watch to! Take a close look at all the rotting wooden beams they’ve been pulling out of the ground in the earlier pictures. It’s astounding to me that they were supporting the driveway and car weight at all.

If the crew isn’t back today, I think we’ll be at a standstill on progress over the weekend. Have a delightful weekend, readers. Enjoy your solid, non-muddy driveways and check back in with us soon for an update.

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About joeyandjanice

Two crazy kids trying to make sense of the jumble surrounding making the jump from renting to owning our first home. Join us here as we stumble towards the biggest purchase of our lives.
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