Reclaimed Brick Patio: Labor Pains

by Cait

Alternate title: The One In Which I Suggest We Change Our Blog Name to “Illegal Dumping”

For anyone who follows us on Facebook, you might have seen me talk a bit about the “weird concrete” in our backyard.

weird concrete in all its glory awkwardness

When Robert got home from work on Saturday we (meaning he) took a sledgehammer to the weird concrete and I loaded the pieces into the back of the truck. (Fun fact: When we put up our fence we didn’t plan on it, but his Ranger justbarely fits through the gate into the backyard. Granted it then got covered in some sort of sticky nastiness that dripped off our weed-trees, but it washed off ok.) My hamstrings (and I’m assuming Robert’s back and shoulders) want you to know that this process did not go as easily as I would lead you to believe on Facebook.

Saturday’s status update
Sunday’s status update

Sunday morning we resumed the process of trying to break the last three or so feet of concrete out. Forty minutes or so later we said “screw it” and decided to brainstorm while dumping the concrete we had already broken out. (I owe you pictures of that truck-load, I just haven’t pulled them off the memory card yet. Whoops.) While we were tossing our concrete into a dumpster (with the manager’s permission if you want to get technical, though he wasn’t working this time) I joked that we should change out blog name to “Illegal Dumping”.

To wrap things up, the first 22-24 feet of concrete busted out fairly easily because whoever put it down had no idea what they were doing. What we thought was rebar was actually just a couple of long bolts (which we’re guessing were connected to supports for a deck, maybe?) The last bit, the part Robert hammered on for 40 minutes and only managed to chip tiny pieces off of, is an L-shaped area where the long side of the L is the horizontal part in the foreground of the picture above. The concrete there was much thicker, as if they had a lot left over so they just dug deeper and dumped the rest in that area.

We’re thinking about renting a jackhammer for that last part (though Robert just texted me saying he’s still brainstorming other ideas). It’s about $200 cheaper than renting a saw would have been, and it should also help with chiseling up the tile. At the moment our plan for the tiled area is to square it off with (groan) more concrete and then re-tile the area using some terra cotta tiles we scored from the shed on some family property. In theroy it should coordinate well with the brick patio, cross your fingers for us!

Anyone else do anything house projects that left them sore this Monday morning?

22 Responses to “Reclaimed Brick Patio: Labor Pains”

  1. Oh. Em. Gee. Sorry guys – that sounds like a real pain in the ass!

    • Thanks Emily! It was definitely a pain! I need to take “after” (or really “progress”) pictures and post for comparison soon. I think tonight we’re going to attack things with a (regular) hammer, chisel, drill and maybe the sledgehammer again. And if that fails, Robert might rent a jackhammer tomorrow.

  2. OMG! I can barely move today! Eric and I went all-out, hard-core on our back yard this weekend! … which reminds me… I am a bit behind on backyard posts! Need to get that done ASAP! My hamstrings, butt, and lower back are killin’ me!

    Good job on the concrete! Can’t wait for some updated pics! Make sure you get one of you with the sledgehammer and jackhammer!!!

    • I’m glad Robert and I aren’t the only ones, Ashley!

      I’ll try to get progress pictures up ASAP! And I’ll try to get some picture of us with the sledgehammer/etc for the blog’s sake.

  3. Wow! Good luck! I know how frustrating that is! I would totally suggest renting a jack hammer…life saver! I wish I could say I had a productive weekend!

  4. Seriously? I’m not envying you right about now :) Good job, though, and if you need inspiration, just keep thinking about how great it will feel and look when it’s done!

    But holy hell, again I’m looking at your “before” photo saying to myself “what were the previous owners thinking?”

    • Thanks Jane! I am totally imagining myself sitting in all the comfy chairs I’ve been pinning on Pinterest lately… haha

      The only think I can think is that maybe the wavy tile was once a pool deck? The porch is sort of “bowl shaped” in that the middle is lower than the sides. We found that out when we leveled our pool table. And when it rains hard enough. And then maybe the concrete was foundation for a deck? It makes my head hurt to think about too hard, but I can just see them going “We won’t be ripping this deck/concrete out, just pour the rest of it on this end, I don’t want to chisel it out of my wheelbarrrow.” Robert said he wants to punch the former owner in the face if we ever meet them.

  5. Sounds fun….

    I attended my best friend’s wedding so I was house/pain free for the week-end!!

  6. At least you’ll get to learn how to use a new tool? …that’s the only “bright side” I can think of – what a pain! At least most of it came up pretty easily! Eye on the prize; when it’s finished it’s going to look great!

  7. bonus workout? =) that is a weird concrete situation!!!!

  8. I don’t like it when you talk about former owners badly… it’s not good karma, and it will come back to bite you one day. If you really want to build your blog, you need to develop good blog manners – and that’s one you need to work on. Just sayin’.

    • I respect your viewpoint, and I understand that being nice is important. I also think being truthful is important. Both being truthful about a situation, and truthful to yourself and how you see things.

      I’m sure that whoever owned our house before us was very nice and did the best they could with what they had. Everyone has to start somewhere, and hopefully learn from their mistakes.

      That being said, I’ve lived in this neighborhood for my entire life. My parents knew the owners from the 90s who built what we call the guest room and guest bathroom. I know they did it in a hurry, without pulling permits, because they needed to move their ailing mother in asap. Some things were fine, some were completely unsafe. The owners since then are more of a mystery. Money was tight for them, and a few were forced to move in a hurry. The owner we bought from, was a flipper who did everything to make money, seldom to code and not always safe. On top of that he was rude to us during negotiations and at closing.

      There is a fine line between being truthful about a situation, in this case how the previous owners treated the house, and being nice. I try to do both to the best of my ability, but I’m only human. I’m sorry if you do not like the way that attempt comes across, you are welcome to discontinue reading or skip posts not to your liking.

  9. Oh jeez, rent a jackhammer!! haha

    Beatrice needs to lighten up – part of the fun of blogs is trashing the owners that screwed everything up. Honestly, it’s not like we publish their names and addresses! I would be lost without my Boozy Susie trash talk!!

    • Oh Sara… I’m actually about to post a post entitled “Day 3 and Still No Jackhammer”… Haha! But we will probably rent a saw for the next bit!

      I <3 Boozy Susie talk! Sometimes wondering what people were thinking with their not-quite-code redos is the only thing to keep me sane.

  10. You can be truthful without being mean. You can be honest without being catty. Hating on someone for any reason is never a good plan – even if it’s DIY. People are different, do things differently – even incorrectly – for many many reasons. Wondering is one thing…hatin on them is entirely another. Do you really want to be putting that out into the universe? Feel some compassion for them. You are asking people to feel compassion for you aren’t you?

    Blogs that have a number of sponsers, that are making money – you won’t see mean-spirited refrences to previous owners. It is ok to ‘wonder’ and say it doesn’t work, or even that’s it’s not code;, but it is not nice blog manners to constantly want to kick them, punch them, and generally hate on how stupid they are. IF YOU don’t care, and would rather not have readers – or sponsers – keep on hatin’. As you pointed out, it’s your life, it’s your blog, and you can hate if you But hatin’ will not work, and will come back to get you. Just sayin’.

    • Continually leaving rude comments on someone’s blog simply because you don’t like the way they write is equally hateful and also putting bad energy out into the universe. Take your own advice.

  11. Beatrice,

    Quite honestly, I think you have a severe case of ‘Internet Boldness’ I’d be really surprised if you said anything to Cait’s face about this. To pull a mom quote, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” There is a person behind the blog, putting a lot of hard work out for everyone to see, with thoughts and feelings.

    The joy of having a blog is putting your thoughts out there, and you can choose to say whatever you want. Of course, not every person is going to agree with you whole heartily. That’s great; everyone is equally allowed to have their opinions. So, Cait can have her opinions of the former owner’s work (she clearly isn’t hating on the actual person). Likewise you can have your opinion, but I just don’t understand why you bother to leave a comment stating so. It isn’t constructive, and you’ve just spent more time dwelling on the issue. Oh, and one of, if not the biggest blogger, Dooce, ALWAYS says rude things about people, so I don’t think that will affect sponsors or her readership. If people like Cait, they’ll read and that is their choice. If you don’t like what Cait writes, simply go elsewhere to fulfill your blog needs.


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