Sunday, 11 September 2011

The Whole (Front Yard) Story

This is our front yard when we bought the house. 

Quiet quickly after we moved in we took down the blinds and added a few bits and piece.  Seeing that our street is quiet communal it became a place to sit and share a cuppa, or watch the kids play. 

 After a few years the front and side fence started to fall down so we pulled it down.  The top deck had always been unstable, we have never used it to sit on but I did used to go out and hang our blankets or rugs on it to air them.  A few years ago it seriously started to deteriorate and even going on it to hang the blankets out started to feel like playing russian roulette.

So a few months ago we started thinking about renovating the front.  I soon realised that this was a lot more work than just pulling down the deck and putting up a new one.  The lower level (the porch) needed to be lifted to create a strong enough footing for the upper level.

So began our project.  We needed to completely pull our front yard apart and start again.

First thing to go were our ancient hibiscus and rosemary bushes and a massive fern.  We tried to replant both the rosemary and fern but neither survived.  At the same time we also propped up the deck as we had checked it more thoroughly and realised it was almost falling off the house.

After weeks of talking and planning a start date was agreed upon with Ant our friend and leader (forman) of our project.  The first thing to do was that I needed to try and salvage as many of our tessellated tiles as possible.  The truth is that AB has never loved our tiles and I always have, so trying to both salvage them and then think of what to do with them was days worth of talking.  We decided that if I could lift enough of them then we would use them to make the path leading up to our new porch.  It took me three full days of slowly chipping and violently hammering to save, what I estimate as, 75% of the tiles.  Thankfully that should be enough to recreate the same pattern.  (more on that later as the tiler actually starts laying them)

Then the big stuff started, on Monday (while I was busy supporting a couple birthing their first child) AB and Ant pulled down the deck.  By the time I got home it was gone and they were starting to lift the concrete.

For the rest of Monday, all of Tuesday and Wednesday, the three of us dug holes and bucketed the dirt not only for the piers to support the deck, but also for the supports for a brick fence to surround the yard, to create enough space between the lower porch and the earth and make a place for our new (and moved) path.  It was hard, every part of my and ABs bodies were aching as we both worked physically for longer than we had done in many years.  All up we have taken 10 cubic meters (3 skips) of rubble dirt and balcony out of our front yard.

Finally all the holes were dug, the formwork was put in to hold the concrete in the right place and steal work was added to all of the holes to give the concrete enough strength.  The council guy can out to make sure we were up to code and gave us the go ahead to pour the concrete on Friday.

Then on Friday it rained.

Saturday we woke up and bucketed water out of the deepest holes and thankfully the sun was shining so  we could finally poured the concrete.   Its all starting to come together.  I can now see the spaces better and I can't help but wonder and be excited at the idea of what the front of our house will look like by the end of the coming week. You see last week was all about pulling the front yard apart but this week we start doing the woodwork, painting the facade (the colour swatches on the wall are some of the colours we are thinking of as the house colour, off set with white detailing and a red front door), all in all we are starting to put the front back together. 
Once the porch and the deck are complete, we get a bricklayer in to do the fence and then the tiler to do the path, and do the landscaping, then TADA ... it's finished (hopefully).  AB has promised me a daybed to sit on the porch so I can relax comfortably and take in all of our hard work.  I can wait!!

 PS.  I have no idea where we will put our street loved lions but still hope to find a (less obvious) place for them in the front yard somewhere.

Watching - Torchwood, Miracle Day finale
Reading - Scott Pilgrim
Listening - Whatever is on my favourites at the moment ... music makes the work go faster :)
State of mind - Honestly I'm exhausted (not helped by going out both Friday and Saturday nights)

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