The Never Ending Homestead Project is Nearing Completion

8/29/2022

When we had the house built in 2016-17 we hired what we thought was a competent builder. It turned out that he lied through his teeth to us about the subcontractors he “had” available to him and even his contract was breached by him repeatedly as he hired unproven and even unlicensed subcontractors. Needless to say what was a difficult project of building the house turned into a financial nightmare as elements of the house such as electrical and plumbing went 2 & 3 times higher than what was supposed to be budgeted. We barely got into the house, which wasn’t even finished, we had completely exhausted any savings we had, and there certainly wasn’t any money left for creating sidewalks or finishing off any of the outside.

In January of 2021 I began working on plans to finally complete the outside living areas of the house, as we had recovered financially from the nightmare building process. We had lived on the property for 4.5 years at that point so we have had plenty of time to observe problematic areas and figure out exactly what we wanted to do. We secured our permit to build the deck in April of 2021 and we began the work. After the experience of building the house and learning that the laws in Georgia protect contractors, we had no intention of hiring any of this work out. Michael and I would be doing all the work ourselves. We built the deck and flagstone patio and got final approval of our work and closed the permit. Once the patio and deck were completed then we put in flagstone walkways. We tore off the crappy wood front steps and poured concrete steps using 88 bags of concrete and mixing each in the wheelbarrow and pouring it into the forms. Building one step on top of the other. Once the walkways were completed we discovered that many people coming in to purchase eggs were challenged to stay on the driveway because it’s not straight. So we had to add another project in of building pillars that flank each walkway that goes to the driveway to give people a guidepost and to protect the flagstones.

The last leg of the project has been to address the hill off the back of the house that the patio and deck are on. It was very steep and especially when damp from rain or dew was treacherous to navigate. I’ve slipped and slid down that hill more times than I care to think about. We decided to create a staircase down the hillside and to create terraces to help slow down the water run off and give us more control over the weeds and maintenance. We created 2 levels of terrace and then decided instead of trying to build the steps out of wood that we would take the large pieces of concrete that the builder left laying in the pasture from tearing out the old septic tank and use them to create the steps. It’s always a lot of work reusing materials but we were willing to do this because 1. It got rid of these unsightly pieces of concrete that were too heavy to move easily 2. It saved us a lot of money buying concrete. 3. It saved us a lot of work mixing what was going to be a few hundred bags of concrete in the wheelbarrow.

We’ve worked all summer on the stairway. We have finally gotten to the end of the project and are now on the last few steps of work. Last weekend we addressed the water runoff from the gutters. We trenched and buried drain tube connecting the downspouts and all areas of major run off so that all the water running off the driveway and the house now is directed down and underneath the walkway going from the driveway to the new steps up the back hill. This last weekend we moved 9 tons of #57 gravel into the finished spaces of the terrace levels and the base of the walkway we are creating. We should be able to finish the walkway within the next few weeks.

I’m SO excited to be almost done with this whole around the house landscaping project. I’m not even sure what life will look like after this is done because we have spent so much time working so hard on this that we’ve done almost nothing else for over 1.5 years every weekend.

I’m including progression pictures and will update it once it’s all completed.

looking down hill, to the steps & paths with patio included in the shot.