Old House Restoration

A real family makes an old house their home...for the 2nd time
The Splendido's renovate, restore and rejuvenate their home with their own hands - all while living in the house
and balancing their family needs...you know...like most families have to do it!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

"This will be a quick little project"...yeah, right!

"Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…" Theodore Roosevelt

Really. I started this patio rehabilitation because it was going to be a quick, little project. I mean how bad could it be. My thought process - "Pick up the current slates. Get rid of the grass and place the slates back down. No big deal."

Slate patio repair -before
Before - doesn't look like much, but there actually is a natural (very natural) patio under there (literally)
Slate patio restoration -before
Before - randomly placed slates - many unsupported
As with any project - it kept expanding. As it got bigger I realized I better do this the right way - which is code for "more work," thus expanding the project even more. I am now 3 full weeks into it. 

I have been through the 3 'R's' of Home Improvement in these 3 weeks. What started as a weekend slate patio rehabilitation ...then turned into a slate patio restoration...that then turned into a full blown slate patio renovation & addition.

The 3 'R's' of Home Improvement - these may not be Webster's definitions, but in my head...

  • Rehabilitation - minor fixes to an already establish structure
  • Restoration - medium to major fixes without tearing down or tearing out completely
  • Renovation - tear down or tear out and start over
  • not an 'R' but worth mentioning:
    •  Addition - make it bigger while you are at it
This process has expanded in part because I have yearned for a patio to hang out on and watch the kids play since I became a homeowner in 2005. However, our first house did not have a location suitable for a patio expansion. Not the case at this house. I had the perfect location, it just needed to be rehabbed - or so I thought. As I started the work I kept making it ' just a little bigger'...then I would look at it and figured if I make it just a little wider then I will never have to mow this part of the yard again. After it was wider, I got to thinking "wouldn't be nice if it wrapped around the bushes and down to the yard too." Next thing I knew my 200 square foot patio now has a footprint of 525 sq feet! How'd that happen?!

How to Renovate/Make a Slate Patio - Prepare The Site

Step 1:  See what you have already

Our plan originally was just to re-use the slates we had. Pick them up and set them back down in a better fashion. Karen went out to start getting some dirt off some of the partially hidden slates. Low and behold she found 30 or more slates completely covered that we had no idea were there! Bonus. We thought now the patio can be bigger!...and so the expansion had started...

Step 1 - Karen unearthed these slates.
Honestly - 75% of these slight were completely covered by dirt and grass

Step 2:  Pick up current slates

I went around with Lily (I told you she is My Little Helper, right?!) and we pried up every slate. We cleaned them off and placed them in piles based on shape and size. You will see the piles in later pictures.

Step 3: Mark your parameter with sting
  • I drove stakes into the ground around the parameter. 
  • I tied string to each stake making many rectangles...you will see these in later pictures. 
  • Using a string level (cheap at any hardware store) I made sure the strings were level from one stake to another along the lengths (the sides parallel to the house)
  • For the string lines perpendicular to the house - I made sure these lines were pitched away from the house using my string level. The proper pitch is 1/8 inch per foot - this way rain would flow away from the house.
    • Note because of the heavy slope of my area the best I could do was a pitch of a 1/4" per foot. A little steeper than suggested, but will still be fine.
Step 4: Dig down 4 inches from the string in all areas

Oh! My aching back. This was A LOT of work! Took me the better part of 2 weekends and a lot of Advil....thinking back I probably should have rented a rototiller.

...btw - I learned the hard way that it is a little easier to dig after a rain than before. Not easy...but easier.

How to Make a Slate Patio | How to Build a Slate Patio
Digging down four inches - you can see my string lines
How to Make a Slate Patio | How to Build a Slate Patio
More digging...also you can see the piles of slates that Lily and I gathered
How to Make a Slate Patio | How to Build a Slate Patio
A few tools of the trade :-)
How to Make a Slate Patio | How to Build a Slate Patio
Finally after the better part of 2 weekends the digging was done!
How to Make a Slate Patio | How to Build a Slate Patio
Because of the slope of the original yard I had to build up some 'berms" on the low side to hold in my future steps.
I could have gone with bricks or pavers or Belgium block, but we are trying to keep it as natural looking as possible.
After a heavy rain - the puddles tell me my pitch away from the house works
Step 5: Rest for a couple of days
If you are doing this by yourself you will need some time for your muscles to recover.

Step 6: Lay out the Crusher Run (Item 4 or whatever you want to call it)

This weekend (May 3rd & 4th)...I picked up, loaded into a wheelbarrow, dumped, spread out, screened and tamped 5 yards (4 truck loads) of Crusher Run to use as the base of my patio.

5 Yards = 7,500lbs...3.75 Tons!!!

It was a lot of hard work. I was tired. At one point on Sunday I thought I heard Obi Wan Kenobi saying "May the 4th be with you." :-)
4 truck loads - 5 Yards - 7,500 lbs of Crusher Run!
Crusher Run / Item 4 / Base Material
My Little Helper - Lily
She hung out for several hours - She said, "This is easy."
How to Make a Slate Patio | How to Build a Slate Patio
At the End of Day 1 (of weekend #4)
By the end of Saturday I had moved 2.5 yards. I had started at 6am...and worked in 2 hour shifts throughout the day. I was glad to have some built in breaks. I took all the kids to Luke's and my haircuts at 8:30am (shout out to Mike at Billie's Barber Shop...and the whole family likes going to Billie's - family friendly). Then Paige had Softball at 11am.  I don't miss any of the kid's games for anything. Then I assistant coached Luke & Lily's baseball game at 4pm. In between these activities, I worked hard and fast. Finally around 7pm we sat down for family movie night. Fun! What can I say. It was a full day!

Sunday I started again at 6am and did not stop until I was done with the base layer.

How to Make a Slate Patio | How to Build a Slate Patio
6am Sunday Morning - Time to Make the Donuts
...also you can see my Screening Rails

Steps to a Proper Base Layer of Crusher Run:

When laying out your base you want an overall base of at least 4 inches to protect you from frost heave. So I am using 2.5 inches of crusher run and then 1.5 inches of stone dust (next weekend).
  • Lay out landscape fabric over the dirt
  • To get the 2.5 inches of crusher run I laid some 8 foot sections of 2x3's on the ground about 4 feet apart to form my screening rails.
    • Note all 2x3's are really 1.5"x2.5"
      • So they give me my 2.5 inches in one direction and then next weekend I will lay them flat for the stone dust that will add another 1.5 inches = 4" overall base.
    • Note the 2x3's are stiff - so they will even out any dips you had in your dirt from digging. So in some spots your base will even be deeper, which is good. 
    • After I dumped enough crusher run in an area I spread it out with my metal rake.
    • Then I would screen the crusher run by laying a 4 foot board between my two 2x3x8's and pulling the board towards me removing any excess rocks.
      • Screening with the 2x3's will also help give you a nice smooth surface for laying the stone dust on later. 
    • Then I tamped the area to compact the crusher run.
    • I removed the inside screen rail and filled the hole with more rocks then tamped again
    • I repeated this process in 4 foot wide sections until complete.
    How to Make a Slate Patio | How to Build a Slate Patio
    Voila! - Completed base layer

    Ready for next Saturday
    I will finish this project and this 'How To Lay a Slate Patio DIY' in the coming days (I hope).

    Karen and Lily secretly hoping the patio will be done for Mother's Day. I am not sure that will happen, but it won't be from a lack of trying!

    No comments:

    Post a Comment