Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Remember how I said that the excavator was super awesome?

So after excavating out 16" of depth for the future gravel driveway (which is temporary, as gravel is considered "impermeable" and I can't add any more impermeable surface to my property.

But I augured various holes in the driveway to provide good drainage. I eventually covered his layer with geotextile fabric, so really this whole thing should drain well.

Once the excavation was finished, I used cinder blocks to provide a form for the grave. This way in case I need to pull all of the gravel, it'll be WAAAY easier.

And now begins the process of hauling load after load of gravel. Unfortunately I can't accommodate a full size dump truck due to the trees and the overhead lines running in front of the driveway, otherwise this would've been much much easier
First test of the new driveway! It passed, nothing cracked!
Eventually I learned about Handy Andy and his amazingly cheap rental trucks. I was able to rent a full size pickup with a dumping bed and that really sped up the process of filling in the driveway with gravel.

Finally! Now I can walk about 30 fewer feet per round trip! :)

Also, this now gives me a staging area for material, concrete pumps and machinery. So having this is really the first big thing I needed to do before I can continue with the final demolition.

Note that I compacted the layers of gravel, so it is a really sturdy surface. I used 3-4" spalls in a 12" layer, followed by clean 1 1/4" and finally 3/4" for the top inch. Each layer compacted separately.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

House Renovation - First Project Complete!

So the first step to a working driveway is the curb-cut.

The curb-cut is the portion of the driveway that is on city property. In Seattle, the planting strip next to the street is generally 10 ft and belongs to the city. The sidewalk is typically 5 ft and also belongs to the city. And if you do want a driveway, you are allowed to install a concrete "curb-cut" which provides access to your private driveway, but of course you must do the work yourself or pay an approved contractor to do it. Of course, I chose to do the work myself.

Here, you can see that I've rented both a concrete saw and a jackhammer. The excavation for the curb-cut is complete, the old curb has been jackhammered off and now I need to remove the portion of the street that intersects into the future curb-cut.

I started by making a 3 inch cut with the concrete saw along the line of the curb. I then used the jackhammer to break up the concrete along the line.

Here is a different view, you can see the excavation is complete for both the curb-cut and the driveway. You can see both the "dingo" walk-behind front loader to the left, and the upright compactor to the right.

Here, I've started working on the forms for the curb-cut.
The concrete truck has arrived! I think I used 8 yard of concrete. It was a special mix specified by the city. The driver was super helpful as I didn't know my ass from my elbow when it came to placing concrete.
Once the concrete is poured and roughly leveled, I began smoothing it out. It was really easy all told. Most of the work involved was in the preparation.

The only sections that were at all a little tricky were the flare out chunks on the sides. These needed to be built up and smoothed out.

And this was the final result! A new curb-cut to the city specifications, permitted and approved.

Note, that I used a broom finish to help with traction and tried to make it look nice.