Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Short Version of the Driveway Project

Since May 8th, we've been having the driveway replaced, as well as the main water line to the house.  It's been somewhat stressful.  Anyway, it's done.  If you're interested in my stream of consciousness record of the process, it's in the next post down.  It's really long; I wanted to have the narrative of the project in one place, rather than weeks of postings.

Here's what it looks like.

The gate will be returned in due time, after being shortened and refurbished.

The Really Long Version of the Driveway Project

Last February we met with Phil from Blue Ribbon Pavers and signed a contract to have pavers placed over the existing driveway.  Phil assured us that the driveway would be the perfect substrate for pavers because it's so hard.  It would be a five day job - easy peasy.  We were supposed to start May 13.  Phil called on the 7th and said they would be there the next day.  Ok, fine, whatever.

May 8 - Wednesday

Plan A was to break up the stamped concrete next to the garage and at where the driveway meets the street. They were taking out some concrete so the pavers would be at the right height to preserve the slope of the driveway.  After removing the stamped layer, it was discovered that there was a whole other concrete driveway under there.  The paver guys were not happy about this.

Later, the front loader arrived.

May 9 - Thursday

Thursday morning Plan B went into effect; they started digging up the entire driveway, without talking to us first.  Just like that the scope of the project doubled.  Jim went out to see what they were doing, and they were doing this.

It appears that whoever built this house 20 years ago did not spend any money grading.  Instead, they poured a lot of concrete and used that to level and create the slope for the driveway.  This doesn't strike me as a good building practice.  Unfortunately, it's one of those things you don't know until you find out.

On the left is the wall that one side of the gate attaches to.  The wall is firmly sitting on top of the bottom layer of concrete.  The front loader can not be used here.  We've been told that they're going to use a jack hammer to remove the stamped layer and leave the concrete base.  That leads us to the question of why in the name of all that is holy, did they feel it was necessary to take both layers away?  No explanation has been given.  We wonder if perhaps they broke it by accident and realized that it would all have to go.

May 10 - Friday

Friday the front loader guy was back, finishing demolition and then loading two trailers with debris.  There's a lot.  Notice the thickness of the concrete.

During the day, it became clear that the agave was a gonner.  Multiple passes were made close to it, and things just got worse for his arms.

Senor Delores drove by, stopped and made a joke that they could not haul that much refuse.  We asked him if he could take out the agave.  One of the guys who was in the yard trying to fix the water main they had broken was dragooned into service to lift the ball into their truck.  It was a good thing for them.

Yep, that's the main water line for the house.  It's PVC.  Apparently the builder was a complete and total idiot because he used PVC and not copper, and he buried it under two layers of concrete.  He did not bury the first five feet or so of the line in the ground. We're sort of surprised it lasted as long as it did.  When front loader guy picked up the concrete over the line, the water line came up attached to the concrete.  A paver guy called in by front loader guy tried to do a field expedient repair, but not being a plumber, he used the wrong kind of glue.  We called an emergency service and they came out and put in a temporary line to the house.  Monday they will have to retrench the entire run, bore under the wall that hides the air conditioner unit and replace the entire mashup of pipes that goes into the house and the sprinkler system.  If they work on it, it has to be according to code, so it is what it is.  We are talking tall dollars here.  In some respects, it was good, we're getting it done right while it's exposed, but it's an expensive pain where we sit.

That afternoon, the guy with the big truck came and cleaned up all the remaining concrete.  Friday was the day Chavez Wrought Iron was supposed to come and remove the gate for safe keeping.  They did not show, they did not call.  This guy came very close to the gate more than once.  Fortunately the gate survived.

After putting all of the concrete in the truck, he tried to drive the front loader out of the side of the driveway that is dug down the deepest, instead of moving his truck forward and going out the shallow side.  He left some pretty deep ruts in the driveway bed and broke off chunks of the street.  We're not at all happy about that, either.

Saturday and Sunday there were no work people on site.  Phil has been notified that he can't deliver gravel and sand until the plumbing is fixed.

Monday - May 13

I called Chavez at 0900 hours.  The woman on the phone said she would call Albert Jr. as to why no one showed on Friday.  He allowed as how he'd been waiting for a confirmation of the appointment since it was made in February.  I thought that the phone call I'd made on Tuesday (5/7) confirming I was on the schedule would have been sufficient, but apparently not.  Albert Jr. is now scheduled to arrive at noon.

The plumbers showed up at 9:30. Albi worked all day alone.  I really thought there would be two of them.  He's from Africa.  Another guy at the company is from Bulgaria.  They're very global for a plumbing outfit.  I wonder if they're still unionized.

Two men from Chavez came shortly after noon.  It's a good thing there were two, that gate is too heavy for one person to carry.

Albi is very strong.  First he used the concrete saw to get rid of a bunch of concrete in front of the wall.  That's a big saw.

Then he trenched.  He used a jackhammer to break up the caliche, then he had to stand in the trench and shovel.  The whole thing was made so much worse by the presence of roots from the palm trees.  Those things have been putting out roots for 20 years.

The paver dudes have taken their trailer which was parked down the street and gone elsewhere.  One wonders how long it will take to get back on their schedule.  This project is just sucking the life out of me.

Tuesday - May 14

Albi trenched most of the day.  It amazes me that he was sent out on this job alone.  Early afternoon he called for help getting the main water line in and through the hole they had bored under the wall
This is how the copper arrives, it's flexible.

New pipes bringing water to us.

They finished about 6:00.  The next step is inspection by the city.  Someone is supposed to call and request it.  After that the trench is back filled and we return to the original project.

Wednesday - May 15

Jim called our point person at the plumbers to ask if we were on the schedule for the city inspectors today.  She "hoped" that was the case but didn't know.  Since she was on a call to rope in a new client she couldn't deal with it at the moment.  So, as of 9:48 this morning we don't know if someone is coming or not.  It is beyond me why they do not have an established process to a) finish the work and b) call the city.  Well, Jim just called the point person.  The city is not notified, further; although they applied for a permit, they didn't receive the permit.  Until there is a permit number there can be no inspection.  So nothing is happening today.  Apparently inspection is scheduled for Thursday, and trench back fill is on Friday.

 Thursday - May 16

I actually engaged in some magical thinking and speculated that today would be a low stress day.  Inspectors show up, approve project, we're one step closer to the end ... right?  Hah!  Double HAH HAH HAH!!  Jim had the idea that we should run the sprinkler system and make sure the new fittings did not leak.  Good thing.  One of the front loader drivers crushed the black conduit pipe and the PVC sprinkler line in it.  That line runs across the driveway.  This became apparent when running zone two.  The damage was about 2 inches from the stack of pavers on pallets, so I texted Phil to send someone who could drive the front loader and move the pallets.  Phil tried to give us a stack about "this is what happens when we don't know where things are."  No, this is what happens when you don't take the time to locate the utilities prior to digging up a driveway.  Anyway, he sent one of his guys out who is allegedly fixing this.  We'll find out tomorrow when we turn it on again.  This is  sucking the life out of us.

Here is the new, repaired line.

The country inspector did show up at 4:45.  We passed.

Friday - May 17

Fortunately, Albi came early today.  He arrived at 8:30 in the morning and got started back filling of the trench.  By 10:25 he had the trench pretty much done and was working to clean up the area around the air conditioning unit.  We had previously told Phil that the yard would not be available to him until Monday.  When I was walking back from surveilling the agave, this is what I saw down the street.  It was Phil's guys, delivering dirt to the wrong address!  They saw our street name and just came here, instead of noting the street number.  The people down the street are having a wall built in the back of the house.  All materials will have to be transported via wheel barrow.

The front loader is helping to lift up the trailer.

 The load is dumped in the driveway.  This is just before they rechecked the address.

Pallets of pavers had to be moved to make room for work on Monday.

Welcome to our construction site.

Monday - May 20

We texted Phil about 10:00 this morning to ask if we would have a crew out working today.  His response was no, probably tomorrow.  Probably.

Tuesday - May 21

We texted Phil about 10:00 this morning to ask if we would have a crew today.  He actually called and said it would be Thursday or Friday.  Why didn't he tell us that yesterday?  After Jim hung up, I called him back and asked how long would it take after starting; five days.  He started to get a little defensive about how his crew couldn't wait for my plumbing job to finish (whose plumbing job?) and they'd moved on.  I let some irritation into my voice and said I'm trying to schedule a furniture delivery and I need to know when you'll be done.  I don't believe five days.  It was five days to put the pavers over an existing drive way.  A lot of fill and sand are going to have to be brought in to get the grade right.  Plus, they still have to get the walk to the front door out.  We're supposed to be leaving June 15 for Utah, I wonder if that is going to happen.

Wednesday - May 22

Phil texted at 8:02 that a crew would be there in a few hours.  At 8:25 he texted that they were on their way to the house.  At 9:30 they arrived.  The last time we spoke to a crew, the plan was to take the stamped concrete layer off the walkway to the front door and leave the bottom layer intact.  Now they aren't taking anything off on the walkway.  I'm not happy about this because it raises the walkway three inches above the yard.  It's a trip hazard. It also means more has to be cut off of the gate.
While talking to Phil I made it clear I did not want them to kill the bougainvillea.  Losing the agave was painful, but inevitable after it was hit so many times with the front loader.
At present, they're out with jackhammers.  Sections of our walls are sitting on the concrete slab they're jackhammering.
Part of what we ordered (back in February) were ten lighted pavers.  They're not cheap!  Today's crew had no knowledge what so ever that these were included.  Fortunately Jim had the conversation, so they'll be running wire for the lights.  The fitness program is out the window as we hang around the house, over seeing things.
So, sand was delivered.  Some pavers are down - but more sand is required.

The guy in profile is running the compacting machine.  It makes the house vibrate a little.

Thursday - May 23

The crew arrived at 7:00 as promised.  Yesterday afternoon another load of sand was delivered so they had material to work with.  These guys are good.  They work hard and they are diligent.  The flatness they achieve in the sand is very impressive.

Look at the left side vs. the right.  They shovel the sand in and then drive the compactor over it.  Then they shovel more sand and drag a board across it.  The board runs along those two poles that are in the dirt.

More pavers were delivered today.  The front loader is in Oro Valley, so they're taking them off the truck by hand.  This whole process is incredibly manual.

This is impressive.  Remember they left both layers of concrete on the entry way walk.  The driveway was taken down to dirt.  They've made a slope that goes out to the bougainvillea, and there is more slope off to the right to get to the level of the driveway.  The wire on the right is for four paver lights.  They're lights that are placed in the walkway and in the driveway.

This crew is a good crew.  I'm glad we got them and not the first crew.

Friday - May 24

The crew arrived at 0700 hours today.  It was hotter than it has been.  There was another delivery of sand.  More pavers are on the ground.

Tomorrow we will hose off the bougainvillea.  It's so dusty, I'm concerned that it can't photosynthesize. 

Tuesday - May 28

The crew arrived at 7:15.  They proceeded to tell Jim they could finish today.  HAH!  Double HAH HAH HAH!  I'll be surprised if it's by Friday.  Much has been done, but they've got a way to go.

The edges that don't butt up against anything allegedly will have concrete applied to hold them in place.  We haven't seen any concrete yet.  They did bring asphalt, to do the edge next to the road.

The edge away from the house will have to be held in place.  Also, they've said that two or three flagstones will have sand placed under them to raise the level and decrease the trip hazard.

This is in front of the garage.  We do not know what the purpose of this line is.

Wednesday - May 29

They made a lot of progress today, but they are not done.  They worked from 7:00 to 4:00 which is a long day considering the physicality of the work.

They had concrete with them today.  It had to be mixed with shovels in the wheel barrow.  I've done that (a very long time ago), it's really difficult.

The concrete is troweled in to fence in the borders of the driveway.  The wire on the left is for the pavers that light up at night

This guy is cutting pavers with the paver saw.   We also watched him put the saw on the driveway and hold bricks up to the blade to trim them.  OSHA would probably not look kindly at that - good way to lose a finger.

The right most flagstone (above)  is the one that has to be raised to the level of the paver so that the elderly do not trip and fall.  I really wish they had taken this concrete out but they didn't.  The levels would have been easier and the gate would not have had to be shortened.  It's behind us, and it is what it is.  The height disparity is easier to see here (below).

Thursday - May 30

The crew arrived bright and early at 6:15.  Phil wants them done so they can move on to other jobs.  

Nico got a good slope on the pavers leading to the walkway.  They're in concrete so hopefully they will not break when the landscapers roll a loaded wheelbarrow over them.

The rock guys will have to come back with more rock and fix the grades, but they do not create drama or stress.  So, that's it.

 The End

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Seeds and Birds

This is something I have not seen in the nine winters we have spent in Tucson.  The trichocereus bloomed, and then it made seed pods.  All the other flowers we've seen have just dried up and fallen off.  This plant is setting seed.  How cool is that?

Look pretty much dead center.  See the eye?  It's a baby dove.  He's in a terrible dove nest made of twigs, in the arms of a cactus.  One wonders how mom gets in there to deliver chow.

This is a terrible picture of a Northern Cardinal.  He would not hold still long enough for the camera to focus on him.

More Oriole.

More doves.

Summer's back!  We're supposed to have triple digits by the weekend.  However, given that we're not in Kansas, I will not be complaining about the temperatures.

Mr. Mueller Speaks

This is what the Special Prosecutor said today.

‘If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.’

That pretty much sums it up.

Monday, May 27, 2019

The Sad Agaves

It was really windy yesterday, there were big gusts coming through all afternoon.  It was hard on the agaves.  This poor plant hit the deck.

They don't have that much of a root system to support the flower spike.  There's a lot of weight aloft.

This is a big one over by the community center.  Things are not looking good for it.

Same plant different angle.

The ground is cracking, the roots will be out soon if the winds don't die down.

We've been riding the mountain bikes in the morning, it's pleasantly cool (although breezy) but there are no bugs since we're moving faster.  We rode up a jeep road into the Boy Scouts' Campground.  There are dirt roads and campgrounds that are extremely rustic.  I'm not sure when it's open, it's too hot now.

This is an agave in a newer neighborhood that's still standing.

This is a really cool picture taken north of Seattle.  They had some major thunder and lightning.  Notice the lenticular clouds foreground.

That's it, sad agaves and a lot of wind.