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Creative Destruction (We Hope)

Bobcat Jackhammer 1 Cropped - 500 Wide.jpg

I had hoped to write more about the Cayman Islands today, but we learned soon after rising that the Big Duntemann Concrete Project would begin elevenses. And so it did.

Those outside my inner circle know that we’ve been having concrete issues since four months after we moved in. Actually, as soon as the first big rain happened circa May 2004, our front walk caved in. The developer replaced it. We were good for a few months, but toward the end of 2004 the driveway started cracking. By early 2005 it was looking serious, and not long after it started looking serious, the developer vanished. (Coincidence!) So we had the driveway mudjacked at our own expense in the summer of 2005.

Peace reigned for a few years. By 2008 the driveway had begun to crack again, and by 2010 was rapidly descending into rubble. Carol was taking care of her mom in that era, so we didn’t have the bandwidth to confront the problem–and we were in Chicago as much as we were here. Just after the Taos Toolbox workshop in July 2011, the gas riser pipe on the street side of our gas meter cracked after being pulled down into the settling soil for seven years. Toward the end of 2011 we had to have the lower level slab mudjacked, which destroyed the carpeting and made a mess of our lower level generally. I pulled my left supinator badly trying to move boxes filled (carelessly) full of books. I like what we have on the lower level now, but man, getting here sucked.

After Jackhammering 1 - 500 Wide.jpg

So at last we’re having the topside concrete bashed out and replaced. It was funny to watch the Bobcat jackhammer work on the concrete slab. In many spots, the bam-bam-bam was not sharp but hollow-sounding. After a few hits, the jackhammer tip broke through and went down five or six inches instantly, which suggests–nay, shouts–that there were six inches of dead air under the slab.

My driveway now looks like a bombing range, and will for what might be a couple of days yet. At some point (soon?) the dump trucks will come, schlep out the rubble, and then bring back roadbase fill to bring the area up to compaction code. After that, the rebar and the pouring can begin.

We’re having the front porch slab cut out and manually removed as well, which means that getting in and out of the house is going to be problematic for a few days, especially given Carol’s ongoing recuperation from three foot surgeries. The cars are parked on the street, and the freezer is reasonably full, as is the dog food bin. Concrete cocooning? Hey, I’ve got steaks, wine, red peppers, and a grill on the back deck.

We’re ready.


  1. Tom Roderick says:

    Too bad the domestic use of high explosives is frowned upon. A few lines of det cord would have cracked that driveway up in no time — ok there MIGHT have been a little collateral damage. Good luck with your repairs and I hope they last forever this time!

    At least your drive wasn’t 50 yards + long. I am going to have one of those to repair before I can do anything with the house I inherited from my dad.

    Cocooning occasionally can be therapeutic. I have wondered how some of amazing things that were done by people in the 1800’s or before got done ( First order Fresnel lens design comes to mind ). Then I realized they didn’t have quite as many distractions as we do these days.

    1. The demolition didn’t take very long, and the guy managed to bash out our front walk with a Bobcat-mounted jackhammer without destroying our sprinkler heads or flattening any of Carol’s landscaping. At least I hope the sprinkler heads weren’t destroyed. We’re still in winter mode here; a year ago we still had snow on the ground.

  2. Rich Rostrom says:

    Back in January the gas company replaced the feed pipes and meters to the buildings in my complex. Which meant digging 100 feet of trench from the street to just in front of my building.

    They put out notices; but on the first day, my upstairs neighbors came out almost screaming, what with the entire building quivering as the giant backhoe bashed chunks out of the frozen ground.

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