We are a family of do-it-yourself-ers. Oh, it doesn't always start out that way. Here's how it usually goes:
1. Decide we want something done.
2. Get a professional to give us an estimate.
3. Be shocked by the incredibly high estimate.
4. Decide that we can do it ourselves.
We did a lot of things ourselves when we were building our house. My husband did all the wiring and plumbing, and we worked together doing all the painting and laying the hardwood floors. And of course we weren't about to pay someone fifteen or twenty dollars an hour to clean up after the carpenters, so we did all that too.
The house was finished in January and we were in a hurry to move in, so the outside--lawn, flowerbeds, etc.--was not completed when we moved in. The first summer, we seeded the yard, poured sidewalks around the front and sides of the house, and landscaped those flower beds. The next summer, I designed a deck for the back of the house, and our oldest son built it (I'm sorry I don't have pictures of the completed deck to show off his excellent craftsmanship). We had not yet landscaped around the deck, though, when disaster struck.
We'd gone to early church one Sunday, come home and grilled out for lunch, and then had gone into town. Somehow, the air vent on the bottom of the grill came open, spilling hot coals out onto the deck, catching it on fire. If not for a wonderful neighbor who cared enough to stop and check as he was driving by and saw the smoke, we'd probably have lost our home. As it was, it destroyed the deck and did some damage to the back of the house, as you can see in the pictures below (The white stuff in the pictures is not snow--it's the foam sprayed by the fire department).
Anyway, to make a long story short, we tore down the deck and took a year to decide what to put in its place. We decided on a raised patio, drew out our plan, got an estimate, recovered from the shock of it, and began work on it late last summer. The only problem was, by the time it was finished, there was no patio furniture to be had (unless we wanted to pay thousands of dollars for it as a specialty store, which we didn't) and no plants left to landscape with.
So, this summer's project was to complete the patio, which we spent the first two weeks of my summer break doing. Tune in tomorrow for pictures of the completed project.