Cutting out a few steps is harder work than skipping a few steps

Our story so far: After months of effort, we’d arrived at the drywall phase of renovation in the 126-year-old Methodist church we were turning into our home.

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While the drywallers were doing their thing inside the church, Tyler got busy outside. Finally, the weather made the Great Outdoors inviting again, and Tyler began work on his Garage of Dreams.

In the way that other phases overlapped one another, Phase Six: The Garage was overlapping Phase Three: Drywall, Paint & Flooring. This was necessary for two reasons. First, the weather was finally nice again. Second, it was becoming increasingly apparent we weren’t going to be able to move into the church when we elected to wrap up our lease on the nearby rental house. It looked like we were going to have to move back into the camper, which we preferred to park on the cement slab of our future driveway and garage rather than a muddy yard.

This wasn’t an entirely unwelcome development given the nice weather. Recall that we were forced to move out of the camper in mid-November only because of snow and the imminent threat of freezing sewage pipes. On the other hand, it would have been convenient to move directly from the rental house into the church. But without the luxuries of finished flooring, countertops and closet racks in the church, we elected to take up residence in the camper again.

When deciding to purchase this particular church, the size of the lot was as appealing as the location. No churches came with attached garages, and some small churches offered no place to build a garage. When we contemplated the church in Pecatonica, Illinois, the garage we planned would have taken up all the open lot that came with the church. Though there was no parking lot or off-street parking with our 126-year-old Methodist church, the structure itself was situated on the front of a long triangular lot, which left lots of land for a garage with space left for a garden and other green space.

For several weeks, Tyler had been pacing and tracing the outline of his garage and driveway, collecting bids, consulting with the building inspector on setbacks and footings, and pricing creature comforts (like urinals and method of garage heating). Bids on outsourcing all the work ran high, so with his eye on the Tequila Budget, Tyler took on some parts of the project himself. He was ready to break ground.

Or at least break concrete.

The first step in his grand garage plan was to break up part of the concrete stairway from the basement. The straight stairway required a turn in order to be situated completely inside the future garage. The top four steps had to go.

jackhammered steps
Back steps, post demolition.

So Tyler rented a jack-hammer. And jack-hammered through several feet of concrete. His hired man St. Johnny earned his pay that day, hauling away the heavy chunks and digging a four-foot-deep hole to accommodate a new mid-stairway landing.

Tyler came home of the church that day in a state of exhaustion. After months of demolition and wall construction, he admitted that was only a warm-up. “I haven’t worked that hard in years,” he said at the end of jack-hammer day as he flopped on the couch, soon to be sleeping.

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Tomorrow: Some old dogs do have new tricks. Read about it here.

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