Hey y’all. SVV here, reporting for duty. Kristin asked me to stop by and update you on the status of our home—and the labor intensive effort it’s taken so far—and since I’m not one to cross her, I thought I’d do
what I want what the woman said.
We’ve known for some time now that we wanted to enclose the acre lot with a fence all the way around. The reason is a fairly classic excuse for installing a picket fence: keeping our six-pound attack dog from charging folks like a braying hound from hell and to stop the randos from tromping through our yard on their way to the local funeral home.
Editor’s Note: As SVV wrote this, it actually happened upon a man and his son standing on our porch admiring the dental work! AGAIN. Apparently, there’s no such thing as trespassing when you own such a thing of beauty.
Building a fence is technically easy but physically hard time at Sing Sing: breaking rocks in the sun and all that. It’s 10 months since we’ve started the project thanks to some hiccups from the city zoning board, capricious weekend weather, our hectic travel schedule, and because digging 32 post holes and nailing up 240 feet of wooden slats is work! I also, if you look closely enough at the first image, harassed a really good carpenter and had him finish off the turret crown moulding and cedar shingles. One less point of entry for the squirrels and starlings. Three more to go on the backside…
We still have one long section left to build (26 more bags of concrete and 315 french gothic pickets, thank you) and then of course the painting, which will probably be the largest time killer but the most rewarding one, as well. And I’ll never paint it again. Observe, the before last spring:
In addition to saving a ton of greenbacks doing it ourselves, we’re also working on our triceps, so that’s a bonus. If you fold in the heavy machinery rentals required to drill into Tennessee “dirt,” we’ve saved about 40 percent from what a contractor would charge. A painter buddy told me that he would charge $3,200 for the painting alone.
Besides wearing gloves and steel-toed shoes, Kristin and I have been keeping track of our expenses for this project (and an Egyptian scroll worth of others) using Excel. I don’t know about you, but I use this program a LOT. While it’s more intermediate functions require a little bit of Googling to figure out, simple tables and additive tracking are a snap.
For a project this large and time-stretched, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds of expenses and minutia. I use a shared file that’s always accessible in the cloud so I can
stare in disbelief keep tabs on our expenses throughout the year, and Kristin can mull it over from wherever she is that given week.
Aside from the roof blowing off the first year we owned it and the waterproofing failures that I discovered once we started poking around, we’re pretty much on track for a house this old (est. 1899!).
Once we’ve completed the final side, we’ll take a paint brush to all these posts and pickets—our barn-raising weekend last November means that at least they’re all already primed, saving us a bit of work—but hopefully, with some nice weather on the horizon and a few solid work weekends on the calendar, Ella soon will be allowed to scamper around the entire perimeter without being corrected at every turn—and we’ll begin adding more fruits and herbs to the collection.