You Didn’t Have to Cut Me Off

Sorry, Gotye, but we wanted to.  Had to.  Did.  Cut concrete, that is.  For the basement windows to pass egress in the basement bedrooms at our first house, Ben hired a concrete cutting company.  When we decided to cut this concrete, we knew who to call.  A $300-400 bid wasn’t bad at all, so we made our appointment and got started a week later.  The process was interesting, and not only to the boys.  First, a metal guide gets bolted to the concrete.

Then the giant saw gets set in the track, hooked up to hoses, and starts cutting.

Following the guide, the saw moves on its own.  The guy, Pete, adjusted it along the way and changed directions until it cut completely through.

Once the bottom was cut, he switched the guides and cut the sides.  A nice shove and the concrete fell to the ground.

Over the weekend Ben and Sammy framed out the opening for a sliding door and double hung window.

Having installed a door and several windows made this easier and they had the new window and door in before the evening.

It’s a little more finished looking than last time, right?

And certainly different than what we started with.

Now the sliding doors are at the same height.

No more climbing up three steps to get to the wet bar, then down three more to get to the patio.  The back yard is looking worse than ever, but that means we’re one step closer to rebuilding.  Just a little more excavating, cutting down a tree, and waiting for spring to get started on our plans.  Speaking of plans, I figured it was time to share the ideas we’ve been tossing around.

(not to scale, just to give a picture)

Oye, that’s a lot to take in.  Let me explain.  Because our house is built on rock, there’s no way we could drill a well to water grass.  We’re far too cheap to pay for city water for green grass.  And Montana is too dry (especially this year) to keep grass green.  So, a large concrete patio should minimize dirt/dust in the house while giving us a space to relax.    Centered on the family room sliding door will be a pergola.  I’m thinking something simple and more modern than traditional.  Perhaps we’ll have an outdoor dining table under or we could go more toward an outdoor living room.  We’ll see where we land.  The rock stairs to no where will stay.

Some of the sandstone boulders we dug out will be used as a natural retaining wall.  But we carved out a larger area for a waterfall feature and a gas fire pit.

I’m thinking something rectangular like this bordering on the patio with moveable bench seating for maximum enjoyment.

A small stream will meander down the hillside to a waterfall with hidden storage pond below.  Hidden meaning we’ll use holding tanks to recirculate and keep an open pond from looking gross/filled with rocks deposited by little boys.

In the surrounding areas, we’ll add crushed limestone to further cut down on the dirt.  Drought resistant plants are on our list to add life and greenery.  Because the back yard connects to the driveway, a wooden walking path, or boardwalk, will connect the patio to a set of stairs down to the driveway.

Of course this is all subject to change as we gather inspiration, search out materials, and take measurements.

Yep, we’re officially crazy, but it should be totally awesome when we’re done.  My pergola dreams will be fulfilled.  What do you think?  What’s your dream for an outdoor space?  Are you already planning your spring landscape duties?

14 thoughts on “You Didn’t Have to Cut Me Off

  1. Wow! What progress! And I love your ideas for the backyard! It is all coming together!

    I can’t believe the concrete cutting only cost $300 to $400! I got a quote here in Wisconsin for simply an egress window and it was $800! My husband ended up renting a saw and doing it himself…a two day project and a lot of backache and heartache along the way!

  2. That is really coming together very nicely! You guys have way more guts than I do because I don’t know if I would be brave enough to attack all of that!

    I love the plans you have for the backyard and hope it works out for you guys! The waterfall idea is awesome! Great work and can’t wait to see what you guys rip apart next! 😉

  3. Ooooh, love those plans! I can sort of picture it already. I’m totally jealous of your backyard–we’re living in a garden-level apartment with no real outdoor space at all. Oh, well, at least we have 3 windows… 😉 (Man, that sounds way worse than it actually is! Haha.)

  4. I love your plans for the backyard! It will be absolutely perfect when it’s done. Nice job to Ben and Handy Sammy on the new sliding door. What a difference it makes on the overall aesthetic of the house, and it will be so much more functional.

    1. Hi Ariane!

      Thanks! We’ve discussed rain barrels or other storage methods for rain water, but Montana is usually so dry when you actually need the water. Our average annual rain fall is right around 14 inches, with so little coming in the summer months it seems. We’ll see what happens though. 🙂


  5. Wow! You guys have been busy! Can’t wait to see how your landscaping turns out! Our yard is in desperate need of something to keep the dirt from flying around and crushed limestone sounds like the winning ticket!

    1. Hey Desertdomicile!

      Ha, we’re constantly up to our elbows in work lately. 🙂 Hopefully that focus will carry into the house when the weather cools down. 🙂 Yes, the crushed limestone just might be what you need!


  6. Love the backyard plans! Your cute little illustration inspired me to get working on a plan for our yard, which also needs a major overhaul. You guys are so productive. Haha I feel like it takes us months to even get one project crossed off the house to-do list. Loving everything you have done to your house so far.

  7. I’m so jealous of your house, it’s beautiful! It’s my dream to do a renovation like this. But are you going to cut down the tree in the back? Agh, that always hurts to see 😦 I LOVE trees, the bigger, the more, the better!

  8. Such a huge difference! It looks soooo good! You guys really move around there. I am pretty sure since we have been back from our visit, I have only labeled something and used spray paint a few times. I love stopping by to light that DIY fire! 🙂


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