There’s a back hoe in my front yard

I posted, “There’s a back hoe in my front yard,” as my Facebook status the other day. I couldn’t help following up with a comment that said, “At least it’s not just a regular ho. That would REALLY make the property values go down.”

Anyway, it’s never a good thing when you have to have one of these in your front yard:

Water started backing up in our basement around the first of the year, and we determined it was because our sewer pipe was blocked. We had it rootered, and the water was gone for a few weeks, but then it came back. They ran a camera and found that the pipe was broken in four places. Our house was built in the 70s, and at that time they used clay pipes. The clay was broken, and roots from a tree in our front yard had grown into it. The whole thing had to be replaced, from the front of our house to the sidewalk (about 50 feet) for several thousand dollars.

In order to replace it, they had to dig a giant trench in our front yard. They also had to remove two sections of our sidewalk and one of the bushes in our landscaping.

Now we have a giant dirt mound in our front yard because we are supposed to let it settle. If they just hauled the dirt away, we would end up with a big divet in a few months. When they did the work it was really wet, too, so the rest of the yard is torn up from the back hoe. I think we are going to have to re-seed and grade the entire front yard. Who knows how much that will cost.

I am so tired of dirt and mud right now. Our back yard is muddy, and our three dogs track it in when they come in and out. Our front yard is full of dirt and mud, and that just seems to migrate in, too, even though kids and dogs have been specifically told that it is OFF LIMITS. We have to vacuum at least once or twice a day, and Christian has had our little carpet cleaning machine out at least once a day.

Now we are trying to decide what to do with the front sidewalk and landscaping. Our house looks like a giant box. When we bought it, we knew we wanted to add a front porch to it someday. It will make the house look more appealing, and we think we would actually sit out there. We have a nice, flat driveway where the kids ride their bikes, and our neighborhood is a pretty social one.

We got an estimate this week though, and porches can get pretty expensive. On one hand, since we would probably end up moving the sidewalk and changing the landscaping once we add the porch, we should do it now instead of spending the money to replace the current sidewalk and landscaping. On the other hand, last year was a tough one financially, and I am nervous to spend money on something like this right now. We are getting a big tax check because the adoption credit is refundable this year, but maybe we should save it in case something else comes up (something not at all fun, like a sewer pipe). Also, we had planned to take a trip to this summer to go to Vietnamese culture camp and then add on a few days in New York City, and it would be a stretch to do the camp/vacation AND the porch. We’ve already mentioned the trip to the kids though, and I am afraid they might be disappointed. Zoe has been asking about Vietnam a lot lately, too, so we thought this would be a good year for culture camp.

If only I had a money tree in my yard, somewhere among all that dirt.


6 thoughts on “There’s a back hoe in my front yard

  1. Ugh!! I know you’ve been talking about the water pipe issue for a while and I’ve said this before but, oi, that sucks. Mud is one of the banes of my existence (along with Sand, and dog poop on shoes.) I wish you good luck my friend!

    • Mud, sand, dog poop… I’ve got it all. Now it’s supposed to rain all week. That’s good because it’s supposed to help that giant dirt mound settle, but bad because it means there will be more mud for the dogs and kids to track into the house!

      Oh, and the sand. Noah, who previously hated to get dirty, suddenly likes to dig in the sand and mud at school for “buried treasure.” His boots, gloves, and pants, and sometimes his hat and coat, have been coming home covered in the stuff! It is driving me crazy!

  2. Tracy if you do decide to add a porch-we have used (Frank) Spivey construction for big projects before, and they are amazing, responsible and priced well. Just make sure you call the company with Frank-apparently there is another Spivey out there and he is not nearly as good.
    We added a porch to our last house and it was one of the best decisions we ever made.

    • Jennifer-
      Thanks for the recommendation. I wanted to get another bid, but I had no idea who to go to. The guy we got the bid from is pretty high, but he is good. The guy who did the kids’ bathroom last year was priced lower, but terrible (14 weeks for a job that was supposed to take 2 weeks). Can you e-mail me a phone number to make sure I get the right guy? myminivanrocks (at)


      • I found him. He’s going to come out and give us an estimate, but can’t make it for two weeks. Bummer.

  3. That really sucks big time. Let me know which culture camp you are going to. You might not be too far from me and we might be able to at least meet up for a quick visit.

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