Blacktop is beautiful

As much complaining as I do about contractors and the trials and tribulations of life in a fixer-upper, I’m thrilled to be able to talk about a home repair/ improvement project that went utterly, amazingly right.

Last week, Mike called an asphalt contractor who came highly recommended. Our driveway has been deteriorating since we moved in 3 years ago, plus finishing the new retaining wall allowed us to extend the driveway 5 feet or so, and the gap just had a temporary gravel fill. We needed to do something.

We had no idea what to expect. Because of oil prices, asphalt has gone up 70% since last year. Same with shingles — a huge price increase (which we are seeing on my mother’s roof replacement project). We thought redoing the whole driveway was pie in the sky, and were prepared to just get some patching or sealing done.

The contractor came on Sunday — perfect because we were already outside working all day (that’s a story for another post. You’ve heard of the 18-hour bra; we have the 18-hour storm door). We liked him immediately — personable, knowledgeable. He told us the current driveway is really just a base coat — the top coat of asphalt had never been applied. (Hence the very stony, uneven surface and frequent loose gravel to contend with. One more thing previous owners didn’t do right that we are now paying for.) Luckily, the base was still in good enough shape to put a top coat on, but if we waited, it may have deteriorated to the point where it, too, needed to be torn up and replaced. UGH!

He quoted us prices for different options (whole job, partial job) on the spot, and, happily, they were less than we expected (though, presumably, much higher than they would have been last year). We agreed to pave the whole driveway on the spot. Again, this was Sunday.

Today, Wednesday, we have a whole new driveway! He showed up a day or two earlier than the original, incredible end-of-the-week date he gave us, at 8:00 a.m. as promised, and worked steadily until it was done.

Three days from estimate to finished, paid-for job. Three days. We have been waiting four months for the plumber to come back to repair the sewer. Four frickin’ months. (And we are now starting over looking for a new plumber, having wasted the whole summer waiting.)

Mike and I are tickled pink — or black. (We both said, “It’s a shame we have to drive on it.”) Who would have thought something as mundane as paving would give such a boost? But in the weary, never-ending drudgery of life in fixer-upperhood, this is like Christmas and birthday and anniversary all rolled into one. (And, given the cost, it might just have to be.)

But if you ever need a good asphalt contractor out this way, I can help! And if you can get us a good plumber…why Mike and I may just be ecstatic enough to cover all holidays for the next 5 years.

Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
                                    ~ G. K. Chesterton

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