December 29th, 2009

These terrible images were shot during our home inspection almost two years ago. Unfortunately, not that much has really changed with the exterior of The Brick House as we move on into 2010.

Heretofore I dub 2010 “the year of the exterior”.

So hey, lets start off with the DRIVEWAY.


Here is my awesome drawing denoting the super rad cement pads that would run up the length of the driveway with 1″ crushed rock gravel as a main base. HA HA HA – awww dreaming. Yeah, that was way too expensive. Quotes ranged from $6,000 – $20,000 dollars. What!

Our DIY budget was $1,000 to do almost 3,600 sq. ft. of driveway. Yeah, I know. Stupid low.

Here is what we did…

Step 1

-Rent a tractor for one day.

-Let the Boy go hog-wild grading all our fancy dirt.
(BTW, this was his first time on a tractor and he did brilliantly)

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There was a surprising mess…

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WTF, giant cement blob. You were a pain in the ass.

Step 2

-Take preventative measures with geotextile fabric. It’s permeable, prevents erosion, keeps gravel in place and helps stop weeds. Keeps that gravel looking fresh and not ghetto.

-Roll out 3,600 sq. ft. of this stuff and stake it down into place.

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Step 3

-Move 50 tons of locally sourced 1″ crushed river rock. By hand. 50 TONS. F*ck you gravel.

-Thank your mom, Carpenter Craig, two friendly neighbors, and the Boy for helping spread gravel all day. Thank you guys.

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Yeah. BY HAND.

Step 4

-Compact that crap down. (We used our cars)

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Well, almost. There is still the issue of that large mound of gravel in the middle. It’s the leftovers for another project we are currently working on…teaser.

The DIY cost break down:

Tractor Rental: $235.46
Geotextile Fabric: $250.13
50 Tons o’ Gravel: $610.00

Driveway Total: $1,095.59

All in all we finished on budget and on time. It took two full days with a lot of help, a little rain and a ton of aspirin.

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  1. Patricia Ann on 12/29/2009:

    Damn. That's a huge backyard/driveway.

  2. brismod on 12/29/2009:

    We are in awe because that is a massively huge job. You guys have done well to get that done in two days.

  3. Raina Cox on 12/29/2009:

    Dropping my jaw and tipping my hat.

  4. Anna at D16 on 12/29/2009:

    For real, you guys are amazing. I am in awe.

    Just curious – how much of an approval/permit/BS process did you have to go through to do something like this?

  5. rae on 12/29/2009:

    very nice! my driveway sucks and i need to do something about it – excellent ideas!

  6. nkp on 12/29/2009:

    That is an amazing amount of work, not that I have to tell you. Damn, my shoulders ache just looking at it. Looks like it was well worth the effort, though. In fact, it looks great!

  7. modernemama on 12/29/2009:

    Wow. Just wow.

  8. Cole on 12/29/2009:

    wow, that is a ton of gravel. I'm very impressed.

  9. S@sha on 12/29/2009:

    Yikes, that new fence between your house and the neighbor's looks really orange… is that a trick of the light? Looks like you did a great job on the driveway!

    I'm going to guess that you didn't have to go through any permit process for this? There was no actual digging, other than removing that chunk of old concrete, and therefore it was basically just resurfacing a driveway. Unless you live in a neighborhood with covenants or historic preservation regulations there aren't usually limits on what you can do to your driveway, and from how you describe your location that doesn't sound likely. There might be regulations in the desert about run-off vs. permeable surfaces, but California actually seems pretty bad about that.

    Again, looks great!

  10. Anonymous on 12/29/2009:

    you go girl! totally impressed.

    I filled all my landscaping with gravel last year to replace all the nasty mulch. I feel your pain! Wash down the aspirin with a little johnny it helps 🙂

  11. Samantha on 12/29/2009:


  12. Heather from Monroe Avenue on 12/29/2009:

    Rock on! Hee hee… but seriously I am impressed. It looks great and that is an amazing amount of work to accomplish in two days.

  13. April on 12/29/2009:

    Crack it open (cement blob)–maybe it's a time capsule! 🙂
    Driveway looks great, impressive. I think I would have wanted to give up.

  14. Lisa on 12/29/2009:

    I can't believe you moved all of that rock! Congrats

  15. lisa mertins on 12/29/2009:

    beautiful and inspiring! thanks for the cost breakdown especially. you're my idol.

  16. THE BRICK HOUSE on 12/29/2009:

    No permit BS at all. Since we were really just resurfacing and not building, digging or changing anything drastically it was all a'ok.

    plus his town is ghetto as shiz…there is no preservation or really much of a permit process.

    One day I should really do a town tour – it would be HILARIOUS.

  17. THE BRICK HOUSE on 12/29/2009:

    Oh – yeah that fence is hella orange. It was free and it is a Frankenfence.

    It is on notice. Just add it to the list of stuff to deal with.

  18. Anonymous on 12/29/2009:

    neighborhood tour, please! please, please.

  19. Anonymous on 12/29/2009:

    Pianoart here…. Very well done indeed! I remember having to move just 50 cubic yards of sand, on a beach site, by hand, via wheelbarrow, and n.e.v.e.r wanting to see anything like that again so, again, well done.

  20. ravennagirls on 12/29/2009:

    that looks great!
    im jealous he got to use the tractor!

  21. Mina on 12/29/2009:

    I've got to tell you, this post is an inspiration and a boost for me! My husband & I are in the process of renovating our home and adding a second floor. We're just beginning and I honestly see no end in sight. But, thanks for sharing. Makes me feel so much better!!

    Warm Wishes,

  22. sarah on 12/29/2009:

    Sweet driveway.

    Just curious: What do you use all of that driveway area for?

  23. THE BRICK HOUSE on 12/30/2009:


    Really it's for our eventual resale – most of the town and neighborhood have multiple cars and "toys" like boats, RV's, trailers…so the locals advertise it as RV storage. Yuck.

    Most people park in the front yard since they don't have the luxurious gravel storage area we now made. My neighbors have 13 cars parked around the front of their property. Ghetto – ville. I HAVE to do a town tour. The Scientology center is the best!

  24. Anonymous on 12/30/2009:

    All I want to do is praise all the hard work. Unbelievable! And nice neighbors to boot!

    But why does the gravel cover the entire backyard, too? I understand a gravel driveway, but a gravel backyard?

  25. THE BRICK HOUSE on 12/30/2009:

    That's not the entire backyard.

    We have MORE backyard that is being turned into the patio/entertainment area.

    The entire property is 10,000 sq. ft. The driveway is a big part of it, but not all…

  26. Juli on 12/30/2009:

    Wowza. That is a lot of work and it's amazing how you manage to stick to such a tight budget. I was wondering why you needed such a ginormous driveway…13 cars parked out front you say? Sounds like your tease of a town tour will have to come to fruition. But seriously, good idea planning for the future owners. And can I just say that the house looks a gazillion times better painted white. It's been said before but I had to say it again.

  27. Juli on 12/30/2009:

    Also, that's pretty sweet that you live in what looks like perpetual fall all winter. It is so damn cold up here, and no snow to make it pretty…

  28. Peggy on 12/30/2009:

    Holy shit! You guys are friggin' amazing. Is there anything you can't do? 3600 square feet? 50 tons? I can't wait for you guys to arrive at my apartment. It should take you all of about two minutes to paint all 400 square feet of the bitch.

  29. Anonymous on 12/30/2009:

    well done and a standing ovation. you did a great job and thinking ahead with putting in all that extra parking…well worth the 2 days. TWO DAYS! INSANE. It does look lovely and am jealous of the orange tree.

  30. sarah on 12/30/2009:

    Yes to the town tour. I can stomach it. It will probably make me nostalgic for the dump where I grew up.

  31. sarah on 12/30/2009:

    Oh, and if you live in retirement hell, the "RV storage" makes sense. It seems like every retired person at some point or another buys an RV and vows to finally tour the country with their newfound free time–but it never happens, hence the storage part.

  32. Tami on 12/30/2009:

    Wow. You are my hero!

  33. Alice at Simply The Nest on 12/31/2009:

    Holy. Living. F**k. Yeah, I pretty much have a Neil Armstrong reaction to all your posts, but especially this one. Nice work.

    Town tour sounds awesome – bring it on. I live on a dinky little Victorian street in England – I think the neighbours would riot (politely, of course, we're English) if we tried to park an RV in front of our house. Which is fair enough, really, cos it would probably block about three people's driveways.

  34. Anonymous on 01/01/2010:

    Aspirin nuthin, you deserve Vicodin after that push. Well done, it looks great

  35. Anonymous on 01/04/2010:

    Looks great. Does it reflect heat and make it hotter?

  36. Alex on 09/09/2010:

    Wait, was that ‘fancy dirt’ there in the ‘before’ picture or did you have to truck that in? We want to do exactly the same thing to our driveway, but we’ll first need to tear up all our awful cracking cement.

  37. Rebecca on 11/03/2010:

    As a resident of your town, may I add there are actually some very nice parts? Try the drive up to Simpson Park, there are some beautiful houses there. Also, the outskirts of town have some wonderfully landscaped and unghetto places. I moved here a year ago and found these while looking to buy. Just FYI. Yes, I know it’s not so great in many parts, but it’s really not 100% terrible. 🙂 I grew up in a much worse “ghetto,” so just a reminder things could get/be worse!

  38. HotRod on 12/15/2013:

    Quick question, did you remove the old concrete driveway, or did you just put downfill dirt and grade it out over the existing concrete?

  39. thank you for thinking this up and writing this down. my world will be happier and more beautiful thanks to you. i was close to giving up because every quote we got to stone over our tiny back yard was $8000 PLUS! but woman, if YOU and YOURS can move 50 tons of gravel, I and MINE can move 30 tons of gravel. completely inspired. my people may curse this day, but there will be stone in my back yard soonish! now i just need to choose between brown pea gravel and crushed gravel. we won’t need to drive on ours and i like the feel of pea gravel on bare feet… but crushed is less than half the price. thoughts? and XOXOXOX…

  40. PINTEREST LOVER on 08/15/2014:

    okay darling….whew! same issue here….would recommend having the pic that shows the before and after to have as your pinterest option….you would get tons more “traffic”….ha,ha….cuz it is your “drive”way….okay, anyway…..u must give more pic options on your “pinterest button” — listen, darling, when you are great…you must share, share, share….smiles

  41. julie on 08/25/2015:

    props to you. I grew up in Hemet! found your website via looking for prefab modular homes (and ran into the “dollhouse” made for weekend getaway). you’ve done fab things for that desert community by creating such a stylish, affordable home.

  42. Laurena on 03/02/2016:

    I just have to say you crack me up!!! “F you gravel!” I’m going to be sending a lot of anger the gravel way today. I love your style and ideas. Going to purchase a sconce from one of your posts!

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