Trish Bongard Godfrey

My Fall Stonework Project

01 October 2012
Trish Bongard Godfrey

My front porch has been an embarrassment since we bought this house in 2008. But because we had other renovation projects, I decided to leave this, and the driveway – which is easily damaged by construction waste-bins – as the last of heavy-materials work to be tackled. Also, I have some great guys whom I really trust, and I wanted them to do the work when they had time, if possible.

Pictures are worth a thousand words, but to describe the old concrete slab serving as the front door landing as “hideous” is an understatement. My neighbour tells me the homeowner had probably built the landing about 40 years ago, by himself, and that he remembers shaking his head at the project, even then. It was a lop-sided, poorly constructed 3 inch slab of concrete and gravel on top of one unsupported, rotten sheet of 8-plywood. I feared it was a sarcophagus, and was delighted to find that the only dead things inside were the remnants of a wasps’ nest, an old milk bottle circa 1960, and women’s plastic sandals.

When Fernando and Alberto called me a few weeks ago to tell me they had a week to do the job, I ran out to Beaver Valley Stone to choose the stone materials and arrange for delivery. When the men arrived with their helper, Christiano, the next day, they began the site preparation (carefully removing some perennials) and demolition. I’ve rarely been so happy to see something disappear. We were not sure if we would be able to salvage any of the existing structure, but it quickly became apparent that the landing had been built on a hope and a prayer, not a stable sub-frost foundation. So the construction started with a big-dig to secure proper footings.

I love watching building projects in all phases. My sister-in-law recently said I was more like a man that way (I am not even sure that is true – but I enjoy it more than most people). But I actually think I just like watching the creative process, and construction of any kind is creative, practical, and relevant to our lives. Certainly watching these guys work with the stone and seeing how organized, skilled, and incredibly hard-working they are confirmed that. I think we tend to undervalue the people who work in trades until we really need a good one, and then we are deeply grateful for their precision and professionalism. I still have wrought iron railing to order, and if you know anyone to refer – please let me know!