Wednesday, April 21, 2010

They Did WHAT?!

In between all of our other projects, big and little, that we've been doing, I've been doing something else.

In the backyard.

With a shovel.

And no, it's not landscaping.

When we bought the house, there was a raised area full of dirt and mulch, and topped with a homemade fire pit in the backyard. We didn't think much of it at the time, except that it struck us as a bit odd.

The odd raised area when we viewed our to-be home.

Several weeks after we moved in and the dirt area was already a waist-high "weed garden", our next door neighbor informed us that it used to be a really nice large concrete patio -

Until the previous owner showed up one day and unloaded a truckfull of dirt on top of the patio.

That was one of our biggest "They did WHAT?!" moments. Sort of right up there with disguising a shower as a linen closet and proudly telling us that they had "updated" the kitchen by installing brand new carpet in there. Yeahhh.

The same day that we learned of what was said to be underneath the inches of dirt, weeds, mulch and river rock, we then grabbed a shovel and started digging.

And guess what? Yup, our friendly neighbor was right. There is indeed a nice, albeit old, concrete patio under all that earth. Granted, so far the slab pieces are a little uneven in a few spots along with a few gaps, but nothing too major. Nothing major enough to warrant covering up with inches of dirt, which inevitably turns into a glorified weed garden. We've found that they thought ahead and even put weed block down - underneath the dirt and mulch, right over the concrete. Heaven forbid those pesky cement weeds grow, by golley!

I spent 8 hours digging up part of the patio on Saturday.

Oh, and guess what else I found under the mulch, rocks, dirt and weed block?

I was digging along, and instead of the constant scraping "tink tink" noise of the shovel hitting the cement (muffled a bit by the lovely weed block, of course), I heard something entirely different - a soft "thud thud" noise. I won't lie, the first thought that crossed my mind was that there was a coffin buried under there; that the previous owners had commited homicide and tore up a section of patio in which to place the coffin, and then covered everything up with a truckfull of free dirt they scored for free off of Craigslist.

Nope, it was garbage. And no, not your average garbage consisting of Taco Bell hot sauce and taco wrappings, like what we found tastefully tossed on our lawn on Monday morning when we woke up, causing me to briefly consider buying a camera to catch the culprits the next time they throw trash on our street. Not that sort of trash, but old wooden doors, wooden scraps, plywood, part of what looks like maybe a shower door or something. With rusty nails sticking out of it.

Have I mentioned yet that the previous owners' name is now an expletive in our household? Tearing out the carpet in the kitchen - "Ack, CHARLIE!". Discovering the hidden shower: "Gosh Darn it, CHARLIE!". Finding asbestos in the basement: "Ahh, CHARLIE!" Every backbreaking shovel full of dirt - "Grr, CHARLIE!" Finding wooden trash buried on top of the cement patio: "CHARLIE, CHARLIE, CHARLIE!"

My progress after 8 hours on Saturday.

So one of our other big projects is to finish digging up and unearthing our buried patio. What? Doesn't everyone have one of those in their backyard? And if you do, does yours come with complimentary wooden antiques? I'll bet my bottom dollar it's not nearly that cool. Or something.


  1. Chelsea, omg omg omg...that rascal Charlie omg!
    Are you sore or what from all of that digging? Well I'm happy for you that you have a hidden buried patio back there, sorry you have to go through all that AND weird trash on top of that (hey, better than a coffin because that's where my mind went too!). I can't wait to see what you do with it once it's unearthed!!

  2. Oh my gosh! It makes no sense to do what they did, but I'm glad you figured it out now instead of later! Jeez, I'm glad you guys are there to give the house the love it needs and hasn't been given with the previous owners!

  3. Hilarious! I couldn't stop laughing reading this post. Our previous owners did some weird stuff too, but that beats them out bigtime. I'm glad you found out about the patio! Also glad it wasn't a coffin under there....

  4. Ohmygosh, I was so sore from all that digging that I lived off of Aleve, Tylenol and Caffeine for the next 3 days. The best part? I get to go at it again this weekend! Woohoo! ;)

    And although it's alot of work and will need some TLC to get whipped back into Acceptable Patio Party Shape, we are still pretty excited that we even have a patio. But yes, at times like these (the wooden junk, the closet shower), we often wonder if the previous owners were "special", ya know what I mean?

  5. Ours came with a very large shed that we never saw until after the closing. When we started clearing the backyard. That was so overgrown it was hiding a shed. CHARLIE!!!!

  6. Too funny, your 'Charlie' is my "Boozie Susie!'
    Our backyard was also sporting some buried treasure. We had hundreds of flagstones buried everywhere. Apparently, the original owners of the house had a custom built ($$$!) flagstone retaining wall along the back fence and that yahoo Boozie Susie and her husband ripped it out and just scattered the stones anywhere they could, covered them with dirt and grass and called it a day. EVERY TIME we tried to plant something, we would hit a rock (or 12). So, the first summer in our house was a treat. But at least we remade the retaining wall for free!

  7. We have often cursed the crazy old man who built my parents' house. He definitely took a lot of shortcuts in his building plan and my parents have had to deal with a lot of stuff falling apart 50 years later. Our landlord at our rental house in Tulsa is nuts too (and her son is even nuttier). I got a little freaked out when our dog started finding random bones under the shed... I just don't even want to know what they came from.

  8. Hi! I was clicking away and just found your blog - I've had a great time reading all about your new home and projects you've started. I cannot believe you found all this trash!! People are funny....and crazy. Looking forward to seeing more of your great ideas and house journey.
    btw - I'm in Omaha also. :)

  9. What the heck??? Seriously, what were these people thinking?? Our disappointments have come more in what we HAVEN'T the original wood banister from the 20's and the Craftsman columns and hutch some previous owner took out. I don't know their names but I do curse them occasionally anyway. : )

  10. Wow, look at all these crazy "previous homeowner" stories! It makes me want to have a #1 Crazy Previous Homeowner idol contest, haha!

  11. I was cracking up after reading this post. Who buries their patio? I can't believe the carpet in the kitchen, gross! Have you seen that show Renovation Realities? The provious owner of your house reminds me of some of the people on that show.

  12. Sara -

    Thanks for stopping by! Yeah, the previous homeowners had some very odd tastes in remodeling. The father (his son was the owner) told us that they even replaced the broken toilet in the basement for us (before inspection), which was "something I wouldn't even do in my own house". I wanted to say to them - "Really? You wouldn't replace a BROKEN TOILET?"

    I'll have to check that show out! Although I'll wonder if I'll find it funny or horrifying, bringing back some bad memories, haha!



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