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Monday, May 16, 2005

The price of ignorance

Posted by: Hammer / 8:09 AM

Turns out, the price of ignorance is quite high. Ms. Hammer and I decided a few weeks back to tear down our sagging, rotting three season porch and put in a small cedar deck and a ground level paver patio. The demolition had its snags, but I relied on my brother-in-law and cousin to do the real work.

The patio came down in half a day and the deck was up before sundown. (There was sun that day. Also snow. April 30, look it up.) It took a week for me to put up the railing and the stairs. I missed a real learning moment during the stairs. I went to the lumber desk at Menard's and asked about "stair angles". These are brackets used to faster steps to solid stringers. The guy at the lumber desk had no idea what I was talking about. I explained what I was looking for and he told me to look by the joist hangers. Sure enough, there was a whole pile of stair angles ten feet from the joist hangers.

I was back at Menard's on Friday buying the patio fixings. Pavers, gravel, and sand. My instructions all described my sand and gravel needs in cubic yards. Menard's sells sand and gravel in 40 or 50 pound bags. A 50 pound bag of paver base is about 1/2 a cubic foot. I converted my 2-point-something cubic yards into 1/2 cubic foot bags. 108, as I recall. Two and a half tons of gravel, which I moved from the driveway to the back yard by wheelbarrow. Yes, I am that mighty -- and more.

I got totally screwed on the sand. I bought 55 bags of paver locking sand, which is some sort of space-age polymer to fill the cracks between your pavers. I'm sure it works great, but at $9 a bag, it's a lot more expensive than what I really needed -- coarse, unwashed sand. What I really needed was 2 bags of the paver locking sand and 53 bags of my regular old sand. Once again the lumber desk was no help. I was concerned about getting the right number of bags, so I asked: do I need 55 bags of this stuff for a 1 inch base? "Sounds right", was the answer.

The math, of course, was right. 55 bags of the paver locking sand would cover 160 square feet one inch deep. But I didn't need the paver locking sand to build my one inch sand base.

I dug the patio in the hail on Saturday (May 14, look it up. If God exists, he sure hates me.). Ms. Hammer and I poured and smoothed the gravel and sand Sunday (A nice afternoon. If God exists, he likes Ms. Hammer more than me). After pounding the gravel and screeding the sand, I realized that I had dug the original whole a quarter inch too deep. That meant I needed another 14 bags of sand.

That's when I actually read the bag for the first time. I realized I had paid a huge premium for something I didn't really need because I was ignorant of the difference between paver locking sand and coarse, unwashed sand. The price of ignorance is always high.

On the positive side, I will be able to return 10 or more bags of the expensive sand and replace it with the right stuff. Expect a post next week about the price of ignorance vis-a-vis the load capacity of a Honda Civic.

4 Comments:

I don't recall hearing about the new Hammermobile. What ever did you get after the acident?

By Anonymous Ba Ha Ha, at 8:54 AM  

After I smashed the 1997 black Civic 5 speed, I got a 1998 black Civic 5 speed.

By Blogger Hammer, at 9:00 AM  

So you admit culpability in the accident?

By Anonymous Ba Ha Ha, at 11:27 AM  

I admit nothing. The other driver, you may recall, crossed the divider then I drove into her rear end. I definitely smashed into her, but that doesn't make it my fault.

By Blogger Hammer, at 11:41 AM  

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