Beaucoup de Neige: One of the tricky things we've been puzzling over throughout the build is how to make the front bit of the property look as smart and attractive as the rest of the building, given it's been basically a building site for the last few months. And especially given that the builders are only really moving out right now, well after the snows have really started to fall, and there is still much tramping, and lifting and great work boots stomping about. And the ground is currently as hard as concrete and impossible to do anything with at all. So it's been a bit of a ticking time bomb to try and get the walkway and stairs up to the property finished in time before the snows really start to fall, and balancing the timing so that the main bit of building work is done so the new stairs don't get utterly trashed. As well as smarten up the rest of the front so that when the snows start to melt it doesn't look really rubbish in March for our clients (more on that anon).
Hello Hard Labour: One of the things that has been a little odd about this whole process, is that given more time and space we'd like to have done more of this ourselves. We're both fairly hands on people, and if we don't know how to do something, we learn how to or throw ourselves into it and give it a go. I obviously completely realise that doing a whole renovation is outside even our expertise and skill set though (unlike some of our extremely talented neighbours - or indeed our other neighbours), but there are things that we would have liked not to have to oursource nonetheless. So in this case Darren was actually pleased to be able to do something physical and practical himself. Albeit difficult-ish and actually hard work, amongst everything else going on! And yes, it always seems to be digging. And, you know, the aforementioned frozen ground issue thing. So - anyway, sorting out this staircase going up to the chalet had Darren's name all over it.
Then and Now: He rearranged the old sleepers that were already there, and reinforced them to stop the wobble. He also had to buy a few new sleepers from the local builders merchants for the extra steps. We also had this rather hilarious moment trying to cut the metal rods to size at that builders merchants - not all that easy as it turns out. I have a video of Darren literally sitting on that lever thing (technical term) to try and get it to cut. Maybe shareable when we know each other a bit better...
The Bottom Part: Then he dug out the hillside, gravel and all, frozen concrete ground and all. He used a weighted shovel, a weighted pounder and a normal spade, borrowed from our neighbours to create an appropriate space for each step, position it correctly, then sunk the metal (or wooden) supports to keep the new step in place. I then pounded it into place with the weighted pounder to ensure its (hopefully) ongoing stability. Once the steps were positioned, pinned, and pounded in place, he then covered the ground in between with gravel to make the walkway less slippery.
The Final Result: Will be a non-treacherous, relatively non-slippy walkway up to the property from the car park. Except of course when it snows every single day for a week, and then there is actually relatively little anyone can actually do to prepare ahead of time. And those beautiful new steps will be nowhere to be seen…never mind.