This sounds like the start of an awful joke I know. For all of the light hearted jabs I make about my neighbors, I live in an awesome neighborhood and have the best neighbors on my right/south side ever. They are couple in their 60s who have been married for 30+ years with no kids. He’s a hippy, heavy metal rocker, city planner and she’s a quiet retired schoolteacher. They are the most unlikely couple but I seriously hit the neighbor jackpot with them. Somehow they also think I’m the best neighbor they’ve ever had which is nice yet confusing at the same time because at times, I think I’m kind of a crappy neighbor. She’s always sending him over with homemade goodies for every holiday and even sometimes just because. Since both my neighbor and I both have backgrounds in planning we just GET each other and understand the way the other thinks, which makes for zero property line disputes and happy neighbors. We even coordinate our tree trimming together because the tree company gives us a little bit of a break because they can access both of our properties at once.
Last September I put up a new back fence (east side of the house – not with my awesome neighbors) and driveway gate. The back fence was falling down and the driveway gate was wrought iron and see through and I was sick of people looking into my backyard. I really didn’t know the people who live behind me (east side) and I sensed they were not up to splitting a fence and so I just did it and it turned out great. The crew was in and out in one day and the work was top notch. I knew the fence that borders the west side of my house (between me and my awesome neighbors) needed to be replaced but it’s a weird situation which I’ll explain in a minute. For whatever reason, I honestly thought was going to be a bigger deal than it turned out to be and truthfully I didn’t feel like dealing with it when I was doing the other fence work. I also felt awkward about approaching my neighbors with little notice right before the holiday season with what I thought was going to be a costly venture. To explain the situation better, there are three different materials that line our properties, a cinderblock wall, wire fence that had ivy on it from their side that died and a wood fence. I’m not sure how these different materials came to be because they were all there when the house was purchased. There’s also a weird concrete curb that the wire fence is resting on. A few years ago the wood part of the fence had termites and I hired a “guy” to replace the fence for cheap. If you read my previous post you will know I’m done hiring “guys”. Instead of replacing the fence he just put a new one over the fence and now everything is leaning. It looked dumb but I was super over him at that point and just wanted him gone so I left it.
Fast forward to last October I had the back fence and gate work already completed and my neighbor and I were doing our biannual tree trimming. This is pretty much word for word how our conversation went down:
Me: I’m so glad we could coordinate on this biannual project once again. Thank you for being the project manager and coordinating with the tree company while I was out of town.
Neighbor: It’s just so much easier when there is access to both of our properties at once. By the way, I was noticing your new fence and I think the craftsmanship is of very high quality, would you be interested in cofunding a project in the first quarter of 2018 along our mutual property lines?
Me: Absolutely, as a matter of fact, I was anticipating having a conversation with you regarding this and so I will e-mail you a rough cost breakdown as well as timeline by the same company that did this fence.
Neighbor: Great! I’ll look for your e-mail and will comment with any questions or concerns.
Yes, seriously. That’s what happened. It was so easy and I felt like an idiot for not bringing it up sooner. After our conversation I e-mailed him a rough breakdown of the work that was needed and estimated cost based on what I paid. He thought it was great and we agreed to revisit the conversation in January and firm up things then.
When January rolled around we met with the same company that did my original fence work. They came out and gave a final estimate to us and gave my neighbor an estimate for some additional fence work he wanted done. Long story short, it all looked good and we decided to proceed. In order to alleviate any confusion with the fence company, we decided to send in our contracts and checks together. When we met to gather everything we both discovered we had written the same breakdown on the contracts (to further avoid confusion) and had written the same lengthy check memo. Planners at their finest! We set the installation for Friday February 23rd.
I’m not sure why but I had a weird inkling that there was going to be an issue with the date of the install. Call it intuition or what and I was super diligent about confirming with the company that the install was on Friday the 23rd. Fast forward to Thursday the 22nd at 8AM they rolled up ready to work. Normally I over prepare for these instances but with the holiday, this week turned into a little bit of a clusterfuck for lack of a better word. Thankfully I was up and dressed and ready to start the day and didn’t greet them with bedhead and gross pajamas however as I found out, that would have been the least of my worries. Two days before, a friend had given me an entire van full of stuff for the R&F yardsale coming up on March 17th and it was all over my back patio. It seriously looked like white trash had crashed the place. I profusely apologized, explained the situation and tried to condense the stuff so they had more room to work. This is when the story takes an embarrassing turn, THEY START LOOKING THROUGH THE STUFF ASKING ME FOR PRICES! I’m just internally dying at this point and already know that I’m going to have to rearrange my day and reschedule my appointments for tomorrow.
Another problematic aspect was the tortoise and I realize as I’m typing this that these are problems I’m pretty sure only I have. He hadn’t been out that much in the past few days and I was hoping that since it was pretty cool he would stay in his heated “Squirt Hut”. I planned on setting up “Squirt Jail” (48” dog crate) if he was out and super rambunctious and in the way. Naturally the dog crates were in my garage behind yardsale stuff that I was planning on reorganizing today in order to get the crate out. Of course around 10 AM he decided to come out and see what’s up. I could have moved stuff around in the garage to get to the crates but I decided that I didn’t want the fence guys to see my garage which is filled with yardsale merch and currently resembles an episode of hoarders and so it was easier just to keep an eye on him and make sure he wasn’t getting too far into the neighbors yard. It all actually worked out well because he actually liked sitting back and watching the fence more than getting up in the middle of things (phew!) Just to be safe, I did dump a mound of vegetables near him to keep him occupied.
In short, despite the minor issues, the fence looks fantastic! I never thought I would get so excited over a fence but despite this sounding like a huge Big Lebowski joke, it really does tie the yard together. It looks so much more warm and consistent than the weird metal, wood and concrete that provided little privacy.
Hopefully the last step of the backyard will happen this weekend, depending on if this weird Los Angeles windy cold snap continues. This will be California native plants in the flower beds as well as either mulch or pea gravel which I’m trying to decide on. Mulch is free from the city (which makes it more appealing) and seems more “natural” but pea gravel will be around longer and require less maintenance however it comes at a cost. If anyone out in internet land has opinions, I’m all ears!