Deuce Cities Henhouse

Stoop!!!

Deuce Cities Henhouse | Curb Appeal Before & After
This post has been such a long time in the making. It makes me so happy that I might fill this post with overly positive words and phrases. You guys!, six year, that’s how long it’s been since we moved into this house. Six years ago I was staring at an ugly white house decked out with lots of mint green trim, green stairs, green awnings, and no landscaping to speak of. I swallowed hard when I agreed with my Jeff that this was the best house for us. Was it my dream house? Let’s just say it had potential, I could envision a future for the interior, but the one thing I wanted more than anything was curb appeal (and gardens) and it was hard to see past the ugly. I wanted a cool Minneapolis house, not this old grandma hangout!

Of course our plan was to tackle the major eye sores in the first few years – that’s how he we got each other to agree to buying the house. But then you quickly realize that everything costs tons of money, and you prioritize. I’ve wanted new front steps since the jump, I could see that it would do so much for the curb appeal of our home, but concrete is expensive. So, this is what happened instead. First summer we were broke, second summer we had a baby on the way and opted to try and repair and repaint the steps ourselves, third summer we painted the exterior, fourth summer we got a new roof cause part of ours blew off, fifth year we got a new fence, 6th year we got a new basement and here we are, the start of the seventh summer. New steps are happening!

I know I talk about waiting out expensive decisions a lot. This for me, is just another example of how really stewing on something can work out. If we had these stairs replaced the first year we would’ve replaced them exactly with what was there, having 6 years to walk around the neighborhood and drool over other peoples front steps gave us (me) the time to really dream up the perfect stoop.

Also, now we have a Grandmpa Rick (aka my best friend’s dad). Rick has been in the concrete business forever, and was super generous in helping us get these stairs realized. The plan was that I would put in the sweat equity, but soon after the project started it became clear that my only job was to make sure his coffee cup was full – even though I would’ve loved to get in his Bobcat. There is not much chance these steps would’ve happened this year if it wasn’t for him being so generous with his time.

Deuce Cities Henhouse | Front Steps Before

Alright friends, here is the before. I’m sure you can see how bad off these steps (aka pile of rubble) were, there was no way that they were getting cut off the to-do list for another year. These stairs had taken all the abuse they could handle, I mean, they were most likely 100 years old.

Concrete Front Stoop | Deuce Cities Henhouse

Deuce Cities Henhouse | Front Steps Progress

ON THE LEFT : The demo takes about 5 minutes. Bobcat’s can do lots of cool things including tear up your yard, but I don’t mind. Look, it’s gone! Cool things revealed during this process; there are footings under each side of the steps and a shadow on the block columns to the left and right of the door suggesting that there was some sort of similar stoop situation here when the house was built, most likely removed during the later part of the 20th century to modernize them. Anyways, I’m feeling really positive about where things are headed.
ON THE RIGHT : The guys spend the afternoon doing lots of hard math stuff and coming up with these forms. There will be two concrete pours, the first being the sides of the stairs (aka the baluster, aka the stoop part), the second being the stairs and walkway.
Deuce Cities Henhouse | Front Steps Progress

ON THE LEFT : I let my kid stay home from school so that he could watch the cement mixer come to our house and do it’s thing. He was losing his mind over it, and I felt like it was a good mom move. I mean, a little truancy in the name of big trucks ain’t gonna hurt no one. However, that cement mixer is on my shit list, there has to be a better way to deliver cement than to maul my lawn, especially when you have at least two more of those cool extender things hanging off the side of your truck – you know those tubular things that are supposed to be used to make it easy not to destroy stuff? The balusters are all concrete with little to no backfill, they go right on the footings.
ON THE RIGHT : First pour is complete, steps are left to dry overnight. They remove the forms from around the caps so that they can smooth them out. Because the balusters are so large, my dudes wait until the next morning to remove the forms from the sides.
Deuce Cities Henhouse | Front Steps Progress

ON THE LEFT : Bright and early, the forms are removed from the side columns and work begins to frame out the steps and walk. I was freaking out at this point because it was all coming together and looking so awesome.
ON THE RIGHT : The stairs and walk are back filled and the second round of concrete is poured. This concrete driver did a much better job of avoiding the yard and taking out my boulevard garden instead.

Concrete Front Stoop | Deuce Cities Henhouse
I’ve never gotten to be in the front row to a concrete pouring situation. I was pretty impressed with how it all went down. The concrete goes in the forms and everyone works like crazy to get it smoothed out before it begins to set. Even the concrete driver has to make a mad dash to get his truck cleaned before the concrete begins to dry. Also, everyone on the site does this dance with a cigarette hanging loosely from their lips, which is truly amazing.

Concrete Front Stoop | Deuce Cities Henhouse
We need to come up with a nickname for our gang, right now the best thing we have going is “Stoop Group” which a Michelob Golden Draft guzzling bearded neighbor came up with. It might stick.

Tell me something, are concrete steps unique to Minneapolis, or are there other places that subscribe to this sort of entry point? In Minneapolis nearly every old house was built with concrete front steps, whereas I feel other cities have wooden steps. Like if you google “concrete front steps” your options are very limited, and it’s kinda like google doesn’t know what you are talking about. Am I using the wrong terms? What’s the deal. If someone could shed some light on this, I’d be very happy. Also, all the front steps in Minneapolis are about 90-100 years old and are all falling apart, the concrete biz is about to boom.

Concrete Front Stoop | Deuce Cities Henhouse

Concrete Front Stoop | Deuce Cities Henhouse
So it might not be perfectly realized yet, but it’s getting there. I spent the better half of the last week digging out my flower beds, removing and installing the edging (again) and grading the front lawn. I’ve moved at least a yard and a half of top soil, and am feeling buff (and sore). Now I’m waiting for grass seed to grow, and thankful that we got this taken care of at the beginning of the season, allowing lots of time for healing during the summer.

Sometime in the coming weeks I plan on taking a trip to the architectural salvage place and finding a pained storm door. Maybe one day we will spend all the money to remove the asbestos siding and restore the clapboard siding, trim and soffits, maybe we’ll restore the porch windows at the same time, and maybe someday the the big dream would be realized. Maybe.

Related posts:

Pin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook
36 comments
in Around the House, Outdoor
36 comments… add one
  • Hannah Haugberg April 20, 2016

    Scoops! This is FANTASTIC! I also have been diggin up my yard (no concrete although this is looking sharp!) I assume you hunt at salvage yards during the day but if you’d like company I too have “storm door hunting” on my list of things to do. I keep bouncing between salvage and getting a custom wrought iron one from a company in St. Paul. If you’d like company, I’m your gal!

    • Scoops April 20, 2016

      Hannah! I’ll go door hunting with you, we might have to fight over the door though ;) Doesn’t it feel so good to be out in that dirt??

  • Kari April 20, 2016

    Hanging out here in Tacoma, WA and the front steps of our 110 year old house are concrete… though wood has been added to the top of each step (presumably to cover damage). It seems to be pretty common in our area, but I can’t speak for other places.

    • Scoops April 20, 2016

      This is good to know, as I felt like when I took the train through the west coast this spring, that I didn’t see a lot of concrete steps, or I guess even steps. A lot of places were more modern and had direct entry – I didn’t see a lot of older neighborhoods. I guess you can’t see everything from a train window ;)

    • Beks April 20, 2016

      I’m two hours north of Tacoma, in Bellingham (Hi Kari!), in a 1906 house as well! I have wood and can’t think of any other houses in the neighbor that have concrete.

      And thanks a lot, now I have ‘Stoop there it is…’ stuck in my head…

  • Gretchen April 20, 2016

    This looks SO awesome! Sorry that they messed up your yard, but hopefully you’ll get it back in shape in no time :) In Pittsburgh I pretty much only see concrete steps! Maybe it has something to do with places that get bad weather? I’m guessing wooden steps wouldn’t be great with constant changing in temperature and precipitation. Who knows..I’m no contractor!

    • Scoops April 20, 2016

      I secretly was a little excited that they messed up my yard, cause it’s just an opportunity to make it better. It probably needed new top soil and new seed anyway.
      Regarding concrete: I was curious about the weather too, and I think that makes sense, although I always thought concrete and super cold temps didn’t mix because of expansion/contraction. Obviously, I have no idea.

  • Emily @ Go Haus Go April 20, 2016

    WOW! Such an inspiration! It looks great, and I know it has to feel good after a long 6-year wait. If anything, it reminds me that big projects don’t happen overnight. Nice job!

    • Scoops April 20, 2016

      Hey Emily! Yes, it feels great, like super good. Waiting it out is all part of the fun, right?

  • Rachel April 20, 2016

    Concrete steps are super common in Portland. The ones on my house are in pretty good shape, but I suspect they’ve held up better than yours because we don’t have the harsh weather you do. A totally neglected 1907 house down the street is being renovated, and they took off the old front porch, built a new one, and dragged the giant old concrete steps forward to use on the new porch instead of building or pouring new steps.

    I bet they were common during certain eras, then fell out of favor at some point due to cost or looks.

    • Scoops April 25, 2016

      Woah! Your neighbors house sounds like it has some long lasting concrete, you’re right, must be the milder winters. They are expensive so it makes sense that at a certain point it would deter people from installing them.

  • EMily April 20, 2016

    I’m down in central North Carolina and have one painted concrete step up to my painted concrete stoop. House was built in 1950. Most of the ones I see around here are concrete (or brick) too, unless there’s a wooden front porch. I just got a concrete driveway poured yesterday to replace a sad gravel drive, and yeah… that ish is expensive. Your SCOOP STOOP looks stellar. You could also do Stoop Troop.

    • Scoops April 25, 2016

      Hey Emily! Your new driveway sounds dreamy and you’ll never have to replace it. I like Scoop Stoop too, or you can use it as a verb and say “Let’s get Stoopid!” We’ve been tossing that around a bit.

  • Brianna April 20, 2016

    Checking in from Ontario, Canada, to say that concrete stoops (and porches!) are super common here. I even remember going to a business with my parents as a kid where the concrete steps and railings were “pre-fab”–my parents picked one out, it was delivered and voila, instant stoop! Yours is so beautiful and totally fitting for your home (seriously, wow! Worth the wait!). Luckily my husband spent years working in concrete, so you better believe I have big plans for patios and walkways in our future since the labour will be cheap. :) But we also know better than most how expensive concrete is… and with his experience and years of completing other people’s dream projects, he refuses to settle and is brimming with lots of ideas that will = $$$.

    • Scoops April 25, 2016

      You are a lucky to have such a close connection in the biz, I bet the two of you have all sorts of plans about what your patio and walkway could be, sounds like fun! Thanks for the info on the Ontario stoop scene, seems like more than not in Northern US and Canada have concrete steps.

  • Rachel April 21, 2016

    It looks sooooooo rad! Also, I love the phrase “Stoop Group”!

    I am a native Minnesotan but now live in Tulsa, Oklahoma where our 95-year-old house has a medley of concrete and wooden steps. Like, there is the sidewalk, then two concrete steps, then a wooden step, then my wooden porch. Also the whole step situation is much lower-key, they don’t even have railings. I’m not sure what’s more common, though… gonna have to keep my eyes peeled on my nightly dog-walk around the hood!

    • Scoops April 25, 2016

      Hey Rachel, Thank you! That step situation sounds kinda funny, in a very endearing sort of way.

  • Alexis April 21, 2016

    I think every house I’ve ever lived in has had concrete steps (even if only one). Wood is not really used as a construction material – in fact you are not allowed to build a timber framed house in our particular municipality (although wooden decks out back are common).

    Of course here curb appeal pretty much consists of having a nice 8ft front wall, with an electric gate and electric fence. The joys of living in Johannesburg SA (there are many joys, but safety issues are not among them).

  • Anne April 22, 2016

    I can’t even handle how good those new steps look!!! A+!

    • Scoops April 25, 2016

      Thanks, Anne! We love them too!

  • Elise April 22, 2016

    Wow, it all looks FANTASTIC!! And I am a huge concrete fan but oddly, we have wooden front steps on our 100-year-old home in Linden Hills. So we’re the outlier? The weather comment makes sense – concrete can certainly stand up to our winters! Congrats on making progress and if you ever feel like it’s moving slowly, come over and see my still-not-renovated kitchen. We’ve been planning to do something about it since we bought the house – in 1995! :-)

    • Scoops April 25, 2016

      I think wooden steps can look really great too, I almost took on the project of installing them last year, and there is a house that looks nearly identical to ours around the corner and they have wooden steps and I think they look really charming. Also, I love Linden Hills, so many beautiful old houses over there, we are on the east side of Lake Harriet and the houses just aren’t as grand. Good luck on someday getting that kitchen renovated.

  • Vanessa April 22, 2016

    Perfectly done, just right for the house!

    • Scoops April 25, 2016

      Thanks, Vanessa! We think they are pretty perfect for this house too!

  • Becky April 23, 2016

    You guys did a good job! I love that they are wider and you can sit on the front stoop and have a beer and chat with the neighbours or watch the kids play. Also, probably my favourite part, the balusters. They are fantastic because they are relatively low which allows people to sit on them and they frame the stairs well but you don’t have a railing that ends in the middle of the porch window–the railing terminating in a window is a personal pet peeve of mine.

    • Scoops April 25, 2016

      Becky! We have already done lots of stoop sitting, and its just another way to be part of the community. We already did a lot of waving from the front porch, but this kind of puts you out there for chatting with neighbors. It was my goal to get rid of the need of a railing, like minds…

  • Lauralou April 24, 2016

    I grew up in southern New Hampshire. We had the preform concrete steps with the black railings on the side, as did every single house in our neighborhood (and in the neighborhoods of all of my friends, and in the neighborhoods or people who were not my friends). However, whenever someone did an upgrade, bricks and brick pavers were usually chosen. Now I live on Cape Cod, and I’ve seen the whole variety from concrete, brick, wood, etc. Our brick steps keep falling apart after each winter, so we may go the concrete route, especially after seeing your gorgeous new steps!

    • Scoops April 25, 2016

      I suppose we have quite a lot of brick steps here too, but I always assumed that they were concrete clad in brick But what do I know! I can see the preform steps and black railings in my head, I know exactly what you are talking about!

  • Erica April 25, 2016

    Any chance you could pass on a referral for Grandpa Rick’s business? We are local and need new back steps!!

    • Scoops April 25, 2016

      Yes! You can reach Rick at 612-382-5952 – he answers the phone like this “ThisisRick”. His business is called Ricks concrete and masonry, but he doesn’t have a website, cause he’s old school. He’s a good guy, I would highly recco.

      • Erica May 2, 2016

        Thank you!! I’ll be ringing him up this afternoon!

      • Erica May 2, 2016

        I just tried that number and I got a guy named Miles who was super confused. :( Do you have a different number for Rick?

    • Scoops May 2, 2016

      Shoot! I’m so sorry. Here is the correct number. 612-382-5953 (I was one number off).

  • Claire April 27, 2016

    Wow – major aesthetic upgrade and lots safer too, I’m sure. You tootally made the right mom move. Bobcats and cement mixers? My 3 yo would lose her damn mind.

  • Jenn May 3, 2016

    Lovely.
    Just found your website when searching for vertical fence.
    If I may, try searching “cement steps Edmonton” or “cement porch Edmonton.”

    Love reading and admiring all the reno’s!

  • Meg May 19, 2016

    The new front steps look amazing! I have to say our 1920 house in Providence, RI has a big ol’ set of concrete steps and a lot of others do around here.

Leave a Comment