The property has had minimal upkeep during three years of no occupancy. As a consequence, the yard and landscaping are tired and need some structural work. Not overall a top priority, but there are some things that need to be dealt with quickly.
An easy one was the trees. The hill sloping down to Old Shore Road was once grassy with sparser trees. Over the years the trees grew up and the undergrowth was taken over by ivy. In the last few years, vines have climbed the trunks of a number of trees to the point that the trees are choking and dying. Even though some of the vines are near two inches thick, it was only a matter of an hour with some good cutters last week to simply cut around the base of each which will kill off all the vines above the cuts.
By state regulation, the septic system needed replacement prior to the sale. I had no idea of the magnitude of a six-bedroom system, but holy moly they really had to tear things up. We are now dealing with 5000 square feet of crappy dirt, some of which has already run off with last week’s rain. It’s too early to loam and seed—still some remnants of winter here in New England—so that will wait for a few weeks.
In the meantime, we need to get water away from the house. As evidenced by some sloping floors inside, the foundation had settled at some point over the last hundreds of years, but it seems to have stabilized long ago. A brick foundation (with granite in a few corners) is just fine. However, if not sealed, exposure to water will eat away the grout and eventually things start to crumble.
So, we need to dig out to a little below grade and skim coat the brick. To avoid future damage, grading should channel water away from the structure. What happens over time is that adding fertilizer and new soil to yards and flower beds will raise the surface around a house and you get some backflow. We have that in spades. Also, the house is not fully equipped with gutters. (The further north you get in New England, the fewer gutters you see because they don’t work well in the winter.)
Before getting new loam, we will have a landscape guy try to regrade around the house. Where that’s impractical, we’ll put in a “French drain,” a gravel trench parallel to the wall with piping underneath to remove water. Cape Cod soil is very sandy, so this needn’t be too elaborate.