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Robert Lamoureux: Keep hands off sidewalks and curbs

Your Home Improvements

Posted: May 29, 2010 1:11 a.m.
Updated: May 29, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Hi Robert,
My home is located at a T intersection street. The approaching street leads straight into my driveway. What I would like to do is to make a turn-around in my front yard so I can pull in and then continue back onto the street. The city said I can't demo part of the existing curb to pour the new driveway or use part of the existing sidewalk. Who should I contact to get approval for this? I'm a concrete worker and am willing to do the work myself. It's my property and as long as I conform to the city requirements, why can't I build an approach on the other side? If I proceed, what can they do?
Chris L.

Hi Chris,
Have you already spoken with the city? I wouldn't be surprised if they put the kibosh on this idea. You should contact Street Services, but you most likely will not be given permission to proceed.

Unfortunately for you, a homeowner cannot arbitrarily change a city curb or sidewalk. As this change has a limited benefit, primarily only to the homeowner, it's unlikely money or resources would be allocated for this project. If the project were approved, the city would use its own contractors.

If you were to perform this work without approval the city would probably put everything back the way it was and then send you a bill for the cost. Before proceeding, I would recommend you contact the city. Explain your plan, and find out if the city will allow you to proceed. Ask for the recommended protocol and follow the plan.

Hi Robert,
I have stamped concrete around my pool. It becomes quite slippery. After it was sealed, we had the contractor return and seal it again with grit for better traction. However, it still is slippery and quite dangerous, especially for the kids. What can I do to remove the sealant? Thanks,
Lisa D.

Hi Lisa,
At this point, if there's a sealant on it, and there's a grit in it - it doesn't make sense that it is still slippery. It is possible the grit used was too fine. There are two options you could try. Call a sand blaster and see if a low-pressure blast might work. You don't want to damage the decking. You want to scuff up the surface to make it more slip resistant. You could then re-dye it to match the existing color.

Another alternative is to have your deck bead blasted. This will remove the sealer and allow you to use a heavier grit.

Bead blasting uses little shards of glass. When finished, all the residue from the deck and from the bottom of the pool is vacumned.
This process also works well for pool tiles. Sometimes calcium will build up on the tiles. If it's not maintained, which is typical, the calcium becomes very difficult to remove.

Bead blasters will drop the level of the water below the tiles then enter the pool wearing waders, like those fishing inner tubes with the coveralls.

After being bead blasted the tiles appear newly installed. The process removes the calcium, but doesn't damage the tiles because the beads are glass and the ceramic tile is a glass product. Sandblasting on the other hand would destroy the tiles.

Hi Robert,
Could you give us some tips on how to build an open pit barbecue? Thank you,
Paul G.

Hi Paul,
Since we're in brush country, I would check with your local Fire Department to find out if you can have an open pit barbecue. If so, are there any requirements or regulations regarding a spark arrestor? What kind? What size holes? Find out anything else you should know before you start with the construction.

If you use a gas system with rock, you can use whatever kind of fired brick you want. Just build the circumference of the pit and pull permits. Run the size of your gas line in accordance to the distance of the run.

Hi Robert,
The posts that support my patio cover are completely rotted at the bottom around the brackets, which are badly rusted. I know the footings are correct because I poured them. I built the cover when I moved in many years ago, but have since had a renter who let the sprinklers spray it and I was neglectful in maintaining it the way I should. If I leave the footings alone, what would I do with the rusted brackets? Thank you,
Rod H.

Hi Rod,
You can buy retrofit standoff brackets at any building supply. Just core them in, use red heads, and mount the posts on top. These brackets will keep the bottom of the posts out of any standing water, but you should redirect the irrigation so it will not spray directly onto the posts.

Grind off the old brackets to make room for the new ones. Depending on the kind of brackets you have at the top of the posts, you'll want to use a plumb bob to ensure your new brackets are directly underneath.

You'll also need 4"x4"s and jacks to lift the structure, only slightly - just enough to take the weight off the posts, for replacement. Sink nails through the tops of the 4"x4"s to hold in place.

We have designed a custom, full-color The Signal/Your Home Improvements T-shirt we will give you if we answer your question. Robert Lamoureux has 25 years experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contacting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor, after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Send your questions to


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