Sweat equity arrangement?

 You betcha, Leif!!

Jul 10, 2023 | Uncategorized

Helping a new client and neighbor build a fence to contain the 16 month old kangaroo jumping puppy named Leif!

We live in the heart of Minneapolis.  In the northern part of “south” Minneapolis, in the Seward neighborhood.  We are fortunate to be members of a very strong block club, the “Evergreen” Block Club, named after the “dead end” street to the southwest of our home that connects 23rd, 24th and 25th avenues to the south of east 24th street.  These blocks have seen a lot of turnover in the 30+ years since I’ve lived here, with older folks moving out/selling their homes and younger folks moving in.  Smart, professional folks who’ve decided to live in the city and benefit from what the city offers (while dealing with the associated challenges), rather than buying a home in the suburbs.  In the case of this particular project:  This is the 6th client home I’ve completed projects for on this one particular block, 3 blocks from my home.  I’ve been so fortunate to be asked to help these younger homeowners (and a few middle-aged ones like me) with their homes.   <3

Back in early March of this year, a neighbor on 23rd Ave sent an email to the block club asking for fence contractor recommendations.  Their 12 month old (at the time) vizsla puppy, Leif, was jumping the existing 4 foot chain link fence and escaping the yard.  The existing fence was a patchwork of chain link and chicken wire, depending on the fence line, only enclosed the backyard, and didn’t encompass the side yard next to the house.

I had yet to meet these neighbors, they had only recently bought the home a few years ago.  I replied to their email letting them know about my business, and that I could build a fence for them.  I encouraged them to get quotes from fence contractors, but we also scheduled time in early April for me to visit and discuss the project with them, and give them an estimate.  I also told them about the Milwaukee Avenue fence project I completed last year to contain another client’s dog, just a few blocks from their home.  Upon visiting I discovered the temporary solution they had employed to contain Leif:  small wooden slats inserted vertically into the chain link up to 6 feet, with horizontal slats screwed to the verticals.  Their temporary solution was working, but they needed and wanted a new 6 foot fence around their entire backyard, and up along the side yard to the front corner of the home.

Leif’s parents are young, healthy, athletic folks.  So I floated the idea of a “sweat equity” arrangement, where I would work alongside Leif’s Dad to complete the project.  I also suggested that we go to the home center together to shop for fencing and get a materials estimate, which we did in early May, and I gave them a labor estimate based on the number of days it would take for me to at least help them get started (removing existing chain link posts, augering new post holes, building 2 gates, and the clients would complete the fencing between the posts).

After getting quotes from fence contractors, and considering my sweat equity proposal, I was fortunate enough to have them hire me!  We agreed on 5 work days leading up to and after the 4th of July holiday, meanwhile I loaned them tools that allowed them to get most of the chain link posts removed prior to the 1st workday without my help.  Yay!

We planned to start on Thursday June 29th, with the plan that we would get 18 post holes augered over the course of the first 2 works days, June 29th and 30th.  My clients rented a 2-person powered auger, and we ended up augering all 18 post holes in one day!  Because we luckily managed to avoid hitting a lot of roots and rocks.  This allowed us to begin setting posts into concrete on Friday the 30th, one day early!  I then returned on Wednesday July 5th to continue setting posts in concrete.  There was actually a 19th post hole next to the house that had to be hand dug due to the electrical garage service being right next to the desired post hole – my client hand dug that post hole during my lunchbreak on Thursday the 6th!  So we set 6 posts into concrete on Friday the 30th, along the frontside of the home, we set another 6 posts in the backyard on July 5th, and set the final 7 posts in the backyard on Thursday July 6th!  This meant we could spend the final workday with my help (Friday July  7th) with my client beginning to build out the fence sections, while I worked to build the front and back gates (I built both gates in one day).

My clients had the bright idea (he and his wife are smart folks) to retain the section of chain link fence and chain link gate on the front side of the backyard, next to the house, so they could complete the front section of new fencing first, so Leif would have a pen that he could be put out into while my clients complete the backyard fence sections.  During the time that my clients had removed the existing fencing, and their completing the front section of fencing over this past weekend, Leif was having to be put out on a lead.  Boo said Leif!!  But Leif is a very good boy, and he patiently waited while watching his Dad and I complete the work.

I will eventually return to help hang the back gate by the garage once the backyard fence sections are completed.  Then my clients will remove the final chain link section at the frontside of the backyard (using the farm jack I loaned them) and Leif will have a HUGE backyard to roam in – and he won’t be able to jump over the fence!!

I love the horizontal fence design that they decided on.  This is the first horizontal fence design I’ve ever been involved with building.  Every fence I’ve built to date has been the typical vertical picket design, including the fencing I built at my own home.  I feel the horizontal fencing design they’ve chose has a very contemporary look – it looks great!  FYI – we used cedartone treated lumber for the entire fence.  The pics I’m posting will show a fence that is not yet completed.  Again, my main contribution was to get the fence posts set, the gates built, and my clients will complete the remaining fence sections on their own – unless they decide to ask for my help.  The pics show the horizontal slats built up to the height of 5 feet – my clients will add narrower, less opaque slats from 5’ to 6’ up, so the fence is more “neighborly”.  It’s going to look awesome once it’s done.  I may do a follow-up blog post to highlight the completed fence.

It’s very rare that I get to do a project alongside a client.  I very much enjoyed working on this project with both clients, and getting to know them, and I know that they benefitted from, and appreciated, my expertise.  They told me so.  Certainly, I could have gotten more work from this project, completing the majority of it on my own, but I’m psyched that they can complete it themselves after the guidance I gave them.  They saved a LOT of money by agreeing to our sweat equity arrangement.  And they’ll have a new fence that they can enjoy for many years to come – and that will contain the bouncy pup named Leif!

But, of course, the best part of the project was loving and getting loved on by the handsomest boy named Leif every day!  He’s such a good boy, and very friendly.  I made a point of arriving early every day so I could get my “Leif time”, and getting more Leif time at the end of every workday, after the work was done and the tools all put away.

But, most importantly, Leif will be safe now…  <3