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5tiliky 10-26-2013 09:43 AM

Repair or replace sidewalk?
I just bought a house and I have been notified that the small sidewalk leading to my front steps is cracked and is a building code violation. I want to fix it ASAP and hopefully keep the cost down by doing it myself since I have a laundry list of other things to fix. Can the sidewalk be repaired with a skim coat or some other method or do I have to pull up the broken sections and replace them?

This house is in Chicago so right now the average temperature is in the 50's but it gets colder at night, sometimes into the low 40's.

Just as a background, I don't have any concrete experience but I have plenty of woodworking, plaster, and tile experience.
thanks in advance!

BridgeMan 10-26-2013 10:19 AM

Your side walk, in your climate, is a very poor candidate for a fast and easy repair (such as a skim coat). Too many cracks and problems, meaning all will reflect up through whatever you add to the surface. And probably debond after the first year, putting you right back where you're at right now.

As a first-time concrete placement, this could prove to be challenging for you. Especially at this time of the year, when the frozen concrete (resulting from improper preventive measures being taken) will instantly ruin the job, and you'll again be back where you started. Wait until Spring, or do it using pavers instead of concrete if you absolutely have to do it before the snow flies. If it was mine, the new walk would be curved, to go around that raised slab on the left, and provide some artistic appeal.

CallMeVilla 10-26-2013 04:28 PM

Just a note: Bridgeman is ALWAYS right. However, if you are in Chicago, they will not bother you until Spring anyway ... Call this "risk management" ebcause they have now notified you and transferred liability to you instead of them.

I would ignore the notice unless they come back at you. Offer to temporarily patch with self-leveling cement which you CAN handle. Just bury 1x4 wood on edge along the sides at the level you want to achieve. Mix and pour the cement in the morning. By evening, it will be hard enough to survive the night.

In the Spring, demolish the walk entirely and replace it properly. Frankly, this is a job for a local handyman from Craigslist. Demolition, hauling, new cement and finishing. Piece of cake.

Focus on the house! :D

5tiliky 10-26-2013 06:56 PM

thanks for the wise words. Actually, this property is just outside of Chicago so I 'm not sure if that means the village will have less resources and won't have time to bother me or if it means that the local inspector has nothing better to do than drive by every two days.

Anyways, they gave me 3 months to get it done but I heard they might be nice about granting extensions. Maybe I'll just try to wait until Spring and have someone do it for me.

Drywallinfo 10-26-2013 08:28 PM

Something to consider is replacing with pavers - this is a do-it-yourself material that may be fixed, adjusted, or replaced down the road for a few dollars and a few minutes of time. I live in N.WI (rural) and replaced half of our sidewalk with pavers and would NEVER go back to sidewalk. Of course I realize that city walks that are public must meet common standards, but I think you could use if for the walkway to your house, codes permitting.

Seems like you might be running out of time for this year though. You would have to remove all your sidewalk with a jackhammer and then get the pavers in before things freeze up.

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