Dollar foolish. That's the saying, right? Well DIY can have that effect on a man. One of the VERY FIRST THINGS we should have done after the foundation was poured, or at least after the house was set, or at least after the siding was on, was get gravel down around the perimeter of the house. It helps drainage and it keeps rainfall from kicking dirt and mud up against the side of the house. (The ridiculous construction litigation in which I made my last contribution to the world as a lawyer had, as one of its subplots, the failure of anyone to install gutters/downspouts to protect the $20K custom made garage doors from splattering mud.) It also would have cleaned the site up quite a bit instead of being the mud pile it turns into every time it rains, with me dragging mud all over the inside of the house all the time.
But because I am a DIYer, and because all it takes is a strong back and a couple of days work to do this yourself, I made a conscious decision not to have any of the guys working on the house over the summer take care of this. And here we are, the beginning of spring, and I still haven't done it. So last week I finally bit the bullet and had the original excavator (who was coming back to put stone down on the driveway) take care of it. Of course, it was three fifty-year old guys using shovels, rakes and wheelbarrows. Which just KILLED me to see (I was out at the house working on the basement). This is one of the perverse consequences of DIY - you start to think, not that you can do things better than anybody else (I have no illusions about that), but that you SHOULD be doing anything that you CAN do. So the idea of paying someone else a not-immodest sum to do something that requires NO skill at all becomes galling. But at this stage of the game, something that takes three experienced laborers an entire day would probably take me months to get done, so there you go.
You can see some of the dried mud on the siding in these pics; it washes off, and while it won't actually cost me any more money than if I had just had them do it when I should have, I'm still kicking myself...
Now as I understand it, the gravel in this pic below is probably too close to the bottom edge of the siding - you want to keep any critters that can climb away from any possible points of entry. So I'll have to pull it back a little (the appropriate distance, I think, is 6", though we don't have that much to work with).
Our plan for the short term is to put mulch down on the bare ground around the house; that's another project that needs to get done before we're ready for renters.