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Project: Big Finish Hobby Complex Completion


Big Finish

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The projects to build the Car Lot Hobby Complex will be coming to a close with Project: Big Finish.

The only things that will be left to do in my Hobby Complex will be to lay the drive and walkways, build the privacy fence, and complete any needed landscaping.

That's a big deal — both financially and in the overall scheme of my car hobby. With the conclusion of Project: Big Finish, it'll finally be time for me to get to work wrenching on my beloved Car Projects in earnest.


By the time I get to Project: Big Finish, my Hobby Complex will be largely complete; all but the pesky accessibility part.

Why not just roll around on gravel, dirt, mud, grass, etc?

Well, first of all I don't want to, but the practical reason is that smooth, even black top and concrete makes it easier to move heavy objects around from building to building — and there are eight of them. Losing time and energy fighting uneven, unstable surfaces is an enormous waste of my limited resources. Plus, I don't want mud and dirt and other detritus in places it doesn't belong — like inside assemblies and machines. Nor do I want it on my nice, clean cars — when they're done, of course.

The privacy fence is important to keep prying eyes out, make it more difficult for the uninvited guests to gain access, but mostly, to keep the goings on from aggravating the neighbors.

Why landscaping? Well, okay, limited landscaping? Because I still want things to look nice, even if it is a very utilitarian area. I'm not looking for some Garden of Babylon, here. I'm just looking to keep from having mud pits and rock piles laying around. Mostly I want it to be extremely low maintenance. Again, my hobby is my cars, not taking care of my Hobby Complex.

What about lighting? It's possible. I'm not planning on it now because of cost, but I would certainly like to have the grounds well lit at night.


This project is expensive.

Thankfully, for the most part, the lot will be prepped.

I imagine that by the time I get to this project, some repair work will need to be done to it to get it ready to finish. Once that prep work is finished, I plan to lay in the walkways and drives. Then I'll put up the fence and finish up with the landscaping.

It all sounds simple — but that doesn't mean cheap. Having black top laid is pricey, and while I plan to put in the walkways myself, it's going to take quite a bit of labor on my part to get it done.

As far as the fence goes, well, I'm on the fence about that. I don't know whether I will do it myself or have it done. It's time consuming to do it myself — but by this point, I'm sure any cost savings I can make will matter. The other side of the coin is that fencing is low-cost to have done — at least, compared to foundations, buildings, and driveways. We'll see.

The landscaping, I just don't know. If it's simple enough, I'll do it myself, if not, I'll have it done. Landscaping is not in my wheelhouse.


Beyond improving access to the buildings on the Car Lot, there are other reasons for Project: Big Finish — all of which were mentioned above in the background section:

  • Keep the cars clean.
  • Keep out prying eyes and uninvited guests.
  • Keep my hobby activities from aggravating the neighbors.
  • Provide a low-maintenance way of keeping the Hobby Complex looking nice.

Lastly, I want to provide a low-maintenance way of keeping the Hobby Complex looking nice for years to come so I don't lose too much time that could and should be spent on my Car Projects, maintaining the Car Lot.


Beyond "finish the Hobby Complex," there are other goals that need to be met in order for Project: Big Finish to be a success:

  • Lay the walkways. Every building needs walk access and there will be seven of them without walkways before this project. This design requires one major walkway running throughout the Car Lot and small branch walkways as well.
  • Lay the driveways. There will be four buildings that need driveways and then the main drive that connects them all and provides access from the street to them.
  • Put up the fence. The fence surrounds the buildings in the back of the Car Lot, but I'll save some money because it won't go around the front of the Parking Garage and house.
  • Scape the land. I don't know if that will mean grass or gravel or what, but the area around the buildings needs to have a low maintenance ground cover to keep it from going to hell with inclement weather.
  • Cost is important to this project and to my very limited pocketbook. It needs to be accomplished as inexpensively as possible, while still meeting all of my needs for my Hobby Complex.
  • Making sure the walkways are drives are smooth and even is going to be important to the overall functionality of the Car Lot, as is making sure access is easy through the gate. Making those and other areas work well will mean spending more, but functionality is critical to the success of my hobby.
  • Finishing the Hobby Complex in a timely manner is important. As much as the Car Lot is a part of my hobby, it isn't my hobby. My cars are, and getting over the finish line with Project: Big Finish is the last hurdle before I can finally start on them. Pushing for its completion is going to be a big part of this project.

There are quite a few important objectives to reach in order for Project: Big Finish to be a success, but my hobby depends on its successful completion, not merely gittin' 'r done and that will likely mean digging in to make sure they are all achieved correctly.


The scope for Project: Big Finish is both finite, yet limitless — which is a problem for projects, in general.

Why is it both? Well, there are some specific things that need to be accomplished, but realistically, if there is something unfinished for any reason, this project has to get it done. Maybe limitless is the wrong word, but the scope potentially reaches beyond the one that I'm defining here and does so without a clear picture of where that could potentially end.

As I see it at the time of writing this charter, the scope includes laying in the walks and the drives, putting up the fence, and finishing the landscaping.

Project: Big Finish doesn't include cutting corners that will impact looks, usability, fit, or finish.


Just like with the first Hobby Complex project, Plotting and Scheming, I've never laid driveways or walkways, built a fence, or done much landscaping.

I don't plan to do the driveways. I'm hoping to put in the walkways myself, as well as the fence. I don't know how the landscaping is going to be handled.

Because I have no idea what's happening, I'm literally going to toss out an arbitrary number: six months.

That's what I'm hoping it will take to get this done. You can see how that breaks down in the table below, figuring in five hours a day, two days a week with 18 available weeks for work over those six months.

Per: Day Week Year Totals
Hours 5 10 180 180
Days 2 36 36
Weeks 18 18
Years 0


Like Project: Plotting and Scheming, I've researched this project, but I haven't contacted anyone directly to ask for bids. I've come up with a very rough budget from that research of $110,000 to finish up the Hobby Complex.

That ties the project to build the Parking Garage, making them share the top spot for most expensive project in the Car Lot.

As I've discovered, paving is expensive.

How does that breakdown? Well, I don't have it worked out by project milestone or work, but I do have it scheduled for the 18 weeks outlined in the timeframe section above. You can find it even spread out in the table below:

Week: 1 2 3
Initial Financing $101,000 $0 $0
Scheduled Financing $500 $500 $500
Scheduled Cost -$6,111 -$6,111 -$6,111
TOTAL $95,389 $89,778 $84,167
4 5 6 7 8
$0 $0 $0 $0 $0
$500 $500 $500 $500 $500
-$6,111 -$6,111 -$6,111 -$6,111 -$6,111
$78,556 $72,945 $67,334 $61,723 $56,112
9 10 11 12 13
$0 $0 $0 $0 $0
$500 $500 $500 $500 $500
-$6,111 -$6,111 -$6,111 -$6,111 -$6,111
$50,501 $44,890 $39,279 $33,668 $28,057
14 15 16 17 18
$0 $0 $0 $0 $0
$500 $500 $500 $500 $500
-$6,111 -$6,111 -$6,111 -$6,111 -$6,111
$22,446 $16,835 $11,224 $5,613 $2


My Hobby Complex.

The whole thing; which will be behind my as-of-now non-existent house on my non-existent property.

Hopes and dreams.




Work Requirements

For the requirements, I've broken down the work by type:


  • Walkway design
  • Site prep and excavation
  • Form construction and teardown
  • Concrete pouring and screeding


  • Walkway design
  • Site prep and excavation
  • Black top laying and smoothing

Fence & Gates

  • Design fence and gates
  • Install posts
  • Construct fence frame
  • Install fence slats
  • Build gates
  • Install gates
  • Install gate opener


  • Site prep
  • Lay gravel


This exploratory look at the schedule for Project: Big Finish is as accurate as I can make it at the present. The milestones are in sequence as best as I can tell — but I'll know more when I'm able to evaluate the actual site, consult with contractors, and work up a real plan.

Assessment, Feasibility and Go/No Go

By the time Project: Big Finish comes around, I'll have a firm understanding of its feasibility, but, believe it or not, after constructing all the buildings, I will need to reassess the site extensively because the grading will be severely impacted by the construction of all the buildings.

Once I have a thorough understanding of the site's condition I'll be ready to assess my finances, time, energy, etc, and decide when the to pull the trigger on planning. However, by this point, the go ahead is hopefully only a formality.


As of right now, my plan is to do the walkways and fence myself, and have contractors take care of the drives.

Of course that may change after the planning begins. At this point, it's simply too far off for me to say with any certainty. I still have a lot of learning to do before I'm ready to make that decision.

As for the landscaping, as I've already mentioned, I haven't decided yet.

However, I will know what will be happening once I've had a chance to make a detailed plan. Then I can make the final decision to move forward with principle project work.


As of right now, I will be starting principle project work, myself.

I'll probably prepping the ground, resetting the outlines, and excavating the paths, myself. Then I'll need to set up the forms, set in the base gravel, and start pouring.

Other than the amount of walkways on the Car Lot, and the resulting amount of work it's going to cause me, as far as I can tell this phase is pretty simple.


This is where I plan to bring the big guns in and let the contractors lay the black top.

I may opt to delay finishing the sidewalks so I can provide smooth, ramped transitions from the walks to the drives.

We'll see what the research during my planning uncovers.

Fence & Gates

I hope to take care of the fence and gates myself.

Right now I'm planning on installing a single walk gate and a single drive gate.

The drive gate I'm planning to automate with a LiftMaster gate opener. This is the one area I may need to call in a pro for, but hopefully I can handle it all myself.

The fence and the gates I'm planning to use are a custom design I came up with on my own. They're fairly simple and shouldn't require a great deal of work to build.


I'm planning a simple landscape of ground cover without any decorative elements like flowers, plants, or garden ornamentation. In fact, I'm probably going to simply use gravel. After all, I'm guess that there will be times when the drives won't provide enough space to maneuver and being able to go off the driveways and not damage grass or gardens is ideal for the a utilitarian space like the Hobby Complex.

I don't know if I'll have contractors out for this phase, but I think this is probably within my wheelhouse. We'll see.

Close Out

This is the final close out of the projects that build the Car Lot.

That doesn't mean it isn't necessary. It does mean that the lessons learned will apply to future projects and to understanding the complex for maintenance and repair purposes.

This is also the time I will tie up any loose ends — and that means every single thing that I failed to get done will need to get done. Hopefully that isn't much.


This is the final project needed to build the Car Lot Hobby Complex.

By the time I get here, the only things I should need to complete are the walkways, driveways, fence, and landscaping.


If there is anything else that isn't completed, it will need to be added to Project: Big Finish, because it is the last construction project.


That means I'll need to watch the budget and resource requirements carefully to make sure they don't balloon out of control.



I have no progress.

Progress is for people with personal financial success of some kind.

You know, like a steady income.


I have something better: hopes and dreams!

When life decides to bestow me with some sort of income for all of the damned hard work I've put into earning it, I'll get to cracking on Project: Big Finish just as soon as I complete the previous nine projects.

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