installation of pavers - would like advice

I am going to make an attempt to install pavers in my back yard. I want to make a fairly large patio - (the length of my home and at least twelve feet out) + a walkway in the side yard. I would like some advice from someone who has taken on a project like this. I have heard it is fairly simple, but backbreaking. Here are a few of the things I would like to find out more about:
1) Is this REALLY a do-it-yourself project or is this the sort of thing thats better left to a pro?
2) For such a large space, and limited amount of time (weekends), would I (and 1 other person) be able to complete this in a few weekends or is this the sort of project you have to finish right away.
3) Is it cost effective to do it myself? I plan on getting quotes eventually, but am I going to end up saving a lot of money by doing it myself or is it only marginally more expensive to hire a contractor to do it.
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It is way more expensive to hire a contractor, way more. Get some estimates and ask them how they will do the job then just do it your self.
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Manual labor = sweat equity...this is a project where the labor cost is way more than the materials.
Seriously, it is a do-it-yourself project if you are up to the manual labor of digging out the area to get it level, deep enough to get a good compacted base and hauling all the limestone, sand, and pavers around. ( 20 years ago I did one myself, today I'd pay someone else to bust their butt)
You can do it in sections, but keep the finished portions under a tarp until all the pavers are laid and sand grouted. As far as how long it'll take, depnds on how hard / fast you can dig and push a wheelbarrow. Don't forget to consider where you can put the dirt and sod you'll be digging out - maybe a raised planting bed?
A couple of 3' long stakes and 50' of clear vinyl tubing filled with water will help you level the area ( http://www.watrlevel.com /, http://www.simplelevel.com/ ). You have to dig out the soil and grass down far enough to allow for a couple of inches of compacted crushed limestone then a couple of inches of compacted sand. After you've got it dug out and the limestone wheelbarrowed in and roughly leveled, rent a flat plate vibratory compactor ( gas engine with a lawnmower like walk behind handle). Compact the limestone, then spead and do the same with the sand before setting any pavers. Getting a good solid base will prevent it from all sinking and heaving in a year or two.
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Jake wrote:

I just did this:
http://www.bunchobikes.com/pond166.jpg
http://www.bunchobikes.com/pond167.jpg
I have a 13' x 60' area planned by the end of summer. All done by me. The kids didn't even help!! Pick, shovel, wheel barrel and a pair of gloves.

Take your time. The only rush I had was to get the rental compactor back to the store.

I think that I estimated that doing cement myself would have been cheaper, but that was too back breaking and I had no one to help. So the slightly extra cost of the pavers was worth it.
My procedure, less the cement work, was to dig down 7". Lay 4" of Class II base. Compact. Screed a layer of paver sand ( high.) Set pavers. Compact. Cover pavers with sand. Compact. Sweep off sand. Enjoy look of new paver driveway!
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So is a good compromise to hire a contractor to do the digging (since I dont have anything to do with all that dirt). The rest I could potentially do myself and not screw anything up?

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Jake wrote:

Sure! There really isn't anything to mess up as long as you calculate the right amount of materials, double check your measurements and levels and take your time. Look around online. There are a few tutorials (pavetech.com??, hometime) and some places will send you free info. http://www.hometime.com/Howto/projects/patios.htm http://www.pavetech.com/guides/complete.htm

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Mark and Kim Smith wrote:

And mine... dig down 6" + thickness of the paver (Glen-Gery Brick Extruded Paver). Lay 4" of type B stone. Compact. 2" of cracker dust(compacts tighter than sand). Screed, wet, compact. Set pavers, sweep with cracker dust. Hasn't moved in 12 years.
Steve
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