An update on the state of the yard: there is no update.
The basement remains nice and dry, thanks to the waterproofing. However, this doesn't do anything for the horrible flooding in the back yard. The plan is to have additional drainage installed back there, and along one side of the house (where there are basement window wells below ground level with no drainage in them). We're also going to have the ugly cracked cement slab in the back removed and replaced, eventually, with a deck.
The Scientist is friends with a woman who's son happens to be a landscape contractor. We had him quote us a price for all the work above. Now, I don't know if he's being nice since my wife is friends with his mom, or maybe the guy just works cheap, but it's a really great price. Hundreds less than anyone else would quote us. Now if we could only get the fucker out here to do the work.
It's incrediably frustrating. After we accepted the quote, he stopped returning calls. He said he'd put us on his schedule, but we haven't heard from him in weeks. Our front yard remains a muddy mess, and I'm sure our neighbors would appreciate a little yard improvement. But, given the great price the guy is giving us, it's not worth it to say "hey, fuck that and fuck you if you can't bother to return a phone call" and find someone else. As much as I'd like to.
I have never had a good experience with a contractor. We had work done on the old house, and that guy tore up our front porch, then vanished for a month. We've had contractors just blow us off when we asked for quotes. I mean, we are basically going to these people and saying, "Hi! We'd like to give you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for your time and expertise. Would you like to take our money?" and they can't even return a call? Jesus! I'm mostly frustrated because I want all the bullshit water-related work to just be done. We've put better than $10 grand into this damn house, and it's all been related to waterproofing or water management on the property. There are plenty of other projects that we want to do (like getting rid of all the hideous wallpaper) that we haven't even started.
I just want people to do their jobs. That's it. But it seems that that is asking too much.