Deck Project – Day 7 – 10

August 26th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

we bore holes into the foundation and into the peers.

anchors into the peers, and beams into the anchors and ledger into the foundation. support support support.

it took 3 hours, and we made little progress.


mendards screwed up. we ordered plastic with our treated pine boards. they delivered aluminum. the tag states “not for use with treated pine.”


10 foot flashing doesn’t fit into my car. i borrowed my in-laws’ highlander, was stopped by 4 trains, and had to explain to the people at menards that no i do not want to return this, i just want what i ordered at least 3 times.

i was stopped by another train before returning the highlander.

upon returning, i surrendered the day to the overgrown grass, bushes, and the torrential rain.


mission accomplished.

friends fought the heat with me, raising hammers, drills, and sawzalls in the name of progress. it started slow. flashing, then ledger board. anchors to follow. we adjusted the boards we already put up. alignment is key. the pitch must go away from the house.

we lay joist after joist after joist. we missed nail heads almost as often as we hit them. the slope of the hill our house rests on was off, and we stopped to notch 5 joists to keep the pitch. it’s all about the pitch.

two of us rained nails into joist hangers, while another cut bridging, and still another nailed the bridging into place. keep the pitch. make it strong.

then they left. they had to go. life was happening.

my father-in-law stayed. we cut and we nailed, and we double checked. shortly after 5, we stood and looked at the framing. it was good.

photo 1


weathermen are never accurate, but they struck fear into my schedule. i fled work at 3 hoping to beat the rain.

i scheduled the inspection for Tuesday, then rolled out the landscaping tarp. there was rock i’d removed two years ago stored behind a bush in my yard. i moved it back, on top of the tarp. the idea is to prevent weed and grass growth. the reality will be an investment in weed killing spray.

the city asked for chicken wire, so i unrolled 40 feet of it and stapled it into place along the perimeter. prevent dead critters from getting in there, or at least pretend like you’re trying. this is what the city wants, and this is what the city gets.

it rained as i stapled the last few feet into place. it rained as i stretched and reached to the sky. it rained as i put the tools in the garage, and it rained as i said a prayer over the foundation.

please let it be firm. let it be approved.

photo 3


Day 1

Day 2

Day 3 & 4

Day 5 & 6

Deck Project – Day 5 & 6

August 22nd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

he came, he saw, he left.

i caught him as he was writing out a green slip. approved.

that’s it?

yeah, the holes look fine. 

i showed him our anchors for the peers.

yeah, that’ll work fine.

he handed me the green slip and walked away.


the call came around 2. be there in 20.

i got home around 5. a pallet of concrete mix, joists, beams, and decking sat on my driveway.

paul arrived and we took stock of our peer heights. we lined up the beams so that the pitch angled away from the house. we dug trenches from hole to hole to hole, and again on the bottom triplet.

the beauty of holes is that they’re mixing basins. we filled them with water, added concrete mix, then repeat. we used the post hole digger to stir. drop, scoop, plop. drop, scoop, plop. the powder and water turning to a grey sludge that would make  Oliver’s stomach grumble.

photo 1

at the top we added a tube to clean up the peer and give us a better base to work with.

the foundation is set, now to frame. the rain is trying to get in the way, but if we’re lucky we’ll be an inspection, and decking away from a finished project come 2

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3 & 4

Deck Project – Day 3 & 4

August 19th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Saturday we dug.

i woke early, scarfed a cup of a coffee, then fled to the inlaws where a bigger vehicular transport awaited. i procured an auger, mini donuts, apple streusel, and lots of water. the fear and avoidance of muddy foot prints and a wife’s disdain made this five dollars well spent.

friends arrived, including my father-in-law, and we set to work. we remeasured the hole placement, and we dug. the auger is a gas powered machine, where in theory two people hold the sides, the engine is started, and the 10 inch diameter giant drill bit does all the work going deep into the dirt.

this theory of course, assumes that ground is not ground, but butter. as the ground is actually dirt, clay, rocks, and roots, this was much more work than one would hope. i am thankful for friends with determination, and a willingness strain muscles. it took us about 3 hours to dig six holes 42+ inches deep.

hole 1

we took turns manning the auger, one man on the throttle, the other holding it steady. pushing and pulling. standing our ground, refusing to let it throw us in a looney toon cartoon fashion. and we sweat. we sweat. we sweat. we sweat until our hats changed colors and our noses were like cliffs and sweat drops were free diving off them.

we cleaned the holes with the old fashioned post hold digger and cleaned up the dirt from the holes before calling it a day. then we laid stone slabs over the holes to prevent any vermin from trespassing.

holes covered

this was a good day.


Day 4 was easy from a labor standpoint. a friend who knows decks took me to Menards. we placed our order for concrete, treated pine, and planking. so much planking. at the end i produced my credit card for all the necessaries. despite the price tag i knew was coming, it was still hard to swallow. at the end of it, we are still running $300 under budget and (fingers crossed) everything is now purchased.

Day 1

Day 2

Deck Project – Day 2

August 14th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

I win. grass loses. gameover.

Saturday, we dig.

with grass

grass be gone

Deck Project – Day 1

August 13th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

i underestimated this.


projects always sound simpler in my head. here are the steps. one. two. three. easy peasy, like Parcheesi. let’s getterdone.

this project actually started a year ago when i cooked up the beautiful idea of a deck. an outside lounge. a grill pad. a place for the wife to layout. a place for outside life in world dominated by the great indoors.

the budget wasn’t there, so unlike the government i postponed the project. dad said good job, and i mumbled hum bug. waiting always feels like failure.

the plans were drawn though, and the research done, so when the funds came in this summer i took trips to the Building and Planning Office in my village and through the guidance of a gentleman and my coworker, i received my permit. of course a check to the village was cut before they handed it over.

today marked day 1 of the actual labor. i marked the plot and began the tedious task of removing the grass. grass is a grouchy animal. once it is settled it wants not to move. the dead stuff i have marking my front lawn like a pimple needed replacing. this meant pulling up two sets of grass and transplanting the healthy backyard grass to the front. in theory this was a simple task. in reality this was arduous and the three mile run i did before starting this task was nothing more than a young man’s folly.

12 feet by 1 foot. 1.5 if i’m feeling generous. that was the grass removed from what will be a deck. 2 hours of work. the final project will be 15 by 12. i have 14 more lengths today.

Heaven help me.

most of the front, thankfully, is now replaced with healthy grass. this should cut the time in half. this means, in 2 hours i should be able to get two lengths done, which if i do not run tomorrow – so stupid – then i should be able to get 3 lengths done. this is enhanced by the fact that i no longer care the condition said grass is ripped up. if i’m good and awake, 4 lengths is a reasonable goal.

i should think tomorrow i will need to work into the darkness and knock out 5 lengths. this is a good idea.

this marks the third major project i will undertake in the home that is our first. we moved in and Dad helped me remove the outdated and unsafe handrail. we put in a beautiful wood railing with spools and a gorgeous stain. it took us a week to get it installed. it took me 3 months to get it stained and finished.

the second project was marked by failure. our basement hallway needed doors. at first i thought sawed off closet doors would do the trick, but the doorways were smaller than what’s available at menards. damn innovation. a couple hundred dollars and afternoons of failures later, my friend announced a sliding pocket door would be a better idea. it took Dad and i a week to install these. halfway through we opted to replace the entire trim work of the hallway. updating is hard work and two weeks after he left i finally called the project done.

each project has steps. each step sounds easy. each step is not easy. some steps reveal other steps unanticipated, and some steps must be altered because what was theoretically possible is not actually possible. i never account for these realities. perhaps on project 4, i will have the wherewithal to anticipate them. the wisdom of my elders to say this will take longer than you think, and the patience to say that’s OK.


perhaps tomorrow, when the light is back, i shall capture a picture. today. today is over. thank the Maker.

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