December 2, 2014

Deck The Halls

You wouldn't think writing a blog was complicated stuff. I guess it's not. As long as you are in the mood. The mood almost struck, many many times over the last 18 months. Now that the bug is back, my test post yesterday went up and nothing blew up or bounced back and I seemed to remember how to do everything. So, it ought to be a simple enough matter for me to catch you up on the home renovation escapades of the last long while before diving into anything new.

Not so simple. I spent the last hour (plus one glass of wine and three times the "suggested serving" of buttercrunch chocolate) going through photographs from last summer, autumn and a good chunk of this year. Folks, there is no way to summarize the work. All the remembering has left me exhausted. Oddly enough, when people we know ask how the renovations are going, my usual response of late is, well, main floor is pretty much done, some work to do upstairs...  The looks I get! And sometimes the comments. Like how long is is supposed to take to finish? What the heck have you been doing?


You're getting the play by play.

Last year was "Year of the Yard" one year behind predicted schedule. It then morphed into this year too. First up, the deck. You'll remember from here that we were in the process of researching and deciding on deck materials, getting quotes from builders and that sort of thing. Then we decided we could do it. So we did:

Place Deck Here. Note dog in doorway. He has been waiting there since the
door was installed two years before.
Ignore the rebar and gravel on the far right. That's going to be a dog run, and it's a post for another day. Some time when you're in the mood for sad stories about deluges threatening freshly poured concrete.

I can't remember the exact logic behind the mini goalposts and string, something about making sure everything is square. Whatever, it worked.

Augering. It's fun. And not.
Words of advice when using a gas powered auger: don't get the thing so deep that your fingers are squished between the handles you're holding and the hard Alberta ground. It's really hard to back that sucker up. It's especially fun to yell at your partner that your hands are stuck but he can't hear you of the ear protectors he's wearing for the engine noise, all while you get lungs full of gas exhaust.. But hey, what's a few scraped knuckles for a good cause?

Before anybody goes all regulatory on me, I want you to know that this entire adventure was condoned by the city. I spent a couple of lunch hours putting together the permit application, including doing my own to-scale drawings. Works of art. I can say that because the inspector was very taken aback (quality, right?) and couldn't complain about a thing when I showed up at the counter to request a permit. He also gave me what I took as a compliment: "Well, it ain't goin' anywhere, is it?". No sirree. Those holes are very very deep. And full of concrete. And rebar.

Things that look rude, but aren't.
If you look carefully, you can see the dogs, still waiting at the door. They are some kind of patient. At this point we couldn't have them out with us because we didn't have the new fence in yet. In retrospect, we really did bite off a lot at one time. You'll see what I mean when we move on to the destruction of the sunroom so we could put a patio in. Because everyone needs 550 square feet of patio. Amen. But a post for another day. I told you we were doing stuff.

To be fair to Norm, I present you with the following, since the picture above might be looked at in a different light than intended:

Top View. THAT makes more sense.
What he is really doing is attaching the ledger board to the house. Very important, that ledger board. I'd like to tell you that we've been able to train Rory to take photographs. It would have saved me a lot of running in and out.

Then we built beams. Because of course you can't just use any ol' wood. Nope, you gotta make it. And if you are making it then there is no better person to visit than my new friend Dan at Lumber King. It has been a long time, but I was there often enough that he must remember the redhead that was a pain in his a** last summer. This guy deals with contractors and other people who know what they need, get in, get out. So, I brought my lovely drawings and my estimate of the materials we needed. Then Dan set me straight. We went out there a few times, and ended up getting our patio pavers from him too. He was busy enough that he didn't have to take the time, but he did. After that kind of straight-up honesty and helpfulness, I won't set foot in a big box store for lumber or decking.

Sandwiched 2x10s and plywood. Or thereabouts.

This permit didn't require an inspection until completion. But that didn't stop the dogs from supervising:

Gotham: Are we there yet?
Rory: Be patient, Grasshopper. Enjoy the sun. Oh, right, I've got it all.

Once you've attached the posts to the concrete footings (for the record, that sentence does no justice to what it actually takes to ensure posts are plumb) and hung the beams (another no justice sentence, right there), then you install the joists:
Gotham. Still there.

Note the lump of dog in the door. 

There ought to be an award for our dogs. It's like they were waiting for their long lost master to come home, the way they waited at that door and watched us. Every. Single. Minute.

Finally, a test run! Gotham isn't easily convinced, but Rory loves a sunbeam. The deck was done enough for him:
This works. I don't know about the rest of you people.

 Here it is, all framed and cross braced. Before we put the deck surface on, we wrapped every exposed edge with a waterproof membrane (not pictured here, but you can see it in previous photos already applied to the beams):
Must have been the dogs' supper time.

Oh right...we'll need stairs. One set here on the cutoff corner leading into the yard. the other set near the opposite corner going down into the future dog run:

And lest you think I do nothing but run in and out of doors taking photos, here is one of me. There could have been more. After all, who else would have fit in between the joists in order to hang each one? In this case, it's limberness more than size that was important:
Safety moment: don't let that latte fall on my head.

That worked out well.

Just to keep things interesting, I wanted the decking laid on the diagonal. You know, because that's how we roll around here. Remember this? Anyway, I just figured the outside living area ought to carry on from the inside. While we were at it, I also thought we should picture-frame the deck boards in a different colour. This made for some good times trimming the overhanging decking back so that one board width with the correct amount of overlap would fit exactly:
Keep it simple? 
If you're still with me, hang tight. Just a few more to go. Here are more official versions of dog testing:
"This appears to be a four-foot drop. Were you aware of this?"

Sun hounds. 

Glass railing on sides, wind wall (not seen here), and stair railings.Not too too bad to install. Had to do some blocking underneath (guess who fits under the deck?) to make sure there was enough material for the 6" bolts and screws that hold the railing to the deck.

And here you have it. This was September 28th, 2013. And I'm still tired.
Happily Ever After.  For now.