If you have been following me on Instagram, you’ve most likely seen some pictures of the deck. If you have any concept of time, you have noticed that it seems to be dragging on for quite a while. Yea… tell me about it. It is SO ridiculous I am not sure you will even believe the comedy it has become…of course, I am going to tell you anyway and I promise, I am not making a bit of it up.
Ok.. bear with me.. the post is pretty long…
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Here is where we started:
What you can’t really see just yet are these odd “wings” on the sides that were created when the people we bought the house from (the second owners) decided to chop the deck in half at some point (surely there was a legitimate reason). What was here originally (first owners) was a large, deck with shade and trellis (I saw pictures). What we got, is… well not that. So, we decided to tear out the deck and build a new differently shaped one and add a screened porch. This is a task that while I “could” do… I am aware of my limitations and decided it would get done faster and I would be less stressed if we hired someone… Didn’t G-d laugh in my face at this decision…
I have a friend who is in the construction biz. I asked him if he wanted to help us build a deck and screened porch and he suggested I hire the company he had just started working with. I met the owner, he seemed nice, the price was decent so we went ahead and hired them. It was late Spring and they had some projects to finish up so there was a bit of a delay getting started.
Have you ever tried to get a permit from your county? Well, I hadn’t since nothing I have ever done required one. Let me just tell you, it’s not an easy thing. We live on THIRTEEN acres and the house sits square in the middle of the property. You can hardly see any of the houses around us, and they were VERY concerned about the neighbors. Umm.. the deer and turkeys? Because I don’t think they care.
Then there was the issue of the septic tank. Apparently they prefer it be 10 feet from any structure. Well see, here’s the thing… it’s not 10 feet from the house and the end of the deck sat not even 10 inches from the clean out cover. Since they allowed the sale of the house and said nothing, we had a discussion. If I agreed not to go any further out than the current deck already was (which I wasn’t planning on and they saw that), they would allow an exception. The permit was issued just before Labor Day. Surely that will be the worst of this project, right? HA!
Teardown happened before we left for our vacation in upstate NY but that was about it. You can see those odd “wings” here:
Here is what the deck (and my backyard) looked like when I left for vacation:
Then we had a hiccup. The wall that would be part of the interior of the porch had what “might” be termite damage.
No problem. We just bought the house that was declared termite free.. a call to the pest control people would verify all was well. Guess what?! Not termites! Nope, worse- Fairly massive water damage. (can you hear the “Debbie Downer” music?) Yep, nothing at all on the home inspection about that.
Ugh. So the wall went from this:
Yes- can you see the bottom? Yep, those are ALL rotten. BIG GIANT SAD FACE. Ok, whatever… agree to a change order, they can fix that too. No problem, on with the show!
They laid out the shape on the mulch to get a good idea of where it all needed to be (realistically, I am certain they did this to get me to stop asking so many questions).
Moving on, we came back from vacation to the frame and decking down. Woot!
However, while we were gone, I got a text from the contractor.. there was an accident. The foreman was crawling under the deck to secure a few things with a new nail gun and his finger on the trigger (PLEASE don’t do this!), he bumped into something and SHOT HIMSELF IN THE KNEECAP! Seriously! Now, have you ever seen the X-ray of the guy who shot himself in the head and it managed to miss every single important anything? Well, this was like that. I will spare you the gruesome photos (email me if you want to see), but he managed to get “only a flesh wound” and miss everything and anything important (including his knee cap). There were prayers of thanksgiving sent up that day. He’s a good guy.. I can’t even stomach the thought that someone (especially such a decent and just “good” man) would have been injured seriously on my project, so HOORAY for small miracles!
A few days after we got back, “walls” were being erected!
This is awesome!
I came back one day and the guy who was working asked me if I liked the stain he was applying to the beams for the roof…
Umm. NO. It’s horrid. I had a whole conversation with the owner about stain colors- this was orange… the one color I dislike more than all the others on decks.
Ok, I breathe… It’s just the roof, I won’t look up… it’s fine.
Turns out there was a misunderstanding about stain color- Did you know that the “cherry” color on one brand of stain looks very much like raw cedar when you apply it to pine and the “cherry” color of another brand looks very much like the orange stain I despise more than just about anything in the world? SO yea.. guess which one he was using? DOH! I was totally willing to deal with it and live.. they absolutely insisted on buying new wood and staining it the “right” color. The company owner couldn’t imagine leaving it that way. Even he was “impressed” with the intensity of the orange tone. Here is a photo for comparison. Unfortunately in the sun, it’s not nearly as vivid as real life… total bummer, but I think you get the idea.
On the left is the cedar that is used to build the “walls” of the porch. The center is the “orange-red” stain, and the right is the intended “cherry”- SO much better.
OK, crisis averted! Too much wood wasted, but you can assure I would not let it go to a landfill. If they are throwing it away, I will find something to build… Let’s go!
Roof goes up, beams in place. angles on the roof were working out perfectly… I run out on an errand then come back and the guys are running around with this strange body language. The foreman walks past and I catch his eye… “we have to tear the whole roof off.” he says. Yea.. he’s not joking. The walls they had erected were 4 1/2 inches too high. The angles were exactly what they were supposed to be on paper… but it wasn’t lining up with the house roof properly.. it took him a while to figure out the problem. I am glad he did, and Ouch…this blows.
Ok, so two days of work undone in a couple of hours.. More yuck- the roof is all erected with nails, because it’s faster. this means you can’t really “undo” it easily. So the waste when you have to take it down immediately is immense. Yeah, more wood for me.. but more time and expense for the poor contractor.
Hey- did you know when you put a screened porch on a house, you have to cut holes in the house roof to tie it into the existing roof? Yea, you also have to attach the porch roof to the house roof and build this thing called a cricket (or sometimes a saddle). It diverts the water flow properly so it doesn’t pool and build up, get under the shingles, or into the house, and cause a big mess. So they’re a bit complicated and if you don’t get them finished and you don’t get the holes sealed up properly and it rains, it could be a problem.
You know what else is a problem? If you start laying out and attaching the “beadboard” (actually T1-11 panel siding) before you get the second layer of plywood and tar paper up and then you get a TORRENTIAL downpour. Yea.. like you have NEVER seen- EVER! Check it out:
Indeed, that is my poor husband dragging every piece of anything he can onto the roof to keep the water from getting in and ruining the back half of the house. and oh yea! remember that wall they pulled all the siding off way back in the beginning of this? Yea… It had water POURING onto it and inside it during all this… all that insulation they put in there? Forget about it. Ugh. We looked a bit like chickens with our heads cut off. We would have been less wet if we stood in the shower completely dressed. Yes, we could just let it happen and the company fix it… but seriously, this is our home. I don’t want to live through those kind of renovations right now. Plus the areas that would have been destroyed weren’t places that really need anything but paint… No thanks.
Oh yea, that T1-11? it’s roughly $600 to replace it all. It was completely warped from all the rain, stained from the water soak through and just not even salvageable. Ugh. So much sadness.
They came out to work on it, pull off the old top, fix and add more siding and the heavens opened AGAIN- It was insanity! Water started pouring in the sliding glass door onto the hardwood floors from the top of the door frame under the porch (non-existent) “roof” through the hole in the house roof (there to attach the porch). Luckily they were here, could stop it right away and help make sure there was no lasting damage. (no pics of this, I was too busy sopping it up with towels, sorry)
Moving on… 3rd times the charm? T1-11 Reinstalled, plywood on top, roofer came out and installed shingles. he ran out of the right style/color just as he finished so he used what he had on hand (completely different color) and finished the job.
I have absolutely no problem with this and was super grateful. He came back the next day (which was a Saturday) with the rest of the shingles of the same color and fixed it. I was appreciative that he didn’t leave us unprotected had we had another “soaker” before he could get back (miracle of miracles, we didn’t).
Local requirements are for “hurricane” ties. These are pieces of metal you secure to the roof and also the frame in case of high winds. Nothing like watching your roof get ripped off the house I’m sure. Hurricane Ties help avoid that. I noticed they’re made by Simpson Strong Tie (more on them another day, but this deck could NOT have been built without them).
There has to be one for every beam on the roof and one on each side (left and right) so total it was 16 installed. They can be installed on the inside or outside under the roof soffit. If you are installing drywall to cover them up, it makes no difference. If you have an open roof like on a porch, you’d most likely want them in the soffits so they are unseen. They’re not necessarily unsightly per se… they just kind of ruin the “vibe’ ‘ya know?
Guess where mine were installed? Umm.. Yea the “wrong” side.. of course! Can you see the 5 nails on the bottom of that? There are 5 more on the top… Yea.. 10 each…. 16 ties… 160 nails have to be pulled… 80 nail holes will be visible when the whole thing is finished (possibly, we’re working on a “fix). Ok.. it gets “better”.
The same day those were installed, we also got holes cut into the Trex decking for the deck railing supports. When you lay out the support “plan”, you have the one post against the house or start area, then the end one, then you put the other ones in the center or evenly spaced along the area you have left depending on the span. Guess what? The poor guy who cut the four holes in the deck forgot to account for the 4″ post that goes up against the house and on the deck side… he cut 4 holes that were about 3 1/3 inches off. Ugh. I was willing to work with it until the contractor pointed out it would mess up the spacing on the rails and might look obviously off.. ok, my OCD can’t handle that. So he ordered replacement Trex boards. I was really unhappy with the thought of more waste but luckily they haven’t done the steps yet, so they can use those pieces for the steps.. WHEW!
So the very few hours that had been spent on installing hurricane straps and cutting holes resulted in roughly 16 plus man hours of nail pulling and relaying of decking with new holes and posts.
The good news is, we seem to be past the setbacks for the moment (Thank you Jesus!) and moving in a forward direction. The same day (just last Friday) they all showed up en masse to fix the ties and holes, they managed to do all that and get this far:
Then they came back on Sunday (yes, Sunday) and got to here:
Whew…so here is the thing. I would TOTALLY still recommend this contractor. He’s a good guy, he’s made any even mild issue right and is doing everything he can to get this done. He completely agrees with me it has drug on ENTIRELY too long… it should have been done and over a month ago at least.
I guess at this point you can see why I have been “quiet”. The “DIY” kind of takes a bit of a backseat when you have chaos like this going on. Believe me, I have PLENTY that needs to be done. School is back in session now though, so between that and this project heading to a close soon, this blog should be far more “interesting” soon.
I’m hopeful this week results in steps and (a BIG maybe) gutters…. We are essentially on hold until the county approves the footers for the steps, which “should” happen tomorrow.
I’ll warn you now, I couldn’t ask for regular steps. I know the guys have been cursing me already… I want cascade steps… yep- those wrap around lovely, large, impressive stairs. I figure they can also be used for additional seating when we have people over.
So if you’re still here, thank you for hanging in there. Did you ever have a project that went on WAY too long? I’d love to hear all about it so I at least know I am not alone…