The Summer of the Deck

I’ve been MIA for a bit—you may have noticed. I’ve been pouting. Sometimes I wonder how I ever got so naive when it comes to construction projects.

Let’s call this the summer of the deck. Not the lovely summer where we host barbecues, enjoy new deck furniture, admire the view, and while away hours. This is the summer where month after month after month, we have guys working on the deck; doors and windows closed to keep out the dust, dirt, noise, and toxic fumes; plants and deck furniture littering the living room, so they can recoat.

Remember back in May when me and the MR went away with my brother and sister-in-law for a long weekend? I was hoping to myself that the deck guys would be done—nope. Then we visited Sweet Miss and moved Baby Girl home—still working. Next we went to eastern Washington to look at wedding venues—not done yet. After a few weeks in Europe they’d have to be finished—what were you thinking? Finally on our last trip to visit Sweet Miss and see the eclipse, the end was in sight.

What we thought was a fairly simple job of replacing the soffit exposed a lot of rot, poorly designed drainage for the railing posts, and extensive rot on the stairs. Sometimes one thing leads to another, and so on, and so on.

So here’s a few highlights from the summer of the deck. We removed the hot tub and now have a large space for plants, sunbathing, and a shower that we’d like to make into a dog washing station. (That’s for you Cocoa the mud hound.)

All the work on the lower deck revealed some major problems with the box supporting the landing between the two sets of stairs.

So that long run of stairs down to the meadow was held up with posts for a while. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t feeling very safe.

Next they found problems with the stair risers, so we told Cocoa to stop using the stairs.

Cocoa, we said you can’t go down the stairs.

All of this in record-breaking temperatures with the heat radiating off the deck.

It looked like things were nearing completion.

And then they found more troubles with the lower stairs. When the stairs were reattached, the workers noticed that they were sagging and the railings where pulling away from the stairs. Guess what had to be replaced next?

All of that created a lot of dirt and disruption.

You may be asking yourself will this ever end. I’m right there with you. Currently, the box supporting the landing still needs to be textured to match the rest of the house, and there’s an issue with caulking on the soffit that started this whole mess.

The cost of the job more than doubled across the summer. Initially the work was to be completed in a few weeks, but with each new problem it was extended. Unfortunately, other jobs were also on the schedule, so the work was a bit hit-and-miss.

Is our deck safer? Yes. It’s a lot of time and money, but we’re hoping this will help keep it in good shape for many years to come. The MR laughed and joked that we paid a lot for our deck to look exactly the same minus the hot tub.

In all honesty, we did enjoy many afternoons and evenings on the deck when the workers weren’t around.

Me and Cocoa now feel safe walking down all those stairs.

Note: the skies are pink. It is not sunset; it is smoke from forest fires. We also have patches of red dotting the inside of the house from the sunlight. With forest fires and hurricane victims, our troubles are few.

Having a wrap-around deck in our climate comes at a price, but we do love it.

And just to prove it wasn’t all deck frustrations and duldrums this last month, we enjoyed dinners with friends, found Sweet Miss’ wedding dress, and had a great time in eclipse totality.

Best of all Baby Girl made it home safe and sound from her European adventure, and we’ll be all together next weekend. I do love my family.

Any construction horror stories you’d like to share?

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Power of Technology

When I was a kid, my dad would be working on some project around the house and usually wind up needing a part. This was before the age of big-box stores, but he had a go-to place—McLendon Hardware.  They always had what he needed.

Fast forward a year or two, and my how life has changed. Our 20-year-old faucet in the shower started dripping. It’s not the kind of sound you long to hear in the middle of the night. So the MR put his dad on the case. Unfortunately, we don’t have any documentation, and he couldn’t find any registration or markings telling the model number.

Hmm, what to do next? After talking to the help desk at Koehler, Papa Larry had Sweet Miss take a picture with his phone of the part, so he could then email it to the help desk, and they could identify the faucet and what we would need.

Before you know it, they were shipping out the replacement valve, and the MR installed it earlier this week.

 

Now we can enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep.

While a cell phone picture and email worked out for the shower, there are times old-fashioned is best. The MR ordered a tune-up kit for the riding lawn mower that matched up with the model but had the wrong parts. The guy online from Florida couldn’t help us; they don’t make a kit for that model he said. The lady at the local John Deere dealer in Snohomish knew exactly what we needed. She said she’d set aside one for the guys, so they could come and pick it up.

Computers are a good thing, but sometimes a real person is what you need.

 

 

Rotten Luck

Sometime when you look at something from afar, it all looks fine. I’m one to think all is well and good, but the MR has a more discerning eye.

I think the deck is great; he says it’s falling apart. Hmm…guess whose right? I’m pretty lucky to have him around. While I might consider new curtains, I’m not that concerned about soffits. We have synergy; we’re better togther.

So when he suggested we have someone come out and look at the deck, I was totally agreeable. It seemed OK to me, but what do I know? Apparently not a lot when it comes to deck care and maintenance.

We appear to have some trouble.

The plan was to replace the 2×12 board all around the deck and remove and replace any rotting boards. Our contractors bid came in at a fairly reasonable price, and then they got started. 

We had much of the lower deck and stair landing replaced our first summer here, and we had the upper deck recoated two years ago, and half of it re-recoated last summer. How bad can it be? In a word, bad. 

Washington is a full disclosure state. When buy a home, the previous owners are required by law to tell you all about their home repair woes. This was a short sale; somehow the bank was in the middle of the deal and all that transparency wound up pretty murky. 

I thought we had a pretty clear picture of what we were getting into with our 100-page inspection report. The world is full of surprises. Turns out we’re finding all sorts of things no one told us about. 

The deck is surrounded by 38 metal posts that have drainage holes a little too high. So water sits in the bottom of the posts till the wood around them rots. Apparently, in the past they’ve replaced the wood around the posts and left them bolted into a piece of rotted wood or in some cases nothing. 

Our contractor is cutting the bolts from the bottom removing/replacing all rot, and then when we have the deck recoated in a few years, they’ll remove the bolts from the top and refasten them to solid wood—at least that’s the plan. 

Now you may be wondering how that solves the problem of the leaky metal posts; it doesn’t. So the plan is to drill a hole in the bottom of each post, attach tubing flush, and then run it back into the crawl space where it’ll drain harmlessly into the dirt. 


Our two week project has now been extended to three accompanied by a commensurate jump in price. May is turning into a noisy month. But I will feel safer once it’s all done. 


Ever have one of those projects that just kept getting bigger?

Sweep & Scrub

I’ve been looking at the front porch lately thinking it needs a little help. The daphne I bought a few years ago just isn’t thriving. I need to buy some flowers or some shade plants that would add just the right punch of color.

But did I get around to it? No. And then we were having friends over for dinner, and our front porch looked like this.

We had spider webs, and bugs, and all sorts of nasty. In an effort to keep the daphne alive, I’d does it with some worm tea that overflowed all over the porch and runner. This is not warm and welcoming.

With picking up around the house, and getting things together for company, I didn’t have time to wander around looking for a plant for the front porch, so instead I grabbed my broom and swept away the dirt and dust. One of those magic erase sponges worked wonders on the plant ring and the threshold stains. A good hosing of the outdoor runner helped get rid of the worm tea.

Is is perfect? No. Is it warm and welcoming? I think so.

That's Cocoa's thumbs up ear in the photo. She likes this place, too.

I still want to do a little shopping and find some flowers for the step, but this time I think I’ll go for annuals, so when they die I won’t feel like a failure. And maybe the pillow from the little bench remake would be a better size for the chair.

Baby Girl’s painting is getting a little worn, but I can always swap it out for another one she made. And the MR has been power washing the deck this week (think of all those white railings), so maybe I can ask him to power wash the runner, too.

So many things I could do, but for now I’m happy with my sweep and scrub.

When has a little elbow grease worked wonders for you?

You can check out other plants I’ve killed in the name of a pretty front porch here and https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/first-impressions/ and https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/not-any-other-way/

 

 

 

 

It’s Not Going Away

You know how sometimes you ignore those little nuisances hoping they’ll just disappear? We’ve been doing that lately. We have a rattle that’s been driving me crazy. Let’s say you take 10 noisy refrigerators, stick them in a tiny room in your entry, close the door and pretend you don’t hear them. That’s kind of our problem except instead of refrigerators it’s the heating system that’s making all the noise. 

It’s taken me awhile to call because it’s just a little rattle, right? Before you know it, summer will be here and we won’t even need the heating system. Besides, when I call, they ask all these hard questions like is it the boiler? Or the heat pump? It’s the closet doesn’t seem accurate enough…

So a few weeks ago, I bit the bullet and made the call. Between my dad and the MR, I had a few key phrases to throw out. It sounds like a bearing is wearing out in the heat converter system. I’m pretty sure the lady on the phone could see right through me, but she scheduled a service call.

Sometimes a rattle is way more than a rattle—ugh. We have a leak in the system, major corrosion, seized up parts, and no heat. Hmm, maybe I should have called sooner. 

Apparently the tubing that runs under our feet and heats our floors lets in air that creates rust in the system. They have a plan, and they’ll be back, and they replaced the bad pump, so we now have heat. But yes, we still have that rattle. 

At least spring truly seems to have arrived with a string of rainless days. 


Every just ignore a rattle?

Life Is Messy

Sweet Miss’ Fella shared an article on Facebook last week. While the source was a mountain biker, it promised to share general truths, so I figured I could relate. It was actually saying what I’ve been hearing from lots of sources recently. What you see online may be true, but there’s a lot of garbage stuff that happens in life that doesn’t make into the story. Sometimes, you just want to show the smiles and not the tears; the beauty and not the mess.

So, in an effort to embrace the messier parts of life, I’m going to share with you a little story I like to call “In Search of the Big Stink.” It all started last Thursday, when I noticed a certain odor in the entry near the powder room after I got up in the morning. Maybe we needed to have the septic tank drained, maybe Cocoa had been very naughty, or maybe something had died. I was leaning towards the last.

As the work week wrapped up and the evil scent remained, the MR got busy. First, he drilled holes, cut out sections of sheet rock, and removed the sink from the powder room. The smell seemed to be somewhere in the walls between the powder room, our bathroom, and the MR’s closet.

After talking to some local plumbers, he was fairly convinced it wasn’t a plumbing issue or a leaky pipe. Eventually, the MR drilled exploratory holes in the walls and found the section where the smell was coming from. Then it was just a matter of locating the source. Eventually, after crawling around under the house, he found a dead rodent, removed it, and we were expecting the smell to subside.

Sometimes things take time. Wednesday, I came home to find piles of insulation outside, and yesterday, the MR sprinkled the remaining insulation in that area with carpet fresh which should help with the lingering odor.

Meanwhile this week, I found mouse dropping on the dryer and upstairs. This has been an issue off and on since we moved in. We’ve decided it’s time to talk to a professional. While I was looking for recommendations, I noticed you can adopt feral cats to deal with mice. You just have to provide some type of shelter and food. It could be worth looking into, but I worry about coyotes, and Cocoa, and other critters. These would have to be really tough feral cats.

Now that the search is over, the MR is perfecting his texturing skills. I hope we have some touch up paint.

See it’s not all goodness and light around here. Sometimes it’s mouse poop and stink. It’s all good, as long as we keep our sense of humor.

I’d love to hear your stories of when life gets messy…we can’t be the only ones.