September 9, 2006

Home Improvement Update: The Deck

3 months into our tenure as bumbling rookie homeowners, we’re starting to settle into our space. Knick-knacks (BTW: we just spent a good 4 minutes debating the spelling of “knick-knacks” and the philosophy behind it. Hopefully we got it right) are finding their places on shelves, shelves and pictures are finding themselves on walls, and walls are happily adjusting to their new colors. We still have some touchups and final coats left to do on the walls. But thanks in no small part to help from Patty and Gary, we can soon put our paint supplies into long-term storage, deep in the abyss of our cluttered garage. The garage and its organizational well-being are also on our “List”. Recently, we’ve been chipping away at “The List” with other learn-as-we-go conquests like adding pergo flooring, new trim and crown moulding, and hanging track-lighting, and rigging a lighting kit for Patty’s hand-made tiffany chandelier in the kitchen. We also had the bedrooms re-carpeted, and hung new blinds on the southwest facing windows of the house. Even smaller victories are cause for celebration these days. For instance: we finally cropped and framed the tripdic panorama of Gooch’s Beach we shot 2 or 3 years ago. Reversing the swing of the refrigerator door was another life-altering experience for us. But it also granted the fridge itself a stay of execution as it’s asinine orientation had us temporarily baffled as to how and why (a professional handyman) the previous owner had lived with it so long. Another ongoing more ambitious task – one we delay by lying in bed this Saturday morning with the dogs in our new sleigh bed, 40-or-so inches above the ground on our new discounted pillow-top mattress – is the development of our backyard garden landscape. The addition of a raised “lazy” flowerbed along the back fence with a stone retaining wall as well as some trees for ambiance should compliment the mother of all home improvements: THE DECK.

Down the back of each row of townhomes in our neighborhood one sees the small complementary perches attached to the second-floor kitchens and third-floor master suites. Just large enough for a small grill or a single chair (but not both) these crows-nests are often replaced by a more substantial, family-sized deck. That was our goal when we enlisted our resident wood-master, Gary. He studied other decks in the neighborhood and drew up plans to suit our needs. Our ultimate design was to be a 14x14-foot space off the second floor kitchen, with stairs down to the yard and a balustered railing with gaps underneath for convenient snow removal. Future considerations may include the integration of stairs from the bedroom perch as well. Our additional concept of a 3-story fire-pole may be met with some opposition from the town office. So we’ll have to wait on that.

After receiving our permit from the town, and approval from our Home Owners Association, we set Gary into motion. His time is now being divided between the deck, his own home-improvement efforts at their new house in Sandy, Utah, and his new job in the tool and hardware department at Home Depot. Since acclimating to his new house he has been making regular trips up to Heber to complete his mission. His progress is starting to add up. Having removed the old deck he laid out and planned the footprints, dug holes and poured cement for the footings, installed the support cleat and he was ready for the large, pressure-treated posts. Joe helped him steady those beasts as the angles all fell into place as planned. The long boards that Gary had pre-cut and stained went up next completing the first and most important structural asset, the post and lintel (thanks Art History 101). A day later, like a man possessed, Gary had finished installing the entire framework with all the beams set up in their parallel glory, outlining the actual shape of the deck. As the deck starts to come together we are excited to pick out deck furniture and have people over. What’s more is that we can see the culmination of efforts as this house becomes a home. Our home. And we have to thank Gary (and Patty cheering him on from Maine) for all his hard work and patience, helping us along the way.

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