The work had begun just after noon on Friday, when my father and I arrived to find the materials that LaValley's had delivered that morning, and the first order of business was to create a 2x6 'box' between the deck joists over the beam to ensure that the porch posts' load transferred directly to the ground rather than relying on the strength of the decking and joists alone. That having been done, we turned to the decking.
I considered composite material, but - at over 3 times the cost of pressure-treated ($400 vs. $125 for a 6.5'x14' deck) - it was out of my budget. I think of decking as being 'quick work', but the process of ensuring uniform spacing both 1) of all boards and 2) over the length of each individual board required that one of us gauge the spacing and insert the screws while the other pushed or pulled on the end to compensate for each board's bow. We had just finished when Mr Big pulled in just in time for beer and steaks. Uncanny timing.
|"If we were taller we'd be able to touch the top of this post."|
In retrospect, here's where I went wrong: For some reason, I constructed a Byzantine process for holding the boards in place and marking the cuts by eye rather than simply doing the math and laying the rafters out with a carpenter's square. I let myself be intimidated by the fact that -- unlike the cabin roof -- I was dealing with a hipped roof that would require multiple compound angles. After futzing around for a couple of hours and finally losing all hope (maybe I should just build a pergola?), I pulled out the carpenter's square and did it the right way.
|Its a miracle!|
And wouldn't you know it worked
- The Paslode would periodically decide to go on a 15-20 minute holiday, its indicator light mocking us in green or red and refusing to respond to any of the manual's remedies until it was good and ready.
- I swear to God every other sentence uttered that afternoon was "Where's the pencil?" Why did we have only one pencil? Why didn't one of us keep it in a pocket? In the future, I'm bringing at least 5 pencils to the job site; one will be tied to the mitre saw, and another is going to be Velcroed to my hat.
- We forgot two ancient pieces of advice: 'Measure twice, cut once' and 'quit while you're ahead'. Rather than resting for the night on our framing laurels, we cut the first piece of sheathing into a shape that was breathtaking in how poorly it fit the roof. Breathtaking, I tell you.
|"That's what all those games of Tetris were for..."|
While all of this was going on, Dan and Tom -- of Taylor Excavating -- were hard at work on the septic system. They began work on Friday morning, and were essentially done by Saturday night. The work will be inspected by Marquise and Morano early this week, and then Dan will finish covering, grading and seeding in about a week. He's also going to set the Sonotubes for the back deck, and -- depending upon the final costs -- possible topsoil and seed the east side of the cabin as well.
|Our beautiful new septic tank in situ|
|The first official beer on the porch.|