Wednesday, December 3, 2014

More Square Footage...Sort Of

The wood with a pinkish hue is reclaimed.
Last weekend we started putting together our deck!

I had almost started to accept that we would be headed into another winter without some kind of deck. To exit a house directly onto steps can be quite precarious at times, and leaves no landing space to knock off boots or set down bags when opening the door. Needless to say, I was bummed when the snow started to cover up our lumber pile and harden up the ground. 

I doubted nice weather would land on a weekend for some time. I'm glad to be wrong! And I'm glad to have a husband that has somehow cultivated a stubbornly motivated streak. We had other plans for the weekend, which included a good time with some family and friends, but that was all thrown off by our heater going on the fritz.

Saturday evening, the heater started acting funky and then just wouldn't do anything beyond hold a pilot flame. The first half of Sunday was then handed over to learning about thermocouples and other possible reasons for failure. We were both kind of annoyed at the sudden change of plans and new challenge. We just finally got the thing installed a few weeks ago! 

After a few hours of fiddling and research and a trip to the big box store for a piece that didn't fit, we figured it out. Our thermocouple had slipped down slightly from its original position in the stove and was no longer being hit by the pilot flame. Without the pilot flame to heat up the end of the thermocouple- the mechanism that opens gas to the additional burners in the stove does not function. 

We put the original back in place and made certain it gets hit by the pilot flame. We were peeved about missing the outing, but glad to have the heater working again and learning a little more about our stove. Good thing it was a fairly warm couple of days too!

After the heater was all set, Dan figured we might as well work on the deck. It wasn't too cold out and the snow was beginning to melt. We had started to get framing done on Saturday and then hoped to get a good amount done when the weather was nice again. 

Saturday, we were able to put together the framing and begin digging out the areas for the post blocks. It was definitely a weekend of crabby patty moments. We started to get frustrated when we couldn't agree on how to approach setting up the blocks for the deck. It is quite tricky when you have a sloping piece of ground and no larger tools to help you stay even and square to the house. We would get one block level and in place only to find that other blocks needed to be moved to account for what we just changed. 

Finally, we found an approach that seemed to work best. We laid the actual framing over the tops of the blocks to know where each should go. We decided we would cut the four legs to equal length and then dig down to make sure the deck remained level. We chose to start with the two legs at the front of the deck and then base the rest off of those. Once we had half of the deck framing in place, I held the second half of framing on the lip that connects the two halves, while Dan went around with the level telling me to lift and lower as needed. Once I was holding the deck at a level position, he measured how long the last two legs would need to be. 

With the way the ground slants, we would have had to dig down a couple feet to put the blocks in and then add legs. This was smarter, easier, and quicker. As we started to put the boards across the top of the framing, my excitement rose. It had been a challenging weekend, but the fruit of our labors was coming around. Seeing a nice level, CLEAN, surface begin to grow in front of our door gave us the energy needed to push on and work well into the dark. We didn't have quite enough wood to do the whole deck. We ended up using some pieces of wood to create additional support. We mixed new and re-claimed wood in a pattern as we went. Dan and I like the idea of that wood so much that we are thinking of going back to the pile and seeing if anything else could be salvaged--we also like not having to pay for that wood! 

Monday morning, when I walked out the door for work, I couldn't help but give a little whoop of joy. It may be a small thing, but I rejoiced in the fact that I wasn't immediately stumbling down steps while still trying to close the door behind me. Half the time, I would end up closing my bag or coat in the door, or even dropping something as I bumble out into the world. Somehow, our place feels bigger too. Maybe it's the fact that I have a space to leave some muddy boots for a few minutes or set out a bin of recyclables before we take it to the main barrel. I can even put my groceries down and open the door with ease! And I cannot wait for the first time we sit out on our deck and share a drink or a meal as we look out over the beautiful farm. :)

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  1. Looks great! Now you may want a cover or pergola. Does it get hot in the summer where you are? :) Would look cute with a pergola so you could hang herbs and flowers from it. :)

    1. Thanks Hannah and Bobbi! And yes, we do have plans to add some kind of roof for shade in the summer and snow/rain cover. We just aren't sure how we want to approach it yet. Stay tuned! :)

  2. At least you were able to whip up a replacement in time. Getting a new heater can be an exacting process, but primarily in terms of evaluation. And getting a new unit is absolutely necessary with winter seemingly settling nicely for the holiday season in your earea, so that was a really timely save. Anyways, wish you all the best!

    Tommy Hopkins @ AccuTemp

    1. Thanks, Tommy! And yes, we were feeling pretty lucky that we figured out the issue before real cold sets in!