Uncategorized

About updates

We’re experiencing the first snowfall of the season here in New England. The first one is always so beautiful and quiet. I grew up on a mountain in East Tennessee where we would sit on the front porch and watch the snow for hours. It is still as magical now as it was then.

[Later, though, after shoveling what seems to be tons of the stuff…. We’re not so thrilled about it.]


It’s been really busy around our house lately. We spend our days at work then come home to hammer or saw in the basement. Because of his hours, Ed’s able to put in more time on the basement than me. I help when I can, and stay out of the way when necessary. 😊

I’m really proud of the work Ed’s done. He’s a perfectionist in all that he does and this project is no exception.

Rather than going on about it, here’s a short video to show you our progress.


Finally, next week is Thanksgiving (already?!). While we won’t see all our family this year, we still feel so very blessed to have them and our friends in our lives.

We all wish you the very best this season. As we jump into chaos that can be the holidays, pause a moment.

Stop rushing around for a minute to say thanks. To God. To your spouse. To your kids. To your family and friends.

“Let us come before him with Thanksgiving…” Psalm 95:2

Enjoy the little moments for themselves. Disconnect from the world and connect with

what’s really important.

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Reach out to a stranger and say hello. Help a neighbor. Spread a little cheer in what can be a cheerless world for so many.

“Love one another. As I have lived you so must you love one another.” John 13:34

May God bless you all. And have a Happy Holi-DIY Season! 😉

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basements, renovations, Structure, Uncategorized

About framing

The hubby has been measuring, cutting, nailing and banging on 2×4’s all weekend. He’s gotten a great deal of the space framed in already: office, bathroom (except door), wet bar. It’s a slow, meticulous process that would drive me nuts. I’m all for the touchy-feely part of design. The innards of walls do not interest me at all.

Some pics showing the progress:

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This is where the bathroom sink will go.
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Toilet and stand-up shower area is shown here. Not pretty at all … yet.
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A sink and cabinets will go here. On the other side of the wall (where Ed is standing) will be my exercise room. A room of soft colors, and music, a tv for my yoga videos, and lots of zen. 🙂

Someone asked me what my design style was for the space. Our house is cottage style and we’ve decorated it in both new and used furniture. I suppose our “style” is more eclectic than any one particular style, but we lean toward Farmhouse Country. Maybe with a more uptown flair, more sophisticated than milk pails and all distressed finishes.

That’s not to say I don’t like distressed furniture. I do. In fact, as I ruined the finish on Ed’s mother’s dining room table this summer with a craft project, I’m going to refinish it this winter. The plan is to create something like this by the time I’m done. I have a hexagonal end table and a matching coffee table that I’ll do as well, if the project is successful. Ed’s cousin’s daughter-in-law did the same with some of the end tables from the set and they’re gorgeous. I’d like to think his Mom would like it when I’m done.

Some Farmhouse Country details I want to work into the space include a “brick” backsplash at the wet bar, a distressed/used dresser or table for the bathroom sink base, baskets in the cubbies that will make up the office “wall.” The TV space will feature some old movie posters and memorabilia.

More walls to come. And floors. And bookcases. Lots more.

Have a wonderful week and stay happy!

basements, renovations, Uncategorized

About staircases

Fall has come to New England with brisk winds and cooler temperatures. Leaves are excitedly spinning their way down to the earth for their winter’s nap. I can’t keep the bird feeders full (mostly thanks to a really fat squirrel) as the birds prepare for winter.

In the middle of all this, we keep on with the basement reno.

When we started drawing up the plans to renovate the basement, we ran into a problem with the staircase. Although the original plans called for a partly closed staircase, the builder chose not to do that. Instead they installed a staircase that spanned the entire width of the opening. To fit the new plans, we have to remove the staircase and rebuild it.

Below are a series of pictures that show how we removed it and then rebuilt the whole thing in a weekend.

We cut out the center of the stairs to jump start the removal process. It made it a lot easier.

The stairs are gone! The posts to the left and right will be removed as well.
Math. Lots of math.
If you can, use the old stringers as a template.

Attached to the top.
The board at the bottom will be anchored to the floor once the center stringer is set.
Level on the first try! 😉
Day 1 is complete. This is the view from the top of the opening.

Day 2

Installing the risers. I finally get to play with some cool power tools.

Because of the difference in floor installation from the original stairway, we had to adjust the rise on the last few steps. This was to avoid a problem with the change in height from one step to another. Instead it spread that distance out among steps.

Note that the flooring has been installed closer to the stairs.
All finished! We’re going to bring a wall down on the left side to step 5. Right side will be a complete wall.

Now we have a set of stairs whose new width allows for a stair skirt and drywall on each side. We’ll install a temporary railing to use until that’s complete.

All in all, the job took about 10 hours. Cost in materials was about $300.

Enjoy the fall weather wherever you are and happy DIY, y’all!

Hurricane Florence

about hurricanes and Florence

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I’m not going to write about renovations and upgrades today. I just can’t do that when there are people in my home states who may not have a home to go to much less renovate.

Hurricane Florence made landfall Friday, September 14, 2018, and she is one for the record books. Florence hit Wilmington, NC, head on and the damage has been massive. Homes and businesses destroyed. Trees ripped from the ground. Rivers and streams reaching all-time high-water marks. And copious amounts of rain. It’s Sunday and it’s still raining across North Carolina and into Tennessee and Kentucky as Florence makes a right turn and heads to New England. Once the rain stops and folks can get back into their neighborhoods and homes, we’ll learn just how extensive the damage is. It’s heartbreaking.

We have friends and family in the path of the storm who, thankfully, have evacuated inland. They are all safe and hope to return home in the coming days. (I thank God that our son — who lived in Wilmington and, most recently, on Wrightsville Beach, for nearly 11 years — left the city in January to start travel nursing.)

So, instead of showing you our progress pics, I’m going to ask you to take a moment and say a prayer. Please pray for those who have been affected by Hurricane Florence. They’re going to be dealing with the ramifications of this storm for months, if not years, to come.

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If you’d like to help, you can give to several different charities. One that is dear to our hearts as United Methodists is the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR.org). 100% of your donation will go to the designated fund of your choice (e.g., U.S. Disaster Response). The overhead costs of UMCOR are covered via annual fundraising within local churches and elsewhere.

UMCOR will be distributing supplies, cleaning kits, and more in the coming days and weeks. To replenish the supply of cleaning kits, using the checklist, fill a 5-gallon bucket with supplies like bleach and rubber gloves, masks, and more. Contact a local United Methodist Church or Congregational Church to see where you can drop off your filled bucket.

Thank you.

 

basements, preparation, renovations

about preparing your space for renovation

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin

“In all matters, before beginning, a diligent preparation should be made.”
― Marcus Tullius Cicero, On Duties

Don’t let anyone tell you differently. There’s no such thing as a perfectly ready-to-DIY space. Our basement is no exception. Taking the time to prepare the space carefully will prevent minor slowdowns, maybe even some major problems. Our preparation checklist started with sweeping the room, even the window and concrete sills. Inspect everything! We looked over, under, in, and behind everything we could reach. As a result, we were able to find any imperfections that we could fix on our own.

The walls were a little uneven where point the concrete pours matched. It was easy to knock off the uneven edges with a hammer and concrete chisel. We applied an epoxy that expanded all the way thru to the outside in one crack. We created our own lava flow! There’s no chance of anything coming in now. The rest of the room’s walls are in terrific condition.

We removed some plastic sheeting and pulled down batt insulation to inspect for mold before we installed the first layer of insulation: 2″ thick XPS rigid foam boards. Those were installed with concrete screws and ceiling disks (to prevent the screw from sinking too far into the foam). Foam boards have an R value of about 5. More insulation will be added later.

My husband installed wood fire-blocking and foam insulation at the top of the walls to impede a fire’s progress to the next floor should we have one.

We have a couple of contractors coming in the next week or so: a plumber to rough in a small bathroom, and an electrician to install a sub-panel for the space. In the meantime, our chore list continues:

  • install a window in the confines of the new space
  • break thru the concrete floor in the bathroom area and prep for the plumber
  • begin installing the sub-floor using DRICORE® squares.
  • set the bottom plate around the bathroom

We pushed pause on the renovation to install a post for my bird feeders today. We have a resident chipmunk who would climb onto the feeders where they hung off the deck. He’d sit on the perch and call all his friends with a little bark before stuffing his cheeks full of seeds and running home. Then he was back for more. Those little buggers eat a lot of bird food! While I think they’re really cute, I don’t appreciate him wiping out a feeder in a day.

As I type this, Dean (so named because of a favorite TV character) and his squirrel friend are circling the post trying to figure a way up there. It’s covered in a PVC post protector. Sorry, Dean. Better luck next time.

Until next time, enjoy the fall weather wherever you are and Happy DIY-ing!

PS. Tell me what you think about our new look. We thought it was time to update the page to reflect our current projects.

 

 

 

 

basements, renovations, Room Reno

About new adventures

Life in New England continues to be an adventure for us. We have moved to a small town in Connecticut into a home that is not nearly as old as our last one.

This cottage has a full, unfinished basement. There’s space for storage, a workbench or two, and a home office. (My husband’s new job affords him the ability to work from home a couple days a week.) All that space, for my husband, is a blank canvas that needs to be painted upon.

Our plan is to finish about half the space — about 750 square feet — and keep the storage and workbench in place.

This gives you an idea what we’re working with. It’s a bit rough around the edges but has “good bones,” as they say. No leaks, proper wiring and insulation, exposed water lines, and a double-door to the back yard. A blank canvas.

from-boiler

The area you see here will become a TV area (to the left), an office (to the rear), a small shower room (middle right), exercise room (near right). A wall will separate this new space from the workbenches (behind us) and the storage area (to our left).

Some of the tasks ahead:

  • insulation
  • plumbing
  • electrical
  • sub-floors
  • framing
  • walls
  • lighting
  • flooring
  • painting
  • and, finally, decorating!

Stay tuned for more!

Closets, Moving, Organizing, Purging

About moving … again

We’re packing for what will be our 14th (15th?) move. Add that to the 13+ moves I did as a kid and I feel like a pro.

Moving ain’t easy. If anyone tells you so, they’re either a moving company or lying or both. Packing up your life into boxes only to turn around and unpack them again can be overwhelming (so many boxes!), frustrating (I can’t find the [insert marker, tape, bubblewrap, etc.], again!), costly (you want how much money to move me 30 miles?!), and downright tiring. But the process can be freeing, too.

Recently I read a book by Courtney Carver called soulful simplicity. It’s a fast read which is great when you don’t have a lot of time to sit down with a book. In the book, Courtney talks about learning to live simply starts first with dumping the guilt, the stuff, the dregs of life, whether that means toxic relationships, leftover feelings from said relationships, old clothes, Great-grandma’s knick-knacks, whatever. To be more with less is the goal.

I have attempted to downsize, organize, re-work, re-purpose, re-whatever my stuff over the years. When you move as many times as we have, you have to. Most of the time, that worked. Sometimes I tossed something that shouldn’t have been tossed (don’t ask my husband about the missile launcher bolt thingy from his Army Air Defense days; he still grouses about that). Most of the time, though, it’s been successful. Sort of.

Downsizing your clothes closet is part of what Courtney calls Project 333Your goal is to pare your three-month wardrobe (the first 3) down to 33 pieces (the last two 3s). Whoo, boy! After some small attempts in the past, I wasn’t so sure I could do this, like, ever. This time, though, after reading Courtney’s book, I went after my closet with both barrels, loaded for bear, [insert your own euphemism here]. I was determined to do this once and for all.

source: www.media1.tenor.co

Saturday morning, after breakfast, I proceeded to dump everything I own — sweaters, suits, dresses, slacks, tops, skirts — on our bed. And I tore thru those piles! I put everything in Keep, Maybe, Donate, Throw Out piles in about 2 hours. Then I filled four — yes, 4! — trash bags with donations and two more with old, worn-out or stained pieces. Then I took a break. A girl has to pat herself on the back a little!

I asked my hubby to help me with the Maybe pile to see his take on things. Did I look great or just okay in this? (No hurt feelings allowed.) Did this fit well? Does it go with anything else? He laughed at how fast we went through the pile. I guess he thought that I’d be hanging onto things Just. In. Case. (Courtney addresses this phenomenon in her book, too. There is no Just. In. Case.)

After that it was time to clean the closet and put everything back. I can’t believe how much better it looks already! My sweater cupboard is almost empty (I did hang a few. See  the video here for an easy, stretch-preventing way to hang them.) and my dress hanging rod is feeling free and easy after all the clutter was removed. Even my undies’ drawer didn’t escape the purge! LOL

Did I get down to exactly 33 pieces per season? Eh, maybe not. But I am darned close. I’m not sure I won’t throw out more after the seasons pass. If I don’t wear it, out it goes.

What a feeling!!!! 

Since completing my mission and telling my coworkers about it, two others in the office have jumped on board as well. Maybe we shouldn’t be comparing who filled more bags, but whatever it takes, right?

source: www.media.giphy.com

We still have a room or two to pack up but that’s for another day. I’m going to sit here and enjoy a cuppa and look at my neat, organized, closet. Cheers!

 

Uncategorized

About saying good-bye and new adventures

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We’re saying good-bye to this old lady. I say old only in that I mean she’s way older than I am. She’s been kind to us these 7 years; and we’ve tried to return the kindness.

We selling and moving closer to the Pike (Interstate 90 to those of you who don’t live in Massachusetts) because of job changes. Closer in this situation means saving 15-20 minutes in driving time to/from work for both of us, in separate directions. That’s a good thing. Saying good-bye to our Victorian lady is hard, though.

It’s hard to believe that we’re closing the door on this chapter and opening yet another. This will be move number 14 (or it is 15?) for us. This time last year, we thought we were relocating to the South if not cross-country. Now we’re settling in for the long haul in New England.

Our new home doesn’t have the years on it that this old girl does. It hasn’t seen all the history that she has, albeit it is over 30 years old. Just a youngster in this old girl’s eyes. But we will work hard to make our new home ours. Maybe create a little history of our own.

Just to give you an idea what we’ve been through together these 7 years, here’s a brief run-down of our projects, both big and small.

NOTE 1: “We” usually means the hubby plus helpers (me, our boys if they were home on leave, sometimes a professional as needed). He is the dreamer and can put his ideas on paper and go from there. I admit to a couple meltdowns because he was trying to get me to “see the picture” and I couldn’t; I felt like a dunce. I just don’t see ideas that way. So, I paint, carry, hold up, repaint, fetch, you get the idea. We’re a team.

NOTE 2: Costs defined:

  • F = FREE
  • $ = Up to $100
  • $$ = $101 to $250
  • $$$ = $251 – $500
  • $$$$ = $500+
  • PRO = Professional job
  1. Basement Stairs: There’s no doubt that you have a captive work crew when you get them downstairs and then remove the stairs. I thought we’d never get out of there! But the stairs look great and are more than sturdy. $
  2. Painting: I think we scraped and painted nearly every vertical and horizontal surface in the house, except for the master bath. I just couldn’t get rid of the happy green color. $$
  3. Storeroom to Bedroom Conversion: This was probably our second big project. We found that the original boards on the roof were slabs of trees, complete with bark, and that, at some point, that part of the house (over the kitchen, so not unsurprising) had burned at one time. We converted the room from bare-bones storage to a warm bedroom complete with heat (had a friend run the line off the trunk in the cellar), electric, overhead fan/light, and new wall-to-wall carpet. $$$ PRO (the friend)
  4. Carpet: We replaced the wall-to-wall carpet in the upstairs bedrooms after the Bedroom Conversion was done. PRO
  5. Kitchen Backsplash & Painting: My husband did all that when I was in Tennessee visiting my BFFs for a long weekend. How sweet is that?! $$
  6. Sunporch aka Office: turned a three (?) season porch into a year-round office. Hubby started this project the day after I had shoulder surgery so I wasn’t any help at all. We discovered some really cool dovetail joints under the floor. No nails. No screws. Just the dovetails … for over 100 years! $$$, PRO (electrician)
  7. Drain System: This old house desperately needed help with drainage. Previous owners had jerry-rigged a very shallow sump pump that did little to nothing to alleviate any water coming into the cellar. We dug a French drain system both inside and outside the foundation, laid sock-covered perforated hose over gravel and covered it with dirt (outside) or concrete (inside). New gutters outside and 2 sump pumps inside helped direct the water in the right direction. THAT was a huge chore. More could be done to “pretty it up” downstairs, but it’s not necessary. Hasn’t been wet down there in years. $$  B27BF71C-271C-4081-948C-ACAE8B25F780
  8. Replacing House Supports: When we had the home inspected before purchase the inspector mentioned that the posts would need replacing. The bricks were saturated and crumbling (see #7). When the hubby got around to pushing them over, they literally crumbled in place. Nearly all the bricks (some stamped with “EBBW” for “East Brookfield BrickWorks”) were destroyed. (We salvaged enough to help a student at UMASS with an art project. Goes to show you never know what someone might want to take off your hands.) The new supports were made with modern cinderblocks placed on what the hubby and the town engineer called “BARs” or “Big-a$$ed Rocks” that were left behind in the glacier age.  Hubby also reinforced some of the joists that were supporting weights the original builders never intended them to (modern cabinets and appliances and a cast iron tub for starters). There’s no moving this old girl now. $$$$
  9. Raised flower bed: Where did all the dirt and stones from the trenches in cellar go? To build a raised flowerbed at the front of the house! Larger stones were used to line the bed. I had to buy some dirt and mulch to finish it off. Otherwise it was nearly free! $
  10. Ridge Vent and Blown Insulation: We had a professional team come into do all this. This old lady (the house, tyvm!) hasn’t been so warm in ages! PRO
  11. Garage windows to siding: This was a big job for hubby and the boys who were home on leave and/or winter break. They removed 4 single-pane, double-hung windows from the garage, framed the spaces, insulated and sided the sections. We found the original siding manufacturer who was able to match (almost exactly given the sun-fading) our current siding. One whole side of the garage is new siding while another was “woven in.” It made the garage much warmer and created more wall space for storage. $$$
  12. Deck: We tore down the deck and reworked the entire thing. Learned that painting with the new “deck filler” paint is the best idea ever. The surface is smooth-ish and there’s no risk of splinters. I love it!
  13. Kitchen Rearranging: We moved cabinets, split countertops, moved appliances. This was no small project and took a few weekends. $$
  14. Gutter: The pitch on this roof is steep. (Not sure the exact numbers, but take my word for it.) That requires a bigger gutter that can take the load when it really rains and/or the snow melts. We had a PRO install 4” gutters on the longer runs of the house and wider downspouts. This had made a world of difference. No more overflowing gutters and ice dams. $$$$ PRO
  15. Pantry: We turned a small space in the dog trot to the garage into a pantry for canned goods. F (scraps for shelves)
  16. Laundry Room: Early on, we added wire shelving. More recently, we added a false wall for cabinetry over the washer and dryer. Then we put a piece of countertop over that for a folding area. Really cute and countrified. $$
  17. Floor refinishing: We had a local crew come in to sand and seal the pine and oak floors on the main level. Two lessons learned: ALWAYS check for references and DO your floors sooner than later. I love the end product (except for the spots where the furniture marked the finish because they put it on too thick and told us to place the furniture anyway). It took a couple trips to get it done right but I’ve also learned that if you press hard, vendors will give in and help, even the not-so-premium ones. I’m going to have to sand and reseal a few places; or call them in to fix it before we turn over the keys. $$$$ PRO
  18. “Mud room” Area in the Kitchen: The hubby did this in another of those long trips to Tennessee. It has to be my favorite redo in the whole house. I wish I could take it with us! $$ 7397F1F0-5896-4A86-8E21-017ED387E926.jpeg
  19. Attic: The hubby covered the plaster ceiling with bead board after running electrical to the ceilings of each room (2). He installed lighted ceiling fans in each space and painted the remaining walls. $$$$

 

Our new place won’t have all these chores to tackle, but there aren’t any garden beds yet. Or a real laundry room. Or a craft room. Or a mud room area. Or……I guess we’ll have plenty to do after all!

Cheers!

Family, Lessons

About life, dreams, and old houses

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Life

I should remember to file my old bills away. I should not forget my nieces’ birthdays. If I could I would travel the world, visiting little communities off the beaten path. If I had loads of time, I would update this site more often. Life is filled with shoulda-woulda-coulda’s. And life is busy.

My mom passed away in November. It’s been almost nine months now, but I still find myself calling the house phone and expecting Dad to pick up and, after saying hello, pass the phone to Mom. That doesn’t happen anymore. He answers. Only him. (and sometimes the dogs say “hello.”) That breaks my heart even now when I think of it. It feels so weird.

Mom would tell me to “keep my chin up” and keep on going. She did for years after her parents died within a couple of years of each other. She would also remind me who “my people are,” those strong Scots-Irish who settled the mountains of Tennessee and carved out a place to raise a family what was considered “The Wilderness” at the time. She was so proud of those roots, of the legacy those strong men and, especially, women. So, I’m raising my chin even now, just so she can see I listened to her.

Dreams

The dreams of those families is what inspires me to keep on working on this old house. Someone dreamed about living here over 150 years ago. (Actually, it was built by a local mill owner for his workers to live in, but I digress.) Someone lived and loved here, raising generations of children. They added a porch, and a bathroom (then two more), and put toys in the attic. They walked to church and school (several of both were very close to this house) and shopped at the local market.

I imagine a young girl sitting on the front porch swing dreaming away a hot summer day. Did she imagine that one day her home would be in the hands of a couple who want to make it lovely again, who are willing to get down and dirty to make that happen? Did she imagine that we would find (perhaps) her little brother’s steel toy truck in the wall (so that’s where it went!) to display on the shelf? Did she think that we would wonder which one was her room or why did they put that wall there? I doubt she would have, but maybe.

Old Houses

Nowadays, we’re plugging away at one task after another. I came downstairs one weekend morning and my husband was sitting on the couch scribbling something on a ledger pad. “What’s that,” I ask. “Just a few things we need to do around here,” he replied, barely looking up. Three pages…….let me repeat that…….THREE Pages………..THREE PAGES later, he hands me his to-do list.

Now let me explain something about my husband. He is a fixer. He is a do-er. He is a “it’s going to be as close to perfect as possible or we’re not doing it” kind of guy. Dress right dress. (Former military, don’t you know?) He looks at a problem and break it down into its many smaller tasks and sort and divide those even further until it’s a manageable problem. Forest, meet trees.

Me, I see a list three pages long and start hyperventilating. All I see are thousands of marks on yellow paper. Trees, meet forest. Needless to say, I kind of freaked out. Then the voice of reason filtered in saying that we didn’t have to do it all at once. There’s a lot to do, yes, but after closer inspection, I realized that E had divided the tasks into rooms. They all may have similar needs, but chopping it up into rooms helped. (To me, it seems a lesser problem if he divides it by rooms for me than if he sorts by tasks and then by rooms. After 31 years, he knows this.)

Now we’re pulling wire to add lighting to the finished attic rooms and nailing up tongue-and-groove ship-lap to close over where the garage windows used to be. (He cuts, I nail.) Next, some bead board sheets are going to be installed on the attic room ceilings and the rooms painted. (I get to use a paint sprayer! Good? Bad?)

Next up, repaint our bedroom and bathroom and tile another 2 bathrooms and ………. are we really done?!??! We’ll see. With old houses like this, there are always problems opportunities to tackle.

We’re living the dream……..in an old, well-loved old house.

Note: I’m related to the Walkers in East Tennessee through my mother’s kin. The Walker sisters, distant cousins, were a tough bunch. The remained in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park until their deaths in a tiny cabin that still stands. My grandmother and her brothers and sisters went to school in a one-room schoolhouse in that part of the Smoky Mountains.

We miss you, Mom.

 

 

Joists

About decks

Have you ever looked at a deck or porch and thought “what the heck?!” We had a side porch/deck like that. Until recently, that is.

A little backstory…Before we bought this house, the previous owners installed a small (8′ x 10′) deck off the side door. It covered what remained of a wide concrete stoop, 4 steps. Rather than removing the steps, the builder nailed the boards that covered the steps into the steps. As a result the boards warped over time, so much so that we couldn’t open the door to the kitchen. Ed took up the boards, cut off the warped parts and laid them back down again, revealing the top concrete step. We put a thick rubber mat in the space until we could redo the entire thing. Besides all the trouble with the top of the decking, the entire structure was never secured to anything but the concrete blocks it was set upon. No ledger board, nothing. So it leaned and canted in several different directions. On top of that, the railings were installed incorrectly (pre-formed rails made for a totally different application.) And they weren’t high enough to meet railing codes.
That’s what we started with when we decided to renovate.

Wendy's House....Houses in Mass 002A

We had to remove the decking to reveal the joists and discover just what we had to do.

The concrete steps that were left behind. No joists were used to support the boards closest to the house. The depth was more than the thickness of the boards hence the bowing.

After removing the decking and the bad joists

Jackhammering the top few steps revealed a cavern of concrete and rubble!! Ed rented a hammer drill from a local hardware store. Not something we keep on hand and it’s not a job Ed wants to do for a living. Makes me respect those guys on the highway even more!

It took a long time with a drill hammer -- a small version of a jackhammer -- to bust up the top couple steps.

The concrete steps were formed around a pile of rubble stones and chunks of concrete. What a mess!

Now we had room to install new, solid joists. We used metal holders, galvanized screws (not nails) and installed the boards, covering the remaining steps.

open deck revealing new joists and old joists

New solid joists placed over the remaining steps; other joists repaired.

Then we found the rotten posts.

Rotten posts

Rotten posts

Replacing the posts. Ed was able to remove some of the carriage bolts (some posts were just screwed in with huge screws, not bolts) and had to cut out the remaining wood so that he could refit the new posts. Those were bolted to the joists and then the remaining deck boards were screwed down.

Resetting the posts

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The beginning of the railings. … and the finished product. These are at the correct height. The rails are 2x4s screwed onto the posts. The 2x2s were screwed onto those. We used deck boards for the top railing. They’re smooth and just the right width for a beer or glass of wine. Or a flower pot. 🙂

Decking and the beginning of the railing

finished rail

Remaining chores:

  • Add a post to the right of the new deck, more for asthetics than anything
  • Replace the stringers and steps. We bought some grooved stair treads for the steps that are already grooved for water/weather.
  • Replace the lattice to keep out the skunks.
  • Build a platform deck to the right of the original deck. It will be one step down from the current deck and will cover the graveled area.

More pics to come.

Lesson learned here: Don’t hire a doofus to build a deck.