Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Two weeks out

I called the county today and talked to the engineer assigned to review my permit application. He told me he wouldn't get to my application for two weeks! I about had a heart attack. I was speechless. It's hard to know what to say to these people that have power over you. I pleaded my case that this is a simple project and asked if he could fit it in between some of his bigger projects. I mean, it must take about 10 minutes for him to sign off on the plans. I didn't push it though. The last thing I want is to piss the guy off and have him sit on the application for another two weeks just to spite me.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Getting the site ready for action

I'm getting antsy. I really want this deck finished before baby #2 arrives in May. So, I burned off some steam by clearing several bushes out of the way. I want the concrete guy to have a nice clean area to start digging out the footings. This side view shows some stakes where the posts will be. And, you can see the air conditioning unit's new home here at the far end of the house (nearest end in the photo).

Friday, March 20, 2009

Permit application

After several weeks of designing and tweaking the designs, I took the plans to the county office to submit a permit application. Several separate departments are required to review the plans. Now that the economy has slowed, they're pretty idle. With nothing better to do than wield their power over homeowners, they act like you're building a nuclear reactor in your back yard. And, every time you turn around, there's another $150 fee for some bureaucrat to look at the application for two minutes. Two months after initially contacting the engineer, I've got the plans submitted. Now we wait.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

First meeting with the builder

When I first imagined this project, I figured I'd do most of the work myself (with a lot of help from my dad). But, I soon realized that instead of working on the deck every evening and weekend through summer, I'd rather barbecue on the deck through summer.

Thus, plan B was to have my builder friend Joe do the majority of the work. Unfortunately, it turned out he was really busy starting on a new job. So, I needed an alternate contractor that could do the job well. I thought about old friend who I knew was in the business...

Chris (Performance Plus Contracting) and I talked on the phone, and a few days later, he and his partner Ryan came out to see the site and review the plans. These guys seemed really dialed-in and had several good ideas for the construction. They set off to get some cost estimates and I went off to get the permit from the county.

Monday, March 9, 2009

3 inch hole in the side of the house

You know the project has really started when there is a hole in the side of the house. It's a pretty small hole in this case.

When our house was built, the air conditioning unit was placed right next to the existing deck. That's way too close and makes it difficult to have conversation when you're sitting on the deck and the unit is running. We've always wanted to move the air conditioning unit far away, down toward the other end of the house. The new deck will force this issue since it's 16 feet longer.

I called up our good HVAC guy James from Faith Heating and Air Conditioning. He came by and disconnected the unit. Once the new deck is finished, he'll come back and hook it up in its new home. In the meantime, there's a 3" diameter hole where the unit's pipes went into the garage to the furnace. (I've since screwed a temporary board on the outside to keep the spiders out).

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Hardware engineering

As I've mentioned before, the roof over the deck is up about 16 feet. It's a structurally significant addition to the back of the house. So, the first real step of commitment on this project was making contact with an engineer. I'm working with Joel from Stevens Engineering. He's been excellent from start to finish. From our initial conversation, he came up with a rough sketch. We refined it over the next month to get to the near-final plans.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Decommisioning the hot tub

One of the first preparatory steps is to get the hot tub moved out of the way. Once the deck is finished, it will sit, recessed, at the far end. For now, we've got to decommission it and move it out of the way. My dad came over to help me drain and move it. Moving a 2000 lb hot tub with only two people can be a challenge. We got the hang of it and had no problems using a dolly and heavy duty hand truck.

The hot tub's temporary home - out in the middle of the yard:

Moving the beast was only half the story. The 4" thick concrete pad was in the way of some of the new deck's footings. We got a diamond blade for the circular saw and scored the pad. Then I took out my frustrations with the sledge hammer. Luckily, we only needed to break up and dispose of half the pad. We took turns and made quick work of it.