Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Good Place to Relax (Summer Projects, Part II)

An interesting things about National Wildlife Refuges is that some of them have residences. The residences are rented to employees and part of the rent money is dedicated to maintenance and improvements of the housing. It is a good way to have refuge employees on-site and to generate some income for the refuge as well.

When we arrived here this summer, the refuge manager Suzanne asked if we would be able to construct a deck at her residence.  She spends a lot of time outside and wanted somewhere to sit that was up out of the grass and dirt.  A local building supply company was having a sale on plastic composite decking, so I drew up a plan and materials list and we purchased the materials.

Materials arrive.
We first had to relocate a sprinkler head in the front yard so that the deck could be placed where Suzanne wanted it.  Then we surveyed in the locations for the supports, and started digging holes.  We used a gasoline powered digger for most of the hole, but had to finish with a manual, clamshell digger to get the necessary depth.
Post hole digger.
Finishing the post holes.
The next step was to set the 4x4 posts into the holes, get them all level, and backfill with concrete.  Carrying and mixing those 80 pound sacks of concrete gets to be real work after a while!
Mixing concrete.
Once the posts were set, we framed in the heavy outside beams and once again checked to make sure that everything was level and square. We didn't want to build a crooked deck!

Outside beams in place.
Then we started placing the inside beams that would support the decking itself.  Lots of screws!

Half of the inside beams in place. 
All beams in place. 
Finally, we started attaching the deck itself.  This deck used a hidden fastener system that worked very well and eliminated the need to drill and screw through the deck boards themselves.  It saved us a lot of time and looks great.
About half of the decking is on. 
Most of the decking is attached.
And then we ran into a delay.  The building supply company didn't have quite as many deck boards as we needed, and then I discovered the boards weren't as wide as I thought they'd be. So we had to order some additional deck boards, and that delayed completion by several weeks. We weren't sure if we would get this deck finished or not! Suzanne started using the deck as it was, and her dog Pax found it to be just fine as well!
Pax on the almost finished deck.
But the last deck boards finally arrived and we got it finished. 

A good place to relax.