Construction Conundrum

A variety of tools on wood.

This summer has been a collection of home improvement jobs at our household, between painting and building a deck. The painting is something I’ve handled before, multiple times, but building a large deck was something new. We have never tackled any structure of this magnitude before, but were pretty sure of ourselves and our capabilities. Well, I should say my husband was sure of himself, because he had friends who had an “idea” of how to do it. I mostly stood on the sidelines at the beginning and “supervised” until I was put to work. The construction, of course, did not go anywhere near as we planned it. Here are a few tidbits I have learned while attempting our first deck:

1. Big, strong guys are a necessity. Digging 3-foot holes, encountering multiple tree roots, hauling huge, heavy 20-foot boards – this isn’t for the weak or for just one person to handle. Make sure you’re nice to your friends early on so they’ll show up when you call! Thank God for our family and friends who came to help – we couldn’t have done it without them.

2. If it’s an outside project, it will rain every day you are able to work on it. Granted, I wasn’t sure if we were living in Cleveland, Ohio or Seattle, Washington for most of this summer, but every day we were able to work on the deck it started raining the second we stepped outside. Of course, it was sunny and dry on the days we couldn’t get to it.

3. Math skills are a definite must. I wish I had paid more attention in geometry now. Angles, angles, angles. That’s what woodwork seems to be about. I can hear my high school geometry teacher saying, “I told you so.”

4. There will be multiple trips to Home Depot. Daily. I’m pretty sure some of those trips weren’t even necessary…they were just to talk me in to buying more items for the deck. And who knew you would need a million deck screws?

5. Measure twice, cut once. Actually, it was more like measure 4 times, cut once. We measured the area it needed to go twice and then measured the board twice. That was after cutting a few boards too short and wasting valuable wood. Of course, it could have also been because I wasn’t paying attention when he told me the number. I’m not confessing to anything, though. Back to Home Depot we go!

6. Assume you will annoy at least one of your neighbors. Or, they will annoy you. It’s going to happen. You’re either using your hammer too early in the morning, your circular saw when their child is napping, or they don’t want their “natural” view blocked. And it doesn’t matter if you got along before the building started….somebody is going to be peeved about something.

7. Everything takes way longer than expected. That deck that was supposed to be completed by the end of June? Yeah, it’s about 70% done. I’m pretty sure there’s no end in sight at this point.

8. So, you say it’s only going to cost a couple thousand dollars….try again! You may want to add another thousand. Or two. All those extra trips to Home Depot really add up. Especially those deck screws.

Now we are waiting on an additional delivery of more decking stuff to arrive. I’m pretty sure we’ll have to go back to Home Depot for more wood and deck screws. Always deck screws. Can you tell I have an issue with those dang screws? Wish us luck to get this done…soon!

cathyCathy Thurber has over 10 years’ experience in the insurance industry and likes to think she’s learned a few things along the way, one of which being to not take herself too seriously.  She would love to say she has as many cool expertise’s as her fellow blogger, Ken Kukral, but she’s just not as old as him.  Cathy is a voracious reader and a total word nerd.  Most importantly, she’s been married to her favorite person for almost twenty years and has two kids that she actually likes.  However, the dog is her favorite child and she’s been wheedling for a cat for years.  Perhaps this is the lucky year?

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