Monday, July 29, 2013

Home Again-- and a Huge New Project

We are back from vacation!  We just spent two weeks up in the mountains of NC relaxing, reading (an actual book!), playing golf and tennis and all around enjoying what we like to call "adult camp."  Thank you for being so forgiving with the radio silence on my end for the past week-- I'm glad to be back!  The good news is, about four days before it was time to come home my mind started switching gears back into home renovation mode, and now we have plenty of future projects planned to keep us busy and me posting!  

While away, we decided to tackle one of the biggest projects we have ever done: building a deck.  Maybe it was the vacation talking, or maybe it was the professional estimate we got that nearly made us fall over it was so high... but either way, somehow we decided that this is something we can do ourselves.  So I put down the book and spent my last couple of days pouring over you tube videos and websites about deck building... which I very quickly learned requires a lot of planning and foresight.  You don't just wing it with a deck, in other words.  No figuring it out as we go.  To help with the planning process, we stopped by Lowe's and picked up two enormous books on building decks for me to read on the ride home.

I ended up being so glad I bought two books, since there were several points where I found one confusing and the other helped clarify what on earth I was supposed to be learning (so at this point I was feeling juuuuuust a little overwhelmed).  The overall concept of a deck is pretty simple, but figuring out the precise layout, keeping all of the variables that affect each other straight in my mind, and calculating the load capacity of your type of lumber based on distances between joists and posts was starting to make my head hurt just a little.

Although I'm sure we could have just relied on the books, I wanted reassurance from an actual professional that this deck we're building is not going to sag, or rot the house, or collapse when we throw our next big party!  Remember all of those months we had work done on this house when we first moved in?  Back then we had professionals doing all kinds of things in this place, and after spending day after day with these guys, some of them became real friends.  We missed them once they finished!  So to get some advice and to find out if we are crazy for trying to build a deck ourselves, I called Brian, who has always encouraged us in our DIY efforts, given free advice and answered about a thousand of my questions.  He admitted that a deck is a pretty serious job to take on, but assured us that it's doable.  Armed with my notes from our conversation and a new confidence that we can actually do this, we decided to take the plunge!  Here's what we're thinking:  

So we already have a deck of sorts off the side of the house, most of which is the screened porch leading out from the kitchen (under the wall of built in bookshelves).  There is also a small section of uncovered deck there already, which will tie in the screened porch to the back section we're building, creating a wrap around deck perfect for good flow and integration with the house.  Yes, this is a party deck we're planning here:)

Here you can see where we marked off the dimensions we thought might work for the new deck with stakes and string to help visualize the end result.  Beyond creating a space we could really use and enjoy, our big goal in planning the layout was to keep the deck in proportion 1) to the house itself, and 2) to the rest of the yard.  I found several formulas suggested online for calculating maximum deck size (most say something like no more than 20% of the home's total square footage), and staking off the space before beginning still helped us to get a feel for the balance as well.  We ended up deciding on a deck that's 30 feet wide, running from the edge of the side deck to a few feet in from the other end of the house (more on why we did that later!), and 14 feet deep.  Originally we had thought 16 feet might be best, but after staking off the dimensions the deck seemed to overwhelm the rest of the yard too much, and 14 feet will still give us plenty of space for what we need.

Sometimes a simple rectangular deck can look a little bit boring, so we decided to go for a slight modification to ours by cutting off the corner on one side.  The other side can stay square, since it will be up against tree and flower beds, but we're thinking this right corner will look better softened and rounded-- and mostly, we wanted to make things harder for ourselves:)

Here we go!  I can't wait to update you on our progress!




  1. So impressed, Liza! I've been trying to get motivated to sand and paint just one piece of furniture. :) Can't wait to watch the progress on this project.

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