Friday, December 31, 2010

Home Addition: Kickin' back on the deck.

We just got another 4-6 inches of snow, and yesterday Drew and I were snowshoeing in thigh deep powder, so it hardly seems the time to talk about outdoor living.  But I'm trying to get caught up on our renovation pictures, so here are some pictures of the progress on the back of the house.

Way back in July, the back of the house looked like this.

This was the state of things on October 22.

You may notice the lack of one lovely piece of greenery as seen in the July pictures. We had to remove the Catulpa tree that we planted four years ago.  We hated to do it, me especially, since it is my favorite kind of tree.  It had been destined to give us a large amount of dense shade on the back of the house, which faces south, and I love the large tropical feeling of Catulpa, but the landscaping plans and lot design have changed just a wee bit since we planted it, and there was no room for it anymore.  I tried to sell it on the online classifieds, but no takers. I finally ended up giving it away to someone who planned to plant it in her yard, which at least saved us from having to dig it up and hopefully saved its life.  Goodbye, Tree Friend.

On the very last nice warm two days of the year, I sanded the redwood deck and put a coat of stain on it.  Being only a couple of months old, you wouldn't think I'd have had to sand the entire thing, but after the deck was built, we didn't have time or want to stop contractors from working on the project, so the brand new deck got dirty.  Enter Lucy with her belt sander and dust mask. 

Turns out, the belt sander didn't work great on the slightly cupped deck boards, so carpenter Brian lent me his random orbital sander.  That thing rocked!  I asked for one for Christmas, but Santa apparently didn't think I had been a good girl.  I'll have to just go buy one myself because I am not taking on another sanding project without one.
Anyway, the deck looked good by October 27.

We have not had time to go out and enjoy the wilderness this fall because of this stupid project, but who needs to go animal watching when you have creepy crawlies right in your backyard.  I found this in our compost pile showing a roll of masking tape for scale.

Check out the size of that grub!  I'd say that's over 2 inches long.  I thought it might be a sphinx moth larvae, but an internet search did not confirm.  It didn't have a cocoon like a praying mantis larvae either.  What insect that lives in Utah has a larvae that big*?

*Update 2014:  While gardening in the backyard this fall I saw a 2-inch long, slender brown beetle with really long antennae.  Google leads me to believe the beetle I saw was the California prionus beetle, a.k.a Prionus root borer (Prionus californius), a very large type of long-horned beetle.  More information here.  The larvae of these beetles can up to 4 inches long and feed on tree roots, and they seem to be partial to stone fruit tree roots.  The area I found both the beetle and this grub has a pin cherry tree.  

I also uncovered a black widow.  I know they are dangerous, but I just think they look cool. So spidery and evil.

Work inside the house continued, slowing progress on the deck, but by
November 19, we had railings on the upper deck and stairs! Glorious stairs!

For 4 months we had been accessing the back door by means of the chicken run you can see to the right of the new stairs.  It was pretty aweful and with fall rain and winter snow coming up, it was bound to put somebody on their backsides in the mud.  The new stairs are made of the same rough cut fir that the pergola and railings are made of. They are wide and sturdy and have hand rails.  It feels like a luxury.

The railings was a group project. I sourced the lumber and picked some of it up with the van. Drew and I stained the fir by setting up a painting tent in the garage to keep the temps high enough to allow the stain to dry. 

Drew cut the hog panel fencing, and Brian installed it all.  We were going to do Trex railing to match the decking on the upper deck, but it was going to be really expensive and probably wasn't going to look that good.  Drew came up with the idea to use the rough cut fir on the railings to tie in with the pergola over the hot tub (will be on the right hand side of the deck) and the outdoor room we put up farther back in the yard.  I was skeptical, but I love how it turned out.

The white railings on the right side are temporary to meet code.  We need to install the hot tub in there, so those will come down when we get to that point. Also notice the trim work around the tops and bottoms of the columns.

I wanted something to break up the 15 foot line of the tall columns and make them look like separate columns and posts. The seams in the Hardi siding you see midway in the column will have to be filled with Bondo and sanded before we paint next spring.

Getting the trim installed was a major hassle.  The builders could not understand what I wanted, so I had to source the materials and show them what to do. Richard started it back in September, but made mistakes and didn't finish. Adam said he would finish it, but after we gave him the last big installment in October, he was nearly impossible to get to come back.  The last time we saw him, he was working on this trim, but said he had to run off for a couple of hours. He left his compressor, compound miter saw, cordless circular saw, and a couple of nail guns in our driveway, along with the pile of sawdust and pieces of trim.  He never came back, and doesn't return our calls.  If you need a builder, we know who not to recommend.  Brian finished installing the trim for us and did a good job. 

In early December, the last piece of outdoor work did before the snow flew was having the copper gutters installed around the back deck.

Capitol Rain Gutters did a great job. 

And this is how it looks now.

We have to finish the tops of the columns and continue the paint scheme next spring, but for now, were done with the exterior.


  1. The decks are terrific, and I'm glad you put the trim on the posts - for me, the trim ties in this new construction with the original architecture of the house.

  2. This is amazing. The back of the house reminds me of The Sandpile (Shirley and Perry I's) beach house. The upper deck design specifically with the section to the right that you don't walk on. Great job guys!

  3. WOW!!!!!! You two are amazing! I had to stop and comment now as I am blown away by the work you have done, the warm and inviting colors, the elegant simplicity, etc etc. It's really beautiful. Kudos to y'all! Wanna work on a condo in Montreal in June? (haha). You have the tools and the expertise, and we have the project! :-)

    Congratulations on a job well done. And Lucy, you are a natural story teller...I see a second career for you! I'm still giggling at all the "orange" entries in your blog.

    Happy healthy, relaxing 2011 to you both!
    Love Linda & U.Huston xxoo

  4. Sam, yes, I think the trim is key. I styled it off the trim around the columns on the front porch, but these are made of PVC so they won't warp and rot. Need to think about what colors to paint the trim, columns, and horizontal beams now. Probably not orange ;-)
    Perry, I wish I could have seen that house. You guys all have a lot of memories from it.
    Linda, your comment almost brought a tear to my eye. This project has been so frustrating and slow, and I tend to focus on the details that didn't come out right. To hear a glowing opinion, especially coming from a color specialist such as yourself, makes some of the pain worth it. Thanks!

  5. I have been searching for the grid mesh to use on my deck. Can you tell me specifically what it is and where you purchased it--galvanized, powder coated, etc? Does it come in panels? Your project is absolutely lovely. Thank you

    1. Thanks, Cathy! Here is some more info. I will update the post too.
      The best source I could find was IFA Country Stores farm supply stores here in Salt Lake City. They are used for making livestock pens so they come in various sizes and grid dimensions. The ones we used are 16 feet long x 5 feet tall and were $52 each. Ours are made of 3/8-inch diameter galvanized steel wire (I think it's called 4 gauge) welded in a 4-inch grid. There are smaller or larger wire and grid sizes for different animals. They cut fairly easily with a medium sized bolt cutter.
      We also used them in this other backyard project

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