Thursday, July 2, 2015

A porch reborn

Mostly for my own pride in homeownership, I wanted to post a recent project Sam and I conquered. When we bought this house, there was a wooden deck in the back. It wasn't a major selling point for the house or anything, but it did seem nice to have an elevated place to put a table and grill. In fact, one of our earliest new home purchases was to buy a table and umbrella to rest on this deck.

It wasn't too long after that that we noticed it was rotting. It turns out the wood was never weather treated (one of the many rather confusing choices of the previous homeowners). That combined with the lack of gutter on the back of the house dumping water straight onto it, led to pretty fast deterioration. We considered painting it to slow the rot at least on the top side, although then it would still be getting moisture underneath. Before we could begin this project though, we had some people over at the house for a dinner party. It was our first time hosting people and since some of them were smokers, they spent a fair amount of time enjoying the chairs and table on the back porch. Then Sam went to turn the lights on for them, and his foot went right through the porch. 

It was at this point that we figured we might as well demolish the rest of the thing as it was now dangerous, as well as unsightly. Sam was between jobs at the time, so he was able to devote himself full time to the demolition of the deck. 

About half done. 
Ripping up all the boards with a crowbar and sledge took about a week. The deck had a pretty simple construction, but it did have five cement blocks to anchor it, so those had to be dug up as well. I will say, seeing all the wood and screws that went into constructing it, as we removed each individual board, it really compounds my fascination that someone would go through all that trouble and then not make sure it was actually weather proofed. 

Once the deck was gone, and the rotting wood hauled away, we realized we still needed something in its place. The demolition of the deck uncovered a small cement slab porch, which would have sufficed for a couple of chairs. Since we already had an outdoor dining set that wouldn't fit on the existing slab, we needed a way to extend it. We didn't want to sink the money into building a new deck (and definitely wouldn't invest in one without also getting gutters). As a temporary solution, we decided to gravel a larger area around the slab.

First we needed to level the area with some dirt. We made a perimeter with some landscaping border and filled it in with excess dirt from our extensive plumbing repairs. Always nice to save a little money with free dirt (or $15K dirt, depending on how you look at it). We then covered the dirt with landscaping fabric. 
Free dirt! This is pre-landscaping fabric and before Sam had a chance to tamp everything down. 
The last step was buying gravel. We'd originally decided on pea gravel, but after I accidentally bought 10 bags of Colorado river rocks and lugged them home, we decided to switch to that. To save on the delivery fee and because we weren't sure exactly how much gravel we would need (my estimations turned out to be way too high), we just made multiple trips over the course of a week until the entire area was graveled. We also put up a wooden border to hide the ugly landscaping border and keep the rocks from spilling over.

The finished product
It started out as a temporary solution, but I actually really like the way it came out. I'm also hopeful it will take care of some of the mosquito problem we were experiencing because I think water was pooling up in places under the porch. Now we just need to get that BBQ grill and we're ready for summer in our backyard.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice! I can't wait to see it up close.