A Place Where No Dreams Come True...

Current Topic: We set a modular 'house' on top of a ten foot basement we built and now the front and back doors are way up in the air. To remedy that we need a wrap-around deck.

The First Step Is The Hardest...

Although the basement height is ten feet the back wall is buried three feet above grade. Considering the house rim plate (floor) height that still makes it an eight foot drop from the back door.

So after a visit with the local building inspector I drew up some plans and applied for a permit. If I wasn't so visible on the highway I probably wouldn't bother with the permit. And that's not because I don't value my building inspectors advice (I build way above the code standards here) but the fees are getting unbearable.

In comparison the permit for the deck which is trivial compared to the basement was over $500 versus $120. Ouch! I guess the days of thirty-five dollar permits are over. Sigh!

So we paid our burden got our permit and were granted the 'privilege' to build our own deck, on our own house, on our own property. And pay for it as well. Wo Hoo!

We immediately went to work hiring an excavator to carve out trenches for the footings. Wow! This was not an easy task. The terrain here is not so good.

Digging the deck footings Measuring the deck footings Deck footing trenches

This area of the property is at the base of the mountain. Thus it is very rocky ground. Because of this the excavator had to dig wider and deeper then then we were hoping. Eventually we had to compromise on the final grade meaning we had to add material and compact. It was the only way we were going to get a level grade for concrete forms.

The trenches were not as clean as they could be but we proceeded to build footing forms anyway. Then we found ourselves in a monsoon season.

Footing forms Damaged footings Repaired footing forms

It rained five out of seven days for months. And it devastated our forming effort. We tried damage control but eventually had to give up and wait for more favorable weather.

Ok... The forming was a little 'sub-standard' but it was perfectly adequate for what we needed. And it only had to hold up for an hour of concrete pouring. If it wasn't for the weather we would have been done.

Not to be beaten down we repaired our forming. Strengthened it a bit. Had our building inspection. And finally it was concrete day. I estimated one truck load so this is what we get. It had better be enough.

Concrete arival Concrete pour Concrete pour

We rounded up a crew of about half dozen volunteers. Friends who were willing to donate back-breaking effort for a short burst.

For most of the pour the truck was able to get close enough to use the chute to reach the form. With just a little spreading and tamping that portion went quick and smooth.

There were a few sections however the truck couldn't get close enough access so we had to wheelbarrow the concrete. We also used plywood to as chute to hit the forms so we didn't waste any. Concrete is more pricey then building permits.

At this point we were required to have another building inspection (footing concrete) and all the building inspector had to say was 'That's a lot of concrete'. Maybe a little overkill for a deck but if I expand the house over this area I'll be glad that there is already a strong footing to sit on.

Next step... Piers. Using waxed heavy-cardboard disposable forming tubes (sonotube) we made concrete piers. Because the footings ended up so deep many of these piers were over five feet tall. Ugh!. We mixed and poured, by hand, over 7500 pounds of concrete. On top of each pier we embedded a metal bracket which will eventually hold the vertical beams for the deck.

Deck post footings Deck post footings Footings backfilled

For those that guessed brutal work, congratulations, you are correct. And of course another building inspection point (pier concrete). This time the building inspector was a little more impressed. It may not be the prettiest job on the block but he did comment that the piers looked unusually true in alignment. Not only with each other but with the expected grade. Unfortunately the humor here is that the inspector was surprised because he knows quite well that true and level are not our strongest building points. Instead we like to rely on good structure and illusion. Apparently we are getting more used to the string-line and plumb-bob.

With the inspection finished we were able hire the excavator again and back-fill the area. Wow. For as gruesome as it looked it is finally taking on some personality. The grade is still rough and will need to be fixed later but it's enough to allow us to start building the deck itself.

Retaining wall Chimeney pad

Oh yeah! The pier effort was so much work that we decided to adjust our plans for the outer footing. Since it is basically carved into the hillside we decided to substitute the piers for a retaining wall. I'm not really sure this is less work but it is definitely more suitable to the terrain.

Additionally there is a four foot square concrete pad we poured under the wood-stove flue which we plan to use for a proper rock chimney.

Deck framing Deck framing Deck firewood

Finally we started framing the deck. The basic concept here is a covered deck that encloses two carports ten feet in width one seven feet tall the other 12 feet tall (cars and equipment). Both carports are capable of covering multiple vehicles. There is also a six foot section adjacent to the house that is designated for Winter firewood storage. This should provide more capacity then we can use. And make Winters a lot more convenient.

Unfortunately... For this project... We are all going to have to wait to see how it finally turns out. You guessed it. It was bumped off the list for this year.

Don't worry. That puts it on the priority list for next year. It has to be completed next year or the building permit will expire. If that happens the revenuers are going to grab more money (new permit) even though technically I didn't receive the services I paid for on the current permit.


Deck driveway blockage Deck driveway blockage

If that isn't enough...

Deck driveway sloped and graded Deck driveway sloped and graded Deck driveway sloped and graded

And, of course, what Dysfunctional Farm would be complete without submissions from the department of silliness. This years entry is from Mark the caretaker. While we had the the big excavator here re-grading the driveway he used local (on hand) materials (mostly dirt and big rocks) to extend, out from the bank, a 'Tee Off' for his 3-hole golf course.

Driveway Golf tee off

Ha, Ha!!!

Now all we have to do is to finish the deck...

Deck framing Deck roughcut flooring Deck roof framing

So now we have extended the deck framing as far as we are taking it. There is an additional post piler we have decided not to use and will probably break it off and remove it to make access in and out of the carport a little easier. Doing that will allow a more gradual (wider) sweep. And the ditch is not far to the other side of the driveway. To sharp a turn in bad weather and... Not fun.

Which brings us to another building inspection. Final deck framing. And to no surprise the Building Inspector was quite satisfied with what he saw.

Interestingly... Even though the inspector agrees that the lumber we saw with our mill is better then what we buy in town for structural lumber we are not allowed to use it for structural. However... We are allowed to use our lumber for the deck flooring. Which is apparently not considered structural. So after using everything we had on hand for 1x6 Fir and reclaiming (resaw) the remainder of the slabs leftover from sawing we just barely managed flooring for the deck.

Deck access ladder

We have also left open a four foot by ten foot section of the floor which will be used for stairs from the carport to the deck. Oddly enough the inspector said we could use our lumber for the stairs. So stairs aren't considered structural either. Hmm!

Deck roof framing Deck roof framing Deck roof framing

On to roof framing then... With the same post and beam approach as the deck we completed the roof framing. Which triggers the next Building Inspection point. Framing completion stage. We're ready.

Deck roof scaffold

With the final structural complete we started on the perlins (strapping) only to be defeated by the weather. Darn!

Deck snow stoppage Deck snow stoppage Deck snow stoppage

Blah, blah!

Deck roof perlins Deck roof tin

Blah, blah!

Carport siding planks Carport siding Carport siding

Blah, blah!

Carport rock floor

Blah, blah!

Carport deck stairs Carport deck stairs Carport deck railing

Blah, blah!

Deck Carport or both

Blah, blah!

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