email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

New Deck, Part 2

What a couple of days!  Pictures at the end as a reward to those who read this whole chapter (or you can just skip down, LOL).


First, the foreman of the team that will actually build the deck was to arrive between 7 and 8 am to mark the spots for the posts.  I had barely gotten dressed (and all that routine morning stuff) when the doorbell rang promptly at 7.  I was shocked, but pleased not to have to wait.

The first surprise was that he went to mark a spot on my patio.  I stopped him to ask "why so close to the ledger board"?  Ledger board is a support attached to the house to support joists.  Turns out that ledger boards are no longer used so that decks are technically "free-standing".  Why?  So that if the house falls down while people are on the deck, they will be safe.

WHAT?  Well, it's The County Code and you can't argue with it.  That was my first big laugh of the day. 

So he sprayed an orange paint X on one spot and measured 6' further and was about to paint another X when I stopped him again.  "Thats directly in front on the sliding glass door.  I won't be able to move anything in or out of the basement.  Safety exit, too".  So he called someone and told me it can be 8'.  Just past the door.  OK, but 2nd big laugh of the day.

Then he went to where the posts had to go in the lawn.  I thought those were fine, so "no comment".  If it seems like I watch contractors carefully, you're right!  They do the damndest silly things sometimes.  I learned a lot from when the house was built almost 28 years ago.  I lived 60 miles away, so I visited every weekend to see how things were going.  Afterwards, I wished I had set up a big tent in the backyard and just lived there for 6 months so I could check on things every evening.  Utterly impractical of course, but I would have had a better house.

So then the guy tells me the hole digging team would be there "After Noon".  Not "This Afternoon", "After Noon".  They arrived at 3 pm.  But they said it would only take 2 hours to "punch out" the holes.  Fine.  They had a gas-powered auger and some 5' breaker bars (aka crowbars) and a post hole digger, and the 2 guys looked like former football players.  I figured there would be no problem.

The first 2 holes in the soil near the house went fine, about 30 minutes each.  The holes have to be 2' square and 2' deep.  The hole inspector (yes, the County must approve the holes for the main posts - "Code").

The 3 lawn holes farther from the house were a different matter.  After the 4" of topsoil I'm built up over the years, they hit rock-hard clay and sand that their auger would not dig into.  They were "upset" (If I could understand most of what they were saying, I probably would have learned some VERY interesting new phrases *Coff, Coff*). 

They alternated between hand and power tools after that, completed 1 and 1/2 of the 3 farther holes by quitting time (5 pm on the dot).  I pointed out that the hole inspector was scheduled to arrive between 9 and 10 am the next morning.  I thought that was cutting it close...

But just before they left, they drew a 2' square around the 2 painted Xs on the cement patio.  So I asked about that.  "THAT" led to my third big laugh of the day.  They have to cut holes in the cement to make holes just like in the lawn!  "Why can't you just put the posts on the cement patio"?  "CODE" again!

Apparently, they have a huge circular saw that cuts "right through" cement, but not to worry, the soil under the patio was certain to be looser and would "take no time".  And they would be back at 7 am "plenty of time".

So it took them 2 hours to dig 1.5 of the 3 farther lawn holes.  Then it should take them another 2 hours to dig the remaining 1.5 lawn holes.  AND they had to cut through a cement patio, bust of the cement, remove it, and dig 2 more 2' deep holes in the dirt underneath in then "zero  to 1 hours time" depending on when the inspector arrived.

I apologize for the length of this, but more will be happening tomorrow, so I need to get through "yesterday and today" now.


One digger arrived promptly a 7 am.  One thing I will say is that these people ARE punctual!  He went right to work struggling to auger, chop, and dig his way to the 2' depth required.  With no better success than yesterday!  The other guy arrived at 8 with a helper.  And while one guy and the helper went at the lawn holes, the other guy went at the cement patio with the huge circular saw. 

OK, progress...

The contractor himself showed up at 8:30 am to make sure the holes were finished pre-inspection.  What a surprise he had!  He watched them work and than looked at his watch.  I casually mentioned that there was no chance of them finishing the holes before 11 am at best.

So the inspector arrived at 9:15.  Failed them, of course.  Rescheduled for tomorrow morning.

It took til Noon before they got all the holes "done".  They just disappeared while I was in the house.  I measured all the holes, and they were at 22", not 2" full feet.  I hope they don't get failed again and need a 3rd inspection Thursday morning.  The deck will take 2 days to build, and it hadn't occured to me that Friday is the Independence day holiday, they don't work on weekends and that would mean until Monday before the new deck is finished!

Now, for some pictures and comments:

One of the Big Red Xs.
And on the cement patio.  Little did I realize that meant cutting into the cement.  I assumed at first it was just for post anchor bolts.
The auger they used for drilling holes in the soil.  Carefully cropped for my more sensitive readers.   The guy on the right had his pants and underpants halfway his butt most of the time.  There is a REASON that careless fat guys should wear suspenders!
One of the lawn holes they dug.
Cutting the square hole in the cement patio was dusty work.  I offerred him a workshop dust mask, but he declined.
Their assumption was that the cut cement would be easily broken up with a sledgehammer.  RIIIGHT!  They had to get a jackhammer.  And that took them forever.
They finally managed to complete all the post holes.  
All this, and the actual building of the deck is yet to start.  This preparatory rough work is (finally I hope) OK.  But the work I care about is the new construction.  I bet I experience more "fun" while that goes on tomorrow and Thursday.


Andrea and the Celestial Kitties said...

Wow, that's exhausting just thinking about it! Can't wait to see the finished product! Bet the kitties can't either, lol

Megan said...

Very interesting. Thank you for taking the time and trouble to report.

Sydney, Australia