I know one of the many drawbacks to this pandemic is the forced time away from loved ones. We typically see my parents in the spring which didn’t happen this year. We also see them every summer and I was fully aware it may be cancelled as well. We had an open discussion with my parents about their risks and what it would mean for us to be in their home (something neither of us had really done up to that point) and we mutually decided we could make it work. (This was at the beginning of the summer before Arizona started to take a turn for the worst.) I understand this isn’t the decision that everyone would make, but given their risks and our exposure level, we felt comfortable with the decision. And Idaho was so good to us!
We (my siblings) had gifted my parents a backyard deck earlier this year and so this summer we spent weeks building it out. My mom has wanted this for years, and it never worked out. This year, it became a reality. Stressful (at least for my dad) at times but so rewarding.
My dad had open heart surgery almost a year ago and it’s taken some time to build up his physical strength – however, this project pushed him in a good direction. We worked side by side and I was amazed at his strength level at the beginning of the project compared to the end of the project. No amount of physical therapy could equal the work we accomplished while building – he was in far less pain than he had been in the past and his joints and muscle were more loose than they had been since his surgery. I could not have imagined all the good that would come from this deck – not to mention they now have an amazing (and very large) deck.
Here’s where we started. Those old steps leading up to the back door used to be the steps leading up to our front door and they’re older than me. And yet, for years, this is where my mom and I would sit and chat. Even then, I was happy to toss them.
We started my removing all the grass. My dad cut it and my kids rolled it all up and hauled it away.
The next step was my least favorite: Digging the footings. One thing I love about building with my dad is he is precise and he does the job right – sometimes even a little more than he needs to. This was the case with these holes. We dug those 24″ deep – with the hardest clay soil you can imagine. Would 10″ have been sufficient. Yes. But instead, we went deep and nothing I could say was going to change his mind. It’s a good thing I have some great workers because I’m not sure my arms could have handled digging that many holes!
We installed the footings (some roadmix with concrete pads and pier blocks.) Then added the beams and we were more than a little surprised when everything came out relatively level. 🙂
In the mornings we were in direct sunlight so afternoons were my favorite, when the sun finally tucked behind the house and it no longer felt like I was being scorched. The joists were installed relatively quickly considering how long everything else had taken. Projects like this can be frustrating – you definitely have to have a roll-with-it mentality or else you could go batty. Neither of us had done anything like this so there’s always a learning curve and you can waste a lot of time rethinking and replanning over and over again.
There was quite the debate whether we use redwood or trex to finish this up. Trex is expensive but it requires very little maintenance – which is how they landed on it. But cutting them just the right size, leaving enough room for expansion and installing them using hidden fasteners took some time. But its such a clean look when its done.
I was hoping to finish it up completely before I left – but realistically this is exactly where I figured it would be when it was time for us to leave. They still needed steps on one side and the fascia installed… then some landscaping and perhaps build some patio furniture…But, I was more than happy with our progress. From some angles it looked like it was totally done!! And you better believe my mom and I sat out here the last two nights I was there to admire our work. I talk with my parents each week and get an update on what else they have accomplished on it.
It was a labor of love and my dad is just happy that he will never have to build another deck as long as he lives!!