Welcome to the most labor intensive and physically demanding project I’ve ever tackled.

We’ve been working in our backyard for the last couple months and it seems like the project that will never end. For years, I have envisioned a pergola/ramada to provide shade by the pool. I went back and forth as to what material we should use to build it – and we eventually settled on steel (We have family connected to a steel structure company). Because this is not a material I’m familiar with, I drug my feet on finalizing and ordering. But like most unknown situations, I jumped.

The day before the steel arrived, the company let me know I would need to have a forklift on site. Hurdle #1. In my naive mind, I envisioned carrying them off the truck. I seriously underestimated the size and weight of this structure. And after all of the pieces were sitting on my driveway and forklift drove away I was wondering what the heck I had gotten myself into. This was already turning into a much larger project than I imagined.

Luckily, my parents were coming into town for Briggs’ baptism so I knew my dad could help me problem solve and create a plan to get this built and he did not disappoint.

It took my dad and I almost an entire day getting the templates on the concrete footings level. More difficult than it should have been. And then the four of us were able to work together to get each of the pillars in place and bolted.

The original plan was to rent a telehandler to lift the beams and get them in place so we could bolt them but there were several holes in that plan. A friend suggested we hire the crane service they recently used and it seemed like the most feasible plan. I became more excited when I booked the crane and confirmed they could lift our entire roof/beam support assembled.

We spent a nice cool evening assembling it on our driveway. Because pictures don’t do it justice, this this was heavy. 8,000 pounds according to the crane – we could barely move them to get them in place on our driveway!

And the crane worked like a charm. We moved it from our driveway, to our backyard. And then reset the crane and moved it from the backyard to its final resting place on the poles. I had a panic moment before the crane showed up. This is put together using bolted construction. If everything was not perfect – we were going to have some major issues. Every pillar had to be in just the right place, at just the right height. I was holding my breath as we started bolting it together. And by some miracle, it came together flawlessly. We were so proud of our work! Little did we know, the hardest part of this project had yet presented itself!

After Briggs’ baptism, my parents went home for a week and then turned around and came back for Hallie’s state tournament. I extended my dad’s ticket for a few days longer than my mom so he could help me add the wood to the ceiling. This is obviously the project of underestimating because neither one us anticipated how hard it would be to screw the 2×6 tongue and groove into the steel.

This is my hopeful face – before we had tried screwing a single board down!

It was at this point, 7 boards in and several hours later, I feared we would not be able to get this done with the additional days I had with my dad. We had to drill two holes per beam, per board. We tried everything. We borrowed more powerful drills. We sharpened bits. We had special screws and drilled pilot holes.

I wasn’t physically strong enough to be of much help drilling or screwing. It was a beast. Bless my husband and my dad who didn’t give up. Work for two hours. Take a break. Work another hour. Take a break. Work into the evening. Take a break. Hunter got home from school and he took a turn.

We even hired Hallie’s friend and he came over for hours and helped drill and screw on boards – he was a lifesaver because we were running short on time and both my dad and Steve were spent. It was just the boost we needed at the end of a long week to wrap this project up.

We still need to get a roof on it – but it’s beautiful. I really love it and functionally it provides a lot of shade.

But I have to give my dad the majority of the credit because he was the workhorse on this project. His hands ached. It was hot and the sun was relentless. And he didn’t stop. I would’ve given up. I would have formulated a new plan. I probably would have removed the wood all together and just put a roof on it. (It was recommended we use wood as a heat barrier since we’re attaching a metal roof – without the wood it would have been a nice solar oven sitting underneath the pergola).

But he kept waking up early and heading back out to work. I’m sure he’s never been so excited to hop on a plane and head back home.

I never intended him to work that hard but I’m sure grateful for his help!