Halfway through on the new deck


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I am having the best summer. This deck project is insanely fun, and it’s developing just like I had hoped. Better than I hoped. But will it be done by Oct. 31, our deadline?

I think it will be. We (the contractors and I) are making the decisions that will get this job done. I am wary of the mushrooming effect on costs of letting a project drag on. By saying, “Oh, two more weeks of work won’t hurt,” you slowly but surely let an already-straining-your-budget project turn into a catastrophe. If I say let’s work until Nov. 15 to make a custom sauna in a salvaged metal frame, I will go over budget. And I’m also more likely to then to say let’s push through to Thanksgiving to get the pathways a little more polished. And I’ll have dug myself in a hole so ugly there’s no getting out! So with two months left, we are making decisions with the end point firmly in mind.

The list of what we have already done is insane. We started with demo of the old deck, of course, and quickly entered the stage of moving tons of dirt out of the back yard in order to drop in I beams as deck support. We poured concrete pads and post-bases, raised I beams for support posts and installed four levels of deck.

We made several trips to the pulp and paper mill in Albany as it was being demolished and carried back about 30,000 pounds of scrap metal, all intended for structural or decorative use on the deck. In picture 1, you can see the platform I purchased at the mill, and picture 2 shows its new home in my yard.

We have worked out a gorgeous retaining wall system using incredibly heavy pieces of material cut from the stocks tanks at the mill. Picture 3 shows the Arciform crew carrying the metal, and picture 4 shows it in use, with I beams reaching high above. I thought these beams looked a bit like a druid circle, and the guys are now calling it Steelhenge. I approve!

Picture 5 is a portion of the yard that is not yet complete. The wooden frame represents the space that will be soon occupied by my “crashed car” feature. I have a friend with a parts car (1967 BMW 2000 CS) that he donated to the project (see picture 6). The car will be moved in soon, pointed down toward the tree. I am going to use if for seating in some way, but haven’t figured it out quite yet. But we will.

There is so much to look at on this deck. One of my favorite secrets — for people in the know — is the detail of the concrete support posts. They guys made them into concrete sculptures using scrap from the mill (as was as other random pieces). Check out one of my favs in picture 7:  See my initial?

So we still have to work on railings, pathways and a patio section (or two). It’s going to come down to the wire, and I intend to enjoy every moment of it.

Portlander Nancy Ranchel is a self-described accountant, design fan, serial re-modeler, compulsive re-user, and blog writer.