Adventures In Deck Building

Just a few weeks ago I was so full of piss and vinegar and plans and energy that I thought I wouldn’t stop all summer. And then came the heat. It’s beach weather and kayaking weather and I am itching to do both. Don’t get me wrong, I am not feeling lazy. I accomplished more projects this summer than I have for the past several summers. I will probably accomplish a couple more before the end of October. But right now we are in the midst of days that are a bit hotter than we are used to in Nova Scotia. Not as hot as Ontario or other parts of the country but when it feels like 30C in Nova Scotia, a good portion of the locals feel as if they may melt. Nova Scotia summers are beautiful and short so the best thing to do when the heat arrives is to enjoy it by doing things that keep you cool. This year we are having trouble doing just that because of a construction project.

Last year during this exact time, during what is becoming the annual July hot spell, The Doc and I worked and sweated for over a week straight, removing the old boards from our very large deck and replacing them with nice, new, smooth, unstained, unpeeled ones. This came about because we decided that we wanted to build a deck area at the waterfront where the ground was sloped and rocky and weedy and not conducive to spending a lot of time on other than to launch kayaks and watch the grandkids when they swam. During this discussion we talked about having to purchase brand new deck boards to make this deck area. That’s when the light bulb came on. Why purchase new boards for down by the water? Why not purchase new boards for the deck of the house and repurpose the old ones down by the water? This is what happens when projects get discussed. My brain cascades into a domino series of thoughts that end up making projects twice as large as originally intended. But this was too big of a job for one summer and too big of a job for us to do on our own. We were able to do the house deck ourselves but we needed to hire experts to build a deck area on sloped, weedy, rocky ground.

So exactly a year later, we can’t go kayaking or to the beach because the carpenters are down by the lake building us a deck with our repurposed boards while we wait for it to be completed, which seems to be taking, like every construction job seems to do, more time than originally planned. First it was supposed to happen the second week of July but got postponed by a week. Then they didn’t come on the day we thought they were, which was a Monday. They showed up on Tuesday. They being the carpenter we hired and two others who proceeded to carry supplies and a generator down the hill and who began digging and leveling and building the supports and frame for the deck. They also took the liberty of hacking off the fronts of two of our juniper trees. I was not impressed. They didn’t ask before they did it. I am sure we could have trimmed them a bit cleaner and perhaps tied up some branches that were in their way.

Then there was a rain delay. It was supposed to rain for two days but only rained for one. However the workers had made other plans before the rain decided to stop. Scrambling for help, the carpenter we initially hired showed up on Friday with only one guy, a slow helper who liked to whine and let stacks of deck boards fall into the garden and squish my plants.

Early Monday morning we get a call from our carpenter to say that he was having trouble getting help because no one wanted to work in the July heat. Excuse me but I have a bit of a problem with this. JT spent two summers working outside in Ontario, one doing landscaping and the other doing construction, in temperatures that often felt well over 40 degrees. He did not have the option to say he didn’t want to work. And he didn’t start at nine in the morning and only work to four. He started much earlier and worked until the job for that day was done, often to six or seven in the evening.

Over the years there have been many people that we have called to offer work to who either didn’t call back or didn’t show up when they said they would or weren’t careful with our property. It is why The Doc and I have become so handy. Now we only make those calls when we absolutely have to and it is always with our fingers crossed. Nova Scotia is said to be laid back, but sometimes it can be a bit of a detriment. And although I love my home province, I certainly don’t love this particular attribute of it.

Lucky for us, our carpenter found help. Good help. They worked well together, just the two of them and although I was not impressed with the earlier help, the excuses and the lack of respect for my garden, I was very impressed with their construction work. They completed the deck before end of day Wednesday. It is big. It is solid. It is to code. It is safe. They also moved rocks and created a path to make it easier to lift the kayaks from the deck to the beach area. In the end everything worked out, except for the Junipers. Based on previous experience, we know that things could have gone a lot worse. Now it’s just another adventure behind us, just in time for a visit from the grandkids. They are going to love the deck. Future projects: a side garden and a picnic table for this deck. Credit these to my domino thought process.

Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this, feel free to share.

Photos: Jenn Stone

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