Tag Archives: deck building

My New House: AKA My Bad Timing & Short Sightedness

This year, I am the perfect example of someone with the worlds’ worst timing: In mid-January I downsized into a new half-duplex. That was before the world fell off its axis. Started work on my basement right away not knowing what was about to come. I do have to do landscaping as new homes have a holdback (in my case $1,500) that’s only refunded once landscaping is done. And this week I just finished my deck. No, that one wasn’t a necessity, but I’m too anti-social to sit on a chair in front of my house for a year.

So, right now I’m a deck expert until I forget everything in a month or so. But I’ve also realized that I’m pretty stupid in wasting money by being short-sighted, not asking first, or thinking ahead.

On my smart side I started buying treated lumber in April when various sizes I needed went on sale. It saved me about $150 waiting for the odd sale and storing them in my garage.

Then came the money waster. There are two sizes of screws needed: 2 ½ inch for the thin deck boards and 3 ½ inch for the structural stuff. How many could I possibly need? It turns out it was almost 3,100 screws! Who knew? Not me. I bought 200 of each, then another 200, then a hundred, then my contractor told me I’d need 1,200 for the actual deck boards (which I found hard to believe) and so on. In other words, I made at least a dozen trips to buy screws again and again and again. That’s the price I paid for not asking!

Yes, I do hire contractors to do things right. Besides, I have zero knowledge and roughly the same talents. But I always find a solo proprietor that lets me be the helper, which saves me a ton of money. In the case of my deck, did all the structural stuff to make sure it passed the permit inspection – I do all the manual labour like the trim, hauling stuff around, and a day of 1,400 screws into the deck boards…that’s about the extent of my talents anyway…

After I was so proud of my lumber savings, way more than that was wasted not buying 2,000 for $61. I tripped over a dime to pick up a nickel and it cost me over $240. I love my double deck and flared stairs and it turned out great. The total cost was $3,800. But all I can think about is that it should have been almost $300 less…

I am also blessed to have another secret resource: My neighbour Greg. He is as nice as he is talented, with everything from heating to (future dream) air conditioning how-to’s, landscaping issues, and construction knowledge. Greg also has tools – adult tools. A lot of adult tools! Metal saws (now learned they’re called grinders), a compressor that saved me countless hours using a Brad nailer, and screw drivers that last for days (my baby one last for two hours before a long recharging time-out). Oh, and a Jeep with a hook and a chain when my 250+ pound tree rolled into its four foot hole horizontally…but I don’t want to re-live that…Plus, he’s incredibly generous with my stupid questions and total lack of building IQ – and all for the low price of just asking and the odd bottle of Bailey’s…

Ahhh…lessons learned the expensive way. This December 31st I AM going to stay up until midnight. Not to party, but just to make darn sure that 2020 really does leave!