Sunday, January 18, 2009

1/18/09 Decked out

I'm in the wrong blog to talk about this, but we had a huge shock last Thursday. Over $17,000 to build a very basic deck, plus $5,000 for no-maintenance material?!

I can't handle this anymore! These sorts of surprises are draining and depressing and exhausting, and suck all our time and attention for days or weeks until it's resolved. We're reeling from the idea of having to throw together a deck from very vague ideas of what we'd want, and spending ten times as much as we'd expected.

And this deck isn't just to set a barbeque on. It's required by PG&E to reach our service panel and turn up our electricity, and it's required by the city to pass final inspection. Every day delayed is another day we're not at home. This deck is urgent. We'd planned to build a throwaway deck to meet code and do a "real" deck after we'd been home for a while, but $17,000 is no throwaway deck.

Friday, I went to talk to a building official at the city to ask a few questions, and a few verrrry interesting things came up. We can step the deck down one step, which means it would only need two steps up, which means no handrails. And below 30 inches, which ours would be, no guardrails around the deck are needed. No railings? Hmmm! A world of possibilities opens up.

Dave's and my dinner out Friday night was partly spent hunched over printed designs with a pencil, and Saturday we stopped by the house for some quickie measurements and layout ideas. This morning we invested real time at the house, with the kids, to measure and lay out options and see what we could do. We had to be prepared to meet with the recipient of the muchos dineros on Monday.

We were hoping that the quasi-novelty of being in our own backyard would keep our little bunch busy. It did -- Katrina was very busy pushing a little wagon right out to the street, and Gabriel was very busy keeping her out of it, running after her numerous times and calling for us (we did the obvious after that and kept the gates closed).

What a terrific big brother he (usually) is.

Our yard has been dug up and refilled, so much of the construction debris is now underground. The earth is soft, there are remnants of sand piles, and just enough outdoor toys in the garage that the kids had a great time digging.

My little scragglemuffin. Poor thing has a temperature tonight.

We were interrupted a lot, but Dave and I figured out that we can probably get away with a bare-bones minimal code-meeting platform. I'm holding my breath until it's confirmed in blood from the city building department, but I think our efforts just dodged us a $22,000 bullet. Or at least, we ran away from it for a while, and gave ourselves a choice about where and when it lands.

The friends we ran into Friday night have also recently been through a major remodel. The woman, Cathy, asked me, "Have you had your meltdown yet?" She's a wise one. Hers was over kitchen knobs, she said, it just sent her over the edge. My full-blown freakout is just around the corner.

Tonight after getting the boys to clean up the family room (a painful operation), they were fighting over Gabriel's marble track toy. So I got out Julian's marble track toy (they both got one for Christmas), and to my amazement, they were very happily cooperating and building a marble track together. The moment was picture-worthy, if not the actual scene.

Someday they'll be making messes in our own house again.


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