Cot­tage ren­o­va­tions can re­new vigour and wal­let

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - DAVID SQUARE

ILAUGHED be­mus­edly re­cently when I read an In­ter­net post that listed 33 ex­pen­sive ser­vices you should DIY. laughed be­mus­edly be­cause I wasn’t sure whether the post was com­piled by satir­i­cal Onion writ­ers or whether it was se­ri­ous. The post sug­gested do­ing your own man­i­cure and pedi­cure (doesn’t ev­ery­one?), groom­ing your dog, clean­ing your gut­ters, paint­ing your in­te­rior and ex­te­rior walls, wash­ing your car and, my favourite — mow­ing your own lawn. Get se­ri­ous! I don’t know of any­one who does not cut their own grass, es­pe­cially dur­ing those glo­ri­ous days of sum­mer splen­dour at the cot­tage. DIY cot­tage ren­o­va­tions can be a great work­out while sav­ing you piles of money on gym mem­ber­ships and other pricey ser­vices. Which brings us to the sub­ject of lev­el­ling a cot­tage. Last week I dis­cussed how any cau­tious DIYer can level his sum­mer home with the help of a friend and a wife. I’m pleased to an­nounce that the pro­ject we un­der­took was com­pleted. A 9.75 me­tre lam­i­nated beam com­prised of four two-by-ten mem­bers now se­curely sup­ports the front el­e­va­tion of the cot­tage. The un­ex­pect­edly heavy lam­i­na­tion was hefted into po­si­tion un­der the fir floor joists by hand and raised up by four twenty-ton hy­draulic bot­tle jacks. Af­ter a few hours of work­ing the jacks up and down, our Ein­hall laser level in­di­cated we had suc­cess­fully lev­elled the build­ing. In­ci­den­tally, if you plan to straighten out your own lit­tle piece of heaven, you can rent a surveyor’s level from Lewis In­stru­ments Ltd. at 932 Erin St., for $150 for five work­ing days. I bor­rowed an Ein­hall laser level from a friend who pur­chased it from a big box store for about $80. It was ad­e­quate for the job, but for more com­plex projects I’d pur­chase a DeWalt kit for about $500. With the cot­tage level, the next step is to build an eight-by-eight deck ac­ces­si­ble from the front door. Decks that are two feet or less from the ground do not re­quire a rail­ing, how­ever, it is ad­vis­able to check with your lo­cal build­ing in­spec­tor con­cern­ing per­mit re­quire­ments as they can dif­fer in each city and mu­nic­i­pal­ity. I chose two-by-six brown-stained treated lum­ber for the deck boards and green treated lum­ber for the un­der­car­riage. Green is less ex­pen­sive and can­not be seen un­der the porch. The deck and stair rail­ings will be two-by­four brown-stained ma­te­rial. When I dis­cov­ered the price of 42” balus­ters ($3 each), I de­cided to rip my own from twoby-four solid cedar. For safety, balus­ters must be placed at ap­prox­i­mately 4” on cen­tre. If I pur­chased 60 at $3 each, the cost would be $180. By rip­ping my own out of cedar, the cost would be $120 or a $60 sav­ing. As I’m cheap by na­ture, I will pro­duce my own balus­ters and end up with a bet­ter and straighter prod­uct to boot. Un­less you are pre­pared to strip and re-stain a wood deck on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, there is no point in at­tempt­ing to keep it look­ing new. The orig­i­nal brown-tone will soon fade to grey due to the de­struc­tive ac­tion of mois­ture and sun­light. There is not a stain on the mar­ket, of which I know, that will last more than two or three years. Af­ter sev­eral dis­as­trous at­tempts to main­tain the warm brown colour of a deck, I gave up and al­lowed the wood to turn grey nat­u­rally, like my hair. And nat­u­ral, af­ter all, is the way of the woods. Cot­tage life keeps us healthy and wealthy by in­spir­ing us to main­tain our own prop­erty and rekin­dling the DIY spirit in­stilled in us by our rugged, stingy fore­fa­thers.

PHOTOS BY DAVID SQUARE / WINNIPEm FREE PRESS

Bruce Mor­rish breaks up re­main­ing con­crete and field stone stair.

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