Cottage renovations can renew vigour and wallet
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.
Bruce Morrish breaks up remaining concrete and field stone stair.