Ren­o­vate with cau­tion

Jump­ing the gun could re­sult in a heap of trou­ble

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

SUM­MER is the time of year when DIYers pre­ma­turely un­hol­ster their ham­mers to rem­edy the bad and the ugly at the fam­ily cot­tage, of­ten be­fore con­sult­ing their sig­nif­i­cant other. We re­cently un­der­took a fairly ex­ten­sive reno of our cot­tage in­clud­ing the re­moval of a nine me­tre field stone foot­ing, as well as the al­most com­plete de­mo­li­tion of a con­crete stair­way com­prised of mor­tar and small beach boul­ders. We re­placed the foot­ing with a lam­i­nated beam sup­ported by treated beams. That might have been the fi­nal shot, how­ever, it then oc­curred to us we re­quired some means of ingress into the cot­tage. Ideas flew like skeet, each one blown out of the air for one rea­son or another. It was fi­nally de­cided the most ex­pe­di­ent method to re­move the last te­na­cious bits of the stair­way was to use dy­na­mite or build a deck over top. To keep the peace, we de­cided on the lat­ter. I be­lieve Mar­shal Dil­lon and Fes­tus would have ap­proved of our non-ag­gres­sive ap­proach. The deck is eight feet square, al­low­ing me to cal­cu­late the amount of lum­ber re­quired with some ease. I used steel stair stringers for the stairs; the ready-made wood ones are, in my ex­pe­ri­ence, crap. It’s still pos­si­ble to pull out the steel square and lay out your own stringers, but this re­quires two-by-12-inch lum­ber which is ex­pen­sive and gen­er­ally needs to be spe­cial or­dered. (Some peo­ple do cut stringers from two-by-10 lum­ber but the skimpy spine is a source of con­cern.) Another pos­si­bil­ity is to plow da­does into two-by-10s to re­ceive the treads. This tech­nique pro­duces a solid stringer. How­ever, depend­ing on the tools at your dis­posal, it can be time con­sum­ing. Back in the Wild West, the da­does would have been cut with a back saw and a chisel. Nowa­days, var­i­ous power de­vices from a builder’s saw to a router can be used for this process. While at work on the deck, it oc­curred to me or­der­ing a ready-to-go pack­age from a lum­ber store is less eco­nomic than tak­ing the time to cal­cu­late your own ma­te­ri­als. In or­der to max­i­mize prof­its and sim­plify code re­quire­ments, wood pack­age sellers will in­clude the same size of joists, beams, pads and hard­ware for a small deck as for a large one. This means you may pay for eight-by-eight joists and six-by-six posts when smaller, less ex­pen­sive di­men­sional lum­ber

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