Category Archives: Home Improvements

Digging a hole

For the second installment of the Vallentyne Deck Build saga, things get a little dirty.  Finally, some real action.  Enough of the paperwork, let’s get Fifty Shades of Dust on this thing.

Actually it’s nowhere near as dirty as that.  I should mention that the most important decision I made that improved the quality of the finished deck by 2000% was to hire a professional – Rob Ross from Ross Renos.  I take full credit for how good he is going to make everything look.  I’m so smart.

So, despite my instinct to just grab a shovel and dig wildly, apparently there’s stuff that professionals do that are all “measurey” and “accurate”.  Sheesh.  There’s nothing spontaneous about load bearing structures apparently, or at least anything they do that is spontaneous is usually of the bad variety.  So Rob gently wrestled my shovel away and gave me the end of his measuring tape and we got to work.

First, the auspicious beginning.

Then, after much measuring and thinking, and a redesign on the fly of the stairs (huh, that was kind of spontaneous, I guess), we ended up with the world’s most boring croquet setup.


Then, in a fit of responsible activity that is totally uncharacteristic of me, I went and hired ANOTHER professional to dig the holes that the City of Ottawa decided needed to be no less than 5 1/2 feet deep.  That is a deep hole.  My pipe cleaner arms would probably not have been up to the task, so I’m grateful to Rob for hiding my shovel.

The major equipment.


That’s not much of a hole, there operator.


So, yeah, those are some frigging huge holes.  And notice the unbelievable neatness of the holes that no doubt would not have been the case even if I had been able to dig these suckers myself.  So also yeah, good job me, for getting off my wallet.

Now, we need to get these suckers inspected, and the next step is footings, which sounds like a dance the kids do these days but is actually the thing that holds the deck up, so I’m told.  Sounds like a good place to start, doesn’t it?

What will happen in the next installment?  Will I continue to take credit for the work of others (probably)?  Will we be able to fill in the holes?  Stay tuned and find out, children!

Part 1 of the Saga

Vallentyne Deck Build

If there is one thing I know how to do, it’s procrastinate on a big home project.  I’m the master at putting it off.  Even when I really want the thing in question to be done, I’m able to really bear down and ignore the CRAP out of it.  It’s certainly one of my many talents.

At any rate, it was time.  And the time was decided to be now.  Not later.  Or, not much later, sooner being better than later, but while it was a little later, it would NOT be a lot later than the present. So, indeed, let’s begin. Shortly.

See what I did there?

Anyway, so here we go, a little documentation of the build process, some pics, the whole nine yards.  First up, the plans.

Nikki and I started with a visit to the friendly folks at Home Depot, who were all too happy to design a deck for us and help us arrive at some decisions.  One of the first ones was to not use composite decking materials.  At all.  It’s incredible space age stuff, worry free, maintenance free, lizard free, the whole thing.  But it’s not “incredibly expensive free”, and so we will be using good old arsenic soaked pressure treated unless there is a very very good deal on cedar to be found.

Here’s the grainy overhead view of my shaky pencil drawings that depict the structure I will trust with the lives of my family and friends.  I’m sure it will be fine….

Now it’s to find out if the City of Ottawa will issue a permit based on these pieces of crap.  Then, I will document the painful digging of my backyard for your viewing pleasure.  Stay tuned folks.