Deck Update

Because I know there is nothing more riveting than watching me burn piles of cash and walk you step by step through the reconstruction of my deck, here is the end of the day status report. 2x10x16’s replaced and secured correctly, concrete poured, bad decking and the boards that got ruined pulling them up replaced:

Because I am a masochist and I like pain, and I know all you homeowners are secretly (and in some cases not so secretly) deriving great pleasure as I walk you through this, nodding along saying to yourself “been there, sucker,” here is the same picture with the boards I HAD ORIGINALLY INTENDED TO REPLACE marked:

Tomorrow, pergola.

60 replies
  1. 1
    A Ghost To Most says:

    There are few things more satisfying than finishing a simple home fix that has metastasized.

  2. 2
    trollhattan says:

    Now that there’s what I call Scope Creep. Feel free to replace Creep with Gallop.

    Any cloggers in West Virginnie you can invite over to test ‘er out?

  3. 3
    westyny says:

    I feel you. Let me tell you about the addition I’ve been putting on to my cottage upstate since last March that was supposed to be done by the beginning of September. I’m going to have to put retirement off for ten years. 🤪

  4. 4
    Mary G says:

    I will be the asshole who says “I told you so.”

    You’ll have moments when you will wish you’d never started the project, but it’s worth it once it’s done.

    Except that it is never actually done.

  5. 5
    kindness says:

    Congrats John. It looks great. I for one am glad you aren’t drinking any more. Because these house posts have made me want to drink. So good for you that you no longer go there.

  6. 6
    Sab says:

    The contractor and my husband turned the little porch I wanted out back into a full-fledged room, with seven windows, a fancy floor, a ceiling fan and a bunch of furniture. Cost half as much as the whole house. The cats absolutely love it.

    I hope Cole took that picture from an upstairs window and not the roof.

  7. 7
    rikyrah says:

    Looks good, Cole🤗👏👏

  8. 8

    To paraphrase the late Senator Kennedy…”the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the repairs shall never be finished”.

  9. 9
    bystander says:

    Is there any chance we can go back to getting links to porn when we hit “comments”? Kind of missing them. Thanks!

  10. 10
    dexwood says:

    My contractor friend once told me the only thing that faithfully works in an old house is you, the owner.

  11. 11

    I can’t wait to see the pergola. I’m a little jealous of that. Although I have so much tree cover it would be wasted (for shade, not for beauty) in my year.

  12. 12
    J R in WV says:


    Glad for you that the work is done, and a good job at that.

    Your pergola is what in the west is called a ramada, wife wants to put one in at the AZ camp, over the concrete patio south of the kitchen.

    You will want to plant something vine-like to get up in those rafters for more shade value, like honeysuckle in pots, or morning glorys… not wisteria, too penetrating of a house’s wall.

  13. 13
    debbie says:

    The willow is coming along nicely. Seriously.

  14. 14
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Maybe I haven’t been keeping up, but concrete footings poured and deck built on them in one day? Doesn’t the concrete need to cure?

  15. 15
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @bystander: What, home pron isn’t enough for you?

    I am not going to miss the non-post where JC didn’t fix it right, and fell through.

  16. 16
    mrmoshpotato says:


    The willow is coming along nicely. Seriously, it’s going to eat the house.

    Fixed. :)

  17. 17

    @debbie: It’s still too close to the blog.

  18. 18
    debbie says:

    @J R in WV:

    Maybe he won’t need vine-like things if that willow keeps growing at its current pace.

  19. 19

    A few years ago, I pointed out peeling stucco to a guy doing some minor task on my house. I asked if it was a problem. $10K later I had a new front on most of my house. Parts of it had to be reframed because water had gotten in. That’s home ownership.

  20. 20
    Aleta says:

    Done so fast.
    I planted three grape vines in the dirt on one side of a lattice-pergola thing. It didn’t take long before they grew up across the top. Yours’d have to grow higher for deck height, but yr growing season is so many months longer. The grapes are fun. (But squirrel bacchanal.)

  21. 21

    One time I got evicted for a seismic retrofit of the first floor, where I lived. When they pried off the floor to plan the extra stabilization they’d need, they found out that the ground floor apartments were not really attached to the actual building. So they had to jack the whole building up while they redid the entire story! The rest of the residents, who initially felt sorry for us poor evictees, told us how lucky we’d been when we moved back–they’d had long stretches with broken plumbing, spotty electricity, the works!

    That ground-floor deathtrap cost roughly as much as my NYC apartment, which won’t kill me and has a doorman, to give you a sense of the SF rental market.

  22. 22
    zhena gogolia says:


    I never got that.

  23. 23
    zhena gogolia says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Yes, this seems rather strange to me.

  24. 24
    Kelly says:

    @Gin & Tonic: There are ready made concrete footings/pier blocks that work well for this.

  25. 25

    @Major Major Major Major:
    I lived through a seismic retrofit at my first apartment, which was in an unreinforced masonry building. Fortunately, I was on the second floor and the major work was on the first floor, which was commercial. They apparently didn’t discover anything as bad as what you experienced, but they did have to build a support completely around the building, anchor it to the walls, and then bolt our floor onto it. They somehow managed that with minimal disruption.

  26. 26
    Mel says:

    Oh, Cole. So sorry that you’re having to deal with this. House trauma sucks.

    I remember putting in entirely new cabinets at my first house, and refinishing / repainting all the lovely antique woodwork and trim. I also remember waking up the morning after we finished putting back up the last bit of refinished trim and the ceiling medallion, only to find water gushing through the ceiling from cracked pipes leading from the upstairs toilet. And of course, it was a sewage pipe as well as the water intake pipe.

    The house was built in 1830, and the (one and only) bathroom had been put in around 1890. The toilet had been replaced three times, and the sink once, but other than that it was pretty much Ye Olde Loo, complete with ancient pipes that we planned to replace in spring, as they had looked perfectly intact on our plumbing inspection 2 months earlier.

    So,.. 100 years of literal shit, plus filthy water pouring through the ceiling, into the new cabinets, all over the table and onto the (just refinished) wood floors.

    We called a plumber, who showed up and removed the toilet and enlarged the gaping hole that I had just opened in the bathroom wall to see where the leak originated, tore out the ceiling to access the iron pipes for replacement, then left for the day, promising to be back at 7 am the next day with supplies to replace our pipes and toilet.

    He never showed up, having apparently fled under cover of night to some unspecified location in the Florida Everglades to avoid being served for failure to pay 10 years of back child support. It took four days to find a plumber willing to agree to pick up in the middle of the mess, and I spent three of those days fielding ragey phone calls from the runaway plumber’s ex, who had found my name and phone number in the plumber’s apartment when she (and this was super reassuring) “broke in to kick his ass and maybe shoot him!!” At first she thought she had found a girlfriend’s contact info. When I finally got her to understand that that was definitely NOT the case, she stated drunk dialing us at 11 pm, wanting to commiserate about his misdeeds.

    When plumber # 2 informed us that it would be an additional 3 days before he could get to us, I sat on the shit stained kitchen floor and cried like baby. Dad and a family friend who is a brilliant general contractor stepped in and assisted, and we finally had a functioning toilet again after 8 miserable days. Please don’t ask what went on in the interim. Let’s just say that we were living pioneer style. Did I mention that it was 40 degrees out and pouring rain for 6 of the 8 toilet-less days?

    We now know how to replace ancient, cruddy pipes and toilets, and how to lathe and plaster. It is a task and a half. Good plumbers and good contractors are miraculous human beings.

  27. 27
    The Dangerman says:

    Because I know there is nothing more riveting than watching me burn piles of cash and walk you step by step through the reconstruction of my deck…

    Any of the Trump Crime Family getting perp walked would be more riveting; hell, make it pay per view and make it a clean sweep (Daddy, Junior, Ivanka, and Jared) and we can fund a Mars mission. Hell, add in Hannity and we can retire the national debt.

    ETA: Yeah, I know, but let a fella dream a little bit.

  28. 28

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Maybe I haven’t been keeping up, but concrete footings poured and deck built on them in one day?

    A) The deck was already there. They discovered more bad boards, and in the process also realized it lacked a secure foundation. They didn’t build the whole deck.

    B) John is not the only person who has been forced to put in new concrete under an existing structure. They make fast setting concrete (e.g. Quickcrete) specifically for this kind of thing.

  29. 29
    Emerald says:

    Cole, you will love it when it’s done. You will post pictures, especially of all the nesting birds that will choose your pergola for their home. The birdy babies will awaken you in the morning, and you will ooze paternal instinct over them.

    It’s gonna be great, and worth the money.

  30. 30
    eemom says:

    Our windows and gutters were cleaned today, so there’s that.

  31. 31
    Chief Oshkosh says:

    Got it all done in one day?! Shit, Cole, you’re getting to be a pro. Welp, now that you’ve knocked that out, time to finally REALLY look for that mustard.

  32. 32
    MomSense says:

    My mom is breaking things left and right. She definitely burned something on the stove to the point of black smoke. I went to open the microwave last week and the door handle came off at the bottom. My son reports that instead of waiting for it to finish or pressing the cancel/stop button, she repeatedly opens and closes it with force. And today the washing machine is broken. The start button is depressed all the way into the panel so the washing machine is stuck in the sensing mode. If I close the door it turns on and off and on and off. My son reports that she was furiously pushing the start button because she thought it wasn’t working. Well now it isn’t working at all. Apparently she forgot that after pressing the start button you have to wait all of 5 seconds for the machine to do its sensing phase before it starts.

  33. 33
    zhena gogolia says:


    Oh, God. I feel for you, this is terrible.

  34. 34
    debbie says:


    Oh, jeez. Can you put post-it notes up with instructions for each appliance?

  35. 35
    namekarB says:

    Hahaha. Wooden deck. 10 year life span unless you can figure out how to keep water away from the wood

  36. 36
    MomSense says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    Thanks. I think we are on the path to dementia.

  37. 37
    zhena gogolia says:


    She lives alone?

  38. 38


    I think we are on the path to dementia.

    It sounds as if she is well down that path.

  39. 39
    MomSense says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    Nope. She lives with me.

  40. 40

    @zhena gogolia:
    IIRC, GrandMomSense recently moved in with MomSense and son.

  41. 41
    zhena gogolia says:


    Oh, God, so it’s your appliances she’s breaking. This is very upsetting.

    ETA: But I guess it’s slightly less upsetting in that she’s in a new environment — it’s not the appliances she’s used to.

  42. 42
    MomSense says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    Nope. She’s been here for more than a year. She moved in so I could help her through all of her eye surgeries.

  43. 43
    Aleta says:

    @MomSense: How old is she? With my mom I eventually put notes on things and it helped a lot. Reading the note gave her something else to do instead of anxiety.
    (Press start, one time only. Don’t press any more buttons. It takes awhile before the machine starts. The washing cycle takes several hours, so you can go … .)

    She actually enjoyed reading the notes, because she was confused and reading helped her feel in control again. She would read them out loud a few times over, and then seemed to absorb it. Also, I’m sorry for your loss. It’s so very hard to lose a friend to illness.

  44. 44
    zhena gogolia says:


    Wish I could hug you!

  45. 45
    MomSense says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    Hug accepted! Sending one back.


    Thanks. She’s 82. I think the reading would be tough – needs to be very large print.

  46. 46
    NotMax says:


    If she’s been there for more than a year she should be familiar enough with the appliances so this new phase must be an unsettling development, and something you might inform her primary care physician about. Am not a doctor (and don’t play one on TV or anyplace else) but could be a symptom manifested by a UTI, and eminently treatable.

  47. 47
    NotMax says:


    Oh my, with a generous topping of oy vey. To da max.

  48. 48
    chris says:

    @MomSense: Oh my dear, big hug.

    ETA: I see I’m not the first. I’ve been there. Twice. Look after yourself.

  49. 49
  50. 50
    John Cole says:

    @MomSense: aww. I am so sorry.

  51. 51
    MomSense says:

    @John Cole:

    Thanks. It is what it is. She’s awesome and I love her so we’ll just have to figure it out – and maybe turn off the circuit breakers to the kitchen and laundry room when I leave the house.

  52. 52
    seefleur says:

    but could be a symptom manifested by a UTI, and eminently treatable.

    THIS! A dear friend of ours who is in her mid-90’s has had numerous events where a UTI has caused everyone around her to think that she’s having major “senior moments”. A round of IV antibiotics and staying on a long-term course of cranberry extracts has allowed her to regain all of her faculties, and she keeps plugging along as long as she stays UTI free.

  53. 53
    BruceJ says:

    @A Ghost To Most:

    We call it the digging up the driveway stage of any home repair.

    “Honey, did you fix the bad light switch yet?”

    “Well, once I replace the wiring and the circuit breaker I will, Approaching ‘digging up the driveway territory…”

  54. 54
    Amir Khalid says:


    I hope Cole took that picture from an upstairs window and not the roof.

    I’m certain he did. He has not posted about getting stranded on the roof and having to call for help.

  55. 55
    lee says:

    Because I know there is nothing more riveting than watching me burn piles of cash

    You know your audience well!

  56. 56
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @BruceJ: I am about to get a 14′ deep trench dug across our driveway for the installation of a 54″ water main 15′ from our foundation. Firmly in dig up the driveway territory

  57. 57
    ChuckInAustin says:

    I have indeed been there. My situation is a little different. I can’t blame the morons who built the deck. I built the deck 20 years ago and can’t believe it ever got finished. I had a lot of energy in my 30s.

  58. 58
    MoxieM says:

    Having just moved from MA to CT, from a condo (3 owner occupied townhouses) to my own sweet cottage with a fantastic dog yard, my soon-to-be former co-owners decided ti was time to dig up the sewer line connecting to the main in the street. Town codes being what they (were) in grand old boom times of 1985, the pipe was insufficiently supported by gravel at installation, and beginning to sag.

    Yes, it was a necessary fix, but it didn’t actually affect my unit one iota. So that was a fun $1600 to spend just after I paid a lot more to vacate the joint and move away.

    My (new) old house is in overall better shape…after one month. I’ve tango’d with several fucking old houses, the oldest dating to 17xx something. That one was built best.

  59. 59
    satby says:

    @MomSense: sorry kiddo. You’re not on the path, you’re in the lobby. If you can get her evaluated by a geriatric doctor some medication may help for a while.
    I feel for you, we went through that with my mom too.

  60. 60
    satby says:

    @Mel: Good job, I think you actually helped John feel a little better. That’s the worst house horror story I ever heard that didn’t involve fire.

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