Wednesday, September 7, 2011

That quote is silly, let's just do it ourselves....

So I know I haven't posted since I last said 'oh hey, I'm back, let's get cooking', but let me tell you why.  My boyfriend had the crazy idea to take off the back railing of the deck and build wide stairs into the lawn.  These would connect to the current stairs that go down the back of the house, making them nice wraparound steps into the lawn.  In a few years we said, we'll make it happen. And then we decided to get a quote. $2,500. Holy cow, we thought, that's insane.

And then we had this crazy idea - what if we just build it ourselves?! It can't be that hard, right? And it can't be that expensive.  Well. $1,000 and forty or so hours later - the project is complete. Holy mackerel. The quote totally makes sense now. I mean, we saved $1,500, but we get why that the labor costs were what they were. Granted we didn't know what we were doing, so a lot of time was spent pondering things, undoing, fixing and redoing things, etc, but corner stairs - they're a lot of work. Our neighbor is a contractor and he hollered over from the nice simple square deck he built in an afternoon: "Quite the project you've got there! I've never tried corner stairs, don't plan on it - they're tough!". Yup. The guy who builds decks and stairs for a living said he avoids corner stairs. Ah well.

After one hammer to the mouth (Dan), one face plant in the dark after tripping over the pile of lumber (me) and lots of scrapes, bruises and splinters (both of us) later - we have some gosh darn beautiful steps into the yard. And they've already proven to make it a totally different back yard experience. Now it's no longer 'people eating on the deck and other people playing bocce in the backyard' - it's all one big party! Woohoo.

Here's how it went down in eight tedious totally easy steps:

1. Pull off old railing.
2. Dig a giant hole in the yard. Level it. Lay down weed blocker.
3. Pour paver base over everything. Level it. Lay down super heavy paving stones.  Use a tiny little shovel and paintbrush to carefully apply paving cement between stones. Mist multiple times to harden.

4. Attach pre-made stringers. Spend half a day making the darn corner stringer.

5. Measure and cut wood. For days. Don't forget to dip the cut ends in wood preservative for 3 minutes each.
6. Put it together. Piece by piece by piece.

7. Have friends over even though it's not done - enjoy what you've got.
8. Finish by the light of a lamp you brought out from the living room. Revel in the glory of the project being complete.