Adventures in Building

I suppose I should've made the title to this post:

 "How to Spend as Much Money on a Small Deck as The Canvas Gazebo You Bought On Sale." 

Although this title may be more fitting, it would probably not fit in the space provided by blogger for a title.

Yes, I finally finished my little backyard project and now have a strong foundation for our poolside gazebo. When the winds come through the South in late Summer and Fall, my little deck will surely remain intact. As for the metal and canvas gazebo? I'm not so sure. It is true in construction as well as writing that a strong foundation is the most important thing to accomplish before the rest of the structure can be strong.

As requested, here's my report, along with pictures!

I started by marking out the area in which I wanted to build the little ground-level deck.

I gathered up materials from the local home store. I found that since the gazebo was ten foot by twelve foot, and I wanted a few inches around the outside of the supports, I had to buy oversized lumber. So, instead of simply buying a bunch of twelve foot decking boards, I had to buy the fourteen-footers. It was an additional cost I had not previously considered.

Then, I dug holes using a post hole digger, placing 4x4 inch posts in the holes. I watch numerous youtube videos to help decide just how to build a good strong structure and they all said to dig extra-wide post holes so that the frame of the structure could be moved around and squared later. I found what I believe to be a better solution for this project after-the-fact. It would have been so much easier to build the frame along with the posts, then place those posts on the ground and square everything up. After this, I could've just marked exactly where to dig my holes and it would have been square to begin with. Instead, I found that my holes were slightly off and I had to dig even bigger holes in order to square everything up. The larger holes forced me to use much more cement. In the end, everything worked out but, in my true fashion, I just had to make it harder.

This is where the hard part began. I had to dig trenches to fit the floor joists into the structure. Since I wanted this to be ground-level and the floor to be supported by the ground (didn't want bouncy floors) I had to feed the weed-blocker/underlayment under each joist before back-filling the area with gravel. Strange, I didn't get pictures of this as this was a time of much anger, sweat, exhaustion, despair and gnashing of teeth. After that work was finished though, I did manage to get all the decking boards laid out. Laura helped me put them in a pleasing order.

Once this was complete, I merely had to drill in about a thousand decking screws before cutting the ends to size and 'dry' fitting the gazebo frame.

I wanted this to be super-sturdy so, instead of using the cheap tentpeg-looking things provide with the gazebo kit, I used big honkin' lag-type bolts. So, even if the winds tear the fabric from the structure and mangle the supports, they will remain firmly affixed to wooden posts that are buried and cemented into the ground. That's how I roll!

 Here's what the finished project looks like.

Yes, it is nice. We immediately moved furniture in and are now able to enjoy a relaxing time, relatively bug-free, next to our pool.