Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Our new Passover Tradition
I never liked this porch. It's only four feet wide, and the railing makes the porch useless for anything but collecting leaves and varmints. And what's with those wagon wheels in the corners? Yeesh. Add to this the fact that I hadn't bothered putting a fresh coat of paint on the railing in the 8 or so years we've been in this house, and suddenly said humble abode was starting to look like it needed an old Chevy up on blocks in the front yard. It was time for some refreshment of the curb appeal.
Demolition was easy. Those columns weren't holding anything up. And the railing balusters were so dried out that one good smack with a Fubar took them right out.
I'm no fan of regular maintenance. For example, the landscaping in the front yard is "mulched" with river rock, so I don't have to do the typical suburban thing and shovel mulch every year. Thus, I wanted the new porch to be relatively maintenance-free. Thus, we had to consider a relatively new product: lumber made of PVC plastic.
I'm sure you've seen those vinyl fences that Home Depot and Lowes sell these days. They suck. They look ugly. Put one of those up on your property and you're barely making a statement of "I'm too classy 'nshit to have some ol' chain link fence in my yard". However, this new PVC lumber they've got actually makes a bit of sense. For one thing, it's textured to look a little more like wood. And for another, it's available in all sorts of widths, cuts well on a table saw, and is generally easy to work with. Aside from the fact that it is ridiculously expensive, nor overly "green" unless you count the gallons of paint and wood cleaner used over time if we did it with wood, it can be a good option when used appropriately. I'm hoping this was one of those appropriate moments.
For anyone who cares, those arches were made by hand, and the posts consist of pressure-treated 4x4's with the top half covered in a PVC tube made for this purpose, and the bottoms clad with PVC planks cut to fit each side. The project went smoothly and was relatively within budget (that is, the budget we'd set after the initial sticker shock for the PVC). There's still plenty more to do, like replace those discolored shingles, paint the ceiling, and build a deck over the porch to make it a bit more attractive.
We had two fun moments. First, you might notice in the picture that the gutter doesn't reach all the way to the right. That's because the longest in-stock gutter we could find was 21 feet, and the roof is 22 feet. And I wasn't about to special order or piece things together. I'm considering a rain chain or something decorative in that corner. But the fun part was getting a 22-foot gutter home in a minivan. It stuck two feet out the tailgate and about four feet out the front passenger window. I had to drive home carefully to avoid taking out a speed limit sign.
Then there were the moles.
We've had mole trouble for the past several years. I knew they were living under the porch, but I had no idea there was an entire compound under there. At one point dad put a small step ladder on the ground just in front of the porch. When he stepped on it, the ground opened up, exposing a hole the size of a waste basket (note the white piece of wood in the "after" picture, lying on the grass in front of the porch). I was able to reach under the porch the entire length of my arm, and there was still more to go. Luckily nothing bit me.
So there it is. Our annual Passover project. for next year's Passover seder, perhaps a pool.