Monday, May 22, 2006

Seventy-Seven -TEEEE-Seven-In-eches

I have an odd quirk when doing something that makes me really nervous. It used to happen when I would go up on high ladders but I’ve kind of gotten used to that now. When I was up on the ladder working I would get a phrase in my head and repeat it over and over again. Eventually the words would morph a bit and start to sound different. Sometimes the accent would move to a different syllable, or other times the last syllable from one word and the first syllable from the next word would break off and form a new word, thus rendering three words that now made no sense. If I continued long enough the whole phrase would become unrecognizable as English. I haven’t done that in a long time but it happened today.

I decided I needed to fix the front porch before I painted it. I’m renting the boom-lift on Wednesday to paint the attic gables so I have a few days where I have nothing to do. Instead of doing nothing I decided to fix the porch. It is an inset “L” porch and the one corner away from the house had serious rot. The fir decking had rotted to the point where the post had pushed down in to it. Fortunately they used redwood planking as a sub-floor, but that wasn’t doing much better. That whole outside corner and the front had serious dry-rot and really needed to be rebuilt.

The tricky part was, I had to jack to porch roof off the porch an inch or so to take the weight off that corner. Of course, I have to put the jack on the porch deck. It’s kind of like if you had a jack on the kitchen table to hold the roof up, and then you had to replace the legs of the table while the jack is still on the table holding up the roof.

I had to start by going under the porch and build new supports that were set back from the outside edge of the porch. Then I jacked the roof up. Like I said, I only had to lift it an inch or so but it was very nerve wracking because the whole thing is now being supported by the new supports I built and the jack. The first board I needed to cut was 77-inches long. It took a few hours to get enough wood under the porch so that I could let the jack down.

Maybe I’m a bit of a pessimist at times, but the worst case scenario kept going through my head. I kept envisioning the jack, with it’s long board on top holding the roof up, jack-knifing away as I watch the whole porch slowly peel away from the house and end up in a pile in the front yard. I was very nervous. For about an hour I kept repeating “77-inches” over and over again. That first board I cut was 77-inches long. It went through many variations but settled on “Seventy-Seven -TEEEE-Seven-In-eches”. It’s a wonder I didn’t all the boards 77-inches long.

As it turned out the porch did not peel away from the house. I have all the primary supports under the porch replaced that needed to be replaced. I got new sub-floor and decking on the spot just under the post, and the roof was jacked back down on top of everything. Whew! Tomorrow I need to replace more decking and sub-floor on about 25% of the porch. Everything I’m using to rebuild it with came from the 2-story addition. They built the first floor kitchen of the addition on top of an old porch so there was a bunch of fir decking under the floor that was in great condition.

The stairs are kind of in rough shape but they are safe. I think I’ll leave that for another project. The only other thing to do is new skirting around the porch. I have a very cool idea for the skirting that I stole from someplace. It’s pretty simple but may not explain well in writing. If all goes well I may start it Thursday.

Grass growning on the porch is never good

About the half-way point. Still a mix of old and new wood

Close-up. You can see the black, bottle jack on the left with the board on top of it holding the roof up. The post is still floating in air at this point. Seventy-Seven -TEEEE-Seven-In-eches


Bill said...

All's well that ends well! Nice work. I'm getting ready to take on a similar project.

Question: Why didn't you just lift & brace the porch roof corner with one or two angled braces running out into the yard? Usually I use nailed together 2X6's with a bird's mouth cut in the top end. The bottom end sits on another 2X6 on the ground. Some gentle persuasion with a sledge hammer lifts everything nicely and some stakes driven into the ground keep the brace bottoms in place. This method keeps the supports out of the way of your work.

Maybe you have some gingerbread trim that would have needed to be removed to do this?

BTW, "Seventy-Seven -TEEEE-Seven-In-eches" is a whole lot better than what I'm usually repeating when things get stressful.


Greg said...


Your idea, or something similar, was my first thought. Ginger bread being in the way was one issue. Also, when the post sunk in to the deck the gutter stop draining properly and that whole corner up near the top as some damage as well. I still need to fix that and replace the gutter. Luckily, the 4X4 post that is structural is safely inside the decorative fluted post that everyone sees. The post didn't have any rot except the bottom inch or so, which was easily cut off and replaced.

merideth said...

Greg, I freakin love that story!

Kristin said...

You made me laugh, as usual. I think I've done something similar with words before but can't really remember it while I'm not doing it.