Saturday, July 6, 2013

Deck design

This week I designed the three decks that will be built on the back of the West Virginia house. If you know me at all, you know I am not a designer, artist, architect, builder or any such person who would be remotely capable of designing a deck.

But, we live in the age of the Internet and frankly, a person can do nearly anything from the 'net. Don't believe me? Want to start a fire with an orange? Make a Canadian flag cake? Speak Klingon? No? Me either.

However, there are some very useful tidbits on the 'net other that cute/funny cat videos.
A few weeks ago I shared our deck woes here. Our work had to stop because of certain requirements that the Architectural Review Committee has. One of those requirements is a professional drawing of the structure to be erected--like this:
Now, we are simply replacing- beam for beam, joist for joist, board for board- what was already there. It is the builders equivalent of a paint by numbers deck. At first we didn't think anything would be needed. Our thinking was that it had been approved once, so why do it again?
We thought wrong.
And despite a completely competent contractor who has built a gazillion decks, his sketch was not professional enough for the ARC.
When they rejected our contractor's drawing I thought we were in for a world of hurt. I thought for sure we were going to be held up for a seriously long time waiting on a really expensive architect to  draw what Stuart already knew he was building. It turns out that Lowes has an online Deck Designer that anyone can use (for free!) to get professionally laid out plans. It is incredibly easy to use. Any idiot blonde can do it. It is just a series of clicks on icons. Once I worked through the first level, it became ridiculously easy and fast. I think I whipped out the top (larger) deck in less than five minutes.
The program works the "designer" through the process in a clearly organized and explained series of building options. Some of the choices, like the shape of the deck, were easy because we are basically just rebuilding what was already there.
Other choices were really easy because, well, there was only one icon to click on.

Why does this section even exist?
And then there were options that I didn't have a clue about, even with Stuart's original drawing. Seriously, there are options when it comes to pickets in the railings? Who knew?
Fortunately in addition to Stuart's drawing, I also had access to him via Facebook chat. (That poor guy had no idea what he was in for when we became Facebook friends.) With his knowledge of what was actually going to go up and my ability to quickly click on icons, we managed to come up with some pretty professional looking deck plans.
I made that, but I can't tell you how or what it says.
Do you see the irony in that? The builder's design wasn't good enough, but he has technical and practical expertise. Mine -via Lowes- is (hopefully) perfect despite not having one single solitary clue about what I was doing.
Fortunately for all parties involved, my contribution to the deck building process is limited to this button clicking. I will wield no hammer or nail gun in this project.
I am thinking about starting up a deck designing service, though. Oh, wait, I just told you all how easy it is. Foiled again.
Anyone else out there playing designer for a day? Or, got any cool/cute/odd Internet finds?

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