A Step and Half a Step

We had kind of a fit of optimism this weekend. Saturday morning we set out for Economy Lumber to get a portion of the decking and some fasteners, so we could make our upper staircase work perfectly with the decking lines.

Ipe decking

Getting the decking was easy, but Economy didn't have all the parts of the fastening system they'd recommended to us, so we came home with decking and no fasteners to attach it with. Also, having looked through the other fasteners at the display, we were mightily confused about the subject of fastening down deck boards.

Much of yesterday was lost to picking up the bees, and we only got a small amount of work done.

Upper landing

This afternoon we got to work fairly efficiently. Noel finished building the upper landing of the stairs from the back door. He'd gotten most of the wood cut for this yesterday and today it was just a matter of assembling it all. We're still waiting on the deck fasteners we're ordering this week to do the stringers, so the stringers will end at a reasonable point on the decking.

With that finished, we moved the wood around and got to work on preparing to place concrete for the lower stairs.

Preparing for the lower stairs

Noel whacked down the grass in the rough location, and we spent some time measuring. We made the formwork from scrap wood in the wood pile (the one you see beside the shed there is full of junky wood we turn to for projects like this; we keep our nice wood inside, obviously).

Digging out for the stair footing

Then we dug out the footing. The top of this footing will be 26 inches below the top of the raft -- 26 3/4 inches below the top of the deck. It's going to be four inches deep, so we knew we had some digging to do, but we were not sure how much.

Squaring up the formwork

The longest part of the process was squaring everything up to the deck. By this time the clouds had begun to roll in after a hot, bright weekend, so we took out the laser level and got to work.

Using the laser level to get everything even and square

We put some of the spoils dirt around the formwork to hold it in place while we got it to the right level and at the right distance from the deck. The first arrangements were very rough, but in the end we got it within 1/8" of where it needed to be in all dimensions, which is much better than we really needed.

Rocks in the bottom of the formwork

Noel put some stakes in and screwed them in place, tamped the ground firm, and we dumped a bunch of old rocks in there. We ran out of time to do the concrete work because some friends came over and we all went out for German food, but assuming it doesn't pour rain this week we should be able to get the footing cast and ready before next weekend.

posted by ayse on 04/22/12