Tuesday, April 26, 2011

An American Man takes a stand against the vicissitudes of time

Lo all these many years ago, way back in the early part of this century or perhaps the tail end of the last, there lived a man. He was a respectable man, with a house and a wife and a very small dog.* He went to his government job five days a week, and he collected junk the other two. He began to feel the cold tentacles of mortality wrapping silently around his body - he wasn't as spry as he used to be, and he'd put on some weight, and as it turns out he wasn't very smart or rich or satisfied with his family. This pressure built up inside him like a seething Chihuahua until finally he snapped.

"Wife!" he announced. "We shall install a pool for our (grand)children! Then everyone will know that we are respectable middle-class homeowners. We will stand beside it, holding hands and laughing, while our (grand)children splash merrily in it. Why, if only photographers for glossy homeowner magazines knew about us, our backyard would be published in Happy Backyard Families!"

The wife replied, "But we live in the desert, and you never finish what you start, and you're going to make me clean the damn pool."

"No, no," he said, "this time it will be perfect. And of course I'll clean it myself."

The wife grumbled and shook her head, but the man was not to be dissuaded. He bought a pool - not one of those fancy gunite pools, no, he was a modest civil servant, not some rich fat-cat. He bought an above-ground pool kit and installed it.

He consulted his hoarded lovingly stockpiled back issues of Pools Today and Deck the Yards and Practical Deckbuilding magazines. He planned out a nice circular split-level deck. Because this pool was his Stand Against Mortality and Decay and Everything Wrong With America Today, he spared (almost) no expense. He planned for a pier every five feet. He used 3" deck screws, not nails. He bought redwood 2x6's, plus some of that redwood stain wood sealer, so those private-plane fellows always zooming overhead would know that his deck was redwood.

His marriage fell apart. They probably fought over who had to clean the pool. The tiny dog vanished. His surefire guaranteed pension government job began to look less and less surefire. He got older, fatter, and greyer. It took seven years to sell the house - seven years of listening to his ex complain about the pool! But by god, the deck was there to stay. At least there was that.

...

And then I came along and ripped it out in two hours this afternoon. Our Hero didn't bother with treated joists. Oh, he bought the right joists - the whole deck sat on 4"x6" joists - but they weren't treated, and they weren't watersealed, and they were so rotted that the 3" screws yanked out as easily as nails.

Something about the combination of deck screws and untreated 4x6 joists really pissed me off. The stupid deck was built to last... except for that one huge corner he cut, skipping the treated joists. Did he think they'd never get wet? Beside a pool??

I'm all about building stuff that'll last exactly as long as you want it to. If you want a pool for your Norman Rockwell children to frolic in, great! But that stupid above-ground pool isn't going to last forever, so why overbuild the deck? Why the hell would you use screws? Just use nails!

*I found a very small dog collar under the deck. There is no other evidence of a dog of any size living here before us.

14 comments:

  1. KILZ. My whole life needs to be double-dipped in KILZ.

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  2. It's kinda like putting a 50 year roof on your mobile home, IMO ! :)

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  3. Heheh... well, at least you got some nice screws and decking out of the deal. :)

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  4. This is timely. We just had a tour of our neighbor's yard and we found an old pool but it was obviously lovingly made - it had various types of artsy tile pressed into the concrete. The water was black and there were wooden planks sticking out. The trees had completely grown around and over it so you could hardly find the pool. But it was so full of memories - I could almost hear the family 50 years ago playing in the water with their view of our horse pasture below. Definitely something worth fixing, if it were on my land.

    And yesterday I completed a patch on the light fixture in the barn that my man accidentally drilled through. I used a bicycle innertube and pond patch glue. It worked! The light is back to being water tight and installed right over the overhang roof bolt+nuts. I had to laugh as we re-hung it. "Someday someone else will live here and take this light down and see this patch job and think "WTH!"

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  5. You have the materials now to build an up-scale redwood chicken house! Think how impressive THAT would be ☺

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  6. Dammit, I pushed the wrong button on my phone and killed Brown Eyed Cowgirls' comment. I can't undelete it either, so I'll copy and paste it:

    "I just think people do not 'know'. It does make a person shake their head when you run across something like that though. Believe me, the previous owner of this place fancied himself an electrician. We are constantly surprised that the place never burned down. "

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  7. Oh, the things you find when you renovate a house. Our house had five (FIVE) panel boxes in it. The well house had three, and the guest house had two. Who in the right mind thought that daisy-chaining together five panel boxes was a good idea?

    Oh well, at least other people's screw-ups make for a great story!!!

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  8. Don't you just hate cleaning up someone else's mess? (Made for a funny blog post, though!) :)

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  9. We had a similar situation with a "goat" barn on the property we bought.. Previous owner didn't try to build anything to last though. He was just stupid . I should have known since his name was Pee- Wee... (serious)Put the metal roofing on from the bottom up and it leaked.

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  10. You Go Girl!
    isn't it fun ripping the s***(tuffing) out of stuff.
    - The Equestrian Vagabond

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  11. In the now 4 rentals we've lived in since we were married, Bad Pants and I often wonder who were the retarded monkeys that put things together. With this house, I let a lot slip by without comment because of age. When I'm 120+ years old, my floors might be crooked from settling and I just might still have original leaded glass windows that are painted shut. Who knows?

    Perhaps his wife was nagging at him so much he bought the wrong product?

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  12. The owner-before-us believed in:
    4x4's
    bolts
    heavy-duty screws
    wedding-mint-green paint.

    Yeah: MAJOR UGLY...and also difficult to dismantle.

    There are parts of our property that will NEVER be photographed unless they are fully engulfed in flames and I need to show something to the insurance agent. Hopefully this purely-hypothetical accidental burning/photography would take place in dead darkness. Or under cover of extreme sn*w.

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  13. When we bought this house it had no interior doors because the previous owner liked his dogs to be able to run around freely. The house looked as if dogs had run about inside for many years. Fortunately the doors were found stored in an outbuilding. His DIY was so bad that I had to rip down every shelf in the house and start again.

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