Throughout this saga, I haven’t really taken the time to establish a benchmark around why even bother to spend millions of dollars and billions of man hours replacing some rectangular boards with … other rectangular boards.
When this project was still [apparently] picking up steam in 2008, I snapped a bunch of photos of the old deck to document its design and condition. Would you like to see them? SUPER!
Here are two shots of the entire structure, the first looking Southish, the second looking, uh, Northy:
From these angles, there is little to indicate any impending catastrophes (aside from the wildly out-of-code balusters; must be less than 4″ apart). What I did not capture in the photos to follow:
There was no flashing between the deck and the house. This may seem trivial for the uninitiated, but it is a one-way ticket to a rotten deck and rotten house. Someone throws a party and suddenly there are 30 people on your deck; fast forward to EMTs pulling bodies out of deck rubble. I will go into much greater detail about flashing in a subsequent post (with pictures!).
There were about half as many bolts holding the deck to the house as there should have been. This alone is not a reason to tear the whole thing down–I could have added bolts pretty easily. The point is, EMTs pulling bodies out of deck rubble.
Now then, let’s take a closer look.
Notice how the south end features a sweet-ass wall, likely intended for privacy. I try to stem the rage by thinking back to 1985 when the neighborhood was being born. The trees were likely a lot smaller and more sparse 26 years ago, so a privacy wall might have seemed like a good idea. In practice, it was mostly an exercise in WTF.
The sun pounded the outside and top of the wall somewhere between 21 and 29 hours a day, while never once so much as kissing the inside. For a structure made of interior-grade 2x4s and cedar siding, this was a recipe for success.
Here is a better look at the wall from the outside:
Aaaand, the inside, complete with cosmetic siding repairs done by moi because the siding was already rotting when we moved in:
Here’s a shot up the top of the wall. Looks fine to me:
Here is the wall’s killing field. This is as much sun as this part of the deck/house ever received. Couple this with the lack of flashing and … let’s just say lingering moisture was stoked:
As you can see from the first two photos at the top of the page, this was not what one would generally call a “small” deck. Yet, somehow it was infuriatingly tiny. The deck ran the entire length of the house (45′), yet here are the views from either end:
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? Look at that spot between the chimney and the railing. I’ll tell you: Not much more than four feet. What the hell good is any section of deck anywhere that only extends four feet from the house? I could maybe see it if that little span connected two large usable areas, but this is the usable space we’re talking about here:
I just … I am getting angry all over again going through these photos. Why would you … god damnit.
Let’s close it out with a series of super-fun photos titled, “Why They Invented Homeowner’s Insurance.”
The steps don’t look too terrible, until you notice there is no center stringer supporting, you know, the part where people walk up and down the stairs. The squeaks from these over-extended boards sounded like they were saying, “You’re fat, you’re fat, you’re fat, you’re fat”:
Also, the stairs weren’t attached to the concrete pad at the bottom, but don’t worry about that:
I don’t really know what is going on here. I just always assumed this part of the railing was only for decoration:
Oh, here’s a good time. Holding the deck up were an assortment of powder-coated iron poles, much like the ones you see used [primarily] in interior basements:
At first glance, one would think, Dude, awesome. My deck is being held up by IRON POSTS. EFF A BUNCH OF STUPID TERMITE BAIT. IRON. Despite the powder coating, all of the iron posts were rusted at the bottom, as a result of, you know, iron living outside with rain and Georgia humidity. Also, we discovered during demolition that the iron posts were not in any way attached to the cement footers. An ambitious meth head could have kicked the deck over. I have actually contemplated contacting the previous homeowners about this part because it is so shady. Let’s just say this project has made me a more conscientious homeowner.
Finally, the picture you’ve all been waiting for … The Cobra:
In the photo above, I would say the Cobra is at roughly half mast. When it was persistently rainy, he would lie down flat, even with the other boards. During long hot, dry spells, however, he would rise up so high that the two “fangs” would point right at you. That we let the Cobra exist, as is, from 2003 to 2011 is a testament to how often we visited that end of the deck.
As I sit here typing this, the new deck is nearly complete, so a lot of the rage is retrospective, which I think is good. Still, I am very glad to be able to get these pictures down “on paper” as it were.