Deck beginnings

The deck design will be based on a house + deck that Dad built in the very early 80’s in California. The house itself was constructed on a single concrete pedestal, as was the deck, and though the original structure was wood, it was replaced with metal a decade ago. We actually like this better, and so we’ll be using similar square tubing, welded onsite.

Eric’s ‘Pedestal House’ 1981 – main house (Photo from 2004)


Eric’s ‘Pedestal House’ 1981 – deck (Photo from 2004)

We start with the foundation, and another change from Dad’s original is shifting from a 6′ x 6′ concrete-walled pedestal, to four sono tube-based corners that the metal structure will sit on. This helps us reduce labor and concrete. In the center of the tubes is a collection of rebar to add strength, plus a j-bolt to attached the metal to.

Parking Area

Finished grade with retaining walls

Due to the huge amount of rainfall we experienced this spring and summer, a large section of the land at the front of the house eroded away, leaving only canyons for us to look at. Water pouring down the nearby mountain, across neighboring land, would run over our temporary gravel driveway and then follow the contours of the sloping site until it reached the very bottom, some 150-200′ away.

Land no more

Neighbors were already up in arms about this problem (and had been for years we learned), so we decided to tackle this ourselves, doing what we could with our land and ingenuity.

Leveling the parking area seemed like a good start, so we worked out a retaining wall design that would allow us to bring in more gravel, but also fit with the step gardens we’d built at the sides of the house a year earlier.

The wood is local hemlock, 6″ x 6″ x 12′ cut logs. It’s held together with 2′ rebar to pin it to the ground in specific places, as well as 10″ nail spikes.




First load of 2″ gravel:

Second load of 3/4″ gravel:

Office Desk & Built-In – Part 1

Even though Rae and I both work from home, the office area was one of the least finished parts of the house, with a temporary Ikea-based desk (an adjustable leg system + MDF top) and coffee table as countertop stand-in.

Yuk! That MDF needs some sanding.

So, after 6+ months of working literally 2 feet from each other we decided to hit the workshop for some much needed desk building.

Measuring up

Plywood base

Marmoleum top (no surprises there)

Edge banding on all sides this time

Cutting materials for the built-in behind the desk

Drilling machine for adjustable shelving (so cool)

Cabinet assembly

Iron on edge banding this time

Finished carcass with reused drawers from a previous shop project

Carpet Install

After 8 months or so of living with the rough and ready OSB floor, we thought it was about time to get the carpet installed. Of course it took that long just to prepare for it, since essentially everything should be done before you put it down.

We did a lot of research before we chose this carpet. Originally we wanted hardwood, but the expense of prefinished and the laborious installation of unfinished made us look toward other choices. A lot of people dislike carpet for various reasons, but we love how cozy it makes a room feel, and we take our shoes off at home so it stays clean. At less than half the cost of hardwood, it was financially the best choice, too.

Albo’s parents have a Berber style wall-to-wall that still looks great after a dozen years, so we knew we wanted something similar. We explored several alternative fibers – “green” carpets made of recycled soda bottles, corn fiber, renewable Nylon 6, or natural wool – but unfortunately they were too expensive, or didn’t come in the durable Berber we wanted. We found a local company who steered us towards this Shaw carpet (called “Asteroid”), which can be reclaimed by the manufacturer at the end of its life cycle, will last a very long time, and has minimal offgassing. The installers used carpet pads of recycled material and tacked (rather than glued) the edges to further reduce nasty chemicals.

Tack tracks or whatever they’re called 


Unrolling and positioning

How to put everything in the kitchen

Heat seaming

Edge finishing

Finally seeing all the details come together

Next day was bedrooms so everything had to be moved out

Did we really live with that awful floor for 8+ months?

Seams very well

Even more floor…

Continued work on the floor by the sliders…

Gluing the elements just looks like a bunch of stuff everywhere!

Had to redo an area of the master bathroom floor since the piece we used had a non-removable crease in it.
This is from manufacturing as the giant rolls of marmo are hung when drying, and are usually cut out before being shipped. We knew this but still went ahead since it was in the middle of the floor. Never settled, so after the kitchen floor was set, Bernie the Installer worked his magic in the bathroom.

Finished the entry floor! Four separate pieces installed together. Had fun in the closets with some left over black.
Oak threshold finishes the edge and allows the soon-to-be-installed carpet to butt against it. Mats are simple indoor/outdoor from Shaw carpet that will protect the marmo in this high traffic area. Will play a larger roll in the VT winters.

More flooring!

Working on the entry floor now…

Had to take off the already installed baseboard (our mistake to put it on), but damage was minimal.

Maple plywood subfloor measuring and cutting.

Once again Marmoleum is going down since it’s inexpensive, “green”, and quick and easy to install now that we’re done it a bunch of times.
Here you see the marmo attached to the plywood and just set in place. The mats will be fairly permanent to keep the surface looking nice and keep dirt/grit/ice/snow etc. contained.

Testing the oak threshold with our little carpet sample.

In addition to the entry, we’re also working on the “staging area” by the sliding doors that will take us out to the currently non-existent deck.

Finishing is in the details…

Spending a lot of time with the tiny detailing around the windows, casing and baseboards.

Due to imperfections in the sheetrock, when you add some baseboard you sometimes get gaps here and there. You think slapping some paint on will do the trick, but it doesn’t. It dries and then cracks.

So the solution and the biggest godsend for painters is white silicone caulk. This stuff is the greatest. A nice thin bead along every edge in the house, then wipe away the excess with your finger. Takes a bit of practice, but it’s worth it.

I’m even experimenting using it on the window returns. Here’s a nice “with and without” example.