For about 4 years now I've been talking about "landscaping" our yards. There are number of reasons it hasn't happened: money, laziness, lack of skill and the need to prioritize other boring house projects like replacing sewer lines and removing squatter skunks come to mind.

This year however is the year.

Because we're getting a tax refund. A sizeable one.

First  on the list is replacing our rotting, home to transient wildlife deck. I'm really excited about this becasue our backyard is not currently useable. It's beauitful with camellias and rock gardens and 10 zillion species of trees. But a mini-forrest without seating is like the good china: pretty but not practical.

I set out with all sorts of  gusto, researching contractors and soliciting quotes. I drew up detailed plans inspired by the design-mad blogosphere. And when the first quote rolled in I crashed head first with reality.

It was twice what our tax refund is.

Champagne tastes on a tap-water budget.

The contractor was really nice about it. We brainstormed ways that we could reduce the cost: H and I could do the demo and screw on the top boards. I was deflated but still hopeful. Sure it would be expensive and I'd have to work my ass off, but at least it would be within our budget.

Then I called my friend Mark (engineer and DIY extraordinaire) and I laid out my plan. "Does this price sound reasonable?" I said. "Yeah, it sounds fair" he said. "Okay, cool, so I should just sign the contract and go forward?"


"No Emily!"

And then Mark gave me an impassioned and empowering speech. "If there is one DIY project any homeowner can do, it's a deck. No permits, no electrical, no plumbing. A deck... it's JUST a deck. You just do it and you DO IT." I whined "But I'm not skilled and I have no patience for detail work and...."

"Emily it will cost less than 2000 if you, actually, if WE(This is key because I need someone to advise on the technical aspects like leveling), do it ourselves. We have all the tools."

Yeah, and that's when I started listening because 2000 is an awesome price and it would mean that refund could go towards other things that I desperately want to change like our ugly faux-brick linoleum in the kitchen and our beige laminate counter-tops.

As Mark continued his I have a Dream speech regarding how easy decks are I found myself swept away in the fantasy of it all. I imagined myself stepping out onto our beautiful new deck and telling people "Yeah, I built this. Wha-what?!"

Further lost in fanstyland I decide the outdoor time will give me shiny hair and clear skin. I will stand radiant on my deck while people marvel in awe at my girl-power and budget saavy. In my DIY-drunk state I sense that I will probably benefit healthwise from deck-building. It sounds like it's good for a 5 lb weight loss or so.

So here are the upsides of DIYing-I'll be skinny, proud and rid of my fugly kitchen floor.

The downsides are-It'll be a crapload of work and knowing me will probably take about 3 months to complete.

So what do you think? Is building a deck crazy or empowering?

Posted on February 16, 2011 and filed under Uncategorized.