Friday, June 10, 2011

More Renovations - A Pergola!

With all the renovations going on around the place, I've been itching to get a couple of blisters on my own hands.  I love making, creating, building.  So... I convinced the hubster that the pergola we've been thinking about for the front of the house, we should build ourselves!

We've never actually built anything before.  Not as a team anyway.  And not as big a project as this one.

Thanks to google, I found so many instructional pages and videos.  Building a pergola looked really quite simple.  I should have known better...

Over the course of a couple of days, I drew plan after plan, measured and re-measured, compiled material lists and organised the borrowing of power-tools.  Then before we could chicken out we drove straight to a timber shop, ordered our wood and picked up all the other bits and pieces we needed.

This was when the first kink in our smooth project appeared...

Two days later, the wood was cut and treated and we brought it home.  Unfortunately, despite all of M's bargaining and negotiating for "Grade A" wood at the best price, we ended up with many pieces that were cracked and splinted.  But thank goodness, not a single piece of wood was warped.

We set to work.

This is what the front of the house looked like before:

It looks so messy!  Believe me the place doesn't always look this bad.
First, we attached all the wall plates securely to the house.  Drilling through concrete while standing on a ladder is a strong man's job.  I left this part entirely to M.

Next, the post holes.  For me this was the scariest bit because it's permanent.  Although I was so careful with my measurements, they were afterall my measurements, and I was afraid I'd made a mistake somewhere that would upset the whole structure.  So I re-measured everything for the umpteenth time.  This was when we discovered the second kink...

When we placed our order for 30 centimetres of scalloped edges on each of the rafters, it became clear that there'd been some sort of miscommunication or misunderstanding, because the timber guys didn't add onto the existing measurements, they simply scalloped the lengths as they were.  Did I explain that well?  For example, one part of the pergola called for 180 cm lengths of rafters (from wall to beam).  We wanted at least an extra 40-50 cm overhanging the beam with 30 cm of the 40-50 cm being scalloped.  When I gave M my measurements I did include an extra 30 cm to allow for any mistakes I made in measuring, so with a bit of innovative thought we were luckily able to salvage the situation without having the mistake be too noticeable.  

Okay, so now with (hopefully) all the problems identified, we were ready to dig the post holes and set the posts!

The digging was another job I left to M.  But I did help a bit by making sure the top part of each hole was neat and square.

Notice the patio tiles look newly cemented?  Well, that's because we actually extended this raised section of the patio to add more space for table and chairs.  Now that the weather has warmed up, we eat outside on the patio more often than inside.
As you can see, the little one literally added his personal touch:

Don't worry, Ky really does have 5 fingers!
While we were waiting for the cement to set we cut the poles to size and attached the beams to the poles while they were lying on the ground.

Let me tell you!  Lifting this thing, swinging it around and placing it in the post stirrups was not easy!  I was so afraid we were going to break it.
Two days later, the post stirrups were securely set in the concrete and we were ready to start on the fun part - erecting the pergola!

The first part was a bit tricky.  One of us had to hold the posts in place with a spirit level while the other one balanced and attached the first rafters to the beams.

This is also where we had to make a small modification to allow for the too short rafters (because of the scalloping).  Instead of having the beams on the outside of the poles we had to put them on the inside so the rafters would attach properly.

I don't think it looks too bad, but we'll always know it wasn't meant to look like this.  Oh well.

I'm trying not to dwell on it, but I just know it would have looked so much better had the beams been on the front...
Once the first rafters were attached and the whole structure was secure, it was just a simple matter of attaching the rest of the rafters.

There was lots of drilling and hammering required so we called on the expert assistance of our tiny master builder.  We'd have been lost without him.  In this video he's widening the tops of the drilled holes we made in the rafters.  We don't have a recessing tool so we simply used a bigger drill bit and kind of wiggled it around in the top section of the hole to enable the screws to lie flush with the surface of the wood.

Putting the rafters up was the most satisfying part of the whole job.

What do you think of the sturdy ladder situation we have going here...?
And we were done!!  I feel very proud!

Now we have to paint it and I'm also planning to build a rectangular planter box around each of the two sets of poles on both sides of the sticky-out bit of the patio.  Oh and some grape vines crawling all over the pergola will complete the picture.


Kelly K said... [Reply]

Awesome! It looks so good, and to accomplish it together - great work!

Colette said... [Reply]

@Kelly K Thanks Kelly! It does feel great when we look at it, knowing we were the ones to build it.