Well, as I’m sure you all found out, due to the pandemic, getting renovations done this year was expensive, and there were often delays. I bought a house a year ago that had a balcony at the back but no egress, so we cut a hole through and put in temporary stairs.
I took the winter to work out a design plan with Julia Duncan, an interior designer (Thomas Duncan Construction) and she came up with a really interesting plan: one that had an upper tier extending out from the existing balcony, and a lower tier that would run at an angle to the tree line. I loved it! Thomas (with Julia’s help) got to work in the spring, once we had engineer’s sign off and permit approval from the Township of Beckwith. Of course, along with higher lumber prices (insane!) we had rain. I loved how Thomas and Julia set up this tent so they could continue to work during inclement weather.
We did, however, run into some other problems than the rain. We found out the well line ran right where we had planned to put posts, so the design had to be tweaked to avoid it. Then the drilling company that came to install the helical posts hit bedrock. The engineer initially told them that they could set the posts on the bedrock, which they did, after which Thomas and Julia went back to work, installing the upper deck. Then the engineer called to say he’d changed his mind and now wanted a four foot piece of styrofoam under the posts, so the company had to come back, remove the posts and start over.
We kept the metal railings and used them on the extended upper tier as well as along the new stairs. You can see how much wider the new deck (the upper tier is) now. And that brown lumber will fade over time to match the pressure treated wood from the original balcony.
The steps on the stairs are wider and deeper than usual, by design. I had found the temporary steps felt a little steep, and I want to age into this home gracefully. Thomas said he liked the wider/higher steps so much he plans to use them in all his deck builds.
One last minute change I made was to extend those wide steps on the lower tier. Originally, there was a very long expanse of railing to the left and the steps were narrower. We decided to break that up by expanding the wrap-around steps on that side.
I think the whole thing looks beautiful! It looks as if it was part of the original design, and not an add-on, which is what we strive for, right?
The deck is not quite finished. There will also be a sliding panel at the top of the stairs that matches the railings so that I can keep the dog contained, and a sliding barn door at the side of the deck to create and close off a storage area under the upper deck. I ordered a set of custom metal screens from artist Carol Nasvytis from Soul Metal that have a dandelion pattern on them (we collaborated closely on the design and I think it’s awesome!). There are three of these metal panels and Thomas will frame them in to cover the gap between the upper and lower deck when he has time next spring.
The upper deck has really expanded my living space — it’s a lovely spot to curl up with a book and enjoy a glass of wine. And the lower deck is perfect for entertaining!
Kevin Segreto, who’s done my landscaping from years (Segreto Maintenance), created a couple of small flower beds for me, and I planted perennials there. There’s a new addition under construction now (more on that later) and the plan is to link the beds at the side of the deck to the beds around the new addition when it’s all done (also next spring).
So – almost done and looking forward to completing this project next year, but I certainly enjoyed it this summer.