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DIY Deck Building: Lifts, Beams, and Bells

By 227 North Street on Mar 05, 2013

Is it spring yet? The sun has been paying us an ongoing visit, the daffodils are in bloom, and the trees are beginning to flower! Still chilly at night, but this weather has finally given us a chance to get some work done.

Up the ladders to build the second layer of our deck. The structure is almost complete, which means that this weekend we will be able to unbolt the upper master-bedroom doors for the first time since we installed them (three years ago).

Once the upper structure is complete we can begin the trim out, railings, columns and finishes. The concept is loosely inspired by the porch of a Grand Hotel, but on a much smaller scale. Beadboard ceiling, flat baluster railing, weighty railing posts, columns, boxed beams, clean moldings and a 12-foot-wide staircase will all combine to create the effect.

Add a flock of white rocking chairs and tall iced teas and we will be ready for summer!

The porch of the Grand Hotel

The lower decking is installed, and when the weather warms up we will be able to clean, sand, and stain it. The posts for the railings are bolted in place and ready for boxing in. The three main support uprights for the upper deck are in place, bolted down, and the Simpson buckets are screwed on top awaiting the twenty-six-foot-long, four-by-twelve cross beam.

To the rental company we went and came home with a gizmo called a beam lift. Simple contraption that allowed us to balance the beam on its two forks, lift it sixteen feet in the air, slide it forward and gently lower it into the Simpson buckets.

Our weekend help, Brent and Fabian, making sure the lift is centered on the beam

Beam going up!

Phillip at the helm

Keep going

Fabian to the right

Brent to the left

Fabian to the right, Brent to the left, I was in the center. We pulled the beam forward on the lift and settled it down into the buckets.

Easy does it

Ready for securing

Time for the floor joists

We move on to the joists for the floor above.

Ready for inspection and surfacing

The master bedroom doors that have been sealed up

Dining room doors and office doors

Around the corner, outside of the kitchen

Also around the corner, looking back toward the two-layer end

Tomorrow the inspector comes, and then we can begin the fun part: trimming it all out! We have some of the elements already, but there are a lot of things to conceptualize, details to consider, and pieces to locate and buy. But the next steps are my favorite part of the process. Making it pretty!

An Aside

A side note for today. We all watch Downton Abbey and marvel at the grandeur of an existence like that. I particularly love the opening shot of the servants bells. I would love a row of them in our kitchen and to be able to ring them whenever I wanted something. Of course I would have to get up and get whatever it is myself, but it's a fun thought. I just really like the look of them.

Then I discovered that the kitchen scenes in Downton Abbey are actually shot on a set in a studio, and the bells are not actually real. Well they are real bells but not actually in the house. Kind of sad. I have wondered for a while where the scenic designer found the bells and today by accident I found them!


How fun! They come with a mechanism that will pull the cord and ring the bell using a push-button wired like a doorbell. Now I just need to figure out how to do that wirelessly—then we would be good to go! I want to install eight of them in a row above the kitchen's triple window, with buttons in the dining room, living room, library, master bedroom and the four guest bedrooms.

Now all we need is to import those people necessary for making this all work...

A Butler, a footman, a valet, an upstairs maid, a downstairs maid and a cook!

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