Suddenly Parents

Keeping Our Sanity During Baby's First Year

Guest Post: Listening to Advice, “If it ain’t done by the time baby comes, it ain’t getting done.”

This is a guest post written by my husband, Rich.

I like being outside. We’re lucky to have a decent back yard for our intown lot and what foliage I haven’t killed from the previous owner’s backyard masterpiece is quite beautiful. Thus, a good back deck is key to summer afternoon grilling, weekend gatherings and 15 minute work breaks to watch the dogs chase squirrels with the misguided mindset that their indoor upbringing would ever enable them to effectively hunt anything other than unnoticed table scraps.

The only problem was, we didn’t have a good back deck. If it wasn’t original to the 1953 home, it had to be close. At one point it was a pretty decent cedar edifice, complete with framing for the Wisteria that greedily hid our activities from passersby on the street. But alas, rot happens. And over the last few years, even the mighty cedar boards have started to bow, crack and become impromptu chew toys for our two dogs. 

Now, with less than three months before Eliza plows through my wife and grinds all thoughts of home improvement to a halt, I must have my deck.

My plan was to do it myself. Hell, I put up the fence and helped re-arrange a few walls when a friend and I added the second bathroom. I’m pretty sure I would be technically and physically able to build a deck. However, actual paying work has been invading weekends lately. As one somewhat elderly contractor pointed out, “there aren’t many Saturday’s left before the big day.” Too bad he was too expensive. He was sage, if not pricey. 

So, I’m doubling down on a guy I don’t really know. Furthermore, I got the contractor from a friend whose track record for referring help isn’t exactly stellar. The last crew I used from them turned a simple paint job into an unplanned DIY project on removing latex paint from hardwood floors. This guy seems different, though. His advantage is price. He is literally one-fourth the cost. If I am making a mistake, at least I can justify it to Katherine later as I ring up the old guy. Let’s see, how many Saturdays would that give me?

Side note, what is the natural correlation between those who are good with wood and an inability to manage time properly? I’m just askin’. Anyone else have the same issues?

I was feeling pretty good about the decision until 1pm today. The guy was supposed to rip out the old deck, haul it to the street and clear the space so that when materials were delivered tomorrow, they could ninja together a nice 16′ x20′ deck. By 1:15, they were gone. I got a text saying they’d be back tomorrow. I can hear that older contractor’s voice in my head, haunting and wavering like the ghost of would-be deck future, “Only 4 Saturdays left until the baby shower…” I forgot to mention they’re also supposed to build a retaining wall, level a patio area, pick up two tons of flagstone and find a good source for 500 square feet of river rock. 

Did I mention he was cheap? I’m going to keep telling myself that until it’s done. Eliza, I hope you’ll enjoy your new deck. Apologies in advance if you roll off the side for lack of proper leveling. 

Our soon to be beautiful yard??

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3,890 Comments

  1. PLEASE OH PLEASE POST progress pix! :) That is, of course, assuming that there has been any progress…

    • I promise we will post pictures soon! We had to get a new contractor (surprise, surprise) but the deck is looking great!

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