Amateur Deck Builder


Spending more time at home in the last few years and watching too many renovations and patio shows on HDTV made me dream. So in 2013, my deck and pool were getting closer to the expiration date, so I started to improvise myself as Paul Lafrance. 4 years later, here where I'm at.

2013

Phase 0

I started by spending a bit of time on the internet searching patio building guidelines, witch I found. I started to establish a list of ideas and elaborate on my vision. The style. the materials, the priories regarding the pool, the sun, the neighbours, the zones for kitchen, lounge, dining table, lighting, sound, garden and of course the budget.

The first plan

It was to be designed with 3 levels, a pool, a lounge, a dining section and a landing. There was also a wall for privacy protection.

The total budget would have been more than $30K, witch was way above my $15k planned. The square pool above ground was not affordable. I also didn't want to build a fence if the pool was going to end up in the ground

The second plan

It was to be designed with two levels with a big space to have flexibility. There was a round pool that was way cheaper. The materials were going to be a treated wooden frame with Trex and Tecko blocks.

Total budget, basically $3.5k for the pool, the blocks $3.5K, the Trex composite $1.5k, the treated wood $2.2k, the fence for the pool $1k and the sonotubes 800$ for a grant total of $14k ish.

2014

Phase 1, The preparation.

We started the work in April 2014 with the demolition of the old patio. That was an easy day for the demo but for cleaning and drilling the 24 sonotubes holes, that was another story. So we rent a machine but had to review our plan and go with a bigger one. Thank God Gaétan operated it. All the levels were done by my dad so we could poor the concrete the next day. We were now ready to build.

Phase 2A, Building the deck

We calculated the material and then order it. We used treated wood protected by a water-resistant membrane. We build the upper deck, first, then the main section. Everything is screed, bolted and with extra creosoted protection. The difficulty was to calculates the heights due to the fact Trex is not the same of the Techo-block. It took us around to week and thanks to the help of our neighbours for the carrying of the heavy stones.

Phase 2B, Intergration of the pool, lights, wall and safety.

This is the part that we didn't build it our self. The pool is tricky to build so I ask Piscine Excel to do it. The wall is made of torifed wood. For the rest, my dad and I did most of the work. Mostly in the June afternoon after his golf. After this, we thought we were going to enjoy the rest of the summer, but this is when things when out of control budget-wise. I needed intimacy protection, so I decided to build a shack. This would also be a great place to put my pool heating device on the roof. This is why the build would be 12-24 and 12 feet high. The maximum allowed by the municipality.

Phase 3, The foundation of the shack

After consulting with my friend Dan and Guy, experts in the department, we started to dig with the neighbours and my sister. They were also doing improvement to their houses. Team work at its best. @24 inches deep on the side and 12 in the middle. No crack so far.

2015

Phase 4, The BBQ

That was a little winter project to start the year. Built a inserted Napoleon BBQ with same material of the Shack. Corrugated metal with torified wood. Obviously for safety reasons, some parts of the frame are metal studs.

Phase 5, The intimacy shack

We started on a cold day of April. It took longer than we thought. Doing the framing was an easy two days. But the metal and architectural panels required a bit more expertise than we expected.

Phase 6, Fine-tuning for the 50th

The shack was completed on May 9th. We had to start preparing for the June 27 mom and dad 50th wedding anniversary. Build the stairs landing was the first step using the same Tecko-Block. We also add black soil for laying down the grass. Building and modifying the flower case and covering the base of the deck with vertical Trex. Finally, we build the stainless steel fence with was basically un-affordable. Thank God at this point I decided to stop calculating. Gaétan did some spraying in the garage to paint the furniture and we were ready to entertain the guests.

2016

Phase 7, Simple modifications and the fire-pit.

So during spring we did build a Napoleon inserted fire-pit. I did a bit of research on the web to find a custom look. We did use the same tortified wood, metal's studs and I order a concrete top from les Ateliers Allard in Drumondville. We also add some Tecko block to make the lading more secure.

2017

Phase 8, The roof

After more than a year trying to find a solution and consulting with architects, I fond a solution. Actually, my friend Guy who's an architect, told me that what I need was shadowed places, not a room. So I met with Martin owner of Brisson paysagiste to look at what could be my options with the fact that i did not want a post in the middle of the place. Et voilà, the Sunlouvre was installed by Brisson team on May 15th and completed on June 4th. After we did add some torified wood, corrugated metal to blend the look of the tower into the patio. The tower as lighting and speakers too. We also added landscaping to harmonize and create fluidity.

The video

This a time-laps video of the week of the Sunlouvre installation.

Phase 9, Enjoy!

These picture captures quite a bit the vision I had. I wish I could have seen it globally first, rather than making it on the fly. That would make my dad and myself job a bit easier. Especially at the end where I could not see how to get shadow and protection from the rain. It would also make it easier to follow the budget. Basically, it cost more than 5 times what I did budget at first. Taking in consideration that there was no man paid on this job except for the pool, pergolas and electrical main to be moved, this project would not make sense. This project would have cost more than 150 000$. A non-sense from an investment point of view knowing the value of the house. But at the end, I did it because I wanted it. I wanted to build it with my dad and the help of all my family. Plus I like having breakfast, lunch and dinner outside. Well, I am very served and who cares about the cost :)

Back to phase 0

Inspirations, drawing and Photoshop overlays.

These are some of the ideas I found on the internet that were useful. Houze is a pretty good app for this. Goggle search images were helpful. Voilà!

Pierre Ruel

March 10th 2018. Updated May 2020


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