working on a fence for the past couple of days.
to. A post snapped during an extremely windy storm. Found it toppled
into the driveway, along with the four rails (two from each side).
While looking over the damage, I found a second post that had
snapped but not toppled.
posts to replace.
most people that have wooden fences understand, by snapped I equally
mean broken and rotted and other assorted words of similar intent.
When it comes to do-it-yourself repair projects, perhaps nothing
causes as many moments of prayer and apprehension as the posts
of a wooden fence.
into the ground is a hideous thing. For most projects—such as
posts for fences and footings for decks—we usually find the endeavors
providing a minimum of two to three feet needed (and often forty
or more inches, depending on the project and the particulars of
local building codes). It never fails… Murphy would have a field
day here… the x-marks-the-spot location for any hole is always
where the biggest rocks reside about ten to twenty inches down.
And that’s just the actual digging…
you concerned about what’s under the ground? Many homes have sprinkler
systems. Many homes have electrical wiring headed out to lights
and alarms and such. Quick summary… there’s a really good chance
you should be concerned before you pick up the shovel.
my case, one of the big challenges was that I had to find appropriate
posts. I thought I had been quite fortunate when I spotted the
right look in the very first store. But, nope, the holes for mounting
the railings were off by about six inches.
could go on, but I think most of you are following along and have
a nicely developed sense of the project and hazards. Some things
concern you… some things don’t… get the materials and get going.
(In other words, when it comes to checklists, despite what we
know we should do, everyone does not turn off the electricity
before beginning the work.)
to the point for me and my thoughts here, the idea is that a best-case/worst-case
set of scenarios begins to develop.
post replacement? Well, I could get started, find that the old
post is crumbling in the ground and fairly easy to clear. It’s
just a matter of scooping out the fragments and sliding the new
post into place. Easy. Or, I could get started, and find headaches
after headache, and… you already know where this is going…
both places, the only weak spot on the posts was where they snapped.
Nothing was easy to remove. But the shape of the breaks also left
no grip, so there was no way I was going to be able to pull it
out, or attach something to it and use a vehicle to pull stuff
out. Plus, the wood being solid meant there was an obstacle in
the middle of the hole, and I couldn’t use any large tools. I
was reaching into the holes with my hands, a trowel and assorted
small gardening tools. (Lots of fun!)
true decision-time test was when I reached the cement.
in one of the holes the base of the post had been cemented in
place. And that discovery was when I went into the garage and
broke out the chainsaw.
chainsaw is not a subtle tool. Crap just got serious when the
chainsaw comes out as the problem solver.)
to say about the fence, things are fine now. Posts are in place.
Overall things look great. Just need to get a bit of weathering
to bring the posts from that new look to more of an aged gray.
that doesn’t really address the idea of this essay.
the reality is, the unexpected (or at least a splinter portion
of the worst-case scenario) almost without exception comes into
play on every project in the home.
than a decade ago, we were building a deck in our yard. We were
basically connecting it to the back of the garage. Part of the
project included attaching a ledger board. As we prepped for that,
we found significant problems in the walls of the garage.
way the house was built included some funny angles. End result
was a section that literally had no direct sunlight. Ever. Add
in an abundance of oak trees around the property, and even the
spots of the garage that might see sunlight had an extremely limited
amount at best. Lots of water accumulation… little quick drying.
feel fairly confident that most of us do not approach a checklist
for deck building with an item for the garage that outlines “repair
foundation, rebuild framework, and replace studs” as one of the
efforts for the day.
would be nice if the best-case scenario actually came about once
every so often. Heck, there have been times when I’ve celebrated
the fact that when replacing a lightbulb, it didn’t shatter (leaving
the base of the bulb in the socket).
of the time though, I’m at the edge of a hole, arm about fifteen
to eighteen inches down inside it, small hand-held hoe scraping
away while I mutter and swear about who I must have ticked off
to be spending my morning in such a position.
now, I’m looking at the other posts along both sides of the driveway.
Eventually. Maybe. Maybe another project awaits. There was absolutely
a moment when I thought taking the things down would have been
less work. But I didn’t. I persevered. And now I’m happy.
that it’s done.)