As an architect and designer, much of my days are spent carefully considering construction details… then reviewing and critiquing how well someone else has built what I’ve conceived and drawn. The ‘Punch List’ can be a harsh judgement of someone’s hard spent effort on site. Doing construction projects yourself is a humbling experience and reminds me to empathize with my fellow ‘subbies’. It’s amazing how quickly standards can slip when you’re the one mitering or dovetailing the timbers! I certainly wouldn’t like to do a punch list of the deck I designed and built for my house. It all started two summers ago, with overgrown trees, an uneven flagstone patio, and a rotten condemned back porch. The demo is quick and the ground got muddy fast. Thinking through the implications of every hole dug or piece of wood cut was exhausting. Our fellow GCs definitely bring a lot of value pulling our construction sites together. It’s tough to keep the precise finished deck level in mind when you’re breaking your back with a gas powered auger to dig post holes 48” down to get below the frost line, but if you’re an inch or two off, that’s the only thing your friends will see when they’re sitting there drinking your beer! My dad taught me how to build things; he showed me the value of doing it yourself. Not only was this a great bonding experience, but it was a great learning experience too. I drafted in help to dig the holes, and fill them again with concrete. My wife was a constant motivator (and painter), and when I was physically done and looking to cut corners, she kept us true to the design. We’re still adding details and features and now my own boys get to learn and enjoy it too. On to the next project (finished basement!) and building respect for a whole new group of trades!
Written by our experienced DIY-er: Richard Lott