Not everyone has seemingly unlimited funds to throw at their multi million dollar vacation house out on the cape. Even though I have worked on some pretty stellar and expensive projects, by far most of the projects I have worked on are for ordinary folks with real-world budgets. I have built many more decks out of pressure treated lumber for decking than any I have of mahogany or ipe; I have installed so many more steel entry doors than I have custom made mahogany behemoths with gilded knobs (never really installed gold knobs, but you get the point). I have found it the case that non-millionaires or billionaires are usually much more appreciative (or even approachable for that matter) of my services than those with the never ending pockets. In either case, I strive to do the job correctly at any level.
I wish I had some before pictures of the porch at the left and right of this page. It was a raised concrete slab sitting atop decades old termite chewed, rotted timbers on uneven cinder block piers with no railings and a prefab set of concrete steps. It was amazing that it hadn’t collapsed. Although somewhat labor intensive to remove the existing concrete slab and steps, this was both an enjoyable and fulfilling project. The customer, an extremely nice older lady, enjoyed the process as much as I, and I know she appreciates being able to survey the neighborhood from a safe and comfortable vantage point.
The ramp pictured the photos above was built with the minimally compliant slope for wheelchair access. The customer was not in a wheelchair, but was a larger man with some health issues and poor knees. The original set up here was awkward, in that the door was accessed by concrete steps with no landing. The door swings out, so that standing on the steps and opening the door was a bit of a challenge. Now, the door can be accessed by walking up the ramp to the platform and opening the door without your body being in the way of its swing. This was a budget build, and the customer was very pleased with the results, especially since he was still in the process of moving in and had some large pieces of furniture to wheel into the house.
In the pictures above, I have built a set of swinging barn doors for an older gentleman and WWII vet living in Gulfport. The original doors were constructed and installed very poorly, basically like swinging (or dragging in this case) exterior walls of 2×4 construction with T1-11 cladding. They were very heavy, sagged and dragged the ground. The first order of business, once the old doors were removed, was making sure that the opening was perfectly square so that the new doors would function properly. Then it was a matter of building frames from pressure treated material ripped to 1-1/2″ square and assembling them with construction adhesive and exterior pocket screws. Once the frames were mounted on exterior grade hinges and swung nicely, the face boards were installed. The face boards were knotty pine tongue and groove with chamfered edges. These were glued with construction adhesive and blind nailed at the top, bottom and center of the frames. As a precaution, on the inside I used wire anti-sag supports running from the top inside corners to the bottom outside corners of each frame. Finally, I added simple handles and hasps to the exterior, and a cane bolt to the interior left side door to secure the doors in place when they were closed. The new doors were light and durable, and swung perfectly. The gentleman for whom I did this work was very pleased with the results, and in addition to my payment I received a bottle of home made wine with his own label on it too! I didn’t expect much from the wine and it sat in my fridge for months. Unexpectedly, it was quite excellent when I finally pulled its cork!