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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Master Welder

During the baby shower, my dad stayed home at cut up all the steel for our shade structure. (Trust me, he was much happier doing that instead of going to the shower.)

My parents' house doesn't have AC (or heat). No heat is okay in the winter because we have a bunch of space heaters for the bedrooms and oil heaters for the bigger rooms. But no AC when you're pregnant and it is 105F outside is nothing short of brutal. It was painful, literally. My feet were killing me since the heat made the swelling worse and I was sweating constantly (even with a fan blowing straight on me).

Part of the discomfort is my fault since I cannot force myself to just lay down with my feet up and relax. I can do it for about an hour and then I get bored and have to get up and do something. So I washed dishes (which is difficult since I can't reach over the sink to the faucet anymore), dusted, and made the beds.

It had to have been like 115F in the garage, though. Dave and my dad spent all Sunday out there making the posts for the shade structure. (Dave was happy as a clam out there, amazingly.) Before it got too hot, I suggested that they turn on the portable swamp cooler to at least cool their legs (they did). They wore long-sleeved shirts while welding to avoid burning their arms from flying specks of molten flux. Ouf...they were dripping with sweat and were black from all the metal dust.

Dave did all the welding and he did a really good job. My dad was super impressed. The biggest compliment you can get from my dad is "that's really looks like something I could have done." Hahaha, Dave always beams when my dad says that about his work.
I had planned on doing some of the welding myself but my dad wouldn't let me because of the metal oxide fumes. Welding is something you can do sitting down and I REALLY wanted to help (plus I haven't welded in a few years and wanted to get back into it). But I was banished to the house. I did go out a few times to take them cool drinks and to take some pictures, though.
The structure is made of 3"x3" box tubing with 6" square bases welded to the bottom, which will then be bolted down to the concrete bases around the patio. Flat metal pieces are welded to the top of each 10' tall post (yes, that's very tall!) to hold 4"x6" lumber over the top.

To get the square base plates perfectly aligned on the bottom of each post, they rigged up a post-holder in the rafters to suspend the post over the plates. It was nifty and worked really well.We might hang shade cloth or some lattice stuff up there to give us more shade. I will plant some grape vines at the base of some posts...but those will take a few seasons to grow up to the top and provide shade.

Grapes are great for shade structures because they are winter deciduous (they lose their leaves in winter). So in the summer you get shade from the leaves and in the winter you get sun.

The metal and wood will be painted a light brown color. We were going to use redwood lumber for the top but it is really cheap Doug Fir and a coat of paint will do just fine. (It is so tall and purposefully out of your eye line that I doubt we'll even notice it after a while.)

When I tried to get a permit for the shade structure the city planner told me that I can't because our house is "completely non-conforming." Great. The developer cheated on the set backs when he got the plans approved. For a single storey house you must have a total of 12' on the sides of your house (so 6' on each side or 5' and 7'). Our house has maybe 8' total between the two sides. The planner suggested that I just build it anyway, without a permit, since we're not planning on selling the house. Once we sell the house we'll be required to take it down...but that won't be for a long time since we'll just rent the house out when we move to Gualala.

This is a Google Maps picture from about 2 years before we bought the house. Our house is the one on the can see the fence lines and the next door neighbor's house. Set backs? What setbacks? Our house is basically sitting on the fence on both sides. You can also see our three triangular-shaped yards. It is a weird layout but we actually really like it.
Our only other option is to apply for a variance but the minimum cost for that is $1200. No way, Jose.

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