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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Shade Structure!

Unfortunately for us, living in the hot-hot-hot Central Valley, our dining room faces south and the sun shines directly on it's outside wall in the afternoons. More unfortunate is that the dining room's two longest walls are outside walls (well, one butts up against the garage but that's basically the same thing) as is one of the short walls. And the walls of houses in Davis are not insulated at all. What all this means is that the temperature in the dining room is ALWAYS about 10 degrees hotter (or colder if it is winter) than the rest of the house. I'm not kidding. And 10 degrees is a lot.

So when planning our patio we decided to also erect a shade structure over it. That way we'd have a nice place to sit outside and it would keep some of the direct sun off the dining room's outside wall.

I asked my dad how he thought we should build it and he suggested that rather than the traditional redwood posts, we should use steel box tubing. The strength is greater so we can have a smaller size tubing than the wood would have to be. In such a small yard, that makes sense since you don't want to fill the whole yard space up with big posts.

We wanted to make sure that the sightline out the sliding glass doors in the dining room would be preserved. It'd be a shame to look out the glass doors and see a dark roof--it'd feel gloomy, closed-in, and like there was another room out there instead of an outdoor space. Plus I wanted it to be tall enough that I wouldn't have trouble cleaning out the gutters each fall. So it ended up being ten feet tall from the top of the patio (which is about a foot taller than the ground around it)! Ten feet is REALLY tall as it turns out.

Here's how the posts attached to the concrete bases (just like lamp posts along the street):

So my dad went to work on AutoCad and created very detailed plans for the structure. He made sure to follow all the guidelines for the City's "patio cover" so getting a permit wouldn't be a problem. But then the City informed me that our house is "completely non-conforming" so we couldn't get a permit for it anyway. I was advised to just put it up anyway and not worry about permitting until we go to sell the house (which will be a long, long time anyway).

All I really cared about getting done before the baby arrived was the actual patio--it was one of my goals towards not having to wipe off muddy dog paws this winter. But my dad figured it we're going to all that trouble, why not go ahead and put up the shade structure, too?

The weekend of our Livermore baby shower, Dave and my dad spent too much time in the sweltering garage welding up the box tubing posts that would become the vertical support posts for the structure. Remember that?

Then Dave primed and painted the posts. For a while the posts just sat in the garage while we let the paint cure. Eventually Edward helped me move them to the garden yard so I could reclaim the garage floor--in my prepartum nesting craze I decided I needed to move the giant living room carpet to the garage so I could steam clean it and the garage floor was the only space big enough to do it (you can't steam clean a carpet on top of Pergo laminate flooring because the moisture will ruin it...just an FYI).

Not a day after we returned from the hospital with our new baby, my dad and sleep-deprived Dave installed the shade structure. Detailed drawings or not, they decided to change the top wooden part a bit so we'd have more coverage over the existing concrete stoop. Otherwise it all went to plan--the concrete fasteners that my dad bought worked out great. They even had time to paint the wooden pieces on top so the structure wasn't so obvious from the prk next door:All we have to do now it finish the top (and that can wait a year or more if need be), plant some grape vines at the base so they'll start growing up the posts, and grout around the bottom of each post so moisture won't get in.

It looks really great out there, despite it's enormity. The top, horizontal, part of the shade structure will eventually be wood, but for now we only have shade cloth nailed up there since they ran out of time. Dave put it up last weekend:That shade cloth does a great job blocking the sun. See that dark line across the pavers? The darker part is due to the shade cloth. It's quite nice, sort of like it is overcast instead os being totally dark: The yard is too small for me to take a good picture of the whole structure, unfortunately. So you'll just have to come over for a BBQ to see it for yourself! It is really fantastic...thanks for all your hard work, Daddy and Davie!

1 comment:

steph.kelley said...

Ooh ya, I take that inviation to come see fer myself. :D Can't wait!