A few hours here and there led to some decent progress this weekend. First, I trenched a path for the drain pipe that would later be buried under the playhouse. This is actually a long overdue project, as our patio roof drains a ton of water, which would tend to want to flow right around the patio and towards the house. We’ve had a semi-functional temp solution going for the last 5 years, but this is the first time we’ve actually taken charge of the drainage. We will extend the pipe as we rework our landscape in the side yard, but already we can see a huge difference in how muddy the playhouse area is.
Also, Chloe and I finished the structure of the deck. Because the pier blocks do not give much lateral support to the posts, I added much more bracing and blocking than might normally be done on such a small deck. This is the first free-standing deck I have ever built, as all the others have attached to a house or porch. I would now recommend that anybody building something like this not use pier blocks as their foundation. The lack of side-to-side strength coupled with our minimalistic design (joists nailed between posts instead of the more typical method of bolting through them) has made it a real challenge to make the playhouse feel solid. The last thing I did that helped quite a bit was to run countersunk lag screws through the top of the perimeter joists at an angle down into the posts. I am confident that once the deck boards go on and we are able to add some angle bracing to the posts, it will all work out just fine. But, if we could go back to the planning stage, I would have poured my own footings and used the more heavy duty post anchors. Another option would have been to sink longer posts directly into concrete, but I’ve seen too many such non-pressure-treated posts eventually rot out.
Next weekend I’ll start planing down some cedar and hopefully get the deck finished! On another note, we decided to take the word playhouse literally and leave the front entirely open, so the girls can use it as a stage. We will install a curtain that they can use to close the front whenever and however they want. It’s another idea that helps make it “theirs” while keeping it useful for us after they’ve tired of it 🙂