Outdoor Projects

Here is a glimpse of my design, engineering, and construction skills put to use in the great outdoors. Click on any of the photos to see more details.

The Deck

I spent many evenings and weekends working on my deck project while still employed in academia. I found working outdoors and building things with my own hands to be very therapeutic after a day of computer work, committee meetings, and stress over more budget cuts. Maybe that’s why I’ve worked on the deck for over ten years and still have not finished it — I was and still am in need of much therapy! While designing and planning our new house my wife and I chose not to have our contractor build a generic rectangular deck off our sun room to save money for a future deck that I would build later. We designed this outdoor living space to include a three-level deck, gazebo, kitchen area, and large planter with built-in drip irrigation. Of course, I calculated joist deflections, snow load, rafter sizing for the gazebo, and anything else that a competent engineer would do! No, I did NOT buy plans for any of this, but I analyzed hundreds of other designs to get ideas. 

The photos show the deck in various stages of completion. The 1,300 square foot deck surface is made of ipe, a very dense Brazilian hardwood that should last well beyond the life of the house. I recently built the trellis in the backyard to support two very healthy vines that caused our store-bought wrought iron trellis to collapse.

I will post additional photos here someday, as I continue to build more furniture and accessories for the deck!