Put a Fence in it

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

We are picking up this heart breaker on Friday! She is so cute and sweet, we can't wait to bring her home.

Puppy proofing the house is in full swing. Last week my mom helped me move the open shelving TV console and replace it with an old dresser. This way we can hide cords and puppy chewing hazards in the closed drawers.

The other huge task we wanted to complete was this giant "hole" in our fully fenced yard. Our property is completely fenced expect for the space between the back of the house (red door) and the garage (right in photo below).

A few months ago we got a quote from a fencing company on the cost to complete this. The estimate included a black ornamental iron fence, labour etc.....for $1200!!! Um - what?! It's only 90" wide. That estimate was totally a PITA (pain in the a$$) fee, also known as "we want nothing to do with this small stupid job".

So Tom and I came up with a different plan. We looked at doing standard black chain-link from the big box stores but didn't want to pay for a special tool that you need to "stretch" the chain-link into position. Then a light bulb went off in my head and I figured out that two pre-made chain-link gates plus a supporting post fit exactly into the space! Last week, we set this plan into motion. Nothing like a puppy arriving in a week to get your butt in gear.

In the photos above you can see there is an existing black wooden fence post attached to the house. We had planned to reuse this post and just adjust the attached gate latches to the new gate height. Well, we opened a can of worms in our attempt to remove and reuse this old post. First, we tried to loosen the existing nut and completely broke off the bolt....crap. So we couldn't reuse the bolts that were already in the brick of our house. We gave up on reusing the old post and bolts, but still had to remove it from the house so we could replace it with a new one.

Second, trying to remove the post from the house resulted in a dislodged brick...double crap. We eventually got the old post off the house and had to repair the missing brick (second trip to Lowe's for the weekend).

Next up in our fence adventure was installing the middle post to support the two gates. This was a bit tricky as we had to install it through the existing wooden 6x6 beam that separates our asphalt driveway and stone patio area. Tom was a bit concerned about how we were going to get a giant post into the ground and not have it wobbling around when a gate latch smashed into it. He had grand plans to pound the metal post 4' into the ground past the frost line and then support the wooden beam with extra steel rebar. 

This plan actually might have worked, except when we were at Lowe's buying the fence parts, we discovered this genius invention, an adjustable chain-link fence post spike. You drive the spike into the ground and put the post on top and use the screws to level it. Perfect!

We removed the 6x6 wooden beam (a task in itself) and measured five times to make sure we were putting the post in the correct spot. There was no way we could remove the spike if we made a mistake.

At this point, we had to make our third trip to the home improvement store. Our little cordless power drill was just not strong enough to handle drilling through the wooden beam. We also realized that we would have to replace the anchor bolts in the brick, which involved drilling large holes into masonry....also something our drill could not handle. This was a job for a hammer drill.

We decided to try looking at our local Home Hardware store first - and low and behold they had an amazing deal on a Makita Hammer Drill. As Tom puts it "I feel like I need written permission from my dad to use this thing"....it's an ADULT power tool! It blasted through the wooden beam in no time and didn't break a sweat.

To make a long story long, it took us a whole day to get here: remove the old fence post, make two trips to get supplies, repair dislodged brick, install ground spike, paint new wooden fence posts, get wooden beam back over top of the new ground spike (required removing a row of patio stones), leveling the metal post, and replacing the patio stones.

So a few days later and after work, we set out to at least get one gate installed. As I mentioned above we also used the new toy to drill holes into the masonry. In the holes we installed a lag shield that tightens into the brick as you screw a bolt into it. This is how we attached the new fence post to the house (after we first installed the gate hardware).

So here is where you learn from our mistakes...install the gate spring in the correct direction! Since we decided we wanted the gate to close automatically with the spring, we just got so excited and installed it without "thinking" about the direction it closes. Well, we did it wrong the first time and had to remove the entire wooden post from the house. We managed to fix it pretty quickly, after first banging our heads a few times. By the end of the evening we had a fully functional first gate!

The next night we worked on installing the garage side. It was basically the same process as the house side, except we didn't have to install the post into brick. We drilled through the wall of the garage and bolted it from the inside. We did add a bit of extra reinforcement to make sure it was good and strong.

The one extra step we had to take for the garage side was to cut the wooden post in half. The gate spacing was too tight for the whole post, so we just cut the post in half and it was perfect! And we installed the spring in the correct direction - the first time. The last step was to cut the top of the middle post off and cap it.

We are super proud of our handy work on this project! I think we set up a pretty "nice" looking fence in an awkward little area. It's functional and strong and will keep puppy inside the yard (we hope!). And we also had to buy bigger power tools, which always makes me happy.

Hopefully I'll have a quick update on Friday with some more puppy photos!

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