Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mr. Deck’s Critiques






We finally have a feature on Mr. Deck’s Critique pages! Lesser builders would shudder at the thought but not this one!

It is always a thought, what do other builders think of our stuff.

What would Robert Hauck Jr. think of our work? “Probably not much”, since we do a lot of work for normal folks. We can make 2 choices in this business. We can make a very good living building things that appeal to the masses or we can sell a few pieces of art to a few people over the years.



I’ve been doing this dance between art and what people accept en masse for many years. Sure, we’ve done some art, but it is always a harder sell to make those happen. I've got a whole drawer full of designs that didn't sell but should have. Angel Wing Gates, Grand Fences, Big Pergolas, hundred thousand dollar decks. When it comes down to it I have likely spent about a year doing design work "On Spec", for upscale projects that didn't happen. The portfolio is deep enough that I don't have to do any more "Free" design work--and neither should any of our builders.

There was only 1 Silicon Valley, and I don’t imagine those magical budgets even exist there anymore. All we humble artisans can do is the best we can with an indicated budget from clients until we stumble upon a Shangri la project--that magical place where budgets are unlimited! It is kind of like winning a lottery, and many people are still waiting for the opportunity.

If you have never seen his critiques, poetry and insights you need to go there right now! Robert Hauck’s Critique Pages It would be loosely described as the first “Deck Business Blog”, though large scale Art Pergolas would better describe what he does. His insights and commentary are priceless, hilarious and honest.

Being 67 now he has certainly been an inspiration to this builder. I wish I had clientele in Silicon Valley in the 80’s with budgets like those to play with. $700,000 was the biggest outdoor budget I have ever had, and we had to do 300’ of gothic fencing and a curved pergola within it.

Robert was known for building outdoor art-sculpture in wood.

He would use brackets and bolts and create beautiful sculpted things. Take a ride around his website to see some.

So, yes, we got our critique. And it has to do with stairs—and the drag is that he assumed it was the southern states where they put steps on a concrete footing for stability. He didn’t understand or expect that we would have to place footings 4’ deep to support staircases that have handrails that may be damaged by the movement of frost.



The principal has to do with water freezing. As it freezes it expands… kind of like clay soaking up water in Texas and swelling…very similar thing, but the ice within the ground is solid and powerful. It will move anything within the expansion zone, which means if you run skirting down to ground level it could well, raise the deck out of the ground.

Factor 2… when I photographed it (a few years ago), the homeowner that was doing many things like stain, moving gravel and all the footings (under my direction), had not yet moved in the soil or grass seed to heal up the void between ground and the footing supported step.

All in all, if that is the major criticism from Robert Hauck Jr. I am doing ok! It is a grand thing to be noticed by one of your mentors.

Thanks Robert Cheers!


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