Saturday, August 29, 2015

Planning a DIY project - our side gate a.k.a. baby holding pen

One of the many deficiencies of our new house is that it doesn't have any decent outdoor living spaces. It's on a fairly respectable (for Wellington) 500sqm section, but because it's Wellington most of that is fairly angular.

We have a big project in the pipeline to create a deck and small lawn off our dining space, but that's probably years away. There is, however, a small area at the back north-west corner of the house which is concreted already, and which, with a bit of a tidy up and the addition of a gate, will become not only a pleasant place to sit in the afternoons, but will be a safe outdoor space for a certain small person.

The area in question. The gate will be just past the door to maximise the toddler running zone. 

Cleaning up is pretty easy, but building a gate is not something we've done before, and it's hard to know where to start on projects like this, so I thought I'd share our planning in case it's useful to others.

Our first step is always a few hours worth of online research. There are tutorials for just about everything online, and for building projects hardware stores have often published well-produced demonstration videos. The Mitre 10 ones are great, but sometimes they haven't covered the right subject yet, in which case we'll look further afield. To tell us where to start with our gate I found this video, which gives us a pretty good idea of what we need to do.

Online research also helps understand the design parameters - there are lots of style options, and though the framework is likely to be the same (at least for wood, which will be our medium) it's good to understand the desired aesthetic before you start just in case it changes anything.

Step two is usually a phone call to DIY helpline, a.k.a. my dad. Depending on how complicated the project is, or how good the online information is, this might just be sanity checking a pre-formulated plan, or it might be more along the lines of "given the space we're working with how would you start?" In this instance, though I'm pretty happy with the video we found on how to build, I wanted to validate the strategy and check whether we should attach a batten to the house or sink an extra post on that side (the jury's still out on that, actually - conflicting opinions!).

My drawing skills leave a lot to be desired but even a crappy drawing helps a lot - this picture shows (approximately!) the framing, and allows us to calculate the timber we need. So that's step three, documenting the plan. Depending on the size of project we might mull over this step for a while, and iterate back through the research phases until we're satisfied. If it's a bigger project (like the kitchen) I use software so that the output actually resembles what's in my head, but a scrawl works for the small projects.

And so now we're off to Bunnings, that favourite Saturday haunt of so many Kiwi DIYers... Wish us luck!

Do you have any DIY projects on your agenda this weekend?

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