What we do is expensive. Good materials, thoughtful design and detailing, not to mention the labour costs in completing a job properly all adds up. Anything that can be done to increase the life span of the work we do just makes good sense over the life of a house.
Following are a few found examples of what not to do:
Doesn't look too bad, but the flat edge on the top of the base blocks, and the opening vertical mitre is a tip off that water is getting in.
Removed the baseblocks and found that the pressure treated 4x4 was set directly on the pine porch floor boards – it has been wicking up water for some time and turned to mush. The pine post claddings were carrying the structural load. It is important to never set the end grain of wood on a surface that can be wet.
These posts have been "repaired" at least once before but not properly detailed, so they will fail again prematurely. To get these details right costs little more – slope horizontal surfaces, separate end grain from water, inspect and touch up caulking and paint once a year and exterior woodwork will last a long time. I finished taking these photos and looked across the street to see another contractor rebuilding a porch with unpainted knotty pine and similarly poor detailing. Perhaps I will be featuring it here in the not so distant future.
Rory McDonnell is a General Contractor, Licensed Carpenter and Architectural Designer with Build, a construction firm in Stratford, Ontario, specializing in new custom homes and renovations.
I am a licensed carpenter,