Masterpiece balcony terrace

Balcony terrace construction 2011, my masterpiece as a carpenter

In 1986, a large balcony terrace was built on the south side of my 1979 built house (hillside plot) by a local firm or architect. In 2004 I noticed a slight swinging of the wooden construction when walking. In fact, I soon saw the reason for this: a beautiful-looking ivy plant on one of the 3 support posts had now eaten it very much. Unfortunately, I was unable to detect all the damage until I completely removed the plant.
I asked a local carpentry to do the replacement of the post and other repairs. Unfortunately, the master did not let me look, so I had to assume that he was not interested in the job. I took a close look at it myself, and decided to replace the girder pole myself. From a neighbor who works in a construction business, I borrowed 3 steel columns that secured the balcony. I got a 3,50m spare bar from the wood trade, and after painting and drilling, I was finally able to replace it with the help of my son against the dilapidated post. The other two girder poles, due to the steep slope much longer, were still in good condition, as they were not overgrown with ivy.
In 2009, I noticed increasing vibrations again, and in an in-depth study in 2010, I realized that other parts of the beam had now suffered significant rottenness, spreading like a disease from the beam originally eaten by the ivy. So I decided to have the entire wooden structure replaced by a specialist company. I asked again, this time another local carpentry, to make me an offer for a complete new construction. Although the boss came by in person and took notes, an offer did not come within 4 weeks. I guessed that otherwise the company was already working at full capacity, or that due to my difficult hillside property, an offer was hard to make. What to do?

Decision for the DIY
As a Frischrentner I actually had plenty of time to do a lot myself, and I’m also a bit gifted by craft. After all, I have already assembled one or the other shelf and even the balcony railing, although my real strengths are more in electronics, computers and the Internet. In addition, the Lord has blessed me with my now 66 Lenzen with a solid health. So these were already favorable conditions for the project.
Actually, I just needed to measure the individual parts of the old balcony exactly, and to order these at the timber trade. However, I had no idea how to hoist the giant parts, 9m long and certainly a few hundredweight, to their designated places up to 6m height. I knew it would not be possible without scaffolding. I fell asleep for a night, and the next day decided to go through the project myself, with my son and, above all, God’s help. Somehow, after this courageous decision, all self-doubt had blown away, and somehow I was looking forward to the task ahead.

The easiest exercise was the dismantling of the metal railing, which I had assembled in 1986 and was able to dismantle quickly. The railing was parked in the garage, where it was cleaned with a metal brush and later repainted with hammerite.
In the next step, each part of the old wooden structure was precisely measured and a plan made with the results, see below. With this plan, I was able to order all the parts needed at the timber trade, which were then delivered to me one week later. When unloading the 9m beams, I was already challenged vigorously, somehow I managed together with my son to temporarily store the 150 kg of debris on the side of the house. Thanks to my small but sturdy build, I have been able to do this without any back damage. From the hardware store, a few bucket weatherproof wood glaze with built-blue protection were first worried. Some bars were first cut to size, e.g. Slots of the support posts for the attachment on the steel mandrel, then painted with the glaze. Meanwhile, we arrived in December, but the temperatures were just enough warm with 8 degrees to make the painting.

building plan
Below is the parts list and the blueprint with front, side and top view. Not visible are the concrete foundations of the vertical beams, which were used here by the old construction. Further details can be found in the photos below.

Procurement and construction of the scaffolding
Finally, a scaffolding had to be purchased. I was smart on the internet, because I could have had standard scaffolding for € 200.- per month, plus transport costs, plus construction costs. A neighbor has to pay € 900.- for everything for his standard scaffolding. For me, the situation was rather difficult: I needed a scaffold about 10 long, 6 m high, and 3 m wide, which are about the dimensions of the balcony. In addition, the whole thing must be built on a height difference of 2 m. With a standard framework this is not feasible. At first I was at a loss. But here several coincidences came to my aid. First, the long winter weather started with a lot of snow, so I had to postpone renting a scaffolding anyway. And this involuntary shift was indeed a stroke of luck, because in March 2011, I read a small ad on the bulletin board of our nearby supermarket, offering scaffolding for a modest price. Usually, I rarely go there and the ads do not interest me. But somehow I took a look, and that was a direct hit! The seller lived only 1km away from me and the scaffolding was exactly what I needed for my difficult hillside location. There were no standard frames, but everything was variably adjustable, a true dream. My radio friend Heinz brought the whole load with his little trailer in a short time to my home, it was not far. Two weeks later, construction work on the scaffolding began, with the previous owner thanking him as advisor. Thanks again to the Bellinghausener! 2/3 of the scaffolding was already built on the first day. But I spent another week building around it to really do it for my purposes, i. E. with the required 3 m width and partial 6m height, to be able to use. The highlight was the suspensions for the 3 pulleys, which were needed to hoist the huge beams. Tricky I had to thread the scaffolding through a spiral staircase; I actually wanted to dismantle the stairs first, but could not, because the railing fittings were rusted, and it would have taken a considerable effort to loosen and replace these fittings. All this could be realized with the very variable scaffolding parts. Details for the great scaffold are described in this separate report, but can also be seen in the following pictures.

Here the scaffolding in full beauty, part of the treads traveled degraded

Dismantling of the old construction
After some consideration, how and where I should start with the dismantling, I imagined partly in thought, partly in writing different scenarios. Somehow it had to be like this, start at the top and work slowly downwards. That had to be well thought out, because I could not let the necessary tread for the respective mining areas disappear prematurely. My motto for the way forward was basically: I am a pensioner, I have time, I would prefer to think about each further step three times, and safety first. Predicted, this approach has proven itself! I have a total of almost 2 months "rumgemacht", It took more time to think than to do actual practical work, but everything went perfectly well without any accident or material loss.
The first step was to dismantle the metal railing, as I already mentioned. Second step was the removal of the treads made of tropical wood. Of course, it was clear that I had to work my way through from east to west, otherwise I would have lost my own working space. The treads, 235 x 12 x 6 mm thick, had been beaten into the crossbeams with large nails, with hammer and crowbars they were relatively easy to solve. The following picture shows the balcony after the removal of the planks.

Half of the treadboards is dismantled, looking in a direction from the bottom towards the east (Oberpleis)

View from above: Now the damage was really recognizable. The upper part of the rear beam I could push away with bare hands.

Here again a close up view. Bad! Without the sturdy metal railing and the stairs, the wooden construction would certainly have collapsed much earlier.

Hooray! All treads and cross beams dismantled. The long 9m beams and vertical beams I sawed in 3 to 4 parts and thrown down with hand to save me the work with the pulleys. On the right you can also see how the scaffolding was threaded through the spiral staircase. The degradation is almost done.

With the first assembly step, the first 9m beam became tricky with the pulleys through the scaffolding parts "threaded" and parked there first. Only then could the vertical support beams be placed on the existing concrete foundations or steel thorns. They were fixed with scaffolding parts in the exact vertical position. Here my son Alexander had strongly supported me.

Foundation 25 x 25 cm, steel mandrel and vertical post below

Then the two other 9m beams were hoisted up with the pulleys and parked provisionally.
In the next step, the right-hand 9m beam was provisionally lifted to its nominal position with the spirit level to mark the vertical supports. With saws, hammers and chisels about 3 cm deep recesses were incorporated into the supports at the level of the markings, in which later the cross beams should be used or rested. Then the 6 pieces 2.50 m cross members were placed in the existing holes in the house wall, and fixed on the other side in the recesses of the vertical supports. Thereafter, a 16mm hole was drilled through the 3 beams after appropriate pre-drilling in order to perform a threaded bolt 16mm x 40 cm can. The latter was then bolted vigorously. These were actually the most critical works of the construction. But as I said, I have only considered 3 times, then only marked, again measured, sawn and drilled. And everything was right.

Now the 9m beams parked higher up could be placed in their desired position on the crossbeams and bolted. Thus, the hardest part, ie the shell, was completed. The proud carpenter insisted on being photographed with his work. Before placing the treadboards, the upwardly facing surfaces of all the support beams were painted with bitumen, then tar paper was applied.

Now it was possible to start laying down the footboards. At first, I intended to replace them completely. On the other hand, they were still very well preserved as tropical wood. So I decided to only weed out the more damaged and badly warped planks and replace them with glue / composite wood. Likewise, I sorted the slightly warped planks in the direction of curvature, that is, the adjacent planks each had a similar curvature. Thus, the curvature was visually hardly noticeable. The former weather side of the planks, which was already slightly damaged, I now moved to the sheltered, drier house side. Here the planks hardly come into contact with rain due to the large roof projection. Of course, all planks were painted twice before laying down with glaze, then fixed only with 2 screws.

Of course, I wondered what could improve compared to the old construction of the new building. The balcony should now hold at least the next 30 years. Experts told me that wood on wood inevitably leads to a wet accumulation, and there the rotting process most likely to occur. In fact, the vertical parts of the old structure, where the water could flow smoothly, were completely undamaged. The specialist retailer recommended the use of spacers. These are plastic parts 8 x 8 mm, which are placed between the bearing surfaces of the footboards and support beams. This material comes on wheels (see picture above), and I cut these into 10 cm long pieces, matching the width of the support beams.

These plastic parts can be seen here, so between treadplates (top) and support beams (back). Furthermore, I painted the top surfaces of the beams with bitumen, and then came tarpaper again. I had noticed that in the support beam fine cracks have formed, of course, also received rainwater and accelerated the decay. With these fourfold measures, ie painting with wood stain, bitumen, tar paper and plastic spacers, the balcony should actually last 100 years, or?

As a fifth additional measure I added a support below the support beams to relieve the 16mm holes of the vertical post. The above reused old planks appear a bit crooked and crooked at the end, but due to the previous sorting, the tread surface looks very even, see picture below.

Cost of balcony construction

The wooden parts cost about € 1400.-. Color, screws, threaded bolts, plastic spacers and other small parts made again about € 600, so in total about € 2000.- The whole course without railing and spiral staircase, which I already had before and only had to delete. I guess I would have to shell out about € 10,000, if I had commissioned a carpentry operation with it. Because of the difficult slope and unavailability of a lifting crane and multiple wood treatment with glaze balcony building was still very labor intensive. The self-construction gave the pensioner not only a most interesting and meaningful employment, but also € 8000.-, which did not have to be spent.

And finally

Finally, a picture of the finished masterpiece, after installation of the freshly painted railing and wooden bench, with the carpenter master Karl and his journeyman Alexander. We thank the LORD that everything worked perfectly well without an accident, and that I, with my 66 Lenzen, have been through everything with the best of health.

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