Deck Progress and a Find


THINGS ARE MOVING ALONG rapidly here, deck-wise. On Friday, the builders framed out the entire main deck in all its 400-square-foot glory. That’s half the size of the house itself (excluding screened porch), but it’s in proportion to the size of the backyard and already feels inviting.


They didn’t work over the weekend, and I had to either use the front door or jump down from the back door between the new joists and hurdle. Now they’re back, and sounds of industry — sawing, drilling, hammering — fill the air. My neighbors, luckily, are very supportive. They’re thrilled I’m improving the property instead of letting it turn to shit, as was happening for years before I arrived in May ’09.

Now check out this archaeological find, below: a cast iron mortar and pestle, discovered under two original steps leading from the screened porch to the backyard. Must weigh 12 or 15 pounds. I happen to know the previous owner read tarot cards and fancied herself a witch. That’s apparently what her license plate read (a neighbor told me; don’t know if she also had the popular bumper sticker ‘My Other Car is a Broom’). Possibly she used it to mix eye of newt and toe of frog? In any event, it’s old, clearly older than the house. How and why it got there is anyone’s guess.


Usually I divulge the cost of all my home improvements, but I’m going to keep the deck price a secret for now and let whoever wants to field a guess. Hints: I got 4 estimates, three for the approximately the same price I’m paying, and one for considerably more. These are the parameters: 2 separate cedar decks with pressure treated framing — one 16’x24′, the other 6’x10′ with a shower enclosure and bench. There are four men working, and the job will take four days, so they say. Price doesn’t include installation of a new door from the bathroom to the shower deck.

The person who comes closest in the comments will win…something. Not the mortar and pestle, though.

About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
This entry was posted in HAMPTONS, LONG ISLAND, OLD-HOUSE MAKEOVERS and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Deck Progress and a Find

  1. priscilla says:


  2. Kathleen says:

    I won’t venture a guess as to the cost. Pricey, I suppose. Worth it, too!

    Interesting history – recent history, that is – regarding the witch. The mortar and pestle are way cool. Good thing they precede the witch’s tenure.

  3. cara says:

    Hi Kathleen. Priscilla – I wish! I may have been too hasty in asking you to guess before posting a picture of the finished product, which will be ready…tomorrow! You’ll have a chance to revise your guess, if you wish;-)

  4. priscilla says:

    I guess I’ve under estimated. We’ve had some work done up here in Saugerties recently. I guess I’m working on Catskill $’s. I’ll try again when you are done.

  5. Nancy says:

    Everything done tomorrow including the shower? Seems super fast! Does it include the new entrance to your bathroom from the outside?

  6. eileen says:


  7. cara says:

    Ah, well, “tomorrow” was a tad optimistic. It’ll be another day. It’s coming out great though. Stay tuned for pics. The door, and installation of it, adds another $850 to the price, which is higher than Eileen’s guess. Anyone else?

  8. brooklyngreene says:

    Damn it Eileen! I was going to say $4500 immediately…but okay, let’s be realistic…shower enclosure, bench, contractors who need to pay the bills…the East End, etc., etc…I’m going to say the grand total is over $5000. Let’s say somewhere between $5400 and 5800. I hope it’s not going over $6,000 My sister did a deck somewhere between $10-15 thousand but it’s got to be much larger…at least I think it is.

    By the way, I haven’t checked in much for a while. Hoping you’re doing well. I think the last time I checked in was when you were posting those gorgeous travel photographs!

    Brooklyn Beckons!

    But…I guess summer is a heck of a lot better out there in South Fork Land. We we’re back and forth with New England. Had to turn down an invite up to Maine though…just didn’t work out.

  9. Guy McClure says:


  10. cara says:

    Hey there, BG, good to see you! Thanks for your guesses, all. There’s still time to guess (or update previous guesses, if you want). I’ll be posting final pics Wednesday or Thursday and will reveal the answer and the winner on Friday.

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