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August 30, 2009
Coming in for a landing

Russell constructs the second landing for the stairs

Following our week-long “August marathon” of mountain home construction, our schedule was due to get very busy for the next two months. Nevertheless, Russell was feeling very restless about his progress (or lack of progress) on the stairs. After months of planning and work, only one landing had been built. So Russell decided to take a weekend and drive up by himself on Friday, August 28.

Another reason for the trip was that the weather continued to be gorgeous – not too hot and not too cold. Unfortunately, Russell spent the next two days working mostly indoors.

The task at hand was to build the second of two landings for the staircase. While the first landing had been relatively easy at 37.5 inches high, the second would be 75 inches high. Russell estimated the task at half a day’s work.

The lower landing (on the right) is 37.5 inches high. An upper landing (on the left) needs to be built 75 inches high.

Unfortunately, the task ended up taking all day. This is because in the middle of construction, Russell decided to take a shortcut and deviate from his plans. (Yes, the same plans that he has spent months drawing.) Unlike the lower landing, which is tucked into the corner of the alcove, the upper landing is set in from the alcove by six inches. This is to accommodate the upper flight of stairs, which must be moved six inches over so it doesn’t hit a glu-lam beam on the second floor. The six-inch gap will ultimately be covered with a faux wall.

The upper flight of stairs needs to be six inches in from the alcove, so that it won't hit a glu-lam beam on the second floor

The stairs and landings were meticulously spec’ed and drawn out after months of work

As he was constructing, it occurred to Russell: why not simply make the upper landing six inches wider? Then it could tuck all the way into the alcove. By attaching to the alcove wall, it would be more secure. The extra six inches would ultimately be hidden by the faux wall anyway.

It wasn’t until Russell had the upper landing cut, built and installed that he discovered why it shouldn’t be six inches wider. The landing is ultimately meant to be hidden from view by the upper flight of stairs. With the improvised construction, there would be an extra six inches of landing that wasn’t hidden by the stairs.

Russell's first upper landing. He built it six inches wider than required, so it could attach to the left wall of the alcove. This turned out to be wrong.

Russell stood and looked at the monster that he had created. He had no choice but to dismantle it and start over. It was currently Saturday afternoon. The reconstruction ended up taking the rest of the day.

Ultimately, Russell went back to the original specification of his plans. The landing was re-cut six inches shorter and re-installed. The gap was filled by a couple of sticks that secured it to the alcove wall anyway. The upper landing was finished.

The upper landing, corrected. Note that it is now six inches narrower, attached to the left wall by a couple of sticks.

Russell learned a lesson from all of this. When he spends months painstaking planning out every last detail, it’s probably better not to suddenly try changing things at the last minute.

Both landings are now installed (along with a vapor barrier). All we need now are some stairs!


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