This blog compiles all publications related to forestry, energy, affordable housing, women in trades, women in religion and women in society. This blog is filled with humor, sarcasms and reality investigations.

The making of a pergola, from design to realization

I just finished a pergola, and this is a good example of the evolution of a project. First, a customer comes with an idea which is a general idea, no budget, no design, nothing. I make several drafts,
and the customer decides either to modify the drafts or to keep it.

With the draft, I make an estimate of the cost of the materials and an estimate of my time, which is just and only an estimate. At this stage of the project, I don't know if my customer will buy the design, the initial budget and what kind of elasticity we have. In every case, my customer must be able to anticipate over costs, because it is extremely rare that everything goes as designed. In the case of the pergola, we figured out that one water line was on the way of the main beams of the deck, one gas line was also on the way and water sprinklers were under ground. Then, when I started to build, we realized that the window was not leveled, that the beam at the bottom of the window was very damaged, that the concrete blocks were not leaving much space to sit the end of the beams. As a consequence, I had to separate the structures. The pergola had to fit in between electrical wires, windows, doors, pipes, ground and walls that were not leveled.

When all the details come into the project, we have to modify, adjust and make decision. Some decisions have no financial consequences and are technical, so I decide myself. Some other decisions involve the approval from the customers. Here, I decided to make the pergola higher to fit in between the electrical line, the door, window, and slope of the roof. I decided also to change the orientation of the posts. I informed my customers that we had to build an additional frame because the quality of the wood would have jeopardized the life of the pergola, and after I made a mistake to place my order on the materials, my customers decided to keep the materials and expend the project rather than return them. Instead of one deck and one pergola, we have built 2 decks, two steps on the side and a higher pergola what brings the perspective in the continuity of the house.

This project was difficult, nothing that could have been prefab. The design was sophisticated with a bone structure and the bone structure had to fit into the design of the house without taking down the perspective inside and outside the house. A traditional pergola usually gives the feeling of a ceiling while the idea of this pergola was to give the feeling of a sky. While building the bone structure, we decided to remove one row of the bones and keep it light. This decision has brought a lot of elegance that the initial drawing was not showing.

The final result is the design I have built and not any more the design that I had drafted, but we finish with this satisfaction of something complete. The project went way over budget in time and materials but the pergola has become another room added to the house, a place to sit, to relax and to enjoy being in the garden, something that will last many years and that changed the feeling of a home. Now the home is also outdoor with beautiful lights, beautiful shadows, beautiful skies and sun rays, two large decks that expend in the garden and give a warm feeling of beauty. I am glad I did it and I am glad that my customers like it.

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About E.B

Eima BLANK is a designer and a rewarded entrepreneur who started a career as an ethnographer in 1992, was graduated in architecture in 1995 and is now experiencing her passions as a carpenter and a craft woman. She has directed wood construction projects from 2010 to 2015. She is the author of several books and studies about wood construction and the economy of forestry. She has also won several concourses for her innovations on wood and fabric construction. Her drawings entered an army museum for her sarcastic humor, she has a model house in another museum and she is a member of the ADAGP and the ARS for the management of her artist and designer rights. She is also an occasional cartoonist, what she carries on her smile.
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