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DIY Patio or Deck? Part I: Decision

Our last two articles were about swimming pools which are, admittedly, a very big DIY decision.  One type of DIY project that some people have been known to knock out over a weekend (depending on the amount of help from friends and bribery necessary to get that help) is the building of a pool/deck.  You can preorder the materials, get them delivered to your house, and do whatever preparatory work you need to before the big weekend.  Before you announce said big weekend we need to think about which structure to build: deck or patio?

Broadly speaking, patios and decks are the same in that they are both outdoor spaces which allow you and your guests to enjoy each other’s company and conversation while experiencing the joy of the great outdoors.  Both can give you the sense of that outdoor “room” that’s just another part of your your house.  Both, depending on your municipality, may require permits and an identification and flagging of buried water, gas, and electric lines.  But that’s where the similarities end.  One can make an argument for one being cheaper than the other, but the price difference is not significant enough to be the deciding factor.  Hence, we’ll talk about construction a bit more first.

Decks

rental center monticello deck

Of course “deck” refers to ships and how they were constructed.  And home decks, like ship decks, have been traditionally made of wood.  But as technology has pushed us forward we’ve found that composite materials can still deliver the look and feel of a traditional deck, while delivering a longer-lasting structure (doesn’t need to be powerwashed and resealed) and being “green” (many of those composites are made of recycled plastics).  What’s the catch, you’re asking?  Well, those materials are often cost double their wood cousins.  Whether you choose composite or wood, you’ll need concrete footings to stabliize the structure.

That being said, you have to keep in mind that you are “limited” to standard lengths.  If you start looking at or ordering non-standard lengths for your deck, the price starts to move up pretty quickly.

Patios

rental center monticello patio

Decks have the sense of “elevation” about them – even when you talk about them.  Patios are always imagined as flat structures built on the ground that can be made of differing types of materials – from paving stones to brick.  There is no “sealing” or “resealing” but you can count the grass and weeds that you have to be vigilant about as its own type of “sealing.”  You also have the luxury of having a fire pit, if you’d like (not a deck possibility).

Unlike decks, if you ever decide to change the look and feel of your paving stones, you can simply pull up your old ones and reuse your existing leveled base with new paving stones or bricks.  You also have the freedom to make it as large as you want as you are only limited by the “standard length” issue we discussed with decking.

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Think about the sort of social events that you have and enjoy.  Do they involve a fire pit (patio is best)?  Do you have an inherent love of wood?  What materials make up your home?  What kind of maintenance do you want to do/are prepared to do?  Once you’ve sketched out some ideas, price out possibilities so you know what you are getting into.

Whether you decide to build a patio or deck, remember that at the Rental Center of Monticello we are always here to help counsel with advice;  we can also rent you things like an excavator that can either help give a different shape and structure to the deck you want to build or help you to level and flatten an area you want to use for a patio.

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Should I build a swimming pool in my backyard? Part I: Decision

It’s getting towards the dog days of summer and as it gets hotter people might be looking into their backyard, considering just how much better life might be if they had a pool back there.  We’re a rental company so when we get the initial phone call for an excavator for someone who wants to possibly work on (at least part of) a project like this, we ask the originating question: why do you want to build a pool in your backyard?

Reasons to build:

1.  It’s a cool, relaxing feature.  Yes, this isn’t really disputable, is it?  When you see a pool in a backyard you automatically reach for a cold beverage and wonder if there are any lawn chairs.  Whether you are single or have kids a pool is always an option for a day off and when you have one in your backyard it’s just that much easier to get to.  You can add waterfalls to get that zen feeling or to have an added feature to play with in the pool.

2.  I love swimming and the water.  If you want to swim for exercise you can configure your pool in such a way that you can do that well.  You can also build it for floating and relaxation.  And, as we said above, during the dog days of summer, something cool is the best remedy for the heat.  Whether you’re splashing around or just building your tan, a pool is a great answer to the question of “what to do on a free day?”

3.  It’s great for entertaining.  Who doesn’t love pools?  People can bring kids, people can swim themselves, you can add a cookout, and very often visiting a home that has a pool is a treat for those who don’t have one.  You get to be Santa!

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Things to consider:

1.  Owning a pool is not cheap to build or to maintain.  Should you get concrete or vinyl?  Aboveground or inground?  What kind of chemicals should you use?  Should you use a heater?  Yes, you can do the maintenance yourself if you make sure that you know everything about your pool – but make sure you do!  Add up the costs over a year and divide it up over 12 months so you can get an immediate sense of what it will add to your monthly bills.  Also keep in mind that depending on where you live, having a pool might make a home more difficult to sell.  On the flipside, if you live someplace like Florida (much warmer than Monticello, year-round) having a pool might be a “must” for homebuyers.

2.  The flipside of entertainment is liability.  Many people don’t know that having a pool immediately increases your homeowner’s insurance.  Want to add a diving board or a slide?  Get ready to increase it even more.  What happens if someone gets hurt?  What are the safeguards you are taking to protect your guests, in particular, small children?  Don’t let these questions scare you off: just make sure you have good answers for them.

3.  You will give up a portion of your yard that you cannot reclaim easily should you change your mind.  If you are going to go to the trouble of excavating, leveling, pouring concrete, landscaping, etc., keep in mind that this is a semi-permanent decision.  It’s going to cost you almost as much to get rid of a pool as it cost you to build one.  Keep in mind that you will also want to add landscaping, rock, etc. to make the pool “fit” the rest of your yard.

You’d be surprised, but we go through variation of these questions and answers with each of our potential clients who calls in to build a pool.  This week we wanted to stir these ideas through your mind so that next week (see what we did there – hooked you for our next blog article!) we can talk about the nitty-gritty of excavation and maintenance.

Stay cool as we head into July, whether it’s indoors or poolside!

Three reasons to take a short break from your work and step outside

We’ll be honest.  Here in Monticello pretty much anywhere you turn on the compass, you’re going to run into a forest or possibly a lake.  The “Great Outdoors” is definitely on display here.  Additionally, being in charge of the Rental Center means that if we’re not outdoors with our customers or helping our customers or delivering to our customers, we’re outdoors working on our own business.  We’re blessed that way.  In fact, in a society that gives us more and more mobility (so many people are able to work from any location in the world) we are sometimes not cognizant of the fact that being outdoors isn’t just a luxury, it’s a necessity for that machine we call the human body.

We talk about equipment maintenance here, and as the sun shines this morning we thought we might take a variation of that theme and talk about human equipment maintenance via the outdoors!

Fresh Air

Now, we understand that some places don’t have the best air (see Exhibit A below)

equipment rental monticello new york

but apart from the really bad places, most times outside air is going to be healthier for you.  Why?

  • Being outdoors is itself a cue to “take a deep breath.”  As you take that deep breath, hold it, and then exhale, you feel better and often more relaxed.  Part of that is due to the influx of oxygen.  So much of the air we breath is “not-oxygen” that an intentional (and intense) intake of air, that happens to have oxygen in it, makes us feel better.  In fact, high oxygen levels have been known to enhance physical well-being and have been linked to better health.
  • Indoor air is recirculated.  Many of us work in offices, but the point is perhaps best driven home by visualizing plane rides, which recirculate a very compact amount of air.  Half of the air in an airplane comes in from outside (through the jet engines) and is cooled before being mixed with (get ready) our sweat, dead skin, gases, coughs, viruses, and bacteria.  Even those who aren’t “germophobic” might cringe.
  • To our first point, fresh air leads to more oxygenated blood.  More oxygenated blood leads to lower blood pressure and better circulation, as well as speeding the removal of waste from the bloodstream.  This makes  your body “flow” better and leads to easier and better sleep too!

Exercise

Now, some of you will see that word and get worried that we are advocating some kind of workout when you take an “outdoor break.”  Not at all.  We will tell you not to simply simulate your posture from indoors, that is, being seated in a comfortable position.  Take a walk, move around, move your limbs, stretch yourself.  Not everyone’s workplace/work area allows for this sort of movement, but within the space you can, you should try to move around.  There will be plenty of time to sit down for hours on end – take the time to move around and wake your body up.  You’ll go back to work with more energy!

Nature

As I’ve said above, not everyone lives in Monticello with lots of nature all around.  In fact, some of our readers may be looking at the picture we posted of the Los Angeles smogline and say, “Hey guys, that’s me!  What am I supposed to do?”  Fair enough.  We submit your break areas may not look like this:

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Or even like this:

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But whatever it may look like, you can enjoy the sunshine, the particular weather of the day, the flora and fauna around you, and that other part of nature – your co-workers!  Take the time to relax and get to know them.  Sometimes that can be hard, we know that!  But stepping outside for that short break is to refresh you from your work.  Part of that refreshment comes from breathing in good air and oxygenating your blood and clearing your head.  Part of that comes from walking around so that your limbs don’t think your only physical posture is sitting.  But one last part of that refreshment is stepping away from “work” for a moment and remembering individual people.  Asking about them and how they are doing and in that way you can gain insight, in some small way, as to why they work as hard as you do.