The back deck is gone.
I tore it out.
Since we're putting in a path and a patio, it's time to get new tools. I almost bought a sledge-hammer, b/c we'll probably want one for installing the bricks (a rubber one). But, at the stone shop, the rubber hammer was $45. No-way Jose! And they had a neato 48-inch, laminated, wooden level with brass edges - $80 or so. No-way Jose!
We went to Home Depot and picked up a $10 level (bright plastic yellow), and punted on the sledge hammer.
I started tearing apart the deck and quickly realized that my little "crow bar" was a little to little, and a little too flimsy to do the trick. So I just used the back of my trusty claw hammer. That actually worked pretty well. And, when it came to hammering boards apart, I just used both of my trusty claw hammers at the same time - swinging them like some raged barbarian out of one of those fantasy books I like to read. Yeah, it took more effort than if I'd borrowed a 5 pound sledge hammer, but it was fun.
Now we have a patch of uneven, cracked soil where the back deck used to live.
Only thing is, we still have a 12 foot board bolted to the side of the house. It's going to be tough to remove for several reasons:
First, one of the bolts is rusted on. Yes, I sprayed it with penetrating oil. That didn't help, I just turned the nut and the bolt together - so now they're spinning like a top (not so effortlessly) but not moving anywhere. So I'm not quite sure how to get that portion off.
B, I can't pry the board off (even with a nice, big, sturdy crowbar) because the house is made of cement ... and styrofoam. It's bolted directly onto the styrofoam - and I don't know that I really want to damage the styrofoam horribly to get this board off.
And, because it's styrofoam, there's really not a whole hell of a lot to leverage against.
Lastly, it's a 12 foot board, and I really need to work on one of the four bolts at a time.
So, I'm gonna have to get a saw (think my dad has one) that lets you cut a hole in a flat surface. I don't want any fancy power tools b/c I don't want to cut into the siding/styrofoam. Every screw up I make will be visible, so no screw-ups.
The other things that were uncovered by removing the deck are:
There's an access pipe to the sewer right by the back door (good thing nobody told us). We need to figure out how to make it accessible without making it look like the sewer is protruding through the patio.
The storm water drain pipe (from the downspouts) runs right through the back patio area - basically at ground level. So we'll have to adjust our patio height to accommodate that.
And last, but not least, we have a downspout that connects directly to aforementioned storm water drain pipe that we need to somehow pretty-up, so that (again) it doesn't look like the sewer is protruding through the patio.
Oh, but I forgot to mention, the supports for the back deck's awning. They're just resting on small patches of cement. With one good blow from my hammer I could easily bring down the entire awning. And, the supporting cement patches - they're well above ground level. So, unless we want yet another super-ugly sore in the middle of what will be a beautiful path/patio, we need to dig those out and replace the supporting posts with newer, longer beams - all without letting the roof fall down and killing our 8 year old grape vines.
But, the good news is that our property is sloped nicely, and we won't have to do all that much digging to get the grade we want.
Oh yeah, and I got to Roundup a bunch of weeds in the yard. die weeds die!!!!