Gold Winner: Modern Yankee Builders, Cumberland, R.I.
This project is a great example of the incredible transformation of a developer-type house and its typical rectilinear/orthogonal deck. Thoughtful design has turned this plain-Jane backyard into a resort-like oasis with a screen porch, curved two-level deck, bluestone patio, fire pit, spectacular pergola and a beautiful, flowing organic feel.
The challenge of this project was to build a 78-ft.-long curved pergola; the two main problems were how to build it and how to make it last for decades outside without maintenance. Made of clear red cedar, it was designed to weather to a natural finish so it would be maintenance-free; therefore, no blemishes could be permitted on this custom piece. Made of 38 pieces of wood, the pergola pieces had to be epoxied together outside with over 600 sq. ft. of epoxied surface.
Weighing as much as a small car, the final glue-up day took six men working 12 hours straight to clamp/unclamp the jigs more than 1,000 times and then hoist the structure up with a crane. To prepare for this day, three months of testing with dozens of epoxies and mock-ups, countless hours of engineering, over 200 clamps and 300 manhours of field preparation went into to just getting ready to build the real thing.
With this Outdoor Living project complete, the new porch hides the shed roof and is partly protected by the corner of the house. The views were retained and even enhanced from all outdoor areas and interior rooms, too. The finished porch has a generous sitting and dining area and still allows light to enter kitchen windows.
“We believe that your vision and detail-oriented approach to the project resulted in this wonderful backyard oasis,” expressed the homeowners in a letter to Modern Yankee Builders. “We still look around and lounge outside, marveling at how beautiful it is, and know that we will thoroughly enjoy this haven for many years. As we told you, we now feel that we are on vacation in our own backyard.”
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