Friday, August 25, 2006

Ramping up to Opening Day

About a week ago I received a call from Emmy, the director of the pre-school we're helping found. Habitat for Humanity was building a massive handicap ramp that the school had to have before it could open. Unfortunately, the Habitat For Humanity work crew ran out of time in their schedule and they needed to turn the project over to the school. They had managed to set all of the posts for the ramp, frame it out, and install about half of the decking. That left installing the remainder of the decking, all of the railings, and a set of stairs adjacent to the ramp.

Because of my remodeling experience with our home, I volunteered to head up the effort to complete the ramp along with a bunch of other volunteers - some parents of kids in the school, some parents of kids hoping to get in the school, and some just friends of the school. This past week I spent every waking moment I could at the school with the exception of the time I was working my real job (and one vacation day I took from that job). While it was a long, tiring week of sweating it out in the Lousiana heat and humidity, it was also a huge strain on Holly who had to watch both kids at home and at the school at times so that she could help watch other volunteers' children.

Somehow, we managed to get the ramp and stairs done in the week if only barely. I spent the last two days setting the stair posts in concrete and framing out the stairs in the brief intervals between thunderstorms. Late last night after I did the last work on the rails some more parents wrapped up the spindles and the project was finally done. Typing the ramp into the porch and building the adjoining stairs has been the most challenging project I've ever completed. I don't think I have ever worked as hard as I have this past week but it feels really good to be done. And even better is that I've just learned that we passed the inspection this morning so we're in the home stretch of getting all the sign-offs we need to open.

The first half of the railing has gone up. Emmy's husband Kevin and I spent two days installing the railings while other volunteers installed all of the spindles. It was a crash course in complicated angle cuts with compond mitre saws that paid off by the time I got to the stairs.

Here I'm installing the last bit of railing on the handicap ramp with the exception of the railing pieces that tie the ramp into the old porch. I put those off until after the stair posts were in place so that I could figure everything out at once.

A shot of the completed ramp looking up to where it turns the corner to head to the back porch of the school. All told, this section is almost 40 feet long.

Here is the section of ramp off of the back porch and the adjoining stairs that the kids will use to down to the play area in back of the house. This section of ramp is a good 18 feet long.


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