I really do love the simplicity that is my house. I’m in a quiet little corner of the neighborhood and technically have a corner lot, although they didn’t finish out the street on one side of me. I hope they never do.
My house pretty much has NO trees to speak of. There’s woods on two sides of my lot. And I have a noxious Chinese Tallow Tree in my back yard at the back of the lot. Trouble is, the sun travels over my house and beats down mercilessly on the side OPPOSITE the trees. I’ve been here through two summers now and I’m heading into my third. The poor AC unit just hasn’t been able to keep up. When it’s 80+ outside, and you have your AC unit set on 77, and you come home at the end of the day and the house is about 82…there’s a problem. And moreso when the AC will run 12-14 hours per day to try to keep it at 77 which it just can’t do.
I purchased some blackout curtains this year though for the hottest side of my house. And I also got some foam sealer to put in around the windows on the back of the house that catch the brunt of the sun during the day. Since Spring/Summer temps have showed up early, I’ve already gotten to experience a HUGE improvement on doing just those two things. My AC unit can actually *maintain* the temperature it’s set on now. It may run for hours at a time still, but at least it’s not oppressively hot, and it will actually shut off once the brunt of the day’s heat goes away.
Naturally though, this isn’t enough for me. My kitchen and living room are on the hot side of the house. And my house is brick. So there’s a wall that BAKES all day long in the sun. I’d wanted to install a patio cover or a pergola or something to shade that side but…well…money keeps you from doing the things you want to do.
Well, about a month ago, I happened across a shade sail that was considerably larger than the ones I’d seen previously. See, once the heat started rolling in early, I started having “mini freak-outs” about my electricity bill for the summer months. I started researching the aluminum patio covers you could buy from the big box stores. I started looking at the materials for wood to build my own instead. The aluminum patio covers were easily $1300. The cost for the wood alone for that option was still looking to be about $500 at a minimum. No labor. I was actually hoping to beg and plead friends for help if I went that route. Knowing me, however, I knew that wasn’t going to go over very well. And this was just for an area of about 10×20 feet. So. I started looking around on eBay (yes, I am a bit of an eBay whore…) for alternatives or other ideas. That’s when I came across the MTN Shade Sail, 24×24 for about $140. Still a bit pricey to me BUT! The side area next to my house is about 20×25. So that size sail would be IDEAL to cover that huge area.
I thought about it for a few hours. Mulled over it. Got sad about thinking of spending any money at all on something I couldn’t reasonably predict would help me to eventually pay for itself in a reasonable amount of time to justify the initial expense. And then. It warmed up outside and I was quickly reminded why I’d considered it in the first place.
So let’s take a look at the overhead view of my house so you can see the area I’m talking about adding shade to. Take note of the shadows too.
You see the driveway? Immediately behind that is the start of my fence that “squares up” to the side of my house before angling off. The shade from my fence never reaches the house mind you…
Now, to the project…
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