House 9 Remodeling: Side Yard Double Gate Replacement – The Vision

In our last post, we completed the DIY replacement of the wood privacy fence along the east property line of House 9.  Unfortunately, the wood double gates which join the fence to the front of the house is now looking quite sorry next to the brand new fencing.  The double gates are almost 10 years old so I have decided to replace them to improve the curb appeal of House 9 and also the privacy of its east side yard.

I built the double gates in 2009 soon after the purchase of House 9.  I set two 6×6 wood posts in concrete and hung the two gates off of them.  I wanted the gates to last so I built them using two metal Adjust-A-Gate kits.

The concept behind the Adjust-A-Gate kit is a good one.  It definitely makes for strong gates that do not sag.  My gates still do not sag even after ten years.  However, the kit does have some shortcomings.  In order for the gate frame to be adjustable in size,  the gate frame is not a solid piece but rather consists of left and right frame halves coupled together with two overlapping bars.  Due to the fact that it is not made of one-piece construction, the shape of the gate frame can shift after installation.  The metal frame pieces are joined together by attaching to 2×4 wood members.  When the wood members warp over time, the shape of the frame will also change.  This is a minor cosmetic issue.

The bigger issue has to do with how the gate components, such as the latch, latch pin, and drop rod, are attached to the frame.  These are attached using the manufacturer-provided machine screws with self-tapping threads.  In my experience with multiple installations of this gate kit, these components never stay attached for long.  The screws or the screw holes inevitably become stripped over time due to the softness of the metal they are manufactured with.

The old gates were constructed to match the height of the old adjacent fence.  With that fence now replaced with one that is 2 feet taller, the double gates now look completely out of place.  In addition, with its current height at a little short of six feet, these gates do not offer maximum privacy from pedestrians on the street.  The level of the street is about 2 feet higher than the front yard.  Passersby can therefore easily see over the top of the fence gates and into the side yard.

New Double Gates

To address the privacy, durability, functionality, and cosmetic issues with the existing gates, I decided to replace them with a new set of 6-foot tall double wood privacy gates.

To match the height of the adjacent fence, I came up with the idea to install a stationary, two foot header wall over the double gates.  The outside face of the fence and the header wall will both be constructed of fence panels in the same board-on-board arrangement as the new adjacent fence.

Designing Custom Gates

I was not able to find any examples of the design I had in mind so I had to spend a good deal of time architecting the design and then engineering a solution to make the design a reality.

This is where being a DIY landlord has its pros and cons. Given the custom design and engineering involved, this is not a simple project by any means and would be extremely costly if farmed out to a professional and with no guarantee of a successful outcome.

However, attempting this as a DIY landlord means I can take the time to implement an elegant design and do my best to make sure it comes to fruition. If it succeeds I will not only add significant value to this property but obtain the knowledge and skills that I can then leverage multiple times to add the same value to each and every property I own.

Hidden Gates

As if this project was not already daunting enough, as an additional challenge, I came up with the idea to construct the gates so that they appear to be a stationary fence section. Constructed this way, the existence of the gates will be hidden and secret.

I have always been fascinated by the idea of hidden doors and rooms so this will give me an opportunity to scratch that itch with my first secret entrance project. If successful, I envision it will also be a nice improvement to the curb appeal of House 9.

While hidden doors are very cool there is a reason why they are not very common. In order to successfully hide the existence of a door, it needs to be seamlessly integrated with the surrounding structure. This precision fit necessitates meticulous craftsmanship and I was up for the challenge.

Custom Welded Gate Frames

While shopping for the 11-foot steel posts for the 8-foot privacy fence we just built, we found a local chain link supply store which custom fabricates gates out of steel tubing.  These gates have brackets welded which allow for the attachment of 2×4 wood members.  Since all the joints and components are welded, it would be stronger than the Adjust-A-Gate kit I used before.

I ordered a set of double gates to span the an 8-foot opening. Within a week they were fabricated out of 1-5/8 inch galvanized steel tubing and ready for pickup. The pair of gates totaled $330.

From Vision to Reality

With the design in my mind and with all the components for the project procured, I was ready to transition from the design phase to the construction phase of this project.  Mrs. DIY Landlord had a vague idea of what I was attempting but had no idea what the final product would look like since this was all just a figment of my imagination at this point.  Once the project is completed, she will finally see what has been brewing in my mind this whole time.

Follow along in this series of posts to see the DIY construction of these secret gates at House 9!

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