The motivation: When Gerald and Shanon Egan would invite friends to their Burley home for barbecues, the crowd naturally would gather on the couple’s large patio. But Gerald always worried about the two nearby window wells that a guest could fall into.

He considered what he should do: put grates over the wells or build a small fence around them? He decided instead to cover them with home-built patio benches.

The bill: Gerald estimated the project cost him around $150, mostly for the cushions. He already had some of the wood. 

The timeline: It took Gerald about two weeks this spring to make the benches, he said. Shanon helped him with the cushions. They purchased the material at an area fabric shop.  

Bang for the buck: “It worked out better than I thought,” Gerald said.

He built the benches in such a way that if he and Shanon need to evacuate their home through the basement windows, the benches can easily be pushed out of the way. 

Friends who come to the house today seem to like the benches, he said. And now he doesn’t worry about people falling into the wells.

Biggest challenge: “Figuring out how to do the cushions,” Gerald said. “But my significant other had some experience that way and she helped me out.”

Skills learned: Gerald had done a number of other home-improvement projects but knew little about how to make benches. He didn’t use any how-to books or other instructions but relied on his own ingenuity.

“It was all new to me,” he said.

What’s next: To complement the benches and his large patio — it’s about 12 by 35 feet, he said — Gerald is thinking about installing fans and enclosing the patio. But with colder weather approaching, he said, those projects likely will have to wait. At least until next year.