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House Building Saga, Part the Seventh December 14, 2009

Posted by ficial in house building.
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House building was a bit of a mixed bag today. The weather was much nicer, which made outside work pleasant. However, we didn’t get as much done today as I’d hoped. In computer programming one spends a lot of time on back-end work that has little visible effect, and then there comes a point where the work shifts to the front end and suddenly all that preparation pays off as lots of fast, quality progress. I’m hoping today was like that.

Between Saturday and today we got some nasty weather, so this morning started with about an hour of cleaning up the site – shoveling snow, chipping ice, clearing beams, and generally trying to make it safe to work. One of the things we discovered in that process is that the joints that we hadn’t gotten around to affixing on Saturday had filled with ice and so couldn’t be tightened. We also very early on ran into a couple of snags in our plans to raise the second floor posts and beams. We’d hoped to construct two of the fronts as bents flat on the second floor and then raise them into place. However, there were some issues of size/fit, and no one was comfortable with people working up there on the slippery surfaces with no real staging/flooring.

So, for the morning we did a lot of small things. We got the bases and tops of all the back rafters screwed down. We got the last back rafter installed. We got a corner of the temporary shelter moved in preparation for getting a post up. We cleaned the site some more. We did a lot of thinking about how to get those posts and beams in place.

At about 11:30 Craig came to the site too, and joined in the contemplation. We ate lunch, and Craig went back to the bent idea, but in a different area. For the early afternoon the professional crew worked on assembling the bent while Amy and I worked on un-setting joists, chipping ice out of the mortises and off the tenons, and then re-setting them, and eventually screwing them in place.

At about 2:30 Amy and I joined Craig, Jamie, Walter, and Alec for the raising of the bent. While it was a bit nerve-wracking, it actually went up very smoothly. We had three people bracing and pushing from ground level using long 2x4s and 2x6s, one person on a rope belay, and two people lifting from the second floor at the posts. We took it slowly and carefully, and it very nicely dropped into place.

The next ones, two more posts and two more beams, will be done differently. Amy and I expressed that given concerns of safety and speed, we’d be happy to spring for hiring a boom truck or some such device to aid in the lifting and placing. With that I think we’ll be able to get all the rest of the front ridge in place, as well as several (or even all, if we’re lucky) of the long rafters over the main house.

Tomorrow I think we have another day of nice weather, then it starts to turn bitter cold later in the week. We shall see what a new day brings… hopefully lots of smooth, fast, safe building.

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