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House Building Saga, Part the Tenth December 20, 2009

Posted by ficial in house building.
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Thursday morning work began on the roof. While Craig and the crew put the last three of the main house rafters in place Amy and I uncovered the roof boards and began surveying and studying them, then put together a few measuring jigs. We’d originally ordered tongue-in-groove boards, which make a very solid, stable decking surface because all the boards lock together. Instead we got shiplap, which is weaker but creates a smoother surface. Since the decking isn’t structural anyway the lower strength isn’t a big deal. Ideally we’d have gotten it all finished before putting it up, but since it wasn’t even delivered until December and the finish is supposed to be applied only at 50 F or warmer, that didn’t happen.

One of the nice things about the roof work is the size of the lumber. The individual pieces are small enough for one person easily to handle one or several at a time. This allows for much greater parallelization of work. A couple of the crew worked on pinning the rafters (tightening the span with a strap, and then fixing the top and bottom with 8″ screws). Meanwhile, Amy measured and marked the roof boards. We wanted all the boards to be multiples of 4′, since that’s what our rafter span is. We could have dealt with some floating joins if the boards were T&G, but with shiplap we didn’t really have that option. So, we cut firring strips to lengths of 4, 8, 12, and 16 feet and put a block at one end to hook over the board to be measured. This made the measuring process very quick. I then took the measured wood and cut it using a chop saw (a.k.a. compound miter saw in a basic 90-90 configuration). Chop saws are fantastic tools, by the way. While we were cutting wood two more crew were actually nailing them in place on the roof. Amy and I had to leave at noon because we’d promised our day-jobs that we’d make it in for at least a 1/2 day during this multi-week time off. The crew continued the roof while we were gone.

Friday was all roof all day. The day was cold enough that the nail gun wasn’t working (the gun itself was fine, but the plastic that hold sets of nails together was too brittle – it was shattering and the last 3-5 nails in each clip would jam). This meant a bit more work with hand tools, but that kept us all warm. We all basically picked up where we’d left off the previous day, with the two who were doing rafters now switching to roof work. Amy and I sorted and measured and cut, and the other four fitted and fastened. By about 2:45 the roof deck was mostly done – all but the bottom three rows which had been left off so people could have decent footing at the bottom by walking along the rear beams.

Amy and I then switched to site cleanup while the crew worked on laying roofing felt over the boards to protect them a bit from the elements. By about 3:30 the site was as clean as we felt was necessary and the crew was just finishing with the roof work. Amy and I left a bit early since we were feeling pretty unnecessary at that point.

We spent a while Friday evening discussing what we wanted to and could do next, and eventually decided to cancel the work day for Saturday. There are only a few more timbers to put in place (the porch), and we need to talk about longer term plans with Craig before actually doing that work. Other than that, we’re largely waiting on the arrival of various things – roof panels on Monday, wall panels sometime later, then the window openings (some of them, anyway) have to be cut, then the floor has to be heated then poured, THEN there will be a big chunk more work for us and for volunteers. So, we’re in a bit of a holding pattern at the moment.

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