Wood and Stone

A site to track our progress as we build our FirstDay Cottage Canadian house kit. Come on in, get a cup of coffee, set a spell and follow along on our journey or join in if you like. Check back for the weekly update (usually by Wednesday when things are going right) to see what we are currently up to!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A-Strapping We Will Go!

Remember the earlier blog post about how long things take? Yeah. This week we had a holiday and figured we could get 3 good days in which would give us a pretty good hop on covering the walls with foam. On top of that, we were dropping the kids off with Mimi for the holiday weekend and bringing Pop back with us.

After last week's episode, Wendy didn't sound too good. I took some personal time to help with the kids on Tuesday, and Wendy got in to see our doctor on Wednesday, who prescribed her an antibiotic (a Z-pack) for her Bronchitis. By Thanksgiving she still wasn't sounding too hot and Mimi convinced her to stay there and rest while Mimi watched the kids. That left Pop and I on our own to work on the walls of the house and maybe to get up on the roof to finish the last piece of roof.

We headed back up Thanksgiving night to avoid wasting daylight on Friday. Friday we got up and took our time a little in getting out as it was bitter with a wind again. Wendy was on task, checking out the Black Friday sales ads for Home Depot and Lowes and alerted us to a Ryobi 18V cordless set (Drill, circular saw, flashlight and radio) on special and so we stopped and picked it up on our way. We got there and started with Typar along the 'front' basement half wall. The ground level stuff went nicely, and we got a good start on it Friday, though not as much as hoped. We also stopped at the store in town, which also serves hot food, to get some lunch. We ran into some local color there, giving my father some insight into the local folks. It was a cold windy day, and we wasted no time packing it in as the sun headed out, and heading home.

Saturday we took our sweet time starting again, as it was still a cold day. We started out by finishing up some foam and hanging the next piece of Typar up. In the process, I managed to drop the digital camera in my pocket out the second story window onto frozen ground. It didn't spring open, but it also didn't work any more. Bummed out at my own stupidity, we continued putting up foam and strapping, and getting the hang of how this stuff goes up. It seemed to be getting easier. Saturday night I went and bought a new digital camera, so I can continue to put photos up here and so I can appease my photo-thirsty coworkers, who are always looking for the new picture on Monday morning.

Sunday came and Pop was only working a half day - Mimi was bringing Wendy and the kids back and picking up Pop. By Sunday, the weather had changed, giving us a warm enough day that the ground thawed a bit as well (that doesn't equal all that warm by the by). We got as much foam and strapping up as we could without a bigger ladder (which we will need to finish this side). Once we get a taller ladder and get the last layer started, we might be able to finish the roof out as well.

Next weekend, assuming everything is OK and we have someone to watch the kids (What with Grandma Lana being out of town), we will start in on the back of the house to get it sealed up, and then worry about the sides afterwards since they are shorter and easier to handle.

Stay healthy!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Sickos

We are definitely a few boards short of a roof (and a few nails short of a cask, if you ask most people we know). We had a 2 1/2 day weekend this week to finish up the roof, but we didn't make it all the way. The weather for Thursday's half day wasn't cooperating - it rained all day - so we worked Friday a half day instead.

Wendy told me when she picked me up at work that she felt dizzy and didn't want to get up into the rafters (she had been fighting a bit of a cold after nursing the kids through some Croup and general colds). So after getting a couple sheets of plywood we bought up into the space above the collar ties, and nailed to the scaffold planks up there (to provide a safe work surface to use the step stools on) she handed me up what I needed to get a start on remaining 2 feet of the road side of the roof. I managed to get the sheathing on and papered, but thee wind was brisk and it was cold, and Wendy was feeling so cold she had to go sit in the car for periods while I worked. Well, by time we got home, we found that she was running a fever of 103 degrees F.

By Saturday morning, her fever had broken and she felt that she was ready to come up and work. She was feeling weak and cold all day, but I couldn't talk her out of it and she persevered, though she was still not feeling up to being up on the plywood. I managed to finish the foam and strapping on the road side of the roof while Wendy cut the majority of the short boards for the far side. I started cutting the foam and Typar and figuring out how to implement Pop's idea to finish the majority of the roof from the inside before tossing the towel in a bit early. I figured she was weak and cold and we shouldn't stay much longer than necessary.

Finally, Sunday was the big day when we would finish the roof off! We got up there and set Wendy to work cutting the foam to length. The plan was this: Starting with the bay at the 'back' of the house (the big side with less windows), we would put on 4 sheathing boards that fit over just that bay (half-lapping the 4.5 inch rafter on either side). I started the nails for the far end of each sheathing board before putting it out there, so I could just knock them into the rafters without having to reach so far. The top piece had to be scribed and cut to fit for each bay.

With a roll of Typar just wide enough to fit over the newly installed boards, we stapled it between the layer coming up the roof and the layer coming over the top to create a good overlapping layout of Typar. Then two pieces of foam cut to the right width and length were put on and secured by a piece of 1x8 sheathing as strapping. This part was a little tricky, as the foam was positioned so that the joints would be broken in both directions (horizontally and vertically), which meant only one end of the strapping could be secured before moving to the next set of sheathing. I worked my way from the last bay toward the first one, and was able to get two of the four pieces of wood in the last bay nailed in before here just wasn't any more room for me up there.

The last two pieces, Typar, foam and strapping would have to be done from the outside - from the extension ladder. The great part is that the plan worked beautifully. With the scaffolding, some custom built staging in between, the planks over the collar ties, some plywood sheets and step stools, we were able to do the entire roof form inside the building, up to the last bay. The problem was that I hadn't checked the ladder height before starting to see if it was a workable plan. What happened is this - I had everything cut to the right lengths and had gotten as much done as possible without getting down. I gave Wendy the pieces I would need from outside and guidelines on the order I'd need them in and from where. Then I set up the ladder and realized that if I stood on the top rung of the ladder, I could just reach the peak. D'OH! IN order to put the roof to bed, I'd have to reach the peak AND over 3 feet in.

By the time, it was getting dark and we still had to secure the tarp against the raining coming before Thanksgiving, so grudgingly, we packed it up. After pulling out the rope (and the grommet it was tied to) we had on the tarp while trying to pull it back up and over the peak of the roof, I finally got the tarp by dragging it up and over from within the narrow hole in the front bay of the roof, then throwing it down the other side. Nailing in the battens by moonlight was no bargain - I hit my index finger with the hammer 5 times in a row trying to find the nail. In the end, we got the roof 99% complete and have a mostly watertight hat for the winter. After the holiday, we get to start covering the ouside walls in foam!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Everything Takes at Least Twice as Long as You Think

Today's post title contains a piece of wisdom that we have been learning since the moment we put an offer on the land, and a message worth repeating to anyone considering undertaking a project like this. In "Real Life" (Is work my real life?) I play the part of the pessimist, but as far as the house goes, I seem to continually butt my head up against this lesson, expecting we will get much further than we do every time we come up to work. Other important items follow:

There is a week between each every step.

You don't have to be crazy to decide to do this, but it probably helps.


Slow and steady wins the race.

That said, it seems we are about on track. We recently went back and reread the Schluter's blog, and figured it out - they got their kit at the end of April (2006), we got ours in the end of May (2007). They got started framing in the beginning of May (2006) and we got started framing in the beginning of July (2007). They finished closing in their house near the end of August (about 4 months) and we are hoping to finish closing ours in by the end of November (about 5 months). Of course, we just do what we can do each day and keep plugging away.

Up the back of the house with sheathing, wrap, foam and strapping.
This weekend, we hoped to finish the roof up. Pop came up and helped us out for Saturday, and then we worked on our own Sunday. We got the back side of the house done up to be even with the front on Saturday. The tough part of working from inside is that there is a point where the big sheets of foam will not fit up between any more. At that point you need to pass them up on the outside, which is fine in little to no wind. When the wind starts whipping, that could get pretty tricky.

Sunday, we got the front and back both sheathed up to within about 2 feet of the peak. We have to put down the last four feet of foam on both sides and finish the last 5 feet to have the roof completely closed to the peak. The last bit is going to be tricky, but Pop came up with a good idea which will let us do all but a few feet from inside where things are a bit more secure.

The plan is to sheathe the front side of the house up to the peak and put down the Typar and insulation. Then, starting in the back bay, we will sheathe, wrap and insulate a bay at a time, working our way forward to the front of the house, where we can can put on the last pieces from the extension ladder, minimizing the time on the roof or a high ladder. Getting up further then I have to (as it is going to be my job to go up on the roof or ladder) in the cold weather is something I want to avoid at all costs. We shall see how it goes next time.

Looking to the back of the living room with the ceiling in.
When we aren't seeing big changes, I tend to get into a bit of a slump. The last one came while I was fiddling around with the wall sheathing - I was getting things done, but it wasn't really anything you could see all that much. This was resolved by the interior ceilings going up, which gave me a new thing to look at.

Looking at the ceiling and walls around the front door.
The sun comes in the front window openings, bounces off the floor with a warm colored beam up onto the ceiling, and set the wood to glowing. Just astounding, and once it is all closed in, I am thinking it will feel as warm as the wood makes it look!

Looking toward the study with a ceiling and scaffold.
Originally, I had envision making our bedroom in the loft until we finish the basement. After discussing it a bit, the study will likely be our bedroom to start, since it is on the same level with a bathroom. With 2 small ones, we don't want to have to worry about them traversing stairs in the middle of the night to go potty.

Looking toward the back kitchen door, with scaffold in sunlight, and the natural skylight.
The light and shadows with the wood and scaffolding caught my eye in this one, even though you can't see too much of the ceiling. You can see the natural skylight that we are quickly closing up.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Who invited Murphy to this party?

Roof-o-rama 2007 isn't over yet. This was a challenging weekend for us - I took my last two vacation days at work so we could get a good shot at a four day work weekend, Mimi took the children for the weekend and Pop came up to help after getting free of jury duty earlier in the week, but Murphy also came along for the ride.

After trick or treating on Halloween, we drove the kids down to my folks' house. Thursday we got up, but by time we had breakfast with the kids, got things squared away and drove back with Pop, it was 11am already. We stopped to get some warm food as it was pretty cool already, and didn't get to the site until noon or so. We spent a portion of Thursday putting the tarp back onto the house (it was still hanging and flapping from the previous weekend, since the weather prediction was that it would be fine, we figured it would be a good time to let the house dry out).

Starting the roof insulation on the West wall
Once we got that straightened out, we moved a set of scaffold out of the house and used that and the extension ladder to put down the first layer of Typar, followed by the first sheets of foam and strapping. Despite FirstDay Cottage's suggestion of drilling holes in the strapping just larger than the spikes, we didn't have our cordless drill with us, so we took our chances and pounded the spikes through the strapping, using 16d nails to make 'pilot' holes. This is not the best way to go, as we later discovered, but worked fine in a pinch. This got us started, and as the sun went down it got cool, so we left to take Grandma Lana to dinner for her Birthday.

Friday morning we didn't make it up to the site until 10:30 or so - Mimi called Thursday night as Quinn had been complaining of an ear ache. We spent the first part of the day trying to find a doctor to see her downstate, but finally ended up getting our doctor to prescribe some medicine to help.

We started in by moving the scaffold back inside, jockeying planks and assembling some framework to span the middle areas we can't reach from the scaffolding. We also had to figure out how to make it fit beneath the roof at the highest point (remove the coupling pins from the top scaffold frames). Once we figured out how to fit it in, we had to figure out if we could disassemble it once the roof is on - no sense in getting it up there if we would need to destroy the roof or the scaffold to get it out. Luckily, that worked out just fine - we had centimeters to spare when we finally took it apart on Sunday.

After all the moving and antics, we got another four foot section of sheathing, Typar, insulation and strapping down before it was time to call it for the day. We continued driving the spikes through the strapping after making a smaller hole with a 16d nail, which took allot of time, and jostled the strapping around so you weren't really sure if you were going to hit a post with the spike by time it went through. There is no feeling like hitting a seven inch spike with a hammer and feeling it sink (too quickly) through four inches of foam, and then not have enough resistance when you are putting it through the sheathing into the post.

Saturday we had barely gotten out of the door to go get Pop and head up to the property when I hit a deer with my car. Luckily, it was a small deer, and I hit it a glancing blow (to the head at 50mph). By time i stopped, it had run off and Wendy went on with her car to get Pop while I dealt with the mess.

Easy, Breezy, Beautiful, Roofer Girl
Once we got to the land (again, 10 am or so), we go to work in earnest and were able to put up 2 more sections of sheathing and insulation, despite it being overcast and cold, before calling it a day. We also started drilling the holes in the strapping with a 3/8 bit, which made a huge difference in driving the spikes. This got us up past the collar ties on the loft area, to where we were no longer working off the scaffolding, but rather on the collar ties in the loft.

Sunday we got in a bit more than half a day, which consisted of moving the tarp to be centered (more or less) over the roof, battening it down to cover the part we had already done, and peeling back the opposing side. We moved the scaffold out, and got the first layer on the far end of the house with the scaffold and extension ladder. At that point Mimi came up to pick up Pop and take him home. She had dropped the kids at Grandma Lana's, so We closed things up, battened down the hatches, and knocked off a little early to go see the kids after the long weekend.

The up side is that we have managed to do all the roofing so far from within the house which means except for about 2-3 feet at the end near the peak of the roof, we should be able to get it all done from inside, which is alot safer in my opinion. We are in good shape for this coming week - when I hope we will get the rest of the roof insulation and strapping completed. We didn't get as much done as I had hoped - my big plan was to be done with the insulation and strapping, and if that was all we had to do, it would be pretty quick. It is heartening that the wall insulation should go on quickly - especially if we aren't worry too much about windows to start with. We are thinking of leaving the foam over the holes until we are ready to put the windows in.