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"roof" Category


Finally! An Update.


Friday, April 3, 2009

Sorry folks. The good weather has incentivized us to work our tails off and we’ve been remiss about updating the blog. But there is a lot to tell you about and a few good pics to show off. Browse on gentle reader!

So in the last post we had sheathed but there was no roof yet. Since then we put plywood on the roof, then actually roofed it like a real house with asphalt shingles (see photos), and we Tyveked the exterior walls. And we got most of the windows in. And we got the big doors in the back of the house installed. And we added some window trim to the outside.

Roofing is tedious and unsatisfying work because after hours and hours of back-bending labor you’ve only applied a few rows of shingles. Kari and I did all the roofing ourselves and it was really fun to work together. She was the shingle cutter and layer-outer and I was the nailer. Roofing is really easiest to do when it’s hot. Which means that it’s easy to cut the shingles and position them because they’re nice and warm and soft. But it’s hot! We were up there getting sunburned and sweaty. But we were together and working hard and we loved it.

We chose a certain kind of window because we were after a certain feel and we didn’t want plastic windows or anything that looked fake. Our windows are all wood. This has advantages and disadvantages. Real wood means that they are real. They look like windows you’d find in an old house. But they are more susceptible to degradation because of the elements. And they are a pain to install. New style windows have a big flange made out of aluminum or vinyl. You just stick that in your window hole, level it, and then nail it in. The flange acts as a water barrier as well, making sealing the windows that much easier. But these wood windows are a different story. We had to attach metal brackets to the sides, shim every twelve inches and the carefully apply this wide, sticky-backed, ultra-thick plastic tape known affectionately as bitchethane. I think they call it that because it’s such a pain to apply neatly.

Bert and Kari and I had a good time applying Tyvek to the house. Tyvek is a vapor-permeable water barrier. That means that it lets water vapor escape from your walls, but it doesn’t let actual water get INTO your walls. Or so they say. I have a sneaky suspicion that all those fancy materials from Dow and DuPont are basically just wax paper. The Tyvek comes on 9-ft rolls and is a bit unwieldy to work with. One person needs to hold the roll and another person needs to climb up and down the ladder and staple. Covering the gables ended up becoming a mini-fiasco. We argued about which technique to use. Bert suggested pre-cutting the Tyvek. I thought we could simply roll it up the eave at an angle. We tried both ways and our keystone cop attempts bore unremarkable results to say the least. Reggie later informed us that the proper technique is to simply unroll the Tyvek below the gable, then push it up, letting the corner flop down. Then you staple it in place and trim off the excess. It’s funny how our minds will create such complexity given time to mull.

We ordered the siding on Monday and are expecting it next week. Once that is applied the house will look pretty much finished from the outside. We chose all redwood siding – the front will be painted and we’ll leave the back as natural wood. We’re going to have a small porch/deck/walkway that runs along the side of the house and meet the only natural redwood wall that you can see from the street. The idea is to have a wooden “runway” of sorts that invites people along the side of the house towards the front door. Kari astutely noted yesterday that we have visions in our heads but little idea how they will turn out when finally built. So…we’ll see! She also has some pretty crazy color schemes devised for house painting (red, blue, yellow??) which lead me to believe that she may be one of the few color blind women, or perhaps she’s just a tetrachromat who’s abilities are beyond all of us.

Well friends, I have been lacking in my blogging duties but hereby promise to keep you abreast of the latest, titilating details.

The Metamorphosis


Saturday, February 21, 2009

At one point today, when I had a moment to pause and reflect, I looked around the house and realized that Holy Smokes! We’re building a house! Adding sheathing to the gables and fascia to the trusses has transformed our little construction project into what can clearly be identified as a house. Now from the street it is possible to see what our new home will look like. It’s strange because while we’ve spent endless hours thinking about it and drawing it out and imagining rooms and layouts, I don’t think we really knew what it would actually turn out like. 

We’re racing the weather trying to get the roof covered before the next rainstorm. Once the house is weatherproof we’ll be able to start on the electrical and finish the plumbing and install the insulation. After that we’ll put in the drywall and then the rough cabinetry. Then the floors and trim and appliances and some paint and we’ll be moved in! I keep telling everyone we’ll be in by August. I must be optimistic because that statement is invariably met with skepticism. Okay folks, start your timers…

Rainy Days and Sundays


Friday, February 13, 2009

Remember January? I do. That was an idyllic time. Sunny, mild afternoons, general dryness, lots of construction going on. February has brought an unending parade of dreary weather reports which seem designed to test my patience and which seem cruelly expansive with their rainy-day vocabulary. Chance of Rain. Probable Rain. Rainy. Wet and Rainy. Showers. Scattered Showers. Occasional Showers. Chance of Showers. Rain Likely. We’ve been sitting around a lot lately waiting for the likely probable occasional scattered chance of rain to stop. We’re nervous about that fancy WarmBoard we put down, hoping that it doesn’t buckle and warp, or at least get really bloated around the edges. And we’re not looking forward to the drying process once we actually get the roof on. The last thing we want to do is trap a bunch of wetness between our drywall and our siding. 

But alas, not all is lost! Today our trusses came. A very large crane carefully backed into our driveway, which is coincidentally the exact width of the crane, and gingerly lifted the trusses over the power lines and our neighbors house and onto our walls. In the middle of the delivery, while Reggie was balanced on top of one of the interior walls, a freak hailstorm arrived. We were pelted with pea-sized hail (turning the already slick WarmBoard into a Scooby-Doo escape sequence – like zoinks Daphne!). The crane managed to get the trusses to their proper locations in both the front and back of the house. No small feat considering the trees and power lines that crowded its path like a game of Operation. You’ll have to excuse the photos – I took them with my cell phone. They have a sort of desaturated LOMO feel to them. Ah the wonder of plastic lenses!

So the trusses are ready to be tilted up and nailed on, but we’re gonna need a dry day to do it. The 10-day forecast shows the next sunny day to be 10 days away. Hopefully that’s not a moving target. In the mean time, viva internet tv!

Behind the Shack Door


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Well, although this blog has been silent lately, we have been diligently working. Ever since I got back from France I’ve been trying to get the plans approved by the city. And finally, last Thursday, they were! So after paying them a healthy, rather large, and rather unexpected large fee, we have our plans in hand and are ready to start building. But, uh, actually it’s not that simple. See, we want to put radiant floors in. And that means we need to have these special WarmBoard panels that act as both the subfloor and the holder for the tubes that keep the floor warm. They need to be ordered in special configurations that meet the layout of the house. In order to do that you have to figure out how many zones and loops you’re going to have and generally how your radiant system is going to work. The lumber had to be ordered as well. And we never poured the concrete piers for the inside of our foundation. And since we’re doing a truss roof, that needed to be configured and ordered as well. The rough plumbing, which includes the sewer lines, the waste line, and all the hot and cold water that will run under the floor all needed to be figured out and ordered. The One-and-Only-Greatly-Revered-and-Lauded George Williams was very generous with his time and drew these amazing schematics that showed how every part of our rough plumbing system would work. He then wrote up a manifest with every part we needed and got it priced for us (at a discout I might add). How awesome is that??? We owe George, big time. 

At this point, all of our construction materials are ordered and scheduled and will be delivered in a timely fashion. It’s like we’ve been laboriously pushing a big boulder up to a mountaintop and are about to let it fly down the other side. It’s a strange time to start building since it seems as though all building has stopped and since the holidays are just about to kick in to high gear, but that’s how we do. 

Last week Reggie and I installed our salvaged doors (with a super-expensive jamb added after-the-fact) into the shack. It gives the shack a certain viable presence now. Makes it feel like a real building. Also I dug holes for the piers and built forms for pouring concrete into them. I’ll get them inspected tomorrow and hopefully we can pour concrete into them on Tuesday. That will kick off the floor building spree. After the floors get built I’ll install the plumbing. Then the WarmBoard goes on, including the PEX tubing. After that the walls get built and then finally the roof trusses are tacked on top. I’m hoping to have all this done by February. Heh. Wish us luck.

Life’s a Ditch


Thursday, October 2, 2008

During my last quiet phase I was enduring a ditch digging marathon. Roughly four days of ditch digging is something I hope I will not have to perform again soon. There is something oddly satisfying about digging however. It must be some primal instinct that we carry on genetically from our evolutionary cousin the cro-gopher. The deeper I dug, the happier I became. In fact it was a bit of a problem in that I was constantly digging my ditches deeper than the prescribed fifteen inches. I’d find myself at a blissful two feet, my mind perversely sated, before jolting back to consciousness slightly annoyed at myself while at the same time weirdly proud. We have plans to install a rain catchment system which will require the interring of an 800 gallon plastic tank. And I look forward to clawing the giant hole required by such a vessel. 

After doing the ditch, we began building the forms for the foundation. This involves: String, wooden stakes, steel rebar, many board-feet of 2×8 lumber, and duplex nails. Everything must end up very straight. This usually means jumping through hoops trying to compensate for how crooked the lumber is. It’s like putting braces on a 40 year-old British citizen. You can tweak and cajole those planks, but it’s never gonna be Tom Cruise’s mouth. Um. That metaphor was whack, sorry. 

During slow times we roofed. After visiting ABC Roofing Supply, Kari and I drove around town looking at roofs. We were soon able to identify most recent roofing jobs by brand, product line and colorway. Naturally we decided on GAF-ELK Timberline Lifetime in “charcoal”. It was a close call over “weathered wood”. The whole roofing industry seems to be centered on making a roof look like something it very clearly is not. We often overheard the phrase “and from far away it actually looks just like antique italian slate!” Which is a complete lie. It looks like three tab asphalt shingles and that’s it. For the shed we picked a slightly less fancy version of the same color since nobody, from any angle, will ever see that roof. The roof on the main house will use a thicker shingle, which will make it look exactly like we roofed our house with Teddy Roosevelt’s eyelids from Mount Rushmore.

We’re leaving for France next Thursday (one week! yikes!) so we’ve been jamming to try to get the foundation poured before then. Rain is predicted for tomorrow, so hopefully we can finish the forms before the lot turns into a mud wrestling arena. All sorts of finagling has been going on to try to line up the city, the county, the lumber, the concrete, etc.

Oh! We found an old abandoned septic tank underneath the old slab. That was a surprise. It has a very tomb-like feel and upon opening the hatch I was sure that we’d see a human skeleton inside. Luckily it was devoid of bodies (and poo) but unluckily we now have to fill it with concrete to eliminate it as a structural nuisance. The city and county have been VERY cool about signing off on it before I do the pour.

If everything works out I’ll have photos of the new foundation before we leave for France. Wish us luck!

Raise the Roof


Monday, September 15, 2008

We finally put a roof on the shed. Walking on the rafters scared me, mostly because I’m a big wuss. See the photos below. 

Here’s an update of our progress and plans so far. The old house has been torn down. We are cutting parts of the old foundation off so that we can make room for the new foundation. That will involve a concrete saw, a jack hammer, a demo bar, a sledge hammer and a 20 gallon can of elbow grease.

Next we’ll dig the ditch for the new foundation. I estimate that that will take about four days. Normally that would be a problem, but I have time to kill since the building inspector is at a conference this week. We’re still waiting for estimates from the truss roof dudes and the energy analysis dudes. The truss dudes are going to build trusses for our roof. They deliver them to the site, crane them onto your built up walls and then you just nail them into place. Sweet! The energy analysis dudes look at your plans and tell the Great State of California if your house meets Title 24 energy requirements. What are those requirements? Only people with computers can tell you that, but apparently it’s a pass/fail sort of thing. 

So while we’re waiting for the paperwork, we’re gonna dig ditches. Hopefully this will be the last set of ditches that we dig. We’re going to France in October and I’m hoping to get the foundation poured before we leave.