I. Am. Exhausted.

Putting a roof on is so much work!

The sun glinting off the newly-fastened trusses is rewarding

The sun glinting off the newly-fastened trusses is rewarding

First, all the decisions to make: roof style (gable, gambrel, arched, flat?), whether or not to put in dormers (light and precious, precious space added, depending on what roof style), how much insulation, what type of insulation? What material for the outer skin? Metal? Asphalt shingles? Wood shakes? EPDM? hot or cold (vented) roof? I will use a wood stove, so chimney through the roof or through the wall?  Good thing I like to do research.  There are so many choices, so much information to evaluate!

Insulation going in as each truss is attached.

Insulation going in as each truss is attached.

Then comes the reality of putting that puppy together.  I find that this is the stage where flaws in my design really show up, necessitating on-the-fly changes and re-evaluations of my patience and ability.  I’m sure that with generous helpings of both, I could have fixed the initial roof trusses, but after staring at the darn things for a year, decided I lacked both.  Off with the cool gambrel trusses, and on with the “flat” roof.  Boring, yes, but also doable and gives a huge bang of space for the buck.   Even so, this is a lot of work.  Hard, sweaty, muscle-groaning work.  I never knew that sweat actually DOES sting your eyes until I started this project.  Maybe it’s partly due to my state of physical fitness (almost nonexistent), but more likely it just comes with the job.  I am handling heavy, awkward pieces of wood, really high in the air, alone, and without experience.  Yeah, I sweat!

Sweaty, frizzy, and dirty.  I'm quite a sight after a day up there in the sun

Sweaty, frizzy, and dirty. I’m quite a sight after a day up there in the sun

There are days when I’m tempted to just build a most basic box, and not worry about boring stuff like thermal bridging and moisture problems; or simply follow a plan developed by someone other than me… I can see the allure. Well, actually seeing as it’s me talking here, the truth is I like a challenge, and to try to do things as “right” and “perfect” as possible. In my own special way. In my own, special, really hard-to-do way.

The saggy middle portion of the roof makes the insulation look too skimpy.  After I go below and screw the lower sheathing to the trusses, the insulation looked much more impressive

The saggy middle portion of the roof makes the insulation look too skimpy there. After I go below and screw the lower sheathing to the trusses, the insulation looks much more impressive, but I forgot to take a photo

So. What stage is Oliver’s Nest at?  Well, the insulation “sandwich” layer is on, the trusses have been wrangled into place and tethered down by many screws and metal tie-downs, the Roxul insulation is tucked in and securely covered by the AtticFoil radiant barrier, and the sheathing has been cut to size and numbered so I will know which piece goes where without (hopefully) any mistakes. I would have liked to use full-size plywood pieces, but they are just too heavy and unwieldy for me. I don’t think even having my boy over to help would get them up. I don’t think it’s the strongest roof design, but it will work for now.

My 22 foot piece of AtticFoil, rolled up as neatly as I could, ready to be carried up to the roof top and placed over the Roxul

My 22 foot piece of AtticFoil, rolled up as neatly as I could, ready to be carried up to the roof top and placed over the Roxul

I lay the foil lengthwise along one half of the roof, stapling each side to ensure air can flow from side to side (Cold Roof style)

I lay the foil lengthwise along one half of the roof, stapling each side to ensure air can flow from side to side (Cold Roof style).  The foil will also make sure the insulation stays put, and might even add to the total insulative value

I want to  remember how much I messed up my knee doing this and yet continued on;  how sore my shoulders and back are.  Years from now I want to appreciate the work I’m putting into this little home. I often downplay accomplishments, and I’d rather not do that with Oliver’s Nest.  It is an important part of a giant leap-of -faith that I can make a happy life for myself, and hopefully leave a lovely space for my son some day.

Finally, something the closely resembles a roof! My water bottle rolled right off the edge to bounce on the gravel below, so I know there's a little slope ~ yay!

Finally, something the closely resembles a roof! My water bottle rolled right off the edge to bounce on the gravel below, so I know there’s a little slope ~ yay!

Edge Clips are helpful to beef up strength, and to guarantee perfect spacing

Edge Clips are helpful to beef up strength, and to guarantee perfect spacing

 

After having to balance on loose trusses for days, being able to walk across the roof deck is wonderful!  I’m thinking it’ll take another day to finish the decking, and after that a day to get the drip edges on.  It’s supposed to be drizzly for almost a week starting tomorrow, so my knee will get that rest the doctor ordered.  Booo-ring!

Up On The Rooo-ooofff…

The roof is going up!   A little later than planned, but weather and finances, health and mood all have to come together in a perfect storm.   It’s OK though, because I spent the time re-thinking (for approximately the thousandth time) how I wanted the roof to come together.   And of course I changed my mind…again!   Actually, I didn’t so much change my mind, as recall a method of insulating my flat roof that I’d run across more than a year ago.   So glad I came found it again!  This is the illustration from the website Building Science Information:

Breaking the thermal bridge

Basically, you build a thermal break into the roof with an extra layer of exterior grade plywood over a layer of rigid foam insulation.   You can’t use OSB, which can’t handle moisture or breathe ~ it has to be plywood.   One of the local lumber yards sells what they call “utility” grade 3/8” sheets for only $10, which I feel is fine for this purpose.   The more (thicker) insulation you use, the better ~ I used 1 1/2 inch expanded foam.   I really wanted to use extruded foam, but it’s out of my financial reach.   This extra layer goes up before the trusses, and creates a thermal break, making the insulation laid between the trusses more effective.   It adds to the total R-Value, as well.

An important step is to keep interior moisture from getting into the foam, so having a vapor barrier between the rigid insulation and the interior air is vital.   On the other hand, it’s also vital to allow any moisture that does get into the foam or wood an easy path back to the outdoors.   Good ventilation combined with keeping rain out is key here.   I’ve purchased perforated foil radiant barrier to ensure air flow, and will keep wind and wind-blown rain out of the roof with a good-sized overhang and deep fascia.  The point of the foil is to keep insulation fluff in place, while still allowing it to breathe with the perforations.  I’m using this stuff:

perforated radiant barrier foil watermarked

48 inches wide so easy-peasy to install

 

There are products made specifically to create air channels, too, called Attic Vents or something similar.  Some I’ve seen are made out of cardboard ~ easy to DIY.

 

Here’s a simplified list of the roof layers:

Ceiling treatment ~ in my case, I’ll use painted barn boards.

Vapor barrier of visqueen/thick plastic sheeting

3/8 inch CDX plywood

1 1/2 inch rigid foam board (R-Value 7.5)

3/8” CDX plywood

2×8 trusses filled with 5 1/2″ Roxul (23 R-Value)

ROXUL COMFORTBATT

Almost as good as sheep wool, and more familiar to any inspectors who nose around once I’m on my property.

Perforated radiant barrier

23/32” CDX plywood sheathing, with the gaps filled with a flexible sealant

.60” thick EPDM from Gentite fully adhered to the sheathing

10 by 25 feet ~ no seams!

 

I am pretty sure I have linked to this site before, but it’s so full of good information that I’m going to do it again.  You can get lost in there, digging ever deeper in technical building goodness.  Anyone thinking of constructing a building should check out the Documents section, even if it’s not a DIY.

UPDATE: I started writing out this blog entry on June 2nd, and didn’t get around to finishing up that day.  Now, a couple days later, I am embarrassed to say that I’ve managed to injure myself (again).  I’d like to pretend it hasn’t happened, but this is a record of my experience building my own home.  And part of that experience is the occasional (I HOPE it is only occasional) booboo.  Soooo, this time I jacked up my right knee pretty well.  It’s actually kind of amusing, as I first hurt this knee way back a couple years ago when I was first starting out on the build, by tearing the meniscus.  A few shots of cortisone, several weeks in a brace, and many painful months later I could walk without a limp.  But the dratted thing locks up multiple times daily, and on Saturday morning it locked up while my hands were full of plywood, causing me to force it straight instead of babying it out ~ ow!  Then, a few minutes later, I dropped that same sheet of plywood (on edge) onto that knee.  Swearing ensued.  THEN, and I’m still not clear how I managed to do this, I hyper-extended the SAME KNEE with my full weight plus (you got it) a sheet of plywood TWICE, and felt something finally give in the back. OMG OUCH!!!

Yeah. Don’t work alone with heavy stuff if you can help it, and always make safety your highest priority.  Trying to get the roof on in dry weather, meaning fast, caused me to do several clumsy things, and now I’m in a sort of removable cast to keep the knee immobile, and supposed to stay off the leg entirely.  Probably won’t happen, as I still need to get the roof on before it rains again.  We’ll see.

Here’s some pictures of what I gotten done so far:

1/4 inch sheets of plywood are hard to manage when you're short and out of shape

1/4 inch sheets of plywood are hard to manage when you’re short and out of shape

I painted these sheets top, bottom and sides because I wasn’t sure if they are CDX.

 

Laying out the rigid insulation

Rigid insulation

Starting to frame in the rigid insulation “sandwich” layer.

 

Covering the foam with thin CDX plywood

Covering the foam with thin CDX plywood.

This is still pre-knee destruction.  Look at the cool camo paint, heh.

 

This is some of the pile I schlepped back and forth on the roof

This is some of the pile I schlepped back and forth on the roof.

My son came over early Saturday morning to hoist a bunch of heavy/bulky stuff up to the roof for me.  I really wanted to do this whole house by myself, but I simply could not get these heavy things up there.  Of course, this meant I had to repeatedly move a big pile of (heavy!/bulky!) stuff around, trying to keep it out of the way.   Great workout.  At this point I’ve already done some of the knee damage, but the hurt hasn’t truly hit yet.

 

Trusses laid out, before cutting them into the right shape

Thermal break put in, and more room to work in!  Trusses laid out, before cutting them into the right shape.

My 2×8 trusses measure out to literally 7 inches, not 7 1/2 like I expected.  This meant I could only use 5 1/2 inch insulation batts instead of the 7 1/2 inch I originally planned on because  I want a good inch and a half of air between the Roxul and the sheathing.  I purchased the planks from two different lumberyards, so I guess it’s just lumber math?  Heh, or instead insert men measuring joke here.  So now I’m only getting an R-Value of 23 between the trusses, instead of 30.

 

Waste, but not too bad.

Waste, but not too bad.

The middle of the trusses are left at the full 7 inches, and are cut down to 6 inches at the ends.  Not quite as much of an angle as I wanted, but there’s that whole “7” instead of “8” inches thing again.

 

All washed up and ready to be cut to size.

All washed up and ready to be cut to size.

Part of my huge pile of wood pulled out to use for the flying rafters and barge boards.  I had to scrub a couple years worth of dirt off of them, due to losing the pile in canary grass.  That stuff grows to over 6 feet here!  Not my fault for piling it in the pasture, nope!

 

DIY bird blocks to ensure great air flow and hopefully no bugs.

DIY bird blocks to ensure great air flow and hopefully no bugs.

Bird blocks are those wood pieces with holes covered by mesh you find up under the eaves.  From the research I did, the holes don’t offer enough air flow in most cases, so I made these.  The mesh I used is 1/8th inch to deter insects stapled to 2x4s.  These will be obscured by the deep fascia boards I plan, which in theory should keep rain and direct wind out of the roof interior.

That’s all for now!

 

Building Hurts After A Kick In The Ribs!

Ouch.  Ouch….ouch ouch ouch.

I’ve worked with horses most of my life, so know my way safely around them, at least you’d think!  But even though I KNEW Gaia has a potential of kicking (she’s not the most gentle soul), and I thought I was being careful, she smacked me a good one yesterday ~ she, I found out, is flexible, and has terrific aim.   I’m pretty sure I yelped comically as I flew (!) backwards into the mud.  I’m so very, very glad I had the heavy loft beams already up before this happened!

I’m fine, just bruised, no ribs broken.

I’ve been working hard on Oliver’s Nest, as the weather has been outright beautiful and staying busy keeps me positive instead of sad.  As of tonight, all of the framing in the lower portion is complete, including the framing of both doors (finally!), and as I already mentioned, the loft support beams.  Woot!  Also, as I was able to use some 4x6s from the old barn for the loft support as I had hoped, I could place them much further apart than if I’d used 2x4s.  I want an open look to the area under the loft, and having fewer beams will help with that.  I’m short at 5’5″, and decided to place the 4x6s at a height of 6 feet, which makes the ceiling between them 6’4″ ~ plenty of head room for me, even in heels!  The reward is a lot more head room in the loft.  I have learned from living in the truck camper that being able to sit up in bed is REALLY important to me.  The ceiling height in the loft will be an amazing 4’4″!  I’m thrilled!

Next up is buying nice looking 2x6s in 14 foot lengths for the loft floor.  I don’t want to build the pony walls while clinging to framing – I want a good solid floor to stand on while up that high.  It’s not that I’m afraid of heights, or even of falling – it’s just a lot harder to work with power tools safely when doing a monkey impersonation.

There’s one particular lumber yard in town which caters to higher-end contractors.  Super nice guys.  They have the highest grade of wood available (#1) in the widest variety of width and lengths, and are more than happy to dig through that nice stuff and find the best boards for me.  I plan to use them for all visible wood in my little home, and for my roof trusses, too.  The snow load is so heavy where my property is, I don’t want to mess around with iffy wood for the roof support.  I’ve shopped at nearly every lumber yard in the greater Olympia area, including the big box stores, and for most applications, any place has acceptable wood.  But it’s worth it to spend a little more for great quality wood when you have to look at it every day, and for anything that need to be really strong.

It’s kind of funny I suppose, that I’m using such a wide spectrum of materials….reusing old wood, re-purposing all sorts of things including the trailer bed from an old travel trailer, and then going first class on some things.   Wool insulation, expensive roofing materials like thick EPDM over the best quality lumber, big new windows….I like how it’s coming together though.  If I save money where reasonable (and safe), I can spend more on what matters the most to me.  It is such a personal creation, this tiny home of mine.  I’m proud of it, and I’m proud of myself.

2014-04-13 18.28.44

The loft beams! I’m a messy builder, aren’t I? My big red beast of a truck is back there, and a glimpse of the lovely tarp.

 

2014-04-13 18.28.22

Look at that blue sky through the trees!

 

One more thing ~ I am loving my new Makita impact drill!  It has made the construction process go a lot faster and easier!  I highly recommend the 18 volt cordless Makita line.  Now that 24 volt tools are showing up, the 18 volt tool prices are dropping and it’s easier to find them for a steal.  I’ve got the circular saw, the impact drill, the sawzall, and the battery charger with three batteries.  They charge really fast, and having three has kept me from ever having to stop building and wait.  I realize I’m sounding like an advertisement for Makita….it’s the only brand I have hands-on experience with.  I’m sure most of the 18 volt brands available are just as good.  Hurray for cordless tools!  Just be sure to buy an extra battery or two ~ it’s well worth the expense.

Be well, everyone! 🙂

Sheathing Is Up! Well, Some Of It….

Yes!  All the trusses have been cut off:

2014-03-13 12.38.41

Several of them are still “hanging around” (heh, I amuse myself) up on the top plates to keep them out of the way.  I need to set aside a block of time to take them apart and try to salvage all that metal strapping on their joints.  If they won’t come apart, I’m considering throwing them onto the burn pile to remove the wood.  I really would prefer not to, as the wood might be usable in some project, but I really want that strapping – it’s a nice, heavy gauge, and definitely reusable.

The hurricane straps are all finally on the lower portion of the house, and the frame is looking strong!  Even before putting them on, I could climb the structure like a monkey and nothing would move, but having all that extra strapping tying things together soothes the worrier in me.  The weight it adds is negligible.

There was nothing keeping me from starting on the sheathing, so I went for it!  And quickly realized a big problem – I canNOT put 4×8 pieces of wood up by myself.  Nope.  Not gonna happen.  So, what’s a girl to do?  Why, ask her 78 year old mother for help, that’s what!  Oy.

It sounds worse than it was.  I did all the heaving and hefting , and piled up cement blocks to prop the plywood sheets at the proper height.   My mother just sort of leaned on them while I clamped them into place.  She helped eye the spacing between sheets, too, while I shifted left, right, left, right, holy cow this is getting heavy, left, right… Yeah.  I strongly recommend having at least two reasonably strong and healthy people working together during sheathing.  Three would be better.  One person…nope.  Unless it was He-Man.  Or The Hulk.

Working together, we got sheathing up all around the lower half of the house.   None of the sheets are completely nailed up yet, only enough to hold them firmly in place.   This has allowed the upper half of the vertically placed plywood sheets to wave in the wind a bit.  I know it looks funky and unprofessional, so refuse to post a picture.   Once everything is neatly nailed up, then I’ll get some pictures up for posterity.

So.  I need to finish nailing up all the sheathing that’s in place, and to salvage the metal straps from the failed trusses, and then to get the loft beams into place.  Been popping outside to work between rain showers the last couple days.  I plan to start on the loft by the end of this month, weather permitting.  Yay!

I want to put out a request to anyone reading this, to feel free to give feedback on my interior layout sketches.  Did I miss anything?  Is there something that you like, or don’t?