Plumbing the Depths of Inexperience

I think it’s high time to document some of the inner workings of Oliver’s Nest, starting with one of the things that took the longest to fully assemble: the plumbing.
Being a simple system, without water heater or electric pump, I thought it would go together quickly, once I decided on all the parts. Not so!

It took at least three visits to the local big box store and several reworkings  to get it assembled. The issue that caused the most problems was not having a normal drop between the sink drain and the waste water holding tank. I was determined to have as standard a system as possible, which included the p-trap to capture odors. The inclusion of the p-trap lessened the already shallow drain slope, but not enough to keep water flowing the right way. The big problem was getting the semi-flexible tube to run properly. It was at an angle that caused the end to want to pop off…once it was even coaxed/forced onto the piping to begin with. I’d read that others had the same problems with this tubing. It’s difficult to work with, but once attached is durable so worth the trouble. I finally searched out my extra hose clamps left over from rerouting the fuel lines and used a couple of those to ensure the tubing would stay put even through the rockin and rollin of the house on bumpy roads. Problem solved?
Well, yes and no. After using one gallon jugs for a couple months for fresh water, I finally stumbled upon the perfect sized and shaped five gallon jug at Fred Meters. Sturdy and cheap too, so I snapped one up with joy. Until I tried to fit it under the sink and realized with horror(!) that the plumbing I’d sweated over would have to be redone to allow the new addition to sit in the right place. Ugh!
So yeah, being me, I put it off for about a week, working up the courage to tackle that damn tubing again. Yesterday I finally confronted it, and wonder of wonders, it went together relatively smoothly. Thankfully, Amazon only sells this tubing in ten foot pieces so there was plenty left to cut the longer piece needed, and is now in its new configuration. Here is the pump I have.  This is the water jug I found, and quite a bit cheaper at Home Depot.

Proud pictures follow….

All tight and tucked away.

Everything back in place.

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Painting Woes (And Another Leak)

I like to paint.  It’s easy and fun and colors, whee!  Funnily enough, the walls mostly will be covered by closets and cabinets and stuff, but I like knowing there’s something pretty behind all that.

After trying the pink painted high up on the walls, with a pale yellow on the ceiling and upper walls, I discovered I vastly preferred the white over my head. Here’s the before:

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OMG PINK

White reflects light better and looks clean and fresh.  Luckily I still had the Zinsser Oil-based primer to cover the other colors.  It took one coat, plus two coats of Glidden Extreme White Semi-Gloss Exterior Paint to cover everything perfectly.  Yes, I used exterior paint inside.  I also used it on the cedar trim on the exterior, after priming with the Zinnser (which is perfect for cedar), and had a ton left over.  Since I’m not living in the space, and since the oil-based primer is also stinky, I figured, why not?  There’s time for it to off-gas before I move in, and the color is just what I wanted.  I can’t afford to waste paint, or really anything.  This is one of the reasons why the structure is a little odd-ball. 🙂

After I tamed the yellow and pink, I started trying for the look I wanted ~ a blend of pink, yellow and tangerines. I have a favorite skirt that I love that is pink and orange, green and reddish, and I want to try those colors in the interior.  I have a little pot of grass green for…somewhere.  Here’s what I have now:

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The colors!

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A cool blend on the side walls

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The wall under the loft. I like this area the best

I like it.  Luckily, the area I like the best, the wall under the loft (behind the cab of the truck) will show the most.  It’s pretty and not overwhelming.  Other than some touch ups, and maybe adding a little red at some point, and of course the moldings, the walls are finished.

Oh yes, the leak.  It’s not the roof, although yes, there was a small leak which is now gone due to the new roofing.  It might have been present the whole time but hidden by the bigger roof leak.  This new leak is actually through the door/skylight itself…it appears that the panes of glass and the wood joints have loosened with all the cutting and hoisting and general messing around (plus the door wasn’t built to be installed flat, of course).  But I have a solution!  Today I will go out and buy some more razor blades to clean the glass panes, sand off the extra silicone everywhere, and prime and paint the wood portions.  Once it’s dry, I will screw on to the face of the door, this stuff:

Polycarbonate Sheet

Polycarbonate Sheet from Lexan

A glass shop right down the street can provide a thicker product than is available at the big box stores, and will cut it to size, and cost less than buying it and using an expensive saw blade (which I don’t have) to cut it.  Plus, they will do it right, lol.  Yes, I am farming out some of the work.  And glad to do it.  And yes, it’s another expense, but a necessary one.  I’d always known I might have to go this route, so it’s not a surprise, and I’ve had time to figure out exactly what is needed.

I don’t know if I’ve already shown how the exterior looks now, all painted up and finished, so before I get to work on the skylight, here’s a few more pictures:

So you are all up-to-date.  I’m off to buy those razor blades and a saw blade for finish work.  Be well!

Now That I’ve Fixed The Roof

The rain won’t come to let me test to make sure no water’s coming in.  Not that I see how it could, as the entire roof surface, including up the base of the skylight, is completely covered in rubber….  It took about a week to remove the old roof and finish applying the new one.  This is another picture-heavy post to try and illustrate the steps I took. Here goes!

Day 1: Removed the metal roofing, with an assist from my ever-so-helpful neighbors.  The caulking I’d used to try and waterproof it is so sticky, I couldn’t get the front piece out from under the drip edge to the slanted portion.  I needed more muscle to tear it away.  That damaged the drip edge badly enough so that it needed to be replaced.  The new solution works, but it’s not as cute.  Oh well.

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EPDM caulking is applied and hopefully the roof leak is cured (not true, as it turned out)

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Caulked metal roofing

Days 2:  Painted underlayment plywood with an oil-based primer (I used Zinnser, which is awesome, and very versatile) to allow the liquid rubber roofing a good adhesion.  It took me a while to get used to this stuff, as it doesn’t spread easily, instead needing to be “dragged” by the brush and forced to go where I wanted it.  Each piece took almost an hour to paint. It does dry quickly, so if I hadn’t run out of energy I could have dragged the panels up and started installing them the same day.

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Thin and smooth, the underlayment I used to cover the original roof sheathing should be easy to handle by myself and also make a good base for the new roofing.

Days 3 and 4:  Glued and screwed down the wood, and covered each hole and crack with butyl tape and polyester cloth.  Working with the butyl was fun, like being in an art class at camp.  It’s like a sticky clay..sort of.  It’s often used on boats, as it’s unbeatably weatherproof, and even holds up if underwater.  It’s also recommended for use with EPDM.  You CANNOT use anything with silicone or that asphalt-impregnated stuff with EPDM.   The polyester cloth wasn’t necessary for the flat surfaces of the roof, but does give the liquid rubber something to grab hold of.  I bought it primarily for the vertical surfaces of the skylight base, which is where the pesky leak was.  I thought it might also be useful for the edges of the new roof, to allow me to cover them and yet keep the stuff from dripping down the new flashing.  It mostly worked.  I did have to wipe off (with mineral spirits) a very few drips.  I also think I’m going to reinforce the edges with uncured EPDM tape, as I want as much protection from low-hanging branches as possible.   This is seriously sticky stuff.  You’ll want to keep it in the fridge before using it on a hot day, trust me.  It cures in the sun over time, just like the liquid EPDM does.

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Primered underlayment is secured to the original roof sheathing, and now I’m using the butyl tape and polyester cloth to cover any and all holes, cracks, gaps, and around the edges and up the base of the skylight. The roller is necessary to smooth down the butyl.

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Filling in the cracks between sheets of underlayment

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I took a piece of butyl and rolled it in my hands to make a “snake”, then used the polyester over the top and rolled it smooth

Day 5:  This is really where I needed to take deep breaths, as it was time to open the cans of liquid rubber, and start applying it.  No turning back once the catalyst is added!  I need to warn you, this is potentially very messy.  Especially if you tend towards clumsiness as I do.  I ended up tossing out all the clothing I was wearing that day, including my shoes!  See, you have to use a special mixer on your drill, because liquid rubber is thick and gooey, and it takes a lot of mixing to get the catalyst fully blended in.  What happened to me was, I was standing over the can, mixing away, when suddenly the can itself started twirling on the ground, creating a good-sized geyser of rubber.  That’s how thick it is.  So, wear old clothes, and make sure the can is on a non-slippery surface.  Little insider tip.

Applying it was pretty easy, as it turned out.  You have up to four hours working time. First, dip a brush into the mixed EPDM and cut-in around anything necessary. Then, pour the stuff onto the area you want to cover straight from the can.  Take a squeegee (which you will have to toss afterwards) and spread it as best you can, and then use a good-sized paintbrush and smooth it level.  You will have to toss the brush afterwards, too.  Then, repeat the steps in the next area.  Each gallon covers between 40 and 46 square feet, so it’s recommended you pencil in lines on the working area so you know how far to spread it.  I found that helpful.  You want a finished depth of about 20mm.  I wasn’t working on completely level ground, but it still went OK for me.

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EPDM is on and drying. Don’t walk on it for at least 12 hours!  The seams show but are just as strong as the rest of the roof.

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Dried EPDM now needs hot sun to fully cure. This takes weeks, and depends on the weather conditions. It will continue curing whenever the conditions are right.

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Rubber-coated skylight base.

So there you have it!  If I could have done this earlier, I would have.  You do need warm, dry conditions, and fully dry materials.  If your area (like mine) offers that rarely, then try to find a workshop or garage to do this in.  It’s worth it, being that it’s relatively inexpensive, easy for a DIY-er, and should last years.  Any rips or tears are extremely easy to fix with either EPDM caulk or uncured EPDM tape.   Oh, and it comes in white and gray, too.  Plus the company will special-order colors for you if that’s your thing.  Good stuff. 🙂

I’m off now to hopefully finish painting the interior.  More on that later. o/

Windows and Glorious Light

This post consists mostly of pictures, as I actually remembered to take shots of most of the major steps.  Maybe this will help someone…who knows?

Neither window leaks, and for that I am grateful.  I’m OK with using them now instead of the wood windows, and in fact I think they look pretty cool.  They were so easy to install!

I did take the time to CAREFULLY drill holes in the plastic bottom, to allow water to drain more easily, as especially the slanted one could otherwise overflow and start draining into the interior.  Several heavy rains later I can attest to it working. 😀

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Cutting the test hole for the window in the loft.

I wasn’t sure where to place the loft window exactly, as originally two very large wood framed windows were going to fill the entire space.  I didn’t want it to be too high so as to hit the trim on the outside, nor too low for esthetic reasons on the inside.  Hence, the exploratory hole and a lot of measuring.

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After measuring inside and outside for a good placement, I used my circular saw to cut out the rough opening.

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View from outside.  The placement is good both inside and out.

The front is so ugly and boring still….

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The RO still needs to be framed. Yeah, I did it backwards.

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Framing and flashing is in

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Loft window installed!

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Loft window viewed from the outside

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Janky window trim

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Aaaaand, the finished window. Please ignore what’s happening up with the white drip edge.  It was fixed later.

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Finished back window from outside. Metal trim is for protection from water, but I’m not sure I like how much of it shows.

So.  Water intrusion is a huge bugaboo for me.  Here in the Pacific Northwest, water gets into simply everything, and then causes rot, rust or mold.  I do NOT want any of those in my new home!  Since I have so very much unused metal flashing, I decided to try to utilize it to keep water on the outside.  The way I installed it, water goes from the roof, down the outside of the flashing, into the window flashing that sticks out, and then out the sides.  Since neither window (nor the door, which I did the same way) leaks, I guess it worked.

The only thing is, there is so much metal above the rear window!  I’m considering cutting some of the left-over T1-11, painting it to match the body, and cover a good portion of the upper metal. I don’t know…anyone have any ideas I can consider?  I don’t want it to be too different from how I did the other window and door. Whaddayathink?

 

The Drama Is Over ~ The Sheathing Is Up.

The last bit of sheathing on the northern side only took four hours to put on.  I felt so much relief to have it finished!     I think this last bit looks pretty good.  Had to sit down and drink a blueberry beer to celebrate.

 

Sheathing up all around!

Sheathing up all around!

Look at that sad and lonely little window.  It’s the only window on the north side because I’m trying for passive solar, but it is so plain on this side!  I’m worried about making the exterior look good.

The floor is now totally ripped up to allow all the pooled up moisture to evaporate.  I know what mistake I made ~ I shouldn’t have layered the rigid insulation over the wool.  It kept the water that leaked in from the exposed edges from having a way to dry.  I should have known to trust the wool ~ after all, it’s ability to drain and dry and stay great is well known.

So it’s all out now, and there is an immense pile of mostly dry, fluffy wool that has taken over Oliver’s Nest.  It looks like a herd of sheep exploded in there ~ in fact, there is more insulation than floor now.  I think all the fluffing has expanded it greatly.  I wonder if I was supposed to fluff if this much before I put it in?  That would explain why there didn’t seem to be enough wool left for the rest of the house…I just put way too much into the floor.   I’ll have to start stuffing stud spaces where no wiring or plumbing will go to handle the overflow.

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Mid-excavation. The wool hasn’t expanded to it’s full potential yet..

I took the day off today to rest my knee again.  It was really hurting by the end of the day Thursday, I’m not sure why.  It feels better now, here at 1:45 am, so it looks like I’ll be able to get started on hanging the felt paper.  I’ve read how-tos online and watched videos, so hopefully this will go smoothly.  It is recommended that you have two people work on putting up the wrap so it will be tight and secure, but with my house being so small, it might be OK.  We’ll see.

Plywood Sheathing Almost Complete

Once again I change my plans.  I’m free to do so as no-one else is inconvenienced by it. 🙂

I was going to skip hanging the building felt paper altogether.  I forgot, though, what my favorite website Building Science has to say:

“The drainage plane in this assembly is the building paper or building wrap. The air barrier can be any of the following: the interior gypsum board, the exterior stucco rendering, the exterior sheathing or the exterior building wrap.”

Since Oliver’s Nest will live in a very cold climate, the air barrier should be to the inside and  latex-painted barn board attached to thin plywood will serve that function.

(Quote and pictures copied from from  http://www.buildingscience.com/documents/digests/bsd-106-understanding-vapor-barriers)

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In Oliver’s Nest, substitute ceder siding and metal roof panels for the painted stucco with paper bond break.  They act similarly.  Then the thin rigid foam panels, which were going to serve as the drain field.  But the author recommends building paper (ah-ha!) as the drain field.  Then, plywood sheathing and the wool inside the wood stud cavity.  On the interior of the wall will be a very thin layer of plywood and latex-painted wood boards (fastened to the thin plywood), which act like the “Kraft facing on a fiberglass batt or a “smart vapor barrier membrane” combined with the latex-painted gypsum board.  I researched and it’s a very fine substitute. The big change is that my drain field *was* going to be the water-impermeable rigid foam panels, instead of the more water-permeable building felt.  This change allows a much easier exit for water vapor inside the wall assembly.  It’s important.  I’m glad I caught it.

As the rigid foam panels I have are very thin at a quarter inch, my walls are more like the above than the below illustration:

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If I were able to use much thicker foam insulation, I would go with the above design, but I’m limited by house width and (mostly) financial constraints.  If I had the funds, I’d go wide.  After all, the roof is almost 10 feet across.  In fact, now I’m wondering whether to use the foam panels at all, as they won’t provide a thermal break as much as the drain field does, rendering them pretty much unhelpful.  They are a process I think I can safely skip.  Very nice.  I have a future project on my property that they were originally intended for anyway.

I went ahead and finished with the plywood sheathing across the South side.  It ended up looking like this:

Yeah, there are wider gaps...I know.

Yeah, there are wide gaps…I know.

Ugly but functional.  Now just the upper part of the North side and I can go forward with the building felt.  I had a couple rolls from the Restore that got wet in a sideways rain storm, so went back and got a couple more for $5 each.  Not happy that the originals got ruined, but so it goes when you don’t have an indoor space to build and store supplies.  I’d recommend one.
Based on my past performance, it’ll take a couple to three days to finish getting up the plywood.  I have no idea how long hanging the building felt will take. Hopefully not more than a couple days.  We’ll see!

Oh! And the wool?  It’s drying so fast that I’m fluffing a couple times a day instead of every couple days, so the whole process is going super quick.  It’s looking like I won’t need the dehumidifier.  Unless it starts raining again before I get this baby weather-tight.  My poor knee.

Taking a break

My knee kneeds (hee) some time to heal, so now that the roof is mostly on, I’m going to stop working for a little while.  My doctor had told me to stay off of it for a couple months and knit or something, but I just couldn’t til now.  Weather and building a house trumps comfort sometimes.  It’s apparent in the photos how the edges are still loose ~ I have a fascia idea I want to try still before it all gets affixed.

EPDM sealed down except at the edges.

EPDM sealed down except at the edges.

A LOT of my rabbits got free from a hidden burrow of their pen.  They like to come down and hang out with me.  Please ignore the drying laundry, LOL. Seriously, this is long-term camping these days, complete with wee beasties at my door.

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What’s up?

 

I got the underlayment cut out on half the interior and made some interesting observations.  First off, it definitely looks like a more recent water incursion (thank goodness).  I’m sure that it got wet this past spring after I took off the tarp ~ I should have waited for drier weather.  It’s hard to know in these parts when that’ll happen, though.  The tarp I had over the floor didn’t cut it, and leaked around the edges (I’m guessing).

The underlayment underside, showing how the water got in at the edges.

The underlayment underside, showing how the water got in at the edges.

The house appears to have settle slightly to one end and more slightly to one side.  The great part about that is the water settled there, too.  Well, mostly.  The puddle was there, but higher parts were damp to quite wet.  I cut down through the layers to the insulation, and removed some sections of it to dry and to allow the structure to dry.  I just stir the wool up every couple days to help it.  The wood is all ok, even the parts that were somewhat underwater.  It’s drying out well.

Because of an oddity to my joist design, most of them weren’t even wet.  I used a sort of box idea to hold the wool and built it 6 inches deep.  To allow a thermal break, I only hung 2x4s for the joists, leaving a space between the bottom of them and the floor of the box.  This worked well except in the middle of the house, where I didn’t get them fastened in tightly and securely enough (springy floor!).  I haven’t decided whether to wait until everything is dry to fix that or if I should just go ahead and pull that part out now and redo it.  It will hasten the drying if I do it now, perhaps.

The rigid insulation is holding up well, even wet.  It’s drying too.

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Rigid foam board under the wool revealed to allow it to dry.

Plywood underlayment cut and pulled off to expose the wet wool.

Plywood underlayment cut and pulled off to expose the wet wool.

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Wool is wet and still fluffy! The space below the floor joist is visible in this picture, too.

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The brown is just sawdust from cutting the plywood. On the left is a joist and rigid foam boards underneath.

 

The wool is the most interesting part.  One of the many reasons I choose to use it was due to it’s high insulating value even when wet.  It is still fluffy and thick and has no mold or weird smell.  It’s wet as a sponge in parts though, and I might need rent a commercial size dehumidifier to completely get it all dry, after the house is closed up.  I think I’ll do that even if it all “looks dry”….just to be safe.

So the floor is all torn up, but is fixable.  I admit to being scared to cut into it, afraid of what I’d find.  It’ll just take time and a bit of work, and nothing terribly complicated.  It’ll be nice to have a solid floor everywhere. 🙂

While that all is drying, I’ll finish hanging the wall sheathing, and then hang the rigid foam insulation on the outside of that.  It’s super light, so that part should go quickly.  I have some rigid foam glue that I’ll use at the corners of the building, and I’ll nail it up all over with these special nails with plastic washer-things I got at the ReStore.  I do not intend to use building paper as originally planned, as I want the entire wall assembly to be able to breathe to the outside.  Instead, I’ll just have the plywood sheathing, then the rigid foam boards, then some blocking for a rain screen effect, then the siding.  To allow wetness out at the bottom of the wall assembly there will be a small gap around the entire house, which I’m thinking to cover with a wire mesh.  The last thing I want is mice or other critters to get up in there!  I found a big roll of wire mesh at the ReStore the other day, enough for the whole house and only $10.  I’ll have to figure out a way to securely attach it to both the inner, foam and plywood section and the outer, sheathing section without it showing.

After all that, I guess the next part is weather-sealing the door and window openings, then installing them.  After that the house will be officially “dried in” and that’s when I’ll rent the dehumidifier to finish the floor.  The weather should hold reasonably well through the end of September (fingers crossed), which gives me a little time….I just want to get my knee to a less pained state and hopefully get it healed enough.  Living alone on a mountain will be challenging enough without being lame, LOL.

OK, off to play some Civ 5 or something!