THE small HOUSE CATALOG

Plans, Drafting & Design

air sealing

San Juan Island Small House Update

Jamie

This week was all about rafters and building things that would allow us to install even more rafters. We are now at the point where we are just about completely done with them, even installing the short rafters that comprise the clipped gables. There remain only four rafters to install for the main roof structure, those being at the very end of the house proper. In the relatively near future it will be time to install the merge and fly rafters as well, but we are not there yet (need to build knee braces prior).

We also built the north and south dormers and got them raised and sheathed in plywood and then installed the dormer rafters. It was nice to see the gaps in the rafters fill in. I must say, too, that there is a certain shame about having to install a roof over top of a full rafter installation. There is something beautiful and even moving about seeing the framework of a roof standing out against a blue summer sky. Fortunately, my dreamy architecture gazing got a reminder of why it’s important to take the extra steps and finish the roof when we had a bit of rain on Thursday afternoon. Friday the sun was out again and we finished the first downward rafter for the clipped gables. The cuts for these rafters are deceptively complicated, but working slowly and deliberately, we got them done and installed. We have an adjustment to make to them tomorrow, but the fit was good and we are pleased to see them rounding out the edges of the house. The gable end walls have a beginning to them, with the main windowed part of the wall framed in on both the east and west sides of the home. We will finish the gable end walls this week and install the final four rafters for the main roof at that time. 

The dormers have made for a very spacious upstairs and we are pleased to see the layout taking shape. Tomorrow we’ll be back at it, finishing up work on the clipped gable rafters, installing the exterior rafters, building out the rest of the gable end walls. At that point, it may well be time to shift gears a little bit and build the pergolas that will be on the east and west side of the home. These pergolas will provide us with built in staging and help us immensely with sheathing the gable end walls and then installing the barge and fly rafters. We aren’t sure how long that will take, but in a sense, the building of the pergolas is the next step in roof framing, at least for us!  

Another piece of exciting news is that we have chosen our paint colors and the paint is on the way. That might seem a bit premature, but in fact, a lot of the trim rafters I like to prime and paint completely before installing to save on the job later on when they are high above my head. Check out our colors in the photos included below. The trim will be red and the siding gold. The window exteriors will be ebony and so provide a third color. We are again using Mythic Non-Toxic Paint https://www.mythicpaint.com/index.aspx for all of our exterior paint. Not only do they mix lovely colors, but the paint is great in terms of weight, coverage, luster and is also completely non toxic. I am going to do a full review of the product later this summer and include details on how you can get a discount coupon on your next order from them!

San Juan Island Small House Update

Shawn A. Dehner

It seems like I was just writing up last week’s progress report!  We started the week with cooler, cloudy temps and even got some rain on Monday, much needed. It also gave us a chance to take a day off, also much needed.

This week we finished all of the joists for the second floor and completed all of the interior walls, including those that helped frame up the stairwell and the cabinets and closets beneath it. The stairs were the final big project of the week. Shawn cut all the stringers yesterday and we were reminded of Roy Smith, a retired builder in Belfast, ME who answered questions for us along the way as we built our first house there about a decade ago; we raised our hammers in toast to him and appreciated once again his tips on stepping out stairs many years ago that helped us cut our first stringers. 

By Saturday we'd completed the main straight run, installed temporary treads and also the second floor landing. We also got our risers spot on at 7 ¾ all the way up - an important calculation for us and pleasant to achieve without trouble. 

While Shawn stepped out and cut the stringers, I spent a good amount of time carefully air sealing the interior walls by running a bead of caulk along any place where studs, trimmers, sills or headers met each other. We have also air sealed the exterior in a similar way. A blower door test is now required to pass the final building inspection and this extra bit of work will help us pass and make the house more energy efficient by preventing air leakage.

This coming week we will be laying out plywood on the second floor and will be feeling very grateful as we hustle it up comfortable stairs rather than hoisting it through the stairwell, one of us up and one of us down. After that’s installed and square, it will be on to framing up the second floor dormers. It is hard to believe that the roof assembly is in close sight. This is the earliest start we have ever gotten on a building project and quite possibly the finest weather we have ever had for one. Please check in again next week for some additional photos and another progress report.

2015 Small House Project Update

Jamie

planting our first garden

After completing the subfloor and plywood layout over our slab and then taking a long weekend, it was time for us to get to work on the house. Monday we started framing the first walls. By Thursday they were all standing and by Friday it was time to finish air sealing the exterior wall seams with caulk and interior corners with spray foam. We spent the day yesterday hooking up a hose spigot for the soon-to-be planted garden, as well as installing wall cripples and insulating the headers. Today, we plant our garden, our latest start ever, but still very traditional, and should getting the rest of the cripples installed and perhaps tie the walls together with the top plates. Next week…on to plywood sheathing and building the interior load bearing walls.

Some notes:  We raised these walls ourselves in mostly 12 -14 foot sections, which is why we left almost all of the plywood off the exterior; it’s far easier to sheath on the ground, but with just the two of us raising the walls, we didn't want them to become impossibly heavy. We also left off building the full headers until standing to save on weight. It worked well and we were able to keep the walls in great shape in terms of being straight, plumb and level. We’ll be applying plywood vertically rather than horizontally because it is stronger this way as there are fewer seams, an important consideration in our high wind, earthquake prone area.

All in all, it was a fun and satisfying week with straightforward work and lots to show for it. Hope you’ll join us for another update next week!