Custom plans, drafting + Design

building a small house

Forty-six sheets of plywood this week


It was a great week to be working on the roof. A lot of sunny days, and enough threat of rain in the forecast to keep our motivation alive - as if not having a roof on your house wasn’t motivation enough! We got plywood laid all the way to the ridge line on the north and south sides of the house except where the dormers are. It lined up beautifully and was surprisingly easy to install for us. The actual work requiring Shawn to be out on the plywood deck wasn’t so bad and he was pleased with how comfortable he was using his ropes to move about on a ten pitch roof. That was a pleasant surprise. Much of the roofing we were able to do from the inside out, sliding the plywood sheets up and into position from the inside, nailing as much as possible from the inside and only using the rope and/or harness when some of the nailing had to be done. All in all, a smooth and satisfying process.

We also moved on to building out the walls for both dormers and got them sheathed with plywood, which really makes the house start to look more like it does in our minds. The reality is starting to match the design pictures.

We also installed the final four eave brackets, cut, primed and painted all the merge and barge rafters for the north and south dormers and got the south dormer trim rafters installed and a even start made on the decking of them. Today was a rainy day so I painted in the garage while Shawn nailed on the fascia board for the south rafter and began decking the eaves until he was too soggy to keep at it. Tomorrow we’ll arrive on site with the north dormer barge and merge rafters primed, painted and ready to install. I even have ready several more pieces of eave decking. Hopefully I’ve primed and painted enough so that can be a finished part of the project.

We are now in the process of figuring out how to go about step flashing the dormers, it turns out that we may not install the barge rafter trim till we have the house roofed, which is sort of a shame as the dormer will look incomplete till then. However, with September approaching, we hope to be getting the go ahead to have the roofing done very shortly.

Tomorrow we will be back at it, and hope to complete the sheathing of the roof this week. It will feel good to be able to call the roofers for a heads up and get ready for our framing inspection.

Hope you’ll check in again next week and thanks for reading!

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.