Custom plans, drafting + Design

cedar 8 x 8

San Juan Island Small House Update


Plumbing, paint and pergola update

What do you do with leftover cedar scraps? Build a village of course!

It’s been a couple of weeks since our last update as we’ve been waiting on some material to arrive before moving on to more work on the roof assembly. When we last wrote, we had just placed an order with a local mill here on San Juan Island for delivery of the cedar materials for our pergola. They arrived on Wednesday but in the meantime, we took our in between time to catch up on several small jobs we’ve been needing to get to.

First, we finished up some outdoor plumbing, installing water spigots at the rear of the house, rear of the garage, and at the front of the house where the front entry is. We also connected the front porch downspout to the tight line drain system and were able to cover up the area where the lines are buried (they’ve been open since having the backfill brought in around the house, making some of our ladder tasks tricky up front, so this is a welcome change!). Then we installed shut off valves for the water to the house and the outdoor spigots.

We also primed and painted all the decking for our eaves using a nice yellow color from Mythic Paint ( The color is just as we’d hoped!  Nice and rich but not too fiery. We also got all of the eave brackets painted and the red and yellow should look really wonderful together.

Next on the list was to build the carriage doors - both the big double entrance set and the small side door. We opted to build them ourselves and did this from home, which was a nice change of pace because the weather was very hot (for the PNW) when we were doing this work. We got them built and assembled them early this week. Today I did all the priming on them so they are ready to paint in the next couple of days. We transported them to the job site using the very handy free truck rental offered by our local storage unit, Sound Storage of Friday Harbor. That made moving them easy. We also cut the first pieces for building out the jambs and got the hardware ordered for hanging the front carriage doors. They are heavy duty black steel straps (24”) and should look smart against the red trim.

And finally the big delivery of the cedar timbers arrived Wednesday (they are gorgeous!) and today we spent a lot of the day preparing to install them tomorrow. Shawn took measurements for the height of the 8 x 8’s and then cut them to the right size using his track saw and rolling the beams to make the majority of the cuts and then finishing the cuts with a hand saw. Then we installed the post bases. Once they were assembled, we brought them over to their individual pillars. We still have three more to cut and prep for the front entrance, but that will wait for tomorrow. Our next step will be to epoxy the pillars onto their threaded rod which is buried in the concrete footings. There will be a lot of bracing to install as well. Raising the pillars isn’t easy, and probably looks ridiculous, but it’s just doable for the two of us and should look sturdy and substantial once we are finished, unless we drop one on ourselves, in which case we won’t get to enjoy our work. :-) 

It should be an exciting couple of weeks of progress coming up. It’s sort of felt like being at a standstill for the last little while, but in order to move on to finishing the roof, we have to get the pergola built as it provides us with built in staging for the high work. Looking forward to seeing it come together in the next little while and moving ahead.

San Juan Island Small House Update

Shawn A. Dehner

Today is a very strange day because I am at home for the day…the first day in ages I haven’t been on the building site. We are at a transitional point in our build and must take some time to build the eave bracket components of the roof assembly. There are twelve to build so it will take a couple or three days to do it. Frankly, we are having a west coast heat wave and it’s not such a bad thing to be able to work from home in the shade, so that’s what we’re doing.

This week we wrapped up some various projects. Shawn did a tremendous amount of blocking, installing bird blocking (no holes drilled yet, but all installed and waiting final preparations) and also blocking the entire first floor. I did a lot of caulking and air sealing while Shawn was installing 1 ¼” 20 gauge metal strapping over the rafters to tie the rafters to the ridge (performing a function similar to collar ties in that it prevents uplift). This was a preferred method for us as it will allow us to have unbroken bays for insulation. We also built dummy rafter tails and installed them under the north and south dormers. Dummy rafter tails are non structural but important aesthetically as they allow the rafter tails to continue on despite the fact that the actual structural rafter tails only appear above the dormer (where they are performing). Once those were in, it was time for me to apply their two coats of primer in preparation for painting later this summer. I needed to do this before we install the decking over them and it becomes too hard to do. We ordered the ⅝” plywood sheathing for the roof, though it will be a bit before we can install that. We also have the eave decking on order and will get that into place once the brackets are built, primed, painted and installed. This week we also built the gable end walls, installed the second floor plywood up to the point where we can put the brackets on. It was so amazingly easy to do with a framing nailer that I found myself thinking the absolutely bizarre thought that putting up plywood sheathing was fun. The building being square made the installation easy and straightforward and it’s nice to have things getting closed in upstairs. Lastly, we visited a local cedar and fir mill and officially placed an order for the materials for the pergolas and the front entrance. Building these will be an exciting and enjoyable (and very useful) experience. We think the wood is going to be just beautiful and amazing!  The cedar pergola timbers will be gorgeous - can’t wait to see them!

It feels as though we did a lot of little things this week. It’s awfully strange to be at home for a few days but nice to catch up on component building in the shade at our rental.

More to come next week…hope that you will join us again.