Custom plans, drafting + Design

clipped gables

San Juan Island Small House Update


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 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!

Garage progress report


A week ago Saturday, the concrete work finished, it was time for us to get down to galvanized nails and start framing. We are building a garage to start the process, which will serve as not only a garage, but a place to store tools and do work that requires a flat surface. This is a luxury we are pretty excited about as the last couple of builds have been complicated at times from this particular lacking!  In addition to beginning the garage framing, we are winding up the electrical conduit project. This particular project involved a lot of digging trenches, followed unsurprisingly by a lot of rainfall that made the job just a bit more fun. :-)  We connected all of our conduit, hooked up the electrical meter base, sunk it in quickcrete and with the aid of some friendly folks at a local electrical supply company, were able to borrow a pounding tool to sink the 2 eight feet ground rods into the earth. Photographs taken and L&I called for inspection, we were able to fill the trench back in  (hello again to the sunshine) and now are awaiting inspection and the energizing of the unit by the local power co-op. That will be nice since we’ll have a power plug in and won’t have to rely strictly on battery tools.

Speaking of battery tools, however, please look forward to a couple of reviews in the following weeks of the two battery powered tools, a Bosch circular saw and DeWalt nailer, that have enabled us to make so much progress this week.

We have the garage framed and sheathed on the first floor (though windows are not yet cut out), the ridge beam is up, rafters installed and rake walls framed. We also framed in a loft space for storage. The framing was straightforward and over the course of the week we have been getting our framing physiques going again…it’s amazing what different parts of the body each project utilizes. Hands are a bit sore, but we are well on our way and framing feels very intuitive this time around. Perhaps by the third time you do anything, you are really getting the technique into your bones and consciousness. In any event, it feels good to be out and doing it again.  Please see the progress pictures below and check back in as we proceed. This coming week we begin the second half of the roof installation, merge and barge rafters, overhangs, brackets, etc.

Some thoughts that have occurred to me along the way this week…not all parts of the building process are fun. Some are boring. Some are frustrating and there are times when it seems things just aren’t going smoothly at all. After a build is done, you tend to forget these parts (if you are lucky!) because the overall experience is so gratifying, creative and rewarding. I am reminded of mothers who mention that if they weren’t able to forget the pain of childbirth, they wouldn’t have had more than one child!  Building has this character as well. There is worry and frustration and difficulty along the way. There are also days when the sun is shining down on you and you can’t believe you are doing what you are doing. Every step is one forward, and there are so many steps involved. Being a part of the process is an amazing educational experience and profoundly satisfying (especially on the smooth days!)