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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


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!