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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!

San Juan Island Small House Update


It seems like the weeks are flying by and we are making such good progress that it’s hard to believe it isn’t later in the season. Good weather, recently a little cooler even, continues to be on our side, and it FEELS likes summer! 

This week we finished our temporary stairs, installed rafter plates on the north and south side of the house and then spent a couple of *hot* days installing ¾” tongue and groove plywood on the second floor.  The process went smoothly… though it was a pleasure to install the last piece, to be sure! 

From there it was time to move on to raising the ridge beam and installing rafters. It is always somewhat harrowing to work at elevation. Shawn actively (and vociferously) dislikes heights but works at them when required (hence the extra vocalizations?) and fortunately, I do not have too much issue with heights, unless my ladder is bouncing. Fortunately, there was none of that this week!  We installed temporary bracing and supports for the ridge beam, which consists of two 14’ ¾” two by tens scabbed together in the middle. The clipped gable ends will be installed later so the ridge is dimensionally shorter than the width of the house. Because there are two dormers on the house, we cannot lay the rafters all the way across but we started by installing some of the rafters to support the ridge. It is still phenomenal to me that wood will basically hold itself together when pressure is applied in the right way. I marvel over this each time we build. What seems impossible is possible though we won’t remove all the supports till the entire roof system is in place.

We were also pleased to note that Shawn got his cuts on the birds mouths, which is where the roof rafter sits on the bottom plate, on the first try with no hitches. It is nice to see our skills build, and both here and in the cutting of stair stringers, we noted some real progress! The rafters fit both at the base and the ridge perfectly. We also finished the small amounts of first floor plywood wall sheathing that needed doing along with the last of the first floor caulk air sealing.

Today, Saturday, we built the north facing gable wall, sheathing it on the ground to save us some time up on a ladder with the framing nailer. We were able to position it without much trouble, anchoring it with 5 inch structural screws along with nails. It is nice to have it installed and now we can continue with the rest of the north wall rafters.

What's next? This week we should finish the full length rafters and build the larger south facing dormer that is part of the main bedroom. From there we’ll need to install the shorter rafters over both dormers. Then the gable end walls will be framed up and at that point, it’s decision making time. We have not decided whether to then break and build the pergolas on the east and west side of the house (which will also provide us with built in staging to do the clipped gable work) or to do that work on ladders. I’m thinking the pergolas will be a good idea. We designed them into the house partly for that very reason…it seemed a practical and elegant solution to working at heights. With a piece of sturdy plywood laid across the pergola, we have a nice wide staging area for a ladder, paint buckets, etc. Time will tell. We hope you’ll check back in and see next week’s progress! Seeing the rafters going in is a real milestone, very exciting!!