Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Up With the Loft

Since we had the cabin dried in for the most part we decided to go ahead and start placing the loft joists.  The plans I purchased called for an U shaped loft open in the middle.  We really didn't like that plan and decided to put a loft over 3/4 of the cabin on one end and a small loft at the other end for storage.

The primary purpose of the loft will be for sleeping.  I used a 12/12 pitch on the roof and varied from the plan on the south rafters and raised them one foot higher in order to achieve more head room.

The day was nice, at least inside the cabin.  The girls were complaining about the cold as it was very windy.  They were wanting to light a bonfire and we had to have a discussion about fire safety, especially forest fire safety as they can get out of hand in a hurry.

The loft joists were spaced two feet apart on center.  I varied the second joist to be able to nail it directly to the rafter as well as the wall.  This will make it more stable.

I used 2x8's for the loft joists.  I don't want it coming down and it may be a little overkill but I would rather do it right to begin with.  I also installed blocking every two feet in between the joists to stiffen them up.  I staggered the placement so I could butt nail them.  I plan on going back later to install some brackets.

We spent a good portion of the afternoon working.  The weather forecast was calling for increasing chances of rain beginning at 1600 and getting greater by the hour.  Well the meteorologist was wrong as we started getting rain around 3:00 pm.  I had wanted to fashion a temporary door and install house wrap around the outside of the cabin.

We have one more loft joist to install on the long end and half the braces and we still have to install the joists for the short loft which we will do when we frame in the bathroom.  My wife bought a new bathroom vanity including the top for $15 on bid it.  If it wasn't for using cull lumber and upcycling we would'lve never been able to affort building this cabin with having to pay two house payments.

I ended the work session in the rain by installing the temporary door.  I just wanted something up to keep out the rain.  We have no valuables inside so I didn't install a padlock. 

The next objective will be to install the front porch so that I can determine how much metal roofing I will need and get it installed.  The front is to be sided with rough sawn cedar and the sides up to 8 feet are going to have used tin from an old barn installed horizontally to give it an old time feel and the gable ends will be stained cedar shake siding.  I have a couple more windows to install and then we will be ready to put in some insulation.  I have a dual fuel ventless space heater which will heat the cabin well.  I just have to find a propane bottle at least 100 pounds which I should be able to find on Craigslist.  We also plan on hitting the Habitat for Humanity Restore to find a door.  If we have no luck with a door the local lumbar yard has one that will work. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

All Dried In

I wasn't able to complete drying in the cabin the last day I worked on it.  We had a couple of inches of rain prior to me going out, they were calling for more.  I was super bored and looked outside to see wonderful sunshine and I decided to head out and get as much  done as possible.  After pulling into my short driveway I noticed the field looked awfully wet which was unusual.  It is the area of the pass between the tres we usually have trouble with.  It was so unusual I stopped to engage the 4X4 and snap a pick prior to going in.  Keep that in mind for later. 

When we left after our last workday we had part of the gable ends to complete the sheathing, cutting the door out and attaching the last piece of plywood on the front where the door will go which I couldn't complete because my only reciprocating blade had broken.

 I cheated and nailed a 2X4 to help support the wood as I was working solo.  It didn't take long to get the gable ends complete.  It was just cumbesome without anyone to assist.  I got both ends done and then moved on to the door frame.

 I picked up two extra blades and cut the doorway out fairly fast.  No problems with that.

 It was a little past 5:00 pm when I completed drying in the cabin.  I was going to use a sheet of plywood for a temporary door however, the battery was dead on my cordless drill.  At least now we will not have to worry about the walls and floor getting wet.  Our next goal is to install the porch along the front and we still have a good deal of work to do on the outside with completing the rafter ties and loft joists.

 As I said previously I had no trouble driving in.  When I was ready to leave it was starting to rain.  I made it through the muddy pass without any trouble.  It wasn't until I came to the field that the situation became
somewhat treacherous.  As you cnan see in the picure to the right I nearly becaame stuck.  If not for the grace of God four wheel drive and the accelerator to the floor I would'lve been stuck and walking a couple of miles to get a tractor.

I have decided it is a priority to get down some rock to extend the driveway.   I found an online cauculater to come up with math on how much rock I will need.  In order to expand the drive with base rock it will take 44 tons of base rock to expand it to 12' wide by 100'.  That is going to be an expensive driveway just to access the back of our property but we have to be able to access it so the rock company is going to like me!  Until next time be safe and be prepared!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Work Day on the Cabin

We decided it was do or die time to get the cabin in the dry.  We scored big time on the plywood and need to get the rest of the cabin dried in.
We have been blessed with beautiful weather and we have to get this done.  I have spent every day off for the last week doing nothing but working on this to get it done and this is where we stand.
The front needs framed in for a window since my wife finally decided where she wanted the window and door so the first step was to get the window framed in.  We have had this window for probably 5 years.  It is an energy efficient dual pain low e window which has been sitting in the basement for some time.  We originally planned to use it on our house but it didn't fit the plans in the end.  Most of my time was spent framing the window in.  It takes some time to do it right and I wanted it to set in the wall and look somewhat symmetrical as we only have one big window on the front in addition to the door.

Jennifer had to run to town to pick up the girls from school.  Prior to her leaving I got the window framed in and three pieces of plywood sheathed across the front.  I went to cut out the hole for the window and in the process broke my blade for the reciprocating saw.  Unfortunately we don't have the best cell phone service at the cabin.  I can usually walk around the property or at least get up on the ladder and get service but not today.  I wasn't able to get ahold of her to pick up another blade.  Bummer.

We managed to get most of both gable ends sheathed, we lack just a small triangular space on each end which I had planned on using the scrap from cuttinng out the window and door openings.  Since I broke the blade and daylight was running out we were not able to complete the dry in.

The picture to the right was taken inside the cabin looking out the front window.  It is going to be such a nice view with the berry rows stretching out in front of the cabin and once we clear an area around the creek it will be even more so.

Once the girls made it back out they decided we needed a bonfire for some s'mores.  We had a couple of brush piles in need of burning so I just considered it multitasking.  In the future we plan to do less burning and more composting and maybe even "lasagna gardening."  For those who do not know what that is just type it into google and you will learn all you ever wanted to know.  We just had have so much to get rid of we wanted to just get it done and decided to burn.

It's hard to believe that spring is just around the corner.  We have not had much winter, we even saw a mosquito and a baby grass hopper today!  I wanted to get the cabin dried in this week and get the house wrap on because next week it is supposed to be very cold and there are several chances for snow and ice.  It is frustrating to be held up by a simple broken blade for a saw.  I could have driven back to town and picked up a new one but with the way gas prices are going back up we are all going to have to try to start limiting our driving.  Once the cabin is completely in the dry I plan on going over to our house and finishing a the small details so that we can get it on the market and get it sold.  Once we sell it we will be able to begin building out forever home. 

 We had the opportunity to meet our neighbors recently and they plan on moving up in the spring to start building.  We are planning on sharing the cost of running electricity so then we will have power on site.  We will use the cabin for rest and relaxation while we build the house.  After that the cabin will be a neat place to just hang out for the kids. 

I have always been intrigued by old barns with their copulas on top.  These were actually a functional part of the barn in keeping them ventilated.  There is a similar method which may be used to help naturally ventilate a home.  I am thinking of building a "solar chimney" on the cabin.  It will be approximately 6 feet by 6 feet and on the side above the loft.  It will have windows on each side, at least two functional.  I think I will have a ladder from the loft up into the chimney and build in some book cases.  On the other side I am going to build a bench you can lay on and it will make a nice place to hang out and read and we can see how well it helps with ventilation.  You open the windows on the bottom floor and open the windows in the solar chimney.  As the air in the home warms it rises and exits the solar chimney drawing fresh air into the windows at the bottom.  If it works we have a plan we like for our home which has one incorporated.  If not it will still be a neat place to get away. 

I performed some stress relief by putting a lot of holes into a milk jug with my pistol.  I have a conference all weekend so I will not be able to do anymore work on the cabin until the week of the 12th of the month.  At least we managed to get most of the sheathing on.  It will be there when I get back to finish up.



Saturday, February 4, 2012

Work Day on the Cabin

This post covers a period of four days spent working on the roof of the cabin.  We will begin with the first day which was a Sunday morning after I had worked a 24 hour shift.

Day 1 of Cabin Roofing
We made a goal to work on the cabin Sunday no matter what.  Usually I would not so readily agree after working a 24 hour shift.  I never know how much or even if I will get any sleep but we have to get the roof raised.  We have been lucky so far with the weather and have managed to keep the floor somewhat dry with the use of tarps.  I had  managed to get a full nights sleep at work and I was ready to go.  I got the generator, air compressor, and other tools loaded onto the trailer.  

Jenn scored big time on a picnic table this week.  It is round with three benches and is in really good shape.  She managed to get it for $35 off the local radio stations trading post.  The guy also had two casement windows in great shape which we paid $15 for.  You can come across some real bargains on these type of programs.  We decided to go ahead and take the picnic table to the cabin so we would finally have a place to sit down and eat when we are out there.

The weather forecast was for it to be in the 50's and windy.  It actually got up into the 60's and was quite nice for the end of January in the Ozarks.

We made it out to the land around 11:30, set up the tools and ate a quick lunch.  I had already set the beam so we first braced the walls level and then got to work on the rafters. 

The results of a full day work, half the rafters set
It has been years, since high school construction trades class and have had to fabricated rafters.  I was frustrated trying to figure out the proper angles.  We finally got the angles right and started cutting the rafters.

We managed to get most of them cut and about half installed.  We plan on going back out tomorrow to place the remaining rafters and install the hurricane straps.

A coworker has some used plywood he is selling me real cheap.  I will use that as the roof deck and as sheathing for the front of the cabin as we plan on siding it with rough sewn cedar.  We decided to go with a metal roof as we plan to harvest rain water for irrigation for the berries.

We have to cut a 30 foot wide swath across the creek so we can have our electric brought in from the road.  We are splitting the cost with our neighbors who plan on building their homes after moving up this spring.
After I get this roof finished I have to get the finishing touches done on our house so we can get it on the market.

We managed to make it thru the day without any major mishaps.  We wrapped it up around four and started a bonfire to roast some marshmallows which is always a nice treat.

With luck the cabin roof will be ready for decking tomorrow afternoon.

Day 2

We managed to get around fairly early and get back out to the land.  We had to cut the remaining rafters prior to installing them.  I had borrowed some proper step ladders from a co-worker, my old wooden 8 foot ladder just wasn't cutting it and if I continue its use an injury is sure to occur.

See the cabin yet? 
Across the front of the cabin will be a 6 foot wide porch running the entire 16 foot length.  We are planning to frame in the porch once the cabin is dried in.  I managed to get very lucky thus far with the weather and with the below average rain and snow haven't had to deal with any rot or mold as we have managed to keep everything covered with tarps.

The cabin sits near the middle of our property overlooking our berry farm site and backs up to the woods.  Where it is sitting was actually all wooded and took quite a bit of work to clear.

You can see the cabin from the road as of now but when spring comes it will be nearly invisible due to the wood growth and foliage.  We also plan on using natural colors for stain.  The tree line in the front of this picture is actually a small stream.

Installing another rafter
Have you wondered why the front is framed the way it is?  My wife was unable to decide which side she wanted the front door and window to sit on, she better decide soon!

The use of proper tools for the job is essential for safety and effective use of time, especially when only one or two people are working on a project.

We would actually use a tie down strap to secure the ladder whenever we were working at height to avoid a possible tip over to prevent injury.

We used a generator to power our nail guns and saws.  I have a new battery powered saw but it doesn't seem to have the life to last a full day work even with two batteries.  I should have spent the extra money and bought the new lithium ion batteries.  We use them at work for ECG monitors and I am very impressed with their performance.

The result of a second full day of work
  We managed to complete the installation of the remaining rafters and a portion of the ties  My next day off we have to take a trip to pick up the plywood I scored.  In case you are new to the blog all the wood I have used with the exception of some studs and the siding has been cull lumber or used lumber.  So far we have about $500 total in the cabin.  In the area we are in we have no building code.  Despite this I am building it to all applicable codes.  We live in tornado alley and all the rafters will be strapped and secured with brackets.

Day 3

Recycled plywood
The day started with us having to drive 45 miles to pick up a load of used 1/2"  plywood.  It was removed from a barn that had a shingle roof.  The owner decided to go with metal when he re-roofed his barn and was left with 17 full sheets of plywood in excellent condition which I managed to get for $3 per sheet.  We got out to the land around noon and got to work unloading the plywood.  Once unloaded we ate a quick lunch and got to work installing the plywood as decking on the roof.  The old nail holes make no difference as we plan on using metal roofing.

Fixing the power cord I cut into two
After making essential repairs to a circular saw that I cut through the cord we were ready to get to work.

Wish my arms were a little longer.
I  framed the rafters every 24 inches on center.  It was a struggle to get the full sheets of plywood onto the roof with only myself and my wife but we managed to get it done.  I put plenty of nails into the plywood, I want it to stay on as we have high winds in this area regularly.  There are clips you can purchase to secure roof decking to keep it from coming up in high winds.  I didn't remember to buy them the last time we were at the lumber yard but I plan on using plenty of nails and backing it up with screws.  I don't think it will go anywhere when I am done.

It would have been ideal to have two people with nail guns, one securing from the top and the other from the bottom edge but we didn't have the luxury as we only have one set of guns.  I might mention that I purchased the guns from Amazon several years ago as a package kit.  It came with a compressor, finish gun, staple gun, and a brad gun.  The framing gun was purchased at the same time but is another brand.  When I first used the framing gun I had problems with it jamming.  It had set in my shop for over a year with me thinking I had a defective gun.  Come to find out I had purchased nails for the wrong brand of gun and they were not the proper angle thus causing the gun to jam.  Once I figured out my mistake I have not had any problems with it.

Amazon is a good place to find great deals on any item you can think of.

 I could have completed the entire decking in one day if I would've had additional help but as it was it worked out OK.  Notice the tie down straps securing the ladders to the cabin.  It is essential that you use all the safety precautions you can, especially when working in a very rural area where it takes a long time for an ambulance to reach you.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

We began working as soon as we had finished lunch.  We are under a time crunch as I have one more day I can work on the cabin this week and the day after that they are forecasting a 100% chance of rain with the possibility of severe weather.

We worked until dark and managed to get one side of the roof sheathed and half the other side.

We have a problem with cell phone reception at our land.  Depending on which part you are on decides if you have service or not.  I had service on top of the roof but that does me no good on the ground.

Day 4

This is the last chance I have to get a roof up and get it waterproofed as tomorrow they are calling for inches of rain. 

We had to stop at the lumber yard for underlayment. I wanted a synthetic self sealing type but had to settle for 30# roofing felt.

 The roofing felt will be temporary just to keep the decking dry while we order the metal for the roofing.  The installation is usually relatively easy but the day I was installing it the wind was blowing 30-45 mph.

There are many different methods for securing roofing felt.  Some use roofing nails, some use staples, and there are also nails with a round plastic disc around the top of the nail head which helps to keep the felt from ripping in the wind.

Whichever method you use, try to secure the felt in a W pattern.

Just about done securing the roofing felt.  I literally finished by headlight.  When I started the day I had the mistaken belief that I would be able to get the felt installed and the front and gable ends of the cabin sheathed.

I only managed to get the felt on.  We covered the flooring with a tarp to keep it dry because tomorrow the rain is coming!

Finishing up, I put in some extra nails just to make sure the felt is still on the roof when I get back out there to work again.

I have to work a 24 hour shift tomorrow and planned on taking the next day easy and then finish framing in the window and door on the front and installing the remaining sheathing on my next day off.

If the past has been any indication I will not complete everything I have planned for my next work day at the cabin.

I have been intrigued by the idea of solar chimneys.  For those who do not know they act as a heat escape in the summer.  Take a look at an old barn, notice almost all had cupolas?   They weren't there for looks but to actually used to ventilate the barn.

My idea is to build a 6X6 tower on one end of the cabin over the area with the loft.  If you look at the picture to the right it would be in this area.  It would rise about 6 feet above the peak of the roof and have windows on all sides.  I will build a ladder from the loft to access it and across from the ladder will be a padded "couch" to lie on and read.  It will be surrounded by book shelves.  In the summer the windows can be opened in the tower and on the main floor and the cabin will be cooled by the heat rising into the tower and going out the window with fresh air coming in from the window in the bottom of the cabin.  It will be an experiment to see if it would be feasible and worth incorporating into our house when we start building it.

The Next Day......

The storm front moved in later than was forecasted but we did get plenty of rain.  I hope to find all the roofing felt still on the roof and the floor dry when I get back out there....