This blog is solely about the start-to-finish construction of a house.
It is recommended to start at the earliest post and proceed chronologically.

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September 30, 2014


The Roof AIr-barrier Sandwich, prior to cutting, folding, and taping
We are trying a fairly unique method for air-sealing this house.  If you are interested, details follow below.

Trash Enclosure

The trash enclosure was poured yesterday, and revealed today. 

Eventually gates will be added to hide our bins.  But for now, revel in the glorious board-formed concrete.

The south massing anchor

September 29, 2014

Roof Deck Drainage

Sweet looking sleepers
A roof deck over living space is always a complicated bit of design.  Here is our scenario.

The underlying structural decking is flat, since it was installed on floor trusses.

Since we want the roof to drain well, we needed to add some slope to the surface.

I carefully cut a lot of sloped 2x framing lumber ("sleepers") to create a sloped structure.

(Yes, I actually took this on - not sure why the framers didn't think it was in their scope...  #GCproblems)

All are nailed and screwed down to the structural floor.

Note that they all slope to one corner of the deck where the drain will be located.

3/4" plywood decking is cut to follow the new sloped surface.
3/4" T&G plywood cut to fit - dry run, prior to insulation

Then the cavities between the sleepers are filled with insulation.

A bead of adhesive is applied, and the decking is screwed down over the insulated sleepers.

Now when the roofers apply their roof membrane, it will drain all to the drain in one corner.

We are using a TPO membrane.

Atop the membrane will eventually be placed a finish surface of concrete pavers.  They are supported by leveling pedestals to make up for the sloped surface beneath them.

Until the roof membrane is installed, this roof deck is a source of worry - it is basically a swimming pool that we've waterproofed with a tarp, and we hope very much the tarp won't leak.  I've had to deploy and remove this tarp a dozen times now as I work on this.
Drainage slope works!  Hopefully the tarp keeps doing so as well.

September 25, 2014

Jobsite Dog

Cairo Posing Regally
Meet Cairo, the friendly jobsite dog. 

He greets passersby, and digs the same hole over and over again.

Carport / Entry Canopy Takes Shape

Friendly Carport Carpenters
The final major piece of framing is taking shape. 

The carport wraps the front of the house, creating a covered entryway.

Also visible is the LACK of roofing underlayment.  A piece is visible peeking over the ridge, where the roofers decided to call it quits.  It is now raining again.
Front Entry and Kitchen Windows

Entryway Canopy Cantilever

View from Kathleen's House

Moody Skies
This is the view from Lisa's mom's house, just to the East.

(My camera phone has a decidedly blue tint.)

September 24, 2014


Last night the skies opened up and dumped massive amounts of water.
Water everywhere, inside the building.  Some wood windows were affected - too early to tell if damaged.  

Today the roofers showed up... little late to the game.  Said they'd be here a week ago.

Not a good day.

September 21, 2014

Sunday Progress Update

Entry Canopy takes shape.
A recap of the progress this week, with some pictures, follows below:

September 17, 2014

Overheard on the Jobsite:

P1: "B__ has a bad back."
P2: "It is because of that beard, it adds too much weight to his front."

'Eye of the Tiger' Window, Installed

Our largest window assembly
Successfully maneuvered into place, thanks to the inspirational music (See previous post).

September 16, 2014

Overheard on the Jobsite

Just as 6 people prepared to lift the largest window in the house into place, the radio started playing, appropriately...
Eye of the Tiger.

Just as the window made it safely into place, our cat walked over, meowing loudly.

Said someone: "There it is!  There is the Tiger!" 

September 14, 2014

Sunday Progress Update

Garage - now with canopy
A recap of the progress this week, with some pictures, follows below:

September 12, 2014

Exterior Wall Assembly

What follows is a fairly detailed discussion about the exterior wall assembly that we chose for this house.  Warning, charts and graphs and a wall of text ahead.

September 09, 2014

The First Window Install

Darn Fine Flashing Job
At the risk of turning everything into a superlative...WE HAVE A WINDOW! 

Starting with one of the smallest and easiest openings to get to, we tested our installation and waterproofing methods. 

I am personally on the hook for all of the window opening prep, and I am getting to master the fussy ways of peel-and-stick flashing.

Some call me the Butyl Whisperer.
Stepped wall & window lap-on-lap action in progress, from well above the ground

"None shall leak!"

And now a Candid Admission.

I h̶a̶v̶e̶  had created a very well researched 'best-practices' window sill-pan detail, included on projects for years.  It combined the best ideas from the best sources into one excellent detail.

For some reason, builders never quite fully followed instructions.

This detail, I have learned the hard way, might just be asking a bit too much of the installer.  Simple origami, and simple origami with permanent adhesives, are two different things.

Even as a careful person, with decent crafty abilities and all the motivation in the world on this project to get it right... it seems that folding theoretical 3 dimensional membranes and folding a very real, very long, very floppy, extremely adhesive thing that grabs anything and everything permanently, all while on a ladder with only two hands and a knife in your teeth - might just be different animals. 

I am hereby revising my old membrane sill-pan detail to a more reality-based, still-perfectly-waterproof, easier-to-execute version. 
Lessons from the field.

September 08, 2014

The Lid Appears

Look a Hat
The sub-roof has been placed rather quickly, despite the complications of an experimental venting assembly.

Only the street facing side remains to be installed; starting tomorrow.

September 06, 2014

Overheard on the Jobsite

1: "This tape measure doesn't match what his tape says."
2: "Which one is right?"
1: "Heck if I know."
2: "How many things have been measured with that tape?"
1: "Heck if I know."

September 03, 2014

Steel Window Boxes

Looks like a mini Richard Sera sculpture
The steel boxes that fit around some of the windows (described in an earlier post) are completed and primed.