Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Second Story or a Party Deck

We are early in the 7th week of building and the second floor deck went up yesterday. All 27 sheets of 3/4 OSB T&G decking was slid up a ladder. It was a great day to be in the office. I climbed up there after work and man it is up there. We decided to go with 10ft ceilings on the first floor and then used 16in floor trusses between the 1st and 2nd floors so the height is huge.

In the picture on the right you will notice the timber element that we used to carry the 2nd floor corner of the house. The roof will come off of that corner to create a bumped out area that is in the same plane as the front porch.

One of the workers thought we should maybe just use the floor as a party deck, given the size of it and the views. We placed the master suite on the second floor mainly for the views. Our house sits on the edge of a steep hillside so when you are perched up there you can see a lot. We will be able to look over the pond and into surrounding woods. Now I can't wait to see the views from the 3rd floor attic dormers.

As mentioned we are barely 7 weeks into this project. It is amazing how fast things are going. I spent last night getting the finances up to date with some credit cards due. I guess it proves that if you throw money at something it will get done faster. With the timberframe house I did a majority of the work myself and saved a lot of money, but it also took almost 2 years of 40+ hrs a week on top of my full time job. We just couldn't do that again.

The 2nd floor wall framing will start Wed and I'll start framing the porch roofs on Saturday. Getting the attic floor in place along with the rafters will be fun given the height. We are doing 9 ft ceilings on the 2nd floor. It might be time to rig up another gin pole. I guess there are some timberframe techniques that can be applied to modern stick framing.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Egg Hunt at the Building Site

Easter Sunday was pretty much a day of rest at Boothe Mountain Retreat. We got home from church and decided that the building site would be a great place to hide 100+ plastic eggs filled with candy. We are a little over a week into framing and the first floor is done so that provided lots of hiding spots. The only thing, Ill bet Josh and Jacob did not find all the eggs. Jeff and Scott, our two workers, will enjoy finding some eggs on Monday.

We worked a little over a half day on Saturday. The guys were pretty beat. They put in close to 50 hours of framing this week. All the floor trusses are up except for a 10 ft section that will be supported by 8x10 timbers and an 8x8 column. We got the timbers up just after lunch on Saturday and the guys split. It was nice getting the timber framing tools out again. We chose to place a timber element in the addition to tie the new part with the timber frame current house. You can see the timbers in place as Jacob looks for some eggs in the braces.

After the egg hunt we set up some OSB cut off on some saw horses for a makeshift table and covered it with a table cloth. It was our first dinner in the new addition.

While the rest of the family rested I back filled the back portion of the foundation and cleaned up the place a bit for tomorrow. All in all it was a good day.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Back Into Some Timber Framing

With the first floor stick framing of our house addition moving forward, it became evident that I needed to get going on some timber frame elements that are in the plans. We decided for time purposes that we were going to stick frame the addition, unlike the original section of the house that we currently live in. It is all traditional timber frame jointery cut by hand with minimal use of power tools by yours truly. It took the better part of 4-5 months to cut the joints working nearly 7 days and ~ 40 hrs a week in addition to family obligations and my day job. Given the addition is 2-3 times the size of the current place, we decided to rule out the jointery but instead place a few elements to tie things together.

The original idea for the pole barn (recently nearly completed) was to provide open covered space for timber frame projects and woodworking, and this was the first weekend for timberframing.

It was great to have everything under one roof, including the sawmill and logs since we had showers on and off. I cut the 3 timbers Friday night and Saturday morning and got them into place in the shop. They are going to provide support for a corner of the addition that is open to an enclosed, bumped living space. It is a an 8x8 column with two 8x10 beams coming off the column to make the corner. The main joint is a housed mortise that will be pegged. It will also have braces.

When I put the timberframe tools away a couple of years ago I sharpened and oiled them so things were ready to go. It did not take long to get back in the groove and the timbers fresh off the mill cut like butter. It is all Southern Yellow Pine that has been down for a year but surprisingly there is no spalting or real bug damage. This is the pile of logs that I cut when clearing for the barn. The remainder will be used for the house project and to finish the barn.

My youngest son Jacob joined me in the barn. What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, but I am going to sleep well tonight.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Busy days at Boothe Mountain Retreat

Today was a big day at BMR ... but first I need to catch you up.
As noted in the previous post, we got our plans approved on Feb 10th for our much awaited house addition. That was just over a month ago. Instead of doing the addition solo we decided to bring on a rag tag crew of two, or one, or one and one half ... depending upon who shows up each day.
Well, even so things are moving at a much faster clip than they did a few years ago when we started on the building phase of the timber frame portion of the house. We got the excavation done the weekend of Feb 10th, poured the footings on the following Tuesday (while I was in NYC) , the blocks arrived on Wed and we started the block work on Saturday. My crew (jeff and scott) laid about 3.5 cubes of block the following week while I was at Disney with the family. They even got the parging done and much of the block filled with grout. You may see how my difficulty trips are just happening to fall during crucial times of the construction process ;)
So we are three weeks into the process and the foundation is near complete. This is a lightning speed compared to the timber frame several years ago where we got our plans approved in early Jan, excavated a week or so later, spent a few months in the mud, poured footings in April and finished the block work around Aug/Sept. That was 8-9 months not 3 weeks!!! wooo hooo. (Note to self: Laying 1200 block all summer does not prove anything other than it is cheaper to get some help than to pay 3 extra months on the lot loan.)

The last two weeks were spent damp-proofing the walls, laying pex for radiant heat (I did that for the most part), preparing the under slab plumbing etc. This was all the fun stuff.

So a month after getting the plans and 4+ passed inspections the pex was pumped and the place was ready for one big concrete pour. We decided to call in Tony and his crew of co-workers to help with the pour. We did the slab in the barn and while it is nice for a barn, it would not make a nice house slab. Tony et al did the slab for the lower level of the timber frame a few years ago and he outdid himself this time.

People all mustered between 8 and 9 am and the first of 3 trucks arrived at 10 am. I was down for the count with the flu and only half of my crew (Jeff and Scott) showed up since Jeff called with a kitchen pass that morning. By 6:30 pm all were gone and we had a slab that you could see your reflection off of the next morning. We rented a power trowel and it sure did the job. After bull floating the surface we just let it set up for a while and then hit it with the steel ... the steel of the gas powered trowel that is.

Fast forward two days and out framing package from Stock showed up. They used a boom crane and placed everything around the site in perfect piles. It sure beats using Lowes or Home Depot and the pick-up truck. Jeff and Scott got the sill plates in place today and the back first story wall is up.
A little faster than timber framing .... but I still love to sharpen the slick and cut into a fresh Southern Yellow Pine timber straight off the mill.

Photo credit: Joshua age 8

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