Skylight Stress

You can’t make detailed plans too far ahead with building projects, because things are constantly changing. You plan to do one thing, but don’t have something for it and the hardware store is closed, so you do something else instead. Things take longer, and you don’t always have extra people around to help. Things don’t go as you expected. But if you don’t make plans and deadlines, you won’t get anything done!

For the beginning of June, I had a list of things to do, and a rough outline of what I would do on each of my days off for two weeks. I didn’t plan the whole month though, because I knew plans would change too much by then. But by the time I finished that list and the middle of the month rolled around, I was busy with other parts of my life. I went zip-lining, hung out in my hammock reading, caught up with friends, spent time with my dad who’s home from Ottawa, and spent a day hiking and swimming with a friend at a local waterfall. 😀 It’s finally summer! 😀

I also needed to do some research after finishing the sheathing. New steps = learning as I go. I researched how to install skylights, ice and water shield, drip edges, house wrap, and more. You could spend forever reading forums of carpenters arguing about the correct way to do something and there’s no clear answer. Dylan’s also been working more now that it’s summer, so I often don’t have his help during the day.

After he got home from work one day, I was ready to work on the house and get my skylights installed, which seemed like the next step. Better to seal up the roof as soon as possible, while the walls could wait. So I got up in the loft to measure to cut the rough opening for my first skylight, and discovered that it would take up almost the entire width of the ceiling! When I ordered the skylights, I was more focused on getting my custom little windows all sorted out, and simply picked the middle size of 3 standard size skylights. It technically could fit, but I am not going to cut a hole in my roof that big. The way it is, yes the width of the roof is big enough on the top, but when you take away the overhang, the width of the wall, and the ridge board, you get less than 2″ on the top and bottom of the skylight. (Never mind that the instructions say to leave 24″ on the top and bottom of a skylight, which would be entirely impossible on my roof.) To frame it and trim it properly, to flash it and fit the roofing around it… there’s just not enough space. This was a horrible realization on the day I had planned to install the skylights, and worse because it was minutes after the hardware store had closed, so I couldn’t even call about returning them.

Discouraged, I didn’t bother trying to get anything else done on the house, and anxiously waited until morning thinking about the skylight boxes I’d ripped to get the instructions out.

The next morning, Dylan and I loaded the skylights and matching flashing kits into the car and went to the hardware store. They are stock sizes, so they should be returnable, but I was stressing that they were going to tell me no. It was my mistake this time, not theirs. Could nothing go right with the windows?!?!

I walked up to the window guy and clearly stated what I wanted. At first he hesitated, saying that he couldn’t really send them back to Ontario, but I insisted that they’re stock windows, that I needed to return them and get the smaller size, and that I wanted them next week. He said he’d call up the place to see if the flashing kits would be usable with smaller skylights, and told me he would give me a call later in the day. I told him, “I’ll wait.” So he called right away and ordered new skylights and new flashing kits. He told me they’d be in in 3-5 days and that I could return the other skylights then. It wasn’t as difficult as I’d expected, but I still walked away worrying that he’d screw me over when the new ones arrived by refusing to take the old ones with ripped boxes.

Since then, I’ve been busy working and attending my sister’s high school graduation! And of course, it’s been raining.

To be continued…

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A Day in the Life

June 17th

I ignore my 8 and 9 o’clock alarms, and decide I deserve a little more sleep. I drag myself out of my comfy bed around 10:30. I eat some waffles.

I go visit my dad before he leaves for Ontario again, and spend an hour or so chatting.

I get back to Dylan’s and find out he needs to go to the RMV. After he finds all the right papers, we go to the office and there’s no one else there. It only takes about 10 minutes, and then we decide to go out for lunch.

We go to a sit-down restaurant and order, eat, and get brownie sundaes for dessert.

We get home, and I curl up on the couch, wanting a nap after eating so much.

Dylan goes to get T.O. and I go out to the garage.

At 3 o’clock, we start getting everything out to finish the roof sheathing.

I load my nail gun and count the remaining nails.

First, we cut the piece of plywood for the little porch wall:

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Still using the fence my mum and I made. (Don’t worry, we moved the sawhorses before cutting)

Then we test-fit it, trim it, then glue and nail it.

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Still have to sheath the porch ceiling.

I’ve had some nosy acquaintances poking around in the house when I’m not around, so we wanted to close it up. However, I wasn’t ready to put in my real door, and I don’t want it to get beat up during construction.

So Dylan works on making a temporary door.

While he works on the door, T.O. and I measure for the missing strips on the end of the house, and draw them onto a sheet of plywood.

The three of us wistfully talk about things we could be doing on such a nice sunny day, like hanging out in my hammock, swimming in T.O.’s pool, BBQing, drinking beer and frozen lemonades, and going for a bike/long board ride.

We install the door (and I get trapped on the inside while they put it up).

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Oh, and Dylan’s dad gave us some temporary front steps!

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It has a lock and everything. 🙂

With those two things out of the way, we turn our attention to the roof.

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Last bit of sunshine before we close it up!

I test-fit the strips of plywood, which are a little too wide.

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Roof selfie while I wait for the guys. I like it up there!

The guys trim the strips of plywood while I get the glue ready and hammer in some temporary spacer nails.

They pass the strips up, I test-fit them, then pass one back down. They trace it onto the other 4 strips. They pass it back up.

I start gluing. They trim the next two strips while I carefully place and nail the first two strips. Easy peasy.

They pass up the next two, I test-fit them, send one down for a trim, then glue and nail them while they cut the last two, then repeat.

But I mess up and put the trimmed one in the wrong spot. I don’t realize this until after I nail them both a couple times. Frustrated, I start yanking them off, yelling at the guys, who aren’t listening. Alone on the roof, I start to get mad at this one piece that won’t come off, getting more and more glue on my hands and hammer. I finally get it off, put them in the right places, and angrily add a few extra nails.

I yell at the guys, who finally hear me, and tell them to cut the last two strips that they had forgotten about.

I sit on the roof in the sunshine and calm down, because it’s so pretty and my house is getting done.

They pass up the last two strips, I test-fit them, mark one for a trim and pass it back down. They cut it and pass it back, and I glue and nail the last two pieces on the back overhang, using the last nail in the gun.

Then we take pictures. 🙂

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I don’t need a ridge vent because I will have spray foam insulation. I will need an air ventilation system though.

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All that’s left of 2500 nails for the sheathing.

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I have to think about blocking now…

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My view when I walk down the front path every day. ❤

We put everything back in the garage and lock up at quarter to nine.

We decide to bike/long board to town to get treats.

I happily speed down the road, feeling like a little kid with a big grin on my face.

I buy Skittles. 🙂

We ride back, I eat my Skittles and get ready for bed.

I’m asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.

 

Pocket Full of Sawdust

It’s been a crazy busy few days!

Thursday was “get everything ready to put up the roof sheathing day.” We put up the small loft (finally):

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Sitting up in the storage loft 🙂

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I cut the pieces for the overhang on the front and back, and trimmed the fascia to length for the sides. Dylan nailed the boards together and we put up the 24′ piece with T.O.’s help. It took about an hour.

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Unfortunately we were trying to be quick and didn’t notice a gouge in the end of the piece until we stepped back to look at it up there.

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I’ve since sanded it a little and it looks a bit better. This piece will show, so hopefully with some wood filler or something and some stain it will blend in. Oops!

Colby showed up, so with 4 people the fascia on the far side went up faster, even after having to hammer it out and adjust it a few times.

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Colby helped me put up the angled pieces on the end, and with cutting the pieces for the front as well as that little strip of plywood.

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Love the laser.

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Just had to cut the notch then trace the angles right off the house.

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By that point though it was 10 o’clock at night, so I broke my no-convenience-store rule – because there were no other stores open – and bought myself and my helpers some treats. 🙂 It had been raining on and off all day so we were all a little damp; a hot chocolate from Tim’s was a perfect way to end the day.

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Friday was “Roof Day” but we had to finish the front pieces first:

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Time for the roof sheathing!

I bought tongue and groove plywood for the roof to eliminate the need for blocking like I had to do with the walls. Each half of the roof is barely 5″ more than 48″ and plywood is supposed to lay perpendicular to the rafters. That means that I need a full sheet and a 5″ strip of plywood to cover one side, which is kind of a pain, but I made the house as wide as I could and I’m happy with the slope of the roof, so that’s how it ended up. At first we only had the full sheet up there to test-fit it, but then I decided that it’d be better to put the full sheet and the strip of plywood on together. That way, I wouldn’t have an entire sheet nailed and glued, then have the strip not fit or be unable to slide or something.

Problem:

When we got the strip up there to test-fit, the tongue and groove would not, no matter what we tried, fit together properly and we couldn’t figure out why. Yes, one of the pieces was bowed, but we tried pushing and pressing from every angle. I even scraped out the groove in case there was something in the way, but no luck. We had plenty of people over to get the plywood onto the roof and everything, but we were stuck. If the tongue and groove was not working on the first piece, what about the rest? Maybe the pieces, having gotten wet before, had swelled and would no longer fit. But the pieces we were test-fitting looked like they should fit, the tongue and groove seemed fine, they just wouldn’t click together. It was frustrating, time was ticking by, and people who had come to help were having to leave.

I did some Googling and was reminded of H-clips for roof sheathing! We called the only open hardware store to check if they had them, and raced to buy some before they closed in 20 minutes. In our haste, we didn’t check how thick the plywood was, and 1/2″ is apparently what every builder uses on a roof so that’s the size of clips we bought. We got home and checked, and I have 5/8″ plywood. We were supposed to have the roof sheathing on, and we didn’t even have one piece on by suppertime. 😦 One good thing was the weather. Despite calling for a chance of showers, the dark clouds decided to go in a different direction:

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Last view of the sky before we closed it up!

I decided to take the chance that the store would have 5/8″ clips that we could pick up in the morning. Anxiously, I allowed Dylan to cut all the tongues off my expensive tongue and groove plywood. If they weren’t going to work, they weren’t going to work. I could use H-clips or blocking, and as far as I know, tongue and groove actually isn’t very common for roof sheathing. As a bonus, not needing all the edges allowed us to get all of the 5″ strips out of one sheet instead of 3 and we didn’t have to use the one sheet that was still a little damp.

In the end:

We salvaged the build day by getting all the plywood cut for the roof. We finished cleaning up at 9:30 and I cheated on my convenience store rule again to buy some candy for us. It was a bit of a disappointing day, but in the evening we were really productive. We made plans to get up as soon as the hardware store opened so we could get the plywood on before my shift at 3 on Saturday.

I was cold and tired as I got ready for bed, but in a good way. I’m lazy by default, so to have several days where I’m using my body, I’m outside, I’m tiring myself out without even noticing – that’s a happy kind of tired. 🙂

I brought back the 1/2″ clips in the morning and asked for 5/8″. They looked at me funny and told me they didn’t carry 5/8″, which is what I was afraid of. They probably don’t stock them because apparently no one uses more than 1/2″ for roof sheathing. Technically, with 5/8″ plywood, I don’t even need H-clips or blocking because 5/8″ is rated to span 32″ with no support (my rafters only have 22 1/2″ between them). Since it’s thicker than 1/2″, it shouldn’t bow between the rafters, which is what H-clips are supposed to prevent. But it seems weird to leave gaps in my roof!

I wanted to get the sheathing on though, and decided that I could block the gaps later if I felt it was necessary. Conveniently, we had extra people show up at the perfect time to help get the plywood onto the roof! We kept it all up there with some temporary chunks of 2×4’s nailed to the fascia so the sheets couldn’t slide off, which worked really well. We organized the sheets and got into a routine of test-fit, add nails for the gap, add chalk lines, move the piece, glue, lift the piece up then set it down once it was in the right place (so no sliding the glue everywhere), then nail! We were of course slow in the beginning, and it got more difficult as it went on because there’s no loft to stand on in the middle, and each sheet we put on left us with less places to get up between the rafters. But we managed to get all 6 sheets glued and nailed before I worked!

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Nailing the last sheet!

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Done!

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Part of the reason I really wanted to get the roof sheathing on was so the inside of the house would be protected from the rain over the next few days. We didn’t have time to add the 5″ strips, so the guys used half of the ripped tarp and stapled it down over the ridge:

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You can’t really see it from the ground, but the plywood is up there!

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I also need to add a couple of strips just for the end wall overhang, the way the plywood worked out.

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It echoes inside now, and feels more like a house! Soon I’m going to need lights!

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This morning, before the rain started, I laced up my boots again and went out to fix two things: the little bit of plywood that was sticking out over the front, and a spot where the glue had hardened and kept the plywood from pressing down flat. So far I’ve used the nail gun, the jig saw, and the circular saw up on the roof and I’m not too nervous, but Dylan’s informed me that he’s a little afraid of heights. 😛 I trimmed the plywood, scraped the glue and added some more nails to pull down that plywood edge, and posed for some pictures. 🙂 I’m feeling pretty accomplished! I gave myself the rest of the day off (except for blogging) and I’ll be back working on the house later this week!

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Tiny House Open House

On Sunday, Dylan and I got up, made some bacon and toast, and headed off to Mahone Bay (which is about an hour and a half away) to visit Full Moon Tiny Shelters’ open house! After getting a little lost, we found it, and got to look around the 3 tiny houses.

The hunting cabin:

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It has the popular propane boat heater!

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…but no plumbing.

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Oh, what a nice closet door!

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Oh.

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Hidden electrical. Not sure what’s behind this.

“Space,” built to be an example of their work (still needing some finishing touches):

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Love the porch.

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It’s just a room though…

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Roof deck!

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And 28′ big blue one, built for a family with young kids to use as a cabin:

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Bathroom built out over the hitch.

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TWO windows? This bathroom is huge 😛

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Interesting design.

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The kids’ loft.

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The parents’ loft. That’s a decent sized window! Neat whitewashed ceiling.

 

I didn’t get any pictures of the downstairs main area in the blue one because there were people, but it’s empty and the floor is still plywood. They had a floor plan on the wall though with plans for a decent sized kitchen and stairs to the kids’ loft. I was a little disappointed that the family wasn’t going to use it as a full-time house, but I can totally understand, with kids, why they wouldn’t.

We didn’t stay as long as I expected, because I really had no questions for them. I’ve already researched and decided how I want my house, so I didn’t need any answers from them. It was cool to see the houses though. We saw about a dozen people there, and obviously more had been coming and going throughout the day. I had hoped for more of a conversational, everyone-involved type of event, but everyone kept to themselves and the owners of the company were just around to answer questions. Oh well! Dylan and I got to spend a nice day together, and my shift was cancelled that night so we stayed in town, had a late lunch, and explored downtown a bit. 🙂

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Oh, and I just passed the 2 year mark on WordPress.com. 🙂

Making Progress!

I had Thursday off and was out working on the house bright and early! Dylan was at work, but with his best friend’s help (who happens to live a few houses over), I cut and test-fitted that final odd piece.

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It’s so much easier to move and cut plywood when you have someone to help lift and hold.

Then we put up the first 4 notched pieces on the far side:

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First piece!

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I had to break for some midday plans, then after supper I worked on getting more pieces up with Dylan. My goal for the day was to get all 12 pieces up, but we were getting pretty cranky working on piece #10 at 9pm. When you’re snapping at each other, it’s probably time to call it quits for the day and go get some ice cream, which is exactly what we did. 🙂

We got that whole side done though:

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I dropped Dylan off at work on Friday morning and considered working on the house or going back to bed before my shift at 3pm. I ended up staying up, cleaning the kitchen, making myself eggs and bacon, and getting a message from Dylan’s best friend, T.O., saying he was available to help. So I decided I could get the last two pieces up before work, and we did, plus a small piece on the front wall, and we even rough cut the piece for the end wall.

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I don’t think anyone else can comprehend how beautiful I find this. I’m SO proud!

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The full piece was too heavy for the two of us to safely get up to test fit though, so we cleaned up for the day in time for my shift. I was pretty happy for the progress on an unplanned build day. It also meant that I didn’t have to take time out of my Saturday building to finish Thursday’s work. But Saturday’s plans did end up changing… Dylan and T.O. were both around and willing to help, so we finished the last two big pieces of the plywood!

Before that though, I was doing a bit of research about skylights, and checked my receipt to see if I had curb-mounted or deck-mounted ones, and my receipt said curb-mounted. As I was reading about the differences, I was getting more and more angry, because based on the descriptions, I knew I had asked for deck-mounted which are easier to install and won’t stick up as high. I was on the verge of having a fit, thinking about having to go back to the store AGAIN to yell at this man about windows AGAIN. I ran outside barefoot in my pajamas to check the skylights in the garage – which I picked up last week:

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and the boxes read, “Deck Mounted Skylight”:

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I calmed down a bit, but continued fuming a little bit that this person, who has apparently been in charge of ordering windows for decades, cannot do his job properly!

I refocused and got ready to work on the house. I wasn’t too concerned about getting the end walls sheathed before the roof; I figured I could do them after the roof sheathing, but since I had people to help I figured I might as well take advantage of it!

We test-fitted the piece I’d cut a notch in for the end wall, and it fit on the first try, so we traced the angles onto the piece while it was up there:

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This piece was ridiculously easy. 🙂

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I finally have a back wall!

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The front wall took a bit more thought. The other walls were big and simple, so planning the plywood was easy. But the front wall is special. The lower level is just over 4′ wide, which means that you can only get one piece from a full 4×8 sheet. And nowhere on the wall is a convenient place to add blocking, so I was hoping that going 4′ up, then to the top of the first level, then up another 4′ would work, but with the ridge beam added…

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That’s not quite enough plywood…

So I’ll have to add a little notched piece and put some blocking behind the gap, but all the big pieces are UP! 😀 We finished this piece right before I had to get ready for work, and we used the rest of the glue. We actually ran out of glue with only a few short studs left to do, so we used a piece of scrap wood and scraped any excess glue to where it was needed. 😛

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So pretty!

I also got a lot of little things done recently. Dylan and I…

  • spray-painted the exposed porch hardware underneath
  • taped up the wire for the lights on the trailer where it got pinched the first time it was moved
  • scraped some solidified glue off from between a stud and the plywood, then nailed the plywood in tight again
  • trimmed some plywood edges where they were sticking out too far
  • bought ice and water shield for the roof
  • bought wood for the fascia
  • bought more L brackets for the small loft beams
  • returned the rafter ties that I didn’t use
  • bought more adhesive to use for the roof sheathing ($72!)

I am loving getting stuff done! I seem to be better at resisting the urge to go back to bed or otherwise procrastinate because it’s so exciting now that things are happening faster. I am getting this done, even while working two jobs!

Check back for my post about the tiny houses Dylan and I got to see. 🙂

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Quotes

"It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan." - Eleanor Roosevelt

"It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare. It is because we do not dare that they are difficult." - Seneca

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." - William Morris