Monthly Archives: May 2016

Framing has commenced and we have a wall!

May 21, 2016

Well today marks two significant milestones.

First, it was exactly 1 year ago today at 12:05 PM, that I broke my shoulder when I tripped on the curb at the side of the road.  While I did not let the injury slow me down too much (just over a week later I was already starting to frame the basement), it has cost me a lot of time (and money) in doctors and therapy appointments over the last year.  And while I can do most things now, the shoulder still hurts most times I raise it above my head and has not really been improving since roughly last February.  So will probably work at getting another Cortisone shot (this time in the Bursa) and see where we go from there.

Fortunately, the second milestone is worth a lot more celebration.  Today I raised the first above grade wall of the house!

Of course I started my framing with the longest wall of the house with the most openings and special framing considerations (like support for upper floor beams, and the south sun shades), as my first kick at the can.  I have framed a lot of walls before, but they have always been what I term ‘utility’ walls, like walls for sheds, shops, greenhouses, etc.  This was the first time I have framed a dwelling wall that took into account the building code, the engineer’s requirements, the braced wall panel requirements, and included things like engineered posts and lintels.

I had originally dreamt that I might even have framed most of the first storey this week, but the week did not go as planned (gee what a surprise!).  First issue was materials.  I had ordered all the materials needed for the storey last Friday noon, for delivery first thing Monday AM.  Monday’s delivery slipped to late afternoon, but the worst part was that there were several back orders including the engineering lintels I needed for 2 of the 4 openings on my first wall.  So I just proceeded as I could.

Monday I finished off the work platforms I would build the walls on.  These were awesome and provided a factory like setting to layout and construct the walls.  They saved a LOT of strain on my back and allowed me to be a lot more accurate in my layout and cutting.  I however was still amazed at how easily small dimensional errors can creep into a layout.  For some reason all of the marked out studs and openings in the first 10′ of wall were shifted from bottom to top plate by 3/8″ even though both plates were laid out together using a speed square.  I discovered the error during the sheathing stage, but took the time to adjust so all were lined up again (pulled out the sledge to ‘adjust’ and then re-nailed).  I also had repeated brain farts regarding the office door/coupled window opening at the east end of the wall and took three attempts to get it right.  I am also amazed at the variance in supplied lumber.  My 8′ 2×4’s were 8′ 0-1/4″ and my 8′ PSL King posts were actually 7′ 11-3/4″.  I elected to use the 8′ 1/4″ studs as is and then added 1/2″ plywood block above the king to make up the difference.  But make sure you measure your lumber before building it in, or you may be surprised at the outcome.  I was also using some of my 65 year old salvaged 2×4’s from the old house, to use as jacks and cripple studs, and these had a much fatter profile compared to modern lumber dimensions which offered some additional challenges.

This work platform made framing the 41 foot long wall a piece of cake.

This work platform made framing the 41 foot long wall a piece of cake.

Studs 1/4" too long and PSL post 1/4" too short - No problem, add block of plywood.

Studs 1/4″ too long and PSL post 1/4″ too short – No problem, add block of plywood.

I started framing Tuesday AM and by the end of the day had framed most of the 41′ south wall including the opening lintels I had in stock.  I lost half a day on Wednesday taking back a extra beam I had mistakenly ordered and then trying to sort out the wrongly supplied and outstanding items from my order. The rest of the casually paced day saw installation of the top and bottom criples, and sill plates for the 2 windows.  There was not much more I could do without the final lintels I needed.  Fortunately I was able to pick these up Thursday AM and by the end of Thursday the framing was complete and the sheathing was started.  Friday saw the end of the sheathing and the first half of the ‘pockets’ installed that I was going to stand the wall up into so that it did not slide off the foundation before I could slip the bottom plates over the installed anchor bolts. Today I spent the afternoon finishing off the capture pockets before lifting the wall into place using wall jacks and then securing the anchor bolts.

Complete wall ready to raise.

Complete wall ready to raise.

I slotted the anchor bolt holes so that I would be able to adjust the wall in or out to align as needed

I slotted the anchor bolt holes so that I would be able to adjust the wall in or out to align as needed ** Do not do this**

*** Update 2016-09 – DO not slot the plates like this.  I considerably weakens the plates per information in this Primer – Anchoring Framing to Foundation.  I discuss repairing them in a September Update ***

Wall capture device. Ramp guides wall down so that it does not fall short and 'backstop prevents wall from overshooting foundation (that was the theory). Blocks of wood on foundation prevent wall from engaging with anchor bolts until the holes in wall are lined up.

Wall capture device. Ramp guides wall down so that it does not fall short and ‘backstop’ prevents wall from overshooting foundation (that was the theory). Blocks of wood on foundation prevent wall from engaging with anchor bolts until the holes in wall are lined up.

Plans out the window. As wall was being lifted it slid down off the table and bypassed my carefully constructed capture device. Fortunately I have Alfie who came to the rescue and nudged the wall back in place before lifting the rest of the way.

Plans out the window. As wall was being lifted it slid down off the table and bypassed my carefully constructed capture device. Fortunately I have Alfie who came to the rescue and nudged the wall back in place before lifting the rest of the way.

Alfie continued to lend a hand shifting the wall back and forth until the bolts lined up with the holes in the plates. Also stabilized the top of the wall during a strong wind gust.

Alfie continued to lend a hand shifting the wall back and forth until the bolts lined up with the holes in the plates. Also stabilized the top of the wall during a strong wind gust.

Wall was lifted with a pair of Klondike Wall Jacks. These contraptions travel up a long 2x4 which is bolted to the floor with a hinge to allow it to pivot. Jack works well once you figure out how to mount it to the 2x4

Wall was lifted with a pair of Klondike Wall Jacks. These contraptions travel up a long 2×4 which is bolted to the floor with a hinge to allow it to pivot. Jack works well once you figure out how to mount it to the 2×4

End result was the completion of the longest wall in the build.

End result was the completion of the longest wall in the build.

Going forward, I expect to be much more expedient now that I have all my materials (final beams were delivered Thursday afternoon), and have worked out all of the bugs on wall layout and more importantly raising.  By the end of this coming short week (Monday is a stat), I hope to have the east, west, NW, and north walls all in place leaving only the walls separating the garage from the dwelling and two internal bearing walls needed to start installing the second storey floor trusses.  Lets see how we do!

Thanks for visiting.

“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” —Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1886) Author

“Diamonds are nothing more than chunks of coal that stuck to their jobs.” —Malcolm S. Forbes (1919-1990) Publisher

“Courage is grace under pressure.” —Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) Novelist, Nobel Prize Winner

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The B.A.T. – She Flies Once Again!

May 12, 2016

Well, today saw B.A.T. 3.0 flying high and proud.  I am quite thrilled to have a good tarp overhead once more after such a lengthy absence.  The last overhead B.A.T. 1.0 met its demise on December 11. 2014 during a strong wind storm.

While the installation of the new tarp is just about complete, there was some drama.  I started on Saturday and had the tarp completely laid out on the floor deck.   I was installing the main cable in its pocket when I realized that there were no rope pockets around the perimeter of the tarp.  I starting thinking of ways to jury-rig something, but then made one of my few smarter decisions.  I stuffed the enormous tarp back into the trailer and took it to the fabricator first thing Monday AM.  Of course this meant I did not sleep well Saturday or Sunday night as I watched the weather (I had taken down the previous low tarps I had protecting the structure on Saturday to make way for the new B.A.T.

Garry and the boys at Fraser Valley Tarp and Tie were great.  It clearly was a communication’s mix-up between them and me, and they soon came up with a plan to cut a 9″ strip of fabric, fold it in half, and then sew it to the perimeter of the tarp to create the required pocket.  I went away for an hour to let them get organized for the day (I was there before opening) and then helped for an hour when I returned to wrestle the massive tarp to continuously feed the fellow on the sewing machine, so he did not have to fight with the beast.  And to top it off, they only charged me for one of the 2 hours it took to complete.  Awesome!

I ended up having great weather this week for this task.  There were some very light sprinkles that got my blood pressure blowing and I had some reminders as to how powerful wind is as I tried to wrangle the partially rigged new B.A.T. into position, but all went well with no damage to the new tarp!  Now not only will I be protected from rain, I have a huge sun shade to boot, and I can already tell that this will be a lifesaver as I frame this summer.

I have a couple of tie down adjustments to do at the back side (including drilling into a huge granite rock that I will install a HILTI anchor for a tie down), but generally the installation is complete.  I can already tell that the new design with the rope structure will be a lot more durable and do not expect to have any problems during the next 3-4 months it is up and I frame the basic structure and install the roof.  Some of my measurements were off a bit and I had to adapt my rigging accordingly, but there is great slope to both sides and no chance that water can accumulate.

Tomorrow I will order my first storey framing materials for Monday AM delivery.  In the meantime I will work on a cutting table and on deck secured storage for some materials and such.  I also will start building the very simple elevated platforms I will frame my walls on.  This will solve two issues; reduce the amount of bending over I need to do which will save my back, and allow me to drop the fully sheathed wall onto the top of the concrete curb with protruding anchor bolts, instead of trying to figure out a way to lift a finished wall up and over.

B.A.T. 3.0 Open for Business

B.A.T. 3.0 Open for Business

Thanks for visiting.

“Courage is grace under pressure.” —Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) Novelist, Nobel Prize Winner

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Time to rise!

May 5, 2016

For those of you checking into the live video feed over the last day and a half, you will have seen that activity has once again finally commenced at the job site.  Yesterday AM I wrapped up most of the AutoCAD design work.  I still have the roof system to finalize and redraw and also things like ceiling joist layout.  But the basic structure, plumbing runs, and HRV duct runs have all been planned and plotted.

It was 2 years since I was last immersed into the 3D and 2D model of the house and I had forgotten how difficult it was to keep it all in my head.  This is an especially challenging design because while I am trying to keep every thing nice and compact, I still need to meet the design criteria of SaferHomes.  For the purposes of framing, this means a min of 42″ wide stairs, 40″ for hallways, and 36″ door slabs. Add into the mix the need to comply with the BC Building Code seismic lateral bracing and the Part C of the Engineering Guide to Wood Frame Construction the District forced me to design to, and you have a lot of competing needs that are difficult to achieve in a compact design.

I started the final design work on April 20 and have put in 120 hours up to yesterday AM. By the way, I have over 3200 hours on the project to date counting some of the demolition time 2 years ago (had not started my time-sheet right at the beginning of project). This also does not count any of the design work I did prior to May 2014.  I estimate an additional 3000 hours on the initial design was invested between 2012 to spring 2014.

When I started again on the 20th, I thought things were going pretty well for the first couple of days, but then got to the second floor of the model and realized it was a mess. We had decided to reorganize the master bath so that we could have a double vanity.  This involved moving the vanity, tub and shower.  This then involved switching the two windows around and this opened up a can of worms.  This effected the braced wall panels, percentage of wall that was solid, window lintel sizes (one now bears the load from a beam going clear across the top floor to hold up the middle of the roof). This then effected how these loads were transferred through the first storey and required a shift of windows which again effected the braced wall beams and percentage of wall that was braced.  All in all, I had to update 5 drawings to send to the engineer so she can resize the lintels and lintel posts (hope to have this back from her by end of week).

Then I had to reroute the plumbing design to pick up the reconfigured bath.  This of course resulted in interference’s with the HRV runs.  So I was pretty much redesigning 50% of the runs for both of these systems.  I had most of this behind me when I started planning the first storey framing.  I was drawing up the interface with second floor and with roofs and such.   I was noting my jack stud heights and lintel length to make framing faster.  I also needed to finalize the stair layout.

This is where things went sideways big time.  In order to not waste materials, we decided to lower our main floor ceiling a couple of inches.  This will let me use a full 8′ stud.  By the time I add in the three plates and rest the assembly on the 6″ concrete curb, I end up with 8′ 10.5″ from the surface of the plywood to underside of floor truss.  But because I was lowering the ceiling by 2″, my stair rise obviously would change.  It was during the redraw of the side view of the stairs that I realized there was a mistake in the model. I went back to a file that was over a year old, and the mistake was there as well.  I did not have enough room for the run of the stairs.  The beams framing in the second floor stair opening did not fit into the space I had allowed.  They would have cut one of the hallways at the end of the opening in half preventing access to the TV room at the NW corner of the top floor.  The issue was that I did not have enough head room going up the stairs.  This of course was exasperated by the now lower ceiling on the first floor.  I have no idea how the mistake was made and how long it was in the file, but I needed a solution.  12 hours later I had optimized the landing at the top of the stairs to eke out a few inches, and then made both the TV room and guest bedroom a bit smaller so that the hall could be moved further north so that the stair opening could then be lengthened.  But of course this effected, you guessed it, the internal braced wall panels.  So again, these drawings had to be updated because now it also changed the width of the braced wall bands and the need to recalculate several of the wall percentages as a result.  Fortunately I have a very high percentage of braced wall panels on most walls and had no problems.

This then led to more edits of the plumbing and HRV ducting as the moved walls contained these systems.  With this all behind me, and the ability to sleep through the night once again regained, I then worked on the final optimized stud layout so that I would generally meet the 16″ planned centres, would line up to plywood ends, would miss all the required plumbing and ducts, and would reduce to the point possible any thermal bridges (I am not utilizing a consistent 16″ OC, instead between each set of posts/lintel supports, I centre a series of 16″ spaced studs so that there is equal space on each side of the pack between one post and the other. This will ensure that there is not too many sticks in any one region and allow for a healthy bay of insulation beside each post/lintel support.  Otherwise you could easy end up with bays that are 2″-6″ wide representing a significant thermal bridge) .

This then led me to discovery of my next big blunder.  I was ending up with a very small door into the main floor bathroom.  I think that this mistake had also been in the model for a very long time.  The door was drawn large enough, the issue was that the wall beside it did not meet the min size for a braced wall panel (34.25″ based on trade off method).  I was checking the panel lengths as I went through and set the stud locations.  This one was going to be harder to solve.  My house has very tight tolerances in the east to west orthogonal direction. There was just enough room for a bathroom with 5′ tub, SaferHomes stairway & hallway, and then the kitchen based on the planned cabinet layout. The other issue was that I generally could not shift all the assemblies to the west (by making Kitchen smaller), because the basement if obviously already in place with specific point load transfers present. So to move the whole assembly to the west would entail a new beam in the basement and probably the need for some additional footings.  I only needed about 6″ so fortunately I had elected a 42″ hallway which I was able to shave down to the required 40″.  For the final 4″, I was able to move the wall between the garage and house further to the east.  Instead of the wall resting along the side of the garage slab, it will now rest on top of it right along the edge.  The only pain with this is that I will need to cut off the previously installed anchor bolts and instead use hilti wedge anchors.   Crisis averted – Whew!

Of course in a ‘NORMAL’ home, there would be lots of room and the carpenters would just move walls where saw fit.  This could of course result in the size of rooms being effected to the point that the room use is jeopardized (say a bedroom can no longer fit a king or queen bed, or a bathroom cannot fit a tub), but unless they are building for a client, they have no one to answer to.  Things are a lot more difficult when you are building for yourself, and you have everything for a place and a place for everything.

Anyway, it is behind me now for which I am very grateful.  I have the new B.A.T. on site and have started cleaning off the deck to prepare for its magnificent raising.  The deck should be clean by end of Friday and I will commence with the rigging of the tarp on Saturday.  With all running smoothly, we should be able to finally start framing by the end of next week.

2 years ago - Project started with the deconstruction of the kitchen

2 years ago – Project started with the deconstruction of the kitchen

1 year ago - Foundation was complete, but not much else.

1 year ago – Foundation was complete, but not much else.

6 months ago - 1st Storey floor assembly on, forming garage suspended floor slab

6 months ago – 1st Storey floor assembly on (including some of basement framing, forming garage suspended floor slab

3 months ago - Forming basement walk up stair foundation

3 months ago – Forming basement walk up stair foundation

Today - B.A.T. 2.0 was taken down and started task of cleaning deck.  Being storing misc lumber for past scaffolding, shoring, forming, etc.  Once deck is cleared B.A.T. 3.0 will be rigged.

Today – B.A.T. 2.0 was taken down and started task of cleaning deck. Being storing misc lumber for past scaffolding, shoring, forming, etc. Once deck is cleared B.A.T. 3.0 will be rigged.

Thanks for visiting.

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” —Jane Goodall (born 1934) Primatologist, Ethologist, Anthropologist, Un Messenger Of Peace

“The best preparation for tomorrow is to do today’s work superbly well. ” —Sir William Osler (1849-1919) Canadian Physician, Founding Professor At Johns Hopkins Hospital

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” —Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) Politician, Writer, Scientist

“Courage is grace under pressure.” —Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) Novelist, Nobel Prize Winner

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