Monthly Archives: July 2016

All Decked Out

July 29, 2016

This week has been a productive one (at last).

Monday saw the end of the installation/adjustment of the final four floor trusses, the last 50% of the truss strong-backs (stiffens truss packs and prevents vibration), and some of the perimeter blocking (placed where ever trusses are parallel to rim boards and provides lateral support every 4ft).  Tuesday finished off the perimeter blocking and all of the parallel wall blocking (supports top floor walls parallel to the truss pack).

Tuesday also was delivery day for the floor sheathing (I just love when they send their big hiab and lift the load into place all the way from the road).  I got right to work placing the sheathing and by end of day had a healthy 1/3 done.  Decking continued throughout the week and was completed with a just a half day in today.

Second Storey Deck Complete - Ready to Frame! The garage and office front entrance are single storey and will have roofs sloped towards front.

Second Storey Deck Complete – Ready to Frame! The garage and office front entrance are single storey and will have roofs sloped towards front.

I also managed to burn the late hours this week and on Monday drew up the metal post that will support a major beam flanking the stairway and then the centre edges of both the north and south upper roofs.  I had been looking for a shop able to fabricate this for some time without a lot of luck (most want to fabricate and supply/install, or the job was too small for their interest).  But I had three hopefuls so sent of the quote request with a drawing. Of the three, one did not respond and the other two referred me to two more metal work shops. Today, I finally received two quotes and went with Select Steel Limited based on their competitive bid.  It will be ready for pickup on the 8th.  I have left off sheathing on the first storey exterior walls off the garage so that I can route this column into the middle of the house and stand up beside the stairwell, as I have had to frame all around its location and support the beam by the stairs with a temporary wall, so I could continue my progress without having this key element in place.

Last night, I was able to stay up past my bedtime :-), and put together the bill of material for the second storey wall framing.  If all goes well, it will be delivered on Tuesday AM after the stat.  All told, I put in 50 hours this week, which is pretty good since Wednesday was an early day to allow for my early evening medical appointments, and today I only put in a half day because I was done the task. This is a much higher hourly average work week for me and I hope to keep it up for the rest of the summer to try and catch up for all the lost time and maybe, just maybe, get the roof membrane on by middle to end of September.

I will spend the next few days confirming the deck measurements and doing some final updates to the AutoCad model and then confirming the roof design and releasing the roof truss order.  Once I have the south and west walls up, I will also confirm my window order and get that moving along.

Still not speedy construction, but certainly much better than the last two years has been.

Thanks for visiting.

“The real test of good manners is to be able to put up with bad manners pleasantly.”
—Kahlil Gilbran (1883-1931) Artist, Poet, And Writer

“The sign of a beautiful person is that they always see beauty in others.”
—Omar Suleiman (1936-2012) Former Vice President Of Egypt

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Good Bye my Friend

July 26, 2016

I have been in Penticton over the last two weeks to say goodbye to my longtime friend Joe Hirmer. I was grateful for the opportunity to say goodbye one last time before he passed, and I was honoured to be with him during his final moments.

I have known Joe,  Jean and their family since I moved next door to them on 6 road when I was 3 1/2 years old.  I spent much of my childhood and teens at the Hirmer household where I was always welcome. Joe was like my surrogate father (I did not meet my own father until I was 13), and was my mentor and friend.

When I was younger, I picked blueberries in the morning and kept the berry patch bird free with my pellet gun in the afternoon.  Early in my teens, I graduated to helping Joe tend his 300+ beehives during the summers.  We would move them from winter storage, first to the blueberry fields, then the cranberries, and finally to the mountains in Pemberton (Fire-weed honey – yum!).

A lot of my teen summer months were also spent helping Joe and his son Rick in the masonry trade. I would mix mud (never got to the point of doing that task well), point the placed bricks and stone, and latter was promoted to actually placing brick and stone.  Joe taught me the value of hard work and doing things properly the first time. He was a patient and kind man.  He was a gentleman.

He was also a handy-man and taught me many skills that I still use today. More importantly, he taught me to never be afraid to try a task, who knows, you actually may be good at it.  I remember when Joe talked me through replacing all of the plumbing in my house at the age of 13.  He did not help, just told me how to do it and arranged to get the jackhammer and soldering torch for me.

Joe and Jean also demonstrated what a healthy marriage looked like.  He taught me it is OK to demonstrate affection and feelings.  Joe was also very generous and anyone who stopped by his house was always welcome at the Hirmer table.  Joe used to say that “no one would go hungry at his house” and he always put out a “good spread”.

Joe’s health has declined over the last 4 years as he suffered from Parkinson’s and the start of Alzheimer’s.  I am grateful that I took the opportunity as often as possible to go up and visit Joe and Jean over this time. And I am now great-full that Joe has now been set free from a failing body he desperately wanted to escape. My one regret is that Joe has passed before I have finished my home, because I know he would have been proud of what I had accomplished with many of the skills he taught me.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Jean and the large extended family Joe has left behind. Having spent most of the last two weeks with many of you, I know how hard this loss will be.

Joe was a great man, and I loved him and will miss him dearly.  Sweet dreams my friend.

“Each of us can look back upon someone who made a great difference in our lives, someone whose wisdom or simple acts of caring made an impression upon us. In all likelihood it was someone who sought no recognition for their deed other than the joy of knowing that, by their hand, another’s life had been made better.” —Stephen M. Wolf (born 1941) American Businessman

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Floor Truss Package Installed!

July 9, 2016

I am pleased to advise I have completed another important milestone on my build.  All floor trusses have now been installed for the second storey which means the full floor truss package has been 100% installed.

I was extremely relieved when I took the covers off the truss packs that had been stored by the road since the Late November of 2014!  They looked every bit as new as when I got them.  They had been in storage at the vendors yard in Quebec between July and November of 2014, so they arrived already a little ‘weathered’.

The trusses survived storage in great almost pristine shape.  I mark this down to using VP poly cover I installed instead of just construction poly, and installing a fan that ran all winter to circulate air under the cover.

The trusses survived storage in great almost pristine shape. I mark this down to using VP poly cover I installed instead of just construction poly, and installing a fan that ran all winter to circulate air under the cover.

I would have been done earlier in week (finished today), but there were a few setbacks.

The most disconcerting for me is that my cell dropped and killed the screen.  So I was without a phone from Wednesday till this morning.  It had me off my game for the rest of the week.  To the one person who called but I could not answer or see who it was – sorry!  I met Toby from AceMobile.ca at a Telus store at Landsdowne Mall this morning and picked up a refurbed Samsung Galaxy S5.  I decided to switch from Blackberry to Android and so far this is looking like a great decision.

Anyway back to the house – I had someone come by who wanted some of my scrap wood. With me being off in general because of the phone (I use it for reminder alarms for appointments, sending email notes to myself, and also photos of the build), and the interruption of the Craigslister, I miss cut a beam. First and only time this has happened and I have now installed all but the last two beams of the structure.  Fortunately, it was the smallest and cheapest beam of the whole structure. Phew!

I only needed about 3" cut off of this LVL.  Oops

I only needed about 3″ cut off of this LVL. Oops!

I also spent an evening and audited my truss layout around a particularly dense area of mechanical on the first floor, and re-reviewed the truss manufacturer’s rules re offsetting trusses to make room for plumbing and the like. Of course I had already raised the trusses in this area and secured them at one end, but my gut was telling me to do the review and I am glad I did.  I had originally miss-interpreted the truss installation guide when I drew up the truss plan in 2014.

Is that not a bowl of spaghetti. Yellow represents plumbing drains, small green: plumbing vents, large green: HRV supply, and PinkyBrown: HRV exhaust.  This was the layout before the changes which represented too many offset floor trusses.  Only allowed to offset every third truss by a max of 3"

Is that not a bowl of spaghetti. Yellow represents plumbing drains, small green: plumbing vents, large green: HRV supply, and PinkyBrown: HRV exhaust. This was the layout before the changes which represented too many offset floor trusses. Only allowed to offset every third truss by a max of 3″

So I had to redo the layout in this area which of course meant a re-do of the plumbing and HRV runs in this area.  Nothing a few late nights and a nail puller could not solve.  For me this detail is important to get right, because unlike most houses, I have planned for ZERO bulkheads to rout mechanical through.  Not an easy task in a floor cavity that is only 11-7/8″ tall and only in bays parallel to the truss.  The truss web openings are only just big enough for a 7″ metal duct to squeeze in.

On a good note, remember the mistake I thought I had made with the kitchen windows cripples, I reported on last post.  Well I was mistaken 🙂  I had forgotten that the point load supporting the roof beam was transferred north and south on the second floor by a bathroom window lintel that the roof beam will sit on.  So there was nothing wrong with the crippled layout.  Oh well, at least it got me to do a full audit of the first floor dimensions.

When installing the trusses, I found in general (both doing the basement floor in summer 2015 and now) that the shortest 6′ trusses were the most twisted.  Almost all of them needed a lot of persuasion with clamps and such to orient to a plum vertical position at both ends.  I had very little problem with the longer 20 and 22′ models (which have 2×4 chords instead of 2×3).

What I did have problems with however was the lining up of the truss bays.  The vendor had advised they recommend that the trim web side of the truss be installed against the outside walls.

Tri-Force Floor Truss has a Trim Web along one side

BUT, this results in the webs being offset if any of the trusses are trimmed to fit their inboard bearing points.

Even Tri-Force installation photos show that the web is offset between the three trusses in the bottom left corner and the rest of the pack on the left wall

You trim the trusses when the inboard bearing changes locations.  As you can see by the photo below, I had all kinds of different inboard bearing spots I was lining up with.

Dropped beams, flush beams, and wall plates all presented with different truss lengths

Dropped beams, flush beams, and wall plates all presented with different truss lengths

This results in the inability to run the needed continuous strongbacks through the longer truss packs or any larger pipes or ducts.

Because the webs do not line up, the strongbacks cannot be continuous.

Because the webs do not line up, the strongbacks cannot be continuous.

In my opinion, a better plan would be to install the trim web away from the straight wall.  This way the truss pattern would always line up perfectly.

While on the topic of routing strongbacks and long service piping/ducting into the truss packs, don’t forget to do this as you are installing the trusses.  After you have a few of the trusses in place (say 1/3 of the space), install ALL of the longer items into the partially installed truss pack, even the items that go in at the far other end of the truss pack (you will be able to slide these down latter to the other end).  Once the trusses are ALL in place, you will not be able to slip any long items into place.

I did really well on the basement level and almost made it through the main floor level, but ended up forgetting two short lengths of strong-back.  The result is shown below.

One of the already installed beams had to be unnailed and lifted out of the wall to allow the installation of forgotten strong-backs at this end of the pack.

One of the already installed beams had to be un-nailed and lifted out of the way to allow the installation of forgotten strong-backs at this end of the pack.

At least it was as easy as just lifting the beam out of the way, 30 minutes later and the problem was resolved.  If this has been a wall with a rim board securely fastened to the wall plates, there would have been no way to fix my oversight.

In hindsight, it would have been wise to leave the rim board that is on the wall parallel to the trusses off until the end.  That way you could install all of the long strongbacks and piping/ducts into the packs from the side after they are all installed.  Just remember that any flush installed beams parallel to the pack would interrupt the bays and prevent access behind the beams.

Anyway, all is done now.  I have some more strong-backs to secure and some perimeter blocking to install.  I also have the ladder blocking below some lightly loaded walls on the second floor that are parallel to the truss pack, and then the floor structure will be complete and ready for sheathing.  I hope to have a majority of the sheathing complete by the end of the coming week.

PS – Sorry folks, I had not realized that the embedded photos in a lot of my recent posts were not popping up when you clicked on them for a closer view.  I have gone back about a month or so and edited all of the posts to fix the problem.

Thanks for visiting.

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Hangers, Humps, and Roadside Bumps

July 4, 2016

The last 2.5 weeks has seen some reasonable progress on the floor assembly, but as usual, things have been taking longer than planned, with some of the delay’s out of my hands.  I had just finished installing the first two beams at my last update.  Since then I have finished lifting all beams up onto the top of the walls.  All now are also in final position and secured except for the very long FB11 that will frame in the west side of the stairwell (see dwg S03).

The South side of FB11 will sit into a plate pocket on a 2 storey metal square post that will sit on a metal I-Beam installed in the basement (BB2) and continue all the way up to above the second storey walls where it will support a massive 27′ x 5.25″ x 19″ beam that extends from the west to east side of the dwelling to support the peak of the roof assembly.

So it is critical that all of the supports for the beam and the 2-storey post all line up.  This has taken more time than I hoped and I have worked on it over two different days including several hours today when things were just not agreeing with my drawings when I was confirming alignment with a string line.  I have observed that I have a weakness with measurements.  What looks great one day will be off the next time I visit that particular area.  Today’s investigation identified that a support cripple over the kitchen window lintel was way off (more than a foot out of place).  An easy fix now, but should not be happening.  At least my thorough measurements today showed that in general, things are very close tolerances and I seem to be catching any mistakes as I make them.

But the whole west wall of the house in general including the area above the kitchen window has plagued me with problems.  When I lifted up the rim board on top of the top plates, there was significant humps above both the living room and kitchen windows.  The cripples I had installed above the window lintels were too long, in some cases, close to 1/2″.  As the rim board is an engineered item, It is dead flat in the vertical plane, so shows any humps or valleys in the framework below.  The fix was to cut down the cripples using a reciprocating saw and my neighbour’s oscillating tool, until the rim board sat flat along its entire length.  I had to do the same thing to a lesser degree along the south wall when I installed the rim board there.  There is times when I just want to say it is “good enough”, but then I know that I would judge myself every day going forward till it was fixed, and it would be harder to fix later.

The straight nature of the rim board also allowed me to see that I had about a 3/8″ hump between my dining and living room floor (over top of where the trusses overlap on the centre bearing wall in the basement).  I had known that my internal footings in the basement were off a bit as far as elevation and had tried to grind off the high points before framing the basement walls, but the 24 foot rim board stock sitting on the floor showed just how much of a hump there was.  So you guessed it, I went down to the basement and spent the better part of day trimming down the studs in the basement so that the entire middle portion of the floor assembly dropped and allowed the rim board to sit flush with the floor sheathing along its entire length.  This was a bit more difficult as there was already a floor framed above this wall.  SO I had to tie all the studs together with 2x lengths so they kept their spacing and vertical alignment and then would start cutting down the studs in a swath about 6′ or so across.   Once that part of the floor was level, I would toe nail the studs back into the top plate and work on the next 6′ swath until the approx 16′ wall was trimmed level.

While I was installing the rim boards and truing up the floors and such, I was also ordering all of the misc hardware I was going to need to install the floor trusses.  This led to a very frustrating and unproductive week of investigations by email with a  rep from Simpson Strong-Tie. I just wanted to know what nails to use with which hangers.  And I never really got a firm answer.  Many hangers call out what are termed 16d common nails.  But in general no length is easily found when looking the hanger up online.  Through my week long education, I found out that all the hanger specifications are listed elsewhere on both the site and the catalogue (see catalogue pg 22) and that 16d ALWAYS represents a 3.5″ nail.  But here is the kicker, no one sells a 3.5″ 16d ‘HANGER’ nail.  The staff at the lumber store just state to use a standard 3.5″ common nail.  But these have totally smooth shanks and the official hanger nails have little rows of divots that help prevent pull out.  When I pointed this out to the rep, I was told that there are no ‘barbs’ (what I had first called them), and that there nails were just repackaged ‘common’ nails.

See common nail on left and official hanger nail on right

See common nail on left and official hanger nail on right

I had used 1.5″ nails and 2.5″ nails on most of the hangers I had installed to date.  The 1.5″ was on the floor truss hangers and was instructions provided by my structural engineer, so I knew I was OK there.  But the 2.5″ used on the beam hangers was because that was the longest hanger nail I could find that was marked 16d and now I was worried.  SO I discussed this as well with the rep and was told no worries, a 2.5″ 16d nail was rated at 100% of a 3.5″ 16d nail (see table at bottom of Strong-Tie specification) .  Now I was really confused (although quite relieved).  Because I had used the 2.5″ nails, these were still long enough to penetrate the header when mounted in the diagonal double shear holes.

But this begs the question, if 2.5″ is rated at 100% of designed load, why call out 3.5″??  What is worse, is that I know for a fact that some builders are not even using 2.5″.  I recently had a chat with someone who has been building for over a decade.  They wanted to lend me their ‘hanger’ pneumatic nail gun.  When I mentioned it only could take 1.5″ nails, he commented “ya – standard hanger nails”.  When I said I was using 3.5″ for the double shear fasteners, he looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language. But I have to say, it is much too difficult to find the proper installation instructions for a specific hanger online.  It was much easier when I downloaded the catalogue (or there excellent desktop hanger selection software), but how many people are going to take this time.  On high end homes, I am sure the engineer specs every detail out on their drawings, but on spec houses, I heavily suspect there are many undersized fasteners out there.  Problem is that once they are installed, there is no way for the building inspector to know if they are right or not.  Simpson should have a section of the website where you are able to select a specific hanger from a drop down list and then are presented with the installation sketches and specifications for fasteners.

Anyway, I graduated to using 3.5″ common nails for the double shear fasteners on some big beam hangers I was installing and will also add some extra security with a timber fastener to provide extra tension on the hangers I have already installed on the basement beams. I am also doing this on any new beam hangers as it allows you to get the beam nice and tight before driving in the dbl-shear nails.

Using timber screws to cinch up the interface between the two beams before nailing in the dbl-shear fasteners (diag nails) on the hangers.

Using timber screws to cinch up the interface between the two beams before nailing in the dbl-shear fasteners (diag nails) on the hangers.

It is very easy to grab wrong hanger on store shelf. This is a HUC412. You will notice nails are perpendicular into side of 'joist'

It is very easy to grab wrong hanger on store shelf. This is a HUC412. You will notice nails are perpendicular into side of ‘joist’

What was really needed was an HUSC412 which is a double shear hanger where the fasteners into the 'joist' are diagonally nailed in so that they also penetrate the header. There is a huge weight rating difference between these two hangers. Fortunately I caught it before loading the top of the beam and was able to trade out the bad with the good (and secured with 3.5" nails)

What was really needed was an HUSC412 which is a double shear hanger where the fasteners into the ‘joist’ are diagonally nailed in so that they also penetrate the header. There is a huge weight rating difference between these two hangers. Fortunately I caught it before loading the top of the beam and was able to trade out the bad with the good (and secured with 3.5″ nails)

I also found out that many of the hangers and clips called for in my drawings are either special manufacture or not stocked locally.  Part of this is due to my use of TriForce Open-Joists from back east.  So I have had several days of waiting for specific hangers and am still waiting for a special double truss hanger needed around my stairs.  Fortunately, I have been able to still progress and now have about 75% of the floor trusses in place.

A good 75% of the second storey floor trusses are installed. By end of week, all should be installed and decking should be progressing.

A good 75% of the second storey floor trusses are installed. By end of week, all should be installed and decking should be progressing.

The final topic of tonight’s update is another roadblock put up by the District.  A week ago Monday I came back from a supply run to find a notice had be zap strapped to my fence.  It basically informed me that I did not have a permit to store materials on the boulevard beside the road, that I had been storing these materials there for a long time, and that I had three days to move them or else!  I had in fact been using the boulevard for material storage from day one of the build and multiple inspectors had been on site and never voiced any concern (except at the very beginning when I did not have my security fencing up yet).  So yes there had been stuff there for a long time, I did not know it was an issue.  What is more, is that ALL the construction sites in my neighbourhood routinely use the boulevard as materials marshalling spaces.

I looked into the ‘permit’, but it is more of a money grab than anything else.  The permit fee was around $140 which is nothing.  But on top of that you pay ‘rent’ for the area of land needed for the duration of the use.  I did a quick estimation, and this was going to be about $1000 for me for the next six months.  And on top of this I had to get an insurance policy with the District as the beneficiary in the tune of  $45K.  I had already given them a $10K CASH deposit to cover any damage I cause to District lands.  This was getting ludicrous. I decided to just vacate the boulevard.

Now the ironic and wonderful part to the timing of all this, is last Monday was when I started installing the floor trusses and already had planned to have then all moved to my garage floor in stacks per size anyway.  But it still took the better part of last week to finish cleaning off the rest of my materials including the three pallets of ICF you see stacked in front of the house in the above photo.  But I am still grateful, as if this ‘crackdown’ came even a year ago, I would not have had anywhere to put the materials and would have just had to fork out the thousands for the land use permit (I was using a much larger space then compared to now). Out of interest on Sunday I took the below photos from a neighbouring construction project.  I checked online, and they do not have the permit to use the boulevard.

This is a typical use of the boulevard on most sites.

This is a typical use of the boulevard on most sites.

This site had a lot of debris and supplies stacked on District land.

This site had a lot of debris and supplies stacked on District land.

The District boulevard extends well behind the construction fence.

The District boulevard extends well behind the construction fence. Even the toilet is probably on District land on this site.

Sure seems like a double standard to me.

Oh well – timing worked out well for me, so I in the end of grateful.  Sorry for the length of these posts.  I will try to post more regularly so topics don’t build up as much.

As always, many thanks for visiting!

“The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you’re willing to pay the price.” —Vince Lombardi (1913-1970) Athletic Coach

“Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest where you haven’t planted.” —David Bly (born 1952) Politician

“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing. ”  — Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) 26th U.S. President

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