Monthly Archives: August 2016

Milestones

August 25, 2016

I am pleased to say it has been a busy and successful last two weeks with many important milestones being completed.

I met with Cascadia Windows & Doors on the 15th and now have installation details for my ‘outie’ windows that I can live with and will provide the needed structural support to keep Cascadia happy as well.

Because I have 6″ of exterior insulation, I needed a way to install the windows outboard of the rough opening to ensure that they are centred in the thermal insulation plane (will try to go into this in the future to explain why it is important).  I actually need to have the entire window frame outboard of the rough openings.  This is no problem for the head and jambs, because they just get attached with clips.  But the sill has to be supported up till the second rib from the inboard side, so the window does not try to rotate, which would cause unacceptable strain to the frame and glazing socket.

On some high efficiency houses, the openings are framed with plywood extension boxes with 2×4 backing. Or 2x material is used instead of the plywood to frame a box.  But this represents a huge thermal bridge through your insulation blanket. So I wanted a better way.  We came up with an easy and cheap detail of wrapping the perimeter of the rough opening, once the standard 1/2″ plywood is already installed,  with another 2″ wide strip of 1″ thick plywood and securing this with glue and screws to the 2x walls.  What is not shown in the photo below, is the shims that would sit on the plywood doubler and support the frame ribs.

2" wide by 1" thick plywood doubler around rough openings will support the window and also provide a good surface to rod and caulk to in order to create the air barrier.

2″ wide by 1″ thick plywood doubler around rough openings will support the window and also provide a good surface to rod and caulk to in order to create the air barrier.

This kills two birds with one stone.  1st, it supports the window at the sill. But by encircling the entire rough opening in this manner, I now also have a stiff surface that can accept a caulking rod and caulk to easily create my internal air barrier around the window (will also discuss why an internal air barrier around the window is better than an external at some later posting).

With the window installation details figured out, the only task left at Cascadia was to pick up my first window.  I had ordered one of the smaller windows with an operable sash, so that I could get a better feel for the look of the product and confirm our colour choice.  Sorry, I do not have a photo, but will post one soon.  Needless to say, the window is of extremely high quality with very good detailing throughout its assembly.  This is also evident in its weight.  The 24″x32″ window weighs 48 lbs!  Imagine what the 10′ wide by 5′ High windows weigh. Give you a hint, it is three digits that start with 48.  The tilt and turn function of the 300 series windows is also slick and will allow us to get great ventilation without the threat of rain entry or not having to worry about outdoor animals coming in to visit my indoor animals.

With the window installation details set, I could get back to framing.  I finished most of the upper floor exterior walls by the end of last week and then worked on the three garage walls including installing the 18′ beam over the vehicle door opening.

Alfie helping install the last 1st floor beam.

Alfie helping install the last 1st floor beam.

With the garage walls squared away, I went back upstairs and am pleased to say that I constructed and raised (and dropped and re-raised) my last exterior wall yesterday.

Oops!

Oops!

Of course the last wall could not go off without some drama.  The plywood extended off the bottom a full 12″ to help create the air barrier around the beam that supports this wall.  This meant I could not install cleats at this location because there was nothing below the 12″ to nail to.  I also had a 6″ plywood extension at the right of the photo. It was awkward and before I knew it, it had slid off the floor deck onto the walls below.  I was sort of prepared for this and in the end, this was exactly what that portion of wall would have to do in order to slip by the other walls so it could be raised again.  Really, I should have left the framed wall you see just at the top right of the fallen wall, as the last wall.  But it was already well secured to the rim board and so I just wung it.  Whole process took 15 minutes from time I started to raise, till I had jacked it back up after the fall and had it secure.  But made for a great photo op!

Today was buttoning up some final headers and such on the upper floor walls while I waited for my next delivery.  The largest beam (and heaviest and highest lift to date) was delivered and lifted into place late this afternoon.  This will be the beam that supports the north end of the south upper room and the clear storey wall that then supports the south end of the north roof.  It was again the subject of many sleepless nights worrying about how it was going to clear the tarp, would it sit right on the steel column, etc).

It is 19″ deep, 5-1/4″ thick, and 28′ long and comes in at a whopping 874 lbs. Fortunately, a long reach HIAB from Standard Building Supplies had no problem lifting into place (I had prepped tarp earlier in day to raise it up along the lift path). Whole process took less than 15 minutes.

Last beam is lifted into place.  This will support the entire middle of the roof structure.

Last beam is lifted into place. This will support the entire middle of the roof structure.

So this completed my last beam and second to last major lift of the project.  The next lift will be the roof trusses which brings me to my next milestone.  The trusses have been designed and I now have a firm delivery date of September 23.  This is later than I had hoped, but I ordered these too late.  But it all works out as I was able to correct some of the dimensional errors from the foundation by the time I got the second floor walls up.  And with the beam in place, I can provide the final dimensions to the truss shop.

I will frame the interior second storey walls once I have the roof on.  I am going to have a lot of scaffold work to put the roof trusses up, so these walls would just be in my way, and are not bearing so not needed for the roof assembly.  Many are also vaulted up to the roof, so it really needs to be there before those walls are built.

My next challenge will be to build the approximately 5′ high wall that sits on top of this roof beam and forms the clerestory.  I hope to have this finished by the end of next week and then will spend a week buttoning up all the plywood trim around the house before starting on the plumbing as I wait for the roof trusses.

I am also now working on the heating design and have enrolled in a Air-to-Water Heat Pumps for Hydronic Heating & Cooling course at HeatSpring.  This will nicely supplement the Hydronic Heating Designer course I took a few years ago and provide timely information on how to design and install my hydronic heating system.  The bonus is that it is taught by John Siegenthaler, who is renown as the world wide expert on hydronic heating design and installation.

This represents my enthusiasm for the last book of John's that I read.

This represents my enthusiasm for the last book of John’s that I read.

I also have a couple of website enhancements thanks to the awesome crew at Honeycomb Creative.  I now have a Contact Form where you can submit questions, critique, or just say hi. Sorry, I did not think of adding this before now.  And for a faster response, I now have a live chat feature on the site.  You will see a little blue bar down at the bottom right corner.  If you click on it, you will have the opportunity of talking with me in real time (of course as long as I am available at that time – check the web cams first to see what I may be up to).  It is generally set to be live during the standard construction hours.  If I am unavailable, I will set my status accordingly, and you can then just leave me a comment that I will respond to at a latter time.

Well that is it for my couple weeks of achieved milestones. Not bad I have to say, and as I come down to the end of framing, I am proud of what I have accomplished and this time also the time frame I have accomplished it in.  A large crew can frame a house to lock-up in just over a month.  I will do it in just over three months (discounting for the time I was away or waiting for materials), which is a pretty good ratio in my books.

Before I go, there is one last milestone I would like to acknowledge.  My friend Ed in Winnipeg had a birthday yesterday.  Happy Birthday Ed, hope to see you out this way in the not too distant future!

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” —Thomas Edison

“The purpose of education is to replace an empty mind with an open one. ” —Malcolm S. Forbes (1919-1990) Publisher

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
—Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) Former President Of South Africa

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” —Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) British Statesman, Prime Minister, Author, Nobel Prize Winner

 

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Great Progress

August 14, 2016
I only have the second half of the north wall and the two east walls to finish of all of the second level exterior walls.

I only have the second half of the north wall and the two east walls to finish of all of the second level exterior walls.

The last week has gone very well and I now have over half of the 2nd storey exterior walls up and framed.  I really cannot complain about the framing progress lately as all has gone smoothly and is going up plumb and square.

 

I now also have the two-storey metal column that sits on a metal I-Beam in the basement, and supports a major beam in the 2nd floor assembly and part of the beam holding up the roof, installed (grey post to left of stair opening at bottom left of above photo)

Hollow Structural Steel Column being threaded through framing into place.

Hollow Structural Steel Column being threaded through framing into place.

I put a lot of nighttime thinking (i.e. sleepless nights) into when and how I was going to install this column.  I wanted to wait until the second floor was framed (so I had an exact dimension for the beam pocket), yet the column supported part of the second floor and at over 18′ long, was not going to be an easy matter of getting into place once the first storey walls were framed and the second storey floor deck was on.  But by using a 20′ 2×4 as a jig, I figured that if I left off some sheathing on the garage wall, I would be able to slip under one top wall plate and over another into its spot.

I am pleased to say, all went well except that is was well over 250 lbs when I was expecting well under 100 lbs.  So again, the aid of dollies and wall/farm jacks was used to lift up into place (easiest would have been to have craned into place, but this was not possible with the tarp in place.

I prevented the upper walls from sliding off the deck with cleats nailed to the lower walls, and then slid the panels into final position using my farm jack.

Cleats kept upper wall from sliding off deck as it was raised. This was even more important as the sheathing on the upper walls extended 5" down the lower walls to tie the upper wall assemblies together to the rim boards.

Cleats kept upper wall from sliding off deck as it was raised. This was even more important as the sheathing on the upper walls extended 5″ down the lower walls to tie the upper wall assemblies together to the rim boards.

Farm jacks easily slides wall into position once raised.

Farm jacks easily slides wall into position once raised.

I have finally had time to upload some more time lapse photos.  The following are ready for your enjoyment and can be found on my YouTube Chanel.

Thanks for visiting!

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” —Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) British Statesman, Prime Minister, Author, Nobel Prize Winner

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First Second Floor Wall Complete

August 7, 2016

It is hard to believe it has only been a week since my last update.  It seems like forever ago for me.  Time at site on construction was 30 hours, which is often a normal week for me, except I was only on site for only 2 full days and 2 half days.  But design time in office and meeting with my roofing consultant has eaten up an additional 45 hours over the last week.

Over the weekend and stat, I moved my workbench and computer station to the upper deck, verified the deck measurements against my AutoCAD model, and determined the exact location where my clerestory beam will sit and marked this on the deck.  This will be the critical line I will measure everything else off of, as its location is not optional.  I will have trusses tying into the beam on the south side and the north trusses will be locked into the wall creating the clerestory placed above the beam.

The first of my material arrived on Tuesday AM (after our Monday Stat).  True to form, I did not allow enough time for some items (Smaller engineered lintels and columns), and the remainder arrived on Friday AM.  Fortunately, I did not need them this time and went ahead and framed the south wall of the second floor (leaving out a missing lintel for one of the two windows).

Raising the final segment of the south upper floor wall.

Raising the final segment of the south upper floor wall.

I gave myself a break this time and split the wall into two, at a built-up column location, so that I did not end up with any extra sticks (and the resulting thermal bridge).  I did not have the room for a continuous wall on the floor deck and was more nervous about what would happen if the lifting of the wall went ‘south’ (literally falling of the south end of the house).  The wall construction and lifting went smoothly.

The focus this week has been the roof assembly.  I am behind ordering my roof truss packaged (by about 2 weeks).  During my initial work on the package, I reviewed the Best Practices guide from RCABC.org and realized that my south upper roof, and my garage and office lower roof did not meet their slope requirements for a metal roof (regardless of how high the standing seams were).

This caught me by surprise, as it had not been mentioned during conversations with various design people I had previously consulted with.  I knew I had to switch from a Standing Seam Metal roof to a 2-Ply Torched on SBS Membrane Roof.  I had originally stayed away from this style of roof because my lower roofs slope towards the road, and well quite frankly, torch on roofs are ugly.  But in my early design stages, I did not think of making the roof ‘flat’, so that its surface could be hidden by a tall fascia.

This is what I will now do, and I have spent most of the week in AutoCAD designing and drawing up the new roofing system for both levels.  This does not effect any of the structural aspects of the roof, but does change some of the truss dimensions and layout.  I have also updated the model to account for the variance in as-built framing over what was originally planned.  To confirm the design concept, I reached out to the former Technical Manager at RCABC, Rob Harris, who is a wealth of information, and the person I would call on when I had a roofing question while practising home inspections.  I am very appreciative of his time, and will hire him to write up the installation specs for the roofing, and inspect the job during application.  I hope to get a Red Seal roofer (Cory who did my basement waterproofing) to install the membrane, if he is not to busy dealing with all of the work that RDH has him doing.

The new fascia design will also solve my gutter issue (I did not want to see them and was planning on some form of secondary fascia to hide their presence), as it will allow the installation of a hidden gutter system.  Now, I normally am a proponent against hidden gutters, but that is because most are fabricated with EPDM membranes and matched up to shakes or shingles.  I have NEVER seen one of these without defects during my inspection career (typically the installer has not used the right process to seam the material).  But a torched-on membrane integral with the rest of the roof should be a flood-proof system.

Fortunately, the roof design changes does not negatively impact any of the framing already completed.  But my deck dimension verification does show that my south wall is about 1.5″ out of square to the clerestory beam, so I need to work with the truss manufacturer (Alliance Truss), to see if I can order the heels widths a bit narrower too make up for this variation.

Ever wonder what the funny dimension on truss drawings means. Remember FIS or Feet, Inches, and Sixteens. This took my an hour or so of Googling when I first saw them.

Ever wonder what the funny dimension on truss drawings means. Remember FIS or Feet, Inches, and Sixteens. This took my an hour or so of Googling when I first saw them.

In general, I have to admit that keeping things on track from a dimension point of view is challenging me.  Part of it is that I expect them to be right on (to the nearest say 1/8″) and this is a very difficult tolerance to maintain.  Part of it also is that I am not good with numbers.  They do not ‘mean’ anything to me and I find that they are not easily retained in my head.  So I write EVERYTHING down.  But at times I still will miss read a number or write down the wrong number.  It has been quite frustrating really, but I am developing methods to check as I go, that are not too cumbersome.

Hard to create a straight wall, when this is what you are dealing with.

Hard to create a straight wall, when this is what you are dealing with.

The other part that makes keeping things true difficult, is the high variation in lumber and even engineered products.  I am finding a lot of the engineered beams have quite a bow to them, which can present quite a challenge when they are 3.5″ x 11-7/8″ and 22′ long.

But really what has made the most impact on my project is that the foundation, although almost perfectly level, was out of square at several corners, and because my walls sit on top of stubs at the top of the foundation, and not on a floor deck, correcting for out of square has been difficult if not impossible.  Now most people will never notice 1.5 inches over 40 ft, but it does add some complexity when framing roof trusses that lock into a wall at both ends.

Tomorrow I will pick up the 2 storey hollow structural steel column and attempt to thread it through the existing framing into the centre of the house and install it. I will then start working on the upper floor walls again, after a quick call to the truss supplier to confirm we are square away and can start manufacture of the package.

Thanks for visiting.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. ” —Thomas Edison (1847-1931) Inventor, Businessman

“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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