Shangri La

Shangri La

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Giraffe House

For those of you keeping score at home, it’s been about 3 weeks since I began the ‘test run’ for the cabin – the so-called ‘giraffe house’. As of today, the shed is about 75% complete, needing only roof shingles, trim, a door, and two windows. The LSW is impressed, and – frankly – so am I. Some thoughts and notes so far:

Getting rained on at least 4 times didn’t seem to negatively impact anything other than the flooring, even though it was exterior grade ply. There’s now a slight warp; I’ll need to try to minimize exposure of the cabin floors to the weather until the roof goes on. I wonder if I can subfloor after the roof is up instead of before building the walls?

I’ve got about 24 hours into it so far, and expect that I have about 16 more to go. With the exception of standing up the walls, I’ve built it myself. Math suggests that 40 hours for 10 x 8 should mean 224 hours for 16 x 28 – 28 days. I want to say that’s low, but my gut says its about right.

Sheathing the walls alone was more difficult than I had anticipated. 4 x 8 sheets of T111 are awkward enough (especially in the wind), but finding a way to position them accurately and tack them in place was a real pain. The solution I settled on involved blocks of wood nailed to the foundation for support and quick-release clamps to hold them in place.

Roof framing isn’t nearly as bad as I expected. I got the rafter cuts right on the first try, and used the first rafter as a template for all of the others. Building temporary supports for ridge beam and then using pocket screws to tack the rafters in place before nailing them made the job fairly painless.

A 28-once framing hammer with a long handle and magnetic nail starter beats the hell out of a 16-once general purpose hammer. Wish I had bought one at the beginning of the job. Blisters are still a problem, though.

Huh. Why am I left with ¾” ply for the roof? Did I put the 7/16” on the floor? Was that what I intended? Note to self: Check the plan before committing the materials in the future.

For sheathing: Thank ye gods for cordless drills and deck screws. I wonder if there is any reason why the whole place couldn’t be assembled with them?

A 12/12 roof pitch is pretty scary, even when you’re only 12’ off the ground. My 16’ ladder isn’t long enough to reach the peak at this angle, so I’m going to need a 24’. Unfortunately, my truck only has a 7’ bed, so I’ll need ladder racks just to get it home (and then to Shangri-La). There goes another $400 in unanticipated expenses. I realize that I could use my 16’ and roof jacks, but there’s something about laying new shingles and then poking nail holes through them that bothers me. Roof sheathing and covering is a job that I hope to sub out if possible, especially as I plan to go with a metal roof.

Because of The Boy, I’m hyper-cautious about unplugging power tools any time I’m not using them. I find myself looking around the construction site trying to imagine what could hurt him even when he’s not around. Part of the fun of being a father, I suppose. Or maybe just of being type-A.

After working on it on Sunday, it occurred to me that lodging and food will be another unanticipated building expense unless we decide to camp on the property. The shed isn't very big , but the 3 of us could have lived in it while building the cabin. Why didn’t I do this test run in VT rather than here?

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