Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow, snow, snow!

We're on our third "snow day" in a row here. The house is taking it rather well even though there are very few bales in place. Just a dusting of snow on the slab in most places.
Take a look!

The one on top has the kids throwing snowballs at each other in the foreground.
The snow is supposed to taper off today and we'll hopefully get some work done this weekend.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Setback on the Roof!

Not much to report this week except some backwards progress. We had a big windstorm Friday night/Saturday morning and lost about six sheets of metal off the flat part of the roof as a result. Apparently, one of the sheets did not have the adhesive on the overlapping portion exposed when it was installed about ten days ago (you have to remove a strip of paper from the top of the adhesive strip to expose it so it will stick to the piece that is being placed on top of it in sequence). Additionally, all the screws were not installed so when it started to go, the wind only had to rip up about four screws per sheet and away it went!

We had heard some metal-ish noise early on Saturday morning on the roof but upon inspection (by Aiken and Adam), they couldn't find anything wrong. Of course, it wouldn't have been obvious if the wind wasn't actually lifting the un-adhered edge at the moment one was inspecting it.

Later in the day, as the wind continued to blow at sustained speeds of 50 mph, Amelie and I were headed out to run some errands. As we were getting in the car, I heard a sound of ripping metal. I looked up and saw several sheets of metal coming over the top of the doublewide. By the time I ran around to the building site, Adam was already on the roof of the doublewide grabbing the errant sheets of metal and feeding them to Andy who was pulling them back up on the roof. Aiken also had heard the noise from inside the trailer and came running out to help.

We spent the next hour trying to get the mangled metal back in place where it will have to stay until we can afford to replace it (it is a special order color at about $100 per sheet). As we were positioning the first piece, the wind again tore it out of our hands. Adam and Andy lost it completely and almost lost their thumbs in the process. The edges of the metal are very sharp. I was able to hold on to it as it flipped over me and crumpled on the ground below. Adam grabbed the other side and we quickly pulled it back up on the roof but it was mangled even worse than before. Adam and Andy were able to get it all screwed back in but it doesn't look pretty.

It's kind of hard to tell from these pictures but take our word for it, it doesn't look good! The darkish patches are bloodstains.

Also, the weather forecast calls for anywhere from 5 - 15 inches of snow for the next two days, so with any luck it'll start to melt by next weekend and maybe we can get the rooves finished once and for all.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Metal on Steep Roof

We finally got most of the metal on the steep portion of the roof, over the kids' bedrooms and lofts. Click on the picture to enlarge it and see Adam up there screwing the last piece into place!

We did not make a lot of progress over the Thanksgiving weekend, due to rain and Adam just needing a bit of a break.

We did get the first piece of metal up LAST Sunday afternoon, just Adam and Therese.

Adam had originally intended to rig up some sort of rope and pulley system to make sure the person on the roof holding the metal and positioning it, then screwing it into place (read "Adam"), would be held securely. Instead, he went with free climbing and hoping for the best!

Each night last week we put up one - two pieces of metal. Bear in mind these pieces are 38 inches wide by 30 feet long. They are quite the piece of work to get up onto that steep roof without bending or tweaking it.
Aiken and Aurelia occasionally helped out walking the end of the piece up the roof (yes, they scaled that steep roof with the aid of the "stickers" nailed into the roof just shy of where the metal was going) so it didn't catch on the tar paper seams. Here you can see the "stickers" before any of the metal was applied.

We finally finished with the full pieces today, after cutting the third-to-last one with a hole for the stove pipe that will have to come up through it. Here you can see some stickers nailed through the metal around the stove pipe opening, to prepare for the time when the box (that will go around the stove pipe) will be put into place.

Adam wanted this picture of the lines of screws traveling across the pieces of metal. You might be able to pick out the screws if you click on the photo to enlarge it.
It took up a lot of time between pieces, to put all the screws in place, the peel up the previous layer of "stickers" in order to make a place for the next piece of metal.

Next step will be to cut the last piece so it will fit into the wall where it joins the second story.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Steep roof is felted!

Well, Adam and Andy managed to get the felt on the steep roof before the back-to-back storms predicted over the holiday weekend coming up. Yahoo!

Therese spent some time over the past two days moving the stack of bales that we had dug into for our first walls (upstairs, see the post from 11/9)

Notice in this new picture, no bales in front of the sliding glass doors anymore!

Unfortunately, this stack of bales had no pallets underneath them so the biggest challenge was in moving the bottom layer and scraping the bugs and mold off the bottom, then finding a place to store them under the roof where the wet surface could be exposed and dry out. To her great surprise, under the last bale she discovered a nest of cute little mice. Boy, did they scatter quickly (in all directions, while Therese screamed) when that last bale was upturned.

Stay tuned for pictures of the house in the snow if this storm produces what it's forecast to do!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

More roof metal

Yesterday Adam, Andy and Therese managed to move the rest of the 31 foot metal roofing panels from the ground to the flat roof; and Adam and Andy put them in place. It was a little breezy, causing some anxious moments as we moved the long panels, but the move was done with only one slight crinkle.

With that roof done, the next move is to get the roofing felt applied to the steep roof before an expected storm hits later this week. Adam and Andy made good progress toward that end today, getting about half the roof felted. This is the most difficult surface to work on due to the steep pitch. Getting the long pieces of metal on that roof will also be quite interesting when it comes time.

We'll also be trying to get some of the bales from the partially used stacks moved inside the building to protect them from the weather, and the bales that have been placed in the walls covered so they don't get too wet either.

With winter well on its way, it will now be a constant struggle to continue forward and prevent the weather from impeding our progress.

Friday, November 21, 2008


We had the third grade out to help with our very first mudding experience today.

We were a little worried because we aren't really ready for putting mud on the few bales we have in place, but Adam rose to the occasion and got the outside of one corner of Aiken's room ready.

They had a ball!

The clay is made up of powdered clay (Amador brand) that we are getting in bags from Home Depot, native sand sifted from shovelfuls of dirt on our property, water and loose straw. The recipe Adam used today was 6 parts sand, 3 parts clay, 2 parts water and 20 handfuls of straw. It will no doubt be slowly refined as we go. A lot of it ended up on the ground today because it was not adhering well to the straw. Still, a lot of it stuck as well!

Aiken's room as seen from the inside.

The kids also enjoyed climbing on the fallen tree in the front yard.

To mix the mud, we are using a mortar mixer we picked up with the help of Adam's friend, Ben, who lives in Tucson, in spring of 2006. It's nice to finally put it to some use!

Backing up a bit, last weekend Adam and Andy (yes, Andy's been back in the picture for about nine or ten days now, thankfully!) spent most of the time building interior walls. Almost all of them are now complete. (The thinking was that the interior walls had to be up before the straw placement can begin in earnest.)

The master bedroom and part of the closet, as seen from the living room.

The kitchen (eating area), as seen from the living room.

The pantry closet (as seen from the living room side).

The girls' rooms (as seen through Aurelia's closet and the shared bath).

Sunday, November 9, 2008

First Bale is Stacked!

I see it's been two weeks since my last post. We hoped to be a little further along by now but we have made some progress.

Last weekend, November 1 & 2, Adam's friend, Tobin, came out to help. Their main project was the second story roof metal. There was a lot of finesse work to be done in cutting the metal pieces and getting them in place, then screwing them down.

Getting the metal on the roof is definitely a two person job at a minimum, and Adam's former helper, Andy, seems to have moved on to other pursuits as he is never available to come out and help anymore. Adam misses his expertise but is resigned to continuing without his help. We were very appreciative of Tobin's help last weekend.

Tobin was out of town this weekend, November 8 & 9, however, so the job of Adam's main helper fell to Therese. We managed to almost finish the second story roof on Saturday before Therese had to run off to a previous commitment in the afternoon. Fortunately, Aiken stepped in and provided the extra set of hands (high in the air) to get that part of the roof finished. (That's Aiken's shadow in the accompanying pic.)

In the second picture, Aiken is standing on the second story roof he helped finish, peeking over the clerestory roof to the flat roof where I am standing below. You can click on any of these pictures to enlarge them in your browser.

Today, Adam had planned to put metal on the flat section of the first story roof, but the wind had different ideas. After we had finished prepping the roof with the black felt, and got just one piece of metal in place (each piece is 30+ feet in this section, just 38 inches wide), again with Aiken's help, the wind picked up to the point where Adam felt we would risk bending the metal while trying to get it in place.

So instead we braced the felt that was in place so it wouldn't blow away, and concentrated on moving some of the straw bales under roof to keep them out of the weather (rain and snow) that was predicted this evening.

We managed to get the first few bales in place on the second story (guest bedroom) and move a bunch more bales under roof before the rain and snow started to come down around 5 pm. We had to quickly move the bales that were exposed, and re-cover those that we didn't have time to move.


Here the kids are sitting on the "first bale" to be placed. Aurelia's face is in shadow but if you click for the enlargement, you can still see her beautiful smile!

There's a shot of the first bale by itself.

Placing the bales turns out to be pretty user-friendly and fun. Adam has a small electric chain saw that he uses to cut out notches in the bales where they have to fit around the posts and other parts of the frame that are "in the way". We will use loose straw to pack in to any voids created by imperfections in the bales or places where the notches are a little roomy.

It was exciting to see the first few bales lined up and in place!

We're hoping the roof isn't leaking where it just has the felt on it, as it's been snowing outside for the past several hours now! There isn't supposed to be any accumulation on this first snowfall, but we'll have to see what it looks like in the morning!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Successful Inspection and More Roof Color

We received a successful "nailing inspection" last Monday, October 20 before Adam went on a three day business trip to Phoenix last week. This was good news as it meant we could commence with putting the metal on the roof and start stacking bales for the walls.

So although we didn't make any progress during the week due to Adam's absence, we did manage to get some felt on the second story roof this weekend, as well as a bit of metal on the eyebrow of the clerestory roof.

It was nice on Saturday, calm and warm, perfect for putting up the felt.

But Sunday was breezy, which was not ideal for putting the metal on, unfortunately. That slowed Adam and Andy down a bit.

With the waning light in the evenings, we are down to a weekend only operation at this point, I'm afraid.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Roof Color and soon Metal!

Adam and Andy spent last weekend (October 11 & 12) constructing the "eyebrow" for the clerestory roof, a labor intensive project. In the picture at right, this is the part of the roof that comes off the vertical wall that hangs over the lower roof. Many homes with a clerestory wall (the vertical upper story wall that faces south, allowing light into the north side rooms) have no eyebrow and simply join the attached roof with a flush corner. However, since much of our weather comes out of the southwest, Adam found it prudent to put this extra protection on that roof, to keep wind and rain from penetrating that wall.

You can also see the eyebrow in this picture, defined by the green painted fascia coming off the upper roof.

This weekend, Adam and Andy finished preparing the roof of the entire structure for a "nailing inspection" that is scheduled for tomorrow, October 20.

Therese spent the weekend painting (some of) the fascia or trim under the roof so it will be ready when the metal is put in place (as it will be hard to paint after the metal is on).

Aurelia helped with the painting quite a bit.

After the nailing inspection tomorrow, assuming all goes well, we should be putting metal on by next weekend.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Roofing Update & Third Grade Field Trip!

We had a nice break midweek when the Third Grade class from Pine Forest Charter School came out for a visit to fulfill their "construction site" field trip requirement.

Well, Adam has continued to make progress on the roof.

We did have about ten days without rain where the work went quickly on the steep roof.

After that was done, Adam and Andy had to "overframe" the portion where the roof of the second story meets the steep part of the roof over the lofts.

This was a labor intensive project, taking up most of last weekend, the final weekend of September.

This past weekend we had rain again and snow at the higher elevations. Adam managed to get the second story underlayment of plywood on.

The next steps will be to make the "eyebrow" on the clerestory and finish sheathing the clerestory wall.