San Juan Island Small House Update

It seems like the weeks are flying by and we are making such good progress that it’s hard to believe it isn’t later in the season. Good weather, recently a little cooler even, continues to be on our side, and it FEELS likes summer! 

This week we finished our temporary stairs, installed rafter plates on the north and south side of the house and then spent a couple of *hot* days installing ¾” tongue and groove plywood on the second floor.  The process went smoothly… though it was a pleasure to install the last piece, to be sure! 

From there it was time to move on to raising the ridge beam and installing rafters. It is always somewhat harrowing to work at elevation. Shawn actively (and vociferously) dislikes heights but works at them when required (hence the extra vocalizations?) and fortunately, I do not have too much issue with heights, unless my ladder is bouncing. Fortunately, there was none of that this week!  We installed temporary bracing and supports for the ridge beam, which consists of two 14’ ¾” two by tens scabbed together in the middle. The clipped gable ends will be installed later so the ridge is dimensionally shorter than the width of the house. Because there are two dormers on the house, we cannot lay the rafters all the way across but we started by installing some of the rafters to support the ridge. It is still phenomenal to me that wood will basically hold itself together when pressure is applied in the right way. I marvel over this each time we build. What seems impossible is possible though we won’t remove all the supports till the entire roof system is in place.

We were also pleased to note that Shawn got his cuts on the birds mouths, which is where the roof rafter sits on the bottom plate, on the first try with no hitches. It is nice to see our skills build, and both here and in the cutting of stair stringers, we noted some real progress! The rafters fit both at the base and the ridge perfectly. We also finished the small amounts of first floor plywood wall sheathing that needed doing along with the last of the first floor caulk air sealing.

Today, Saturday, we built the north facing gable wall, sheathing it on the ground to save us some time up on a ladder with the framing nailer. We were able to position it without much trouble, anchoring it with 5 inch structural screws along with nails. It is nice to have it installed and now we can continue with the rest of the north wall rafters.

What's next? This week we should finish the full length rafters and build the larger south facing dormer that is part of the main bedroom. From there we’ll need to install the shorter rafters over both dormers. Then the gable end walls will be framed up and at that point, it’s decision making time. We have not decided whether to then break and build the pergolas on the east and west side of the house (which will also provide us with built in staging to do the clipped gable work) or to do that work on ladders. I’m thinking the pergolas will be a good idea. We designed them into the house partly for that very reason…it seemed a practical and elegant solution to working at heights. With a piece of sturdy plywood laid across the pergola, we have a nice wide staging area for a ladder, paint buckets, etc. Time will tell. We hope you’ll check back in and see next week’s progress! Seeing the rafters going in is a real milestone, very exciting!!