We made it! We accomplished what we set out to do this year and more!
I am very proud to confirm that we have completed the metal roof installation on the house on Thursday December 4th 2015 and that it looks beautiful.
The building site is now closed for winter and I am finally back in Toronto for a well-deserved rest before I get back to contract work.
We apparently have to thank El Nino for the incredibly mild weather we have had this fall and are still having.
It has allowed us to install the roof right into December with only minimal challenge from the point of view of temperature, rain, ice or snow.
Our many achievements and milestones:
1 – Pouring the foundations for the load bearing walls:
October 19th: We schedule the concrete delivery when the forecast calls for a few days of frost-free weather.
A couple of minor challenges:
1. We have to pour a number of forms in different locations in the house and we are forced to use the wheel barrows to pour it into some of our least accessible form. As a result it took us a little longer than expected to pour all the concrete. Luckily, we are not at the busiest part of the season, and the driver accommodates us without a surcharge.
2. I ordered the exact quantity that I calculated instead of the 15% additional volume suggested. With the same delivery we also pour some concrete blocks on the walls which sizes were hard to estimate and under the weight of concrete some of our casings are slightly bulging. As a result we end up being slightly short of concrete to complete our last form and we are forced to start out own concrete mixer to complete the job.
2 – Framing/building the load bearing walls:
1. The biggest challenge is of course to build the walls and beams and connect these beams with the tire walls sill plates to the same specified heights that were given to the truss company for designing the trusses.
· Building the tire walls and installing the sill plates to a consistent height throughout the house is in itself a challenge not to say impossible across a 72 feet long house and a lot of last minute re-adjustments are necessary.
· The truss company designs all trusses according to the actual heights and lengths that I give them. Therefore, taking all measurements as we complete all sill plates’ installations becomes critical. In consequence, I spend a lot of time measuring and re-measuring all dimensions and updating drawings that I scan and send to the truss company. I also spend a few sleepless nights worrying about these measurements.
2. Modifying the outside south wall design: I have added the double door in the middle of it. We need to adjust the size of some of the window panes to fit into the remaining space
3. The inside wall is more complex and once again the initial design is questioned as we start building it. Some of the decisions:
· We decide to switch the kitchen area and the dining room area around: The initial design was to put the dining room on the left next to the bathroom/laundry room then the kitchen then the living room on the right. After a fairly short discussion, we agree that we would rather switch this layout around and situate the kitchen first, just left of the bathroom/laundry room side and place the dining room between the kitchen and the living room. This layout seems much more logical and I decide to reposition the door to the kitchen/dining room area toward the east in order to provide enough space for the kitchen sink counter.
· I also decide to inverse the position of the bathroom/corridor door to the west side corner of the bathroom: This places the bathroom sink on the east corner. Some of the benefit will be that both kitchen and bathroom sinks will be closer together and will jointly go into the grey water cell/planter that will be situated on the other side of the wall.
· We realize that the space left between the end of the east buttress wall to the corridor wall is too narrow for a standard door so we decide to add a standard door from the office to the corridor just before the east air lock wall. We think that we will probably still keep a small door between the office and the living room.
3 – Installing the trusses
Installing the trusses is of course the most important step for me. Installing the trusses is of course the most important step for me. This is when problems will hit us if any! As expected we do encounter some issues but they are minor and are easily fixed:
1. First we put in place a regular truss on the west side of the house. It fits nicely except that (oops) the front beam is too low by 1 3/4”. Second we put in place the first west gable truss next to it and confirms that the front beam is low. Aside from that, it fits well enough with minor shimming in a few spots! (Keep in mind that gable trusses have multiple points of support on the walls in addition to resting on the beams). We do the same thing on the east side of the house and confirm our finding with regards to the front beam. A decision is quickly taken: We add a 2x6 on top of our front beam and that takes care of that problem
2. We install all trusses and find
a. The gable truss on the west buttress wall needs to be adjusted because we overextended the concrete blocks on that wall by mistake. We do a minor modification to the truss and it ends up fitting nicely.
b. We have to adjust the position of the truss that lands on the rounded corner in the far back of the house because we have rounded our wall a little out of specs. Not a structural problem, but something to keep an eye on when doing rounded wall junctions next time.
c. The east gable is missing the bloc that is supposed to rest on the middle beam. I just need to add it.
When all is considered, we do not find any problem that we cannot handle with the trusses and we install them within a few days. We spend the following week to do some final adjustments and finish bracing them adequately.
As per the French tradition, I affix a small spruce at the highest point of the trusses to celebrate the completion of the carpentry structure.
4 – Installing the roof panels and the ice & water shield
Installing the roof panels goes without much problem. Of course the biggest challenge is to lift some 75 sheets of 3/4“x 4’x8’ onto the roof. Once again our neighbor came to the rescue and lifted half of that load onto the roof with her bobcat. The rest, we lift them by hand and the next day, we have sore shoulders.
We barely finish nailing all that paneling down before rain starts, and for the next 3 days, we are immobilized by rain and ice. I worry about my roof panels being under the rain without protection but 3 days of rain does not seem enough to make serious damage.
When the weather clears up, I scrape and brush the ice of the roof and let it dry. Then we scramble to put the ice and water shield membrane while it is dry. That goes well enough. It is definitely easier to install that product when the temperature is above 5oC as it becomes stiff and does not stick much when it goes below that. Luckily the weather cooperates and we do get a couple of nice days. We end up being short of 30 feet of membrane and order one more roll which we receive at the same time as the metal roofing, the following Monday.
5 – Installing the metal roof
We find out that the manufacturer has shipped us the wrong screws for the installation of the roofing material. They attempt to courier them to us overnight, but in Bancroft, overnight courier service is not always what it is expected to be. Between that and the rain, we get delayed one more week before we are ready to start.
On the last day of November, we finally start installing the roofing.
Everything goes well and within 3 days, we have all panels laid out, clips installed and I can run the crimping machine that crimps each panel to the next and to the clips. (There are no visible screws with this type of roofing material). That crimping machine works very well and the operation is completed easily and in short delay.
The next day is spent trimming the corners, crimping all edges as needed and installing all trims at the top and bottom of the roof.
The result is amazing. It really is a beautiful roof.
6 – Closing the site for winter
With the team in the last days of the season we also have cut a lot of conifers on the south side of the house which were interfering with the low winter sun shining on the house. We will have to replant the area with deciduous trees next year.
We also installed tarpaulins on all openings of the house to prevent too much accumulation of snow inside.
We clean up the site, do a massive burn of all wood cuttings while I take a full trailer of garbage to the dump.
On Friday evening, Joanne comes up from Orillia to celebrate the achievement with me and help me close the trailer for the year. I am certainly happy that we can celebrate the closing of the season together in this way. To sweeten up the celebration, we are blessed on Saturday morning with a beautiful sunny day while we close the trailer and it makes the closing process more enjoyable.
· This year, we have accomplished a lot more than I could have ever wished and today we are so far from where we were earlier in June that I cannot be anything but incredibly happy and proud of this achievement.
· I am so grateful to have been given the possibility to do it, with regards to finances, weather, people who have helped and worked for it and of course first and foremost Joanne’s love, support and enthusiasm for this project which consumes so much of me.
· I am also unequivocally very happy that the season is finished because I really got quite physically exhausted and I need to rest and rebuild. The living conditions have become quite challenging during the fall season. The cold and damp weather on the building site and in the trailer have greatly contributed to my overall exhaustion. It is also time to get back to remunerated work.