Sunday, June 15, 2008

Consolation at the beach

We lost the fight against time--
we failed to get the roof on--
nevertheless, work compelled us to take a few days at St Pete Beach on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Did someone say work?


The blessed tarps. We didn't get the roof on in time, so we hauled out the tarps again. They have been useful to protect the wood while we work slowly toward dry-in, but they are cumbersome to put in place and always in the way. Since we won't be able to work on the roof for another three weeks, and afternoon thunderstorms are a regular feature of the landscape, the tarps are our only recourse. In the meantime, we will busy ourselves by testing wood stains, finishing electrical rough-in, applying interior borate treatment, and maybe installing a few windows.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Oh Daddy

Where would we be without the Fathers? Our dads have decades of experience building enduring homes for their families. They are skilled with their hands and willing to share their time and expertise with their young'uns. Thanks be to the Daddys!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Everyone needs a Grandma

With Mom and Dad on the roof, there is no one to manage mobile baby, so Grandma Kiker has stepped in to help. Baby and Grandma have had lovely play dates while the building continues.

Grandma also welcomes the weary work crew with home-cooked meals. Tonight she rustled up a spread of southern fried chicken.

The Crane

This post is a little out of order, but thought it was worthwhile to mention that we used a crane to lift the bents into place. The 22" bents can be lifted by hand but their high center of gravity makes them perilous to manage, so we decided to pay for the safety and ease of the crane. It worked great and allowed us to nail the bents into place easily.

Roofing begins - June 2008

We have to remind ourselves that everything begins slowly and then picks up as we develop competence. The roof has begun, but slowly at first. We can recommend regular phone calls with John and David to get advice before beginning each new phase of building. Their tips and suggestions are invaluable. When we were first beginning, John told us, "You don't need to build your house fast. You need to build it well." Hmmm, does that mean that if we're slow, then it's good? If that's the case, this place is gonna be stinkin' gorgeous.
Summer afternoon convection thunderstorms are here, thus the push to roof in the house. The boys attempt to stay dry by using off-cuts of Typar.

Simpson Strapping

Hopefully you will not have to bend over backwards to meet code as we did in Florida. One of the excesses that were inflicted upon us involved cross-crossing the entire house with Simpson strapping to provide extra-sturdy triangulation.

This house is going to be rooted to the spot for the next 300 years.

The Cupola

The cupola adds some labor to the project, but we think it will be worth it. It will bring interesting light into the interior.

We anticipate that it will also provide a "chimney effect" by drawing hot air out of the house during summer. We'll let you know if it works.

Critters at the building site

The Florida woods are full of interesting critters. Hunting for wildlife to catch and release is an important

distraction for small boys when building becomes tedious.

Keeping Cool - May-June 2008

As summer comes on full force in Florida, we have to find ways to keep cool while sweating it out at the building site.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Treating wood with Borate Solution

Let's not forget the many gallons of Timbor borate solution we've sprayed on the wood to protect it from the eager jaws of Florida termites. This may not seem like a glamorous part of the building process, but it has required a pretty good whack of time, and lots of generous family help.

Building with Children

This building project has been a big thrill for two boys, ages 7 and 5. The baby likes it too, though there are increasing perils as he becomes more mobile. When Mom and Dad are on the roof, Grandma Kiker cares for the youngest member of the work crew.

Septic System Installed - May 2008

With our sandy soils, septic systems are a piece of cake. Installation cost $3100.

May-June 2008 - we want a roof

Now as the summer rains approach, the mad dash to get the metal roof on. We are using white (another First Day first). Remember in Florida, WE DON'T NEED HEAT, we try to get rid of it!

After sheathing the bents with tongue-and-groove, we wrapped the house in with rigid foam insulation panels, then placed strapping over the insulation. Now on to the roof....

Technical breakout for First Day Fans and Interested Builders

Technical breakout for First Day Fans and Interested Builders

Our basic garage/house kit is 22 ft wide with a 20 foot porch transitioning into a 47 foot long house with an added cupola (for light and heat shedding). Basically a 67 foot long garage... In rib form our neighbors think it looks like a church. Four inches of insulation on the roof and two inches in the side, to meet Florida code. Lots of windows, east/west oriented to maximize light yet avoid summer sun.

So far, we believe we hold the extreme Southern end of the (ever increasing) First Day nation( or confederacy? or cooperative?) In this part of the gator nation, First Days are a total novelty to plans inspectors, building inspectors and most of our subs.

And don't forget the constant vigilance needed to keep a tidy building site.

The Famous Dowels

Our Florida engineers decided we MUST have one inch diameter carriage bolts instead of the standard First Day half-inch diameters. These custom bolts were going to run 10 bucks EACH (we have over 150 in the house).

However, they did mention that one inch wooden doweling would be an acceptable substitute (as long as we pegged them). Lets see $1500 versus $70.

Actually, a lesson to be learned: set-backs often create new opportunities. We installed the wooden dowels and they look totally spectacular! It is the second thing people mention after they get over all the WOOD. Ironically, people now think we are some type of insane, artisan/old school-type builders.