Building at the LedgeFriday, September 3, 1999
The Roof is Up!

It's taken almost exactly two weeks to put up all the roof panels. Some of that time was spent straightening walls and installing the ledger boards and rafters on which the roof panels rest. A bit too much of the time was spent planing the roof panels, many of which were cut too long. Half an inch or even a quarter of an inch might not seem like a large amount but it might as well be a foot when it comes to fitting the panels in place.

photo: working on roofThis view from the west side of the house shows the guest bedroom (left corner), the office (right), and the gravelled area that will become the covered porch. From this angle, the entry is to the left, and the river is to the right.

I'm still working on the job site regularly. Usually I'm driving those previously-mentioned billions of nails into the roof panels to hold them together, and also backfilling some of the places on the walls that were skipped or needed some beefing up. The new hammer is working out great, and I'm getting a little better with the nail gun.

photo: roof from interiorI don't know why it should be so hard to fire the nail gun properly. You have to press the tip of the gun hard against the spot where you want the nail, and then pull the trigger very briefly. If you're not holding the tip hard and steady, it misfires or only goes in halfway. If you pull the trigger for longer than a fraction of a second, it fires two nails instead of one. And the thing weighs 50 pounds (just kidding). At first I needed to hold it with two hands. Now I can fire it with one hand sometimes, but still need the second hand to steady it if I'm holding it at an awkward angle or reaching out to a spot.

The photo on the right shows the interior, complete with the scaffolding that I got to stand on while driving nails into the underside of the upper roof. Theoretically you can just propel yourself (and the scaffolding) by pulling on the purlins (the beams up near the ridge). But in fact this is just another of T.B.'s myths. It assumes that one has a hand that can grip a six-inch wide beam and pull hard enough to roll a couple hundred pounds of scaffold, equipment, and worker along. My hand is perfectly adequate for most tasks, but not this one. I was able to pull from the skylights or push off the walls and move a few feet, but the rest of the journey required me to climb down and push from the floor.

Because the roof panels define the ceiling lines as well as the roof lines, I can for the first time feel how spacious the rooms will be. The great room feels much "greater" than before. It's hard to capture on film; you'll just have to trust me that it's beautiful, or come see for yourself.

photo: roof panelsThe other excitement last week was the arrival of the windows, French doors, and skylights. The windows and doors are made by Loewen, a Canadian firm, from vertical-grain Douglas Fir, clad on the exterior with sage-green aluminum. Because the wood is so beautiful, we will clear-coat the insides. The aluminum-clad outside should last a long time with minimal upkeep. They are "low-E", double-pane filled with argon gas to minimize heat transfer.

We should be able to begin installing skylights this week. Once I finish nailing all the exterior panels together (and T.B. finishes a couple of small jobs as well), we can call for an exterior nailing inspection and then start installing the windows. I guess that means I'd better sign off and get some sleep so that I can be nailing bright and early tomorrow!

-- Donna

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