Archive for September, 2012

Building a Home – Framing

Posted on: September 18th, 2012 No Comments

The first of many walls being erected.

After finishing the foundation on Friday, our general contractor Daron said that a crew would be at the home site the next week to start framing. By the time I got there early Monday morning, the framers had put down chalk lines to outline walls and one wall had already gone up. Threaded rods had been set in the perimeter of the foundation when they poured concrete the previous week. The bottom 2x4s (or plates) of the framed walls were predrilled and placed over these rods to secure the house frame to the foundation. Holes were also drilled to allow water supplies, electrical conduit and waste water pipes to pass through the plates. It didn’t take the crew of six very long to get nearly all the walls up. Video of wall going up

Later that same day….

Later that week, a supply company came by and dropped off the custom roof trusses. Trusses are designed to support the roof by spreading the weight load on the walls. Our trusses had additional complexity in that we had tray ceilings in the living room and master bedroom. Instead of being completely level across the bottom, several trusses had rises to accommodate this architectural feature.

The larger trusses spanned over 40 feet, meaning they were not only awkward to handle but weighed a lot. To get them up on top of the walls and set, the framers brought in a crane. One person would hook the crane to a truss, the crane operator would lift it onto the frame and four framers would work to secure it. It took the crew approximately two hours to secure the forty trusses that had been delivered. Video of truss being lifted into place

Roof truss being lifted into position. The irregular line at the bottom of the truss is for the tray ceilings.

Over the next several days, the crew worked to get OSB (oriented strand board) on the outside walls of the house and on the roof for the “deck”. The process of getting the outside of the house weather proof is called “drying-in” the house. Once the house is dryed-in, the work crews have additional flexibility to work inside the home when the weather doesn’t cooperate. Tyvek wrap is used on the outside walls to waterproof them. On the roof, tar paper is generally put down to waterproof the deck. However, the crew used a synthetic underlayment, Titanium UDL-30,  which seals when nailed through. Even if all the shingles blew off our roof in a storm it should still be water tight. Video of roof being wrapped

Shiny new radiant barrier OSB on the west facing roof.

A last point on the roof: the roof deck is a material called radiant barrier OSB, or strand board with a thin layer of aluminum foil glued on the attic-facing side. It’s designed to reflect radiant heat absorbed by the roof and directed towards the living space. The contractors mistakenly did half the roof without it. To correct the mistake without tearing down perfectly good decking, Daron is going to put up radiant barrier foil. The foil serves the same purpose of reflecting the radiated heat away from the living space.

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Building a Home – Putting Down the Foundation

Posted on: September 10th, 2012 No Comments

New foundation forms with termite treated sand for backfill.

After the home site had been prepared, things started to happen quickly. A couple days after the heavy equipment left, a work crew came by and put up the foundation forms. Soon after, they returned with several truckloads of sand and backfilled the forms. The basics of a monolithic slab foundation are 20″ concrete footers around the perimeter and 4″ of concrete everywhere else. The footers provide a stable, strong foundation on which to build the weight bearing walls using concrete that is rated to 3000 pounds per square inch.


Plumbing being put down.

With the forms in place, plumbers visited the job site. They dug trenches in the sand to run the water supplies, drainage lines, electrical conduit, and radon exhaust. Keep in mind that all of this is going to be buried under 4″ of concrete, so there’s not much room for error. The plumbing was done with various sorts of plastic depending on the application. Besides its cost, versatility and ease of use, plastic is also a poor conductor so you can count on hot water staying hot and cold water staying cold. When all the plumbing was down, they filled the trenches and put a layer of plastic over everything to serve as a vapor barrier. Since concrete inevitably cracks, the plastic will prevent moisture and gas (especially radon) from seeping up into the house (see the YouTube video here).

A total of 6 concrete trucks came one after the other starting at 7:30am.

Everything was ready for concrete. It came in 6 massive trucks. We were told the concrete they had ordered contained synthetic fibers that would help bind the concrete together. We were also told the concrete would begin to set in about 90 minutes. Sometimes, concrete trucks have problems that don’t allow the drivers to unload their concrete before it sets. If that happens, they have to get inside the concrete drums and chisel or jack hammer the concrete out. Needless to say, the concrete contractors worked with a purpose. They seemed to follow a three step process: 1) move the concrete around with shovel-like implements, 2) use a 2×4 and preset rebar spikes for leveling, and 3) apply a smooth coat to the surface with a bull float.

The finishing touches being put on with a float.

Sara and I got to the home site at about 7:30am that morning, just as they began to pour the concrete. When we came back at 5:00pm, the work crew had removed the forms and the concrete had hardened enough to stand on. The foundation was done just like that (see the video here).


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Tubing Down the Chipola River

Posted on: September 5th, 2012 No Comments

Nothing beats a lazy day on the river with some friends. Just an hour drive west of Tallahassee on I-10 in Marianna is the Chipola River, a popular spot for kayaking, canoeing, swimming and especially tubing. On a recent Saturday afternoon, a bunch of us rented tubes at Bear Paw Adventures at the head of Spring Creek. Each of us got an inflated tire inner tube and a couple cooler tubes. We packed some sandwiches, snacks and cold drinks. 

While on Spring Creek, you’re pretty well shaded from the sun. The creek does run pretty fast and especially so with big cooler rafts pulling you downstream. From time to time, we would all link up into a big raft and float down together. Spring Creek is warm and shallow, the Chipola River is cold and deep. There isn’t much shade while you’re on the Chipola so keep sunscreen handy. Several roap swings can be found hanging from trees along the bank where you can stop and test your swinging abilities.

There’s not much to this story, which is why it makes for the perfect lazy Saturday afternoon.  The trip should take you around four hours, just the right amount of time.


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