Last week was intense. I’m still recovering. Friday was Beltane, or May Day, my favorite holiday. It is a celebration of sexuality, vitality, energy, passion, and joy. It is the time of year when the sun starts to be out more than it is hidden behind a cloud, here in the Pacific Northwest… when the rains start to cease. The height of spring, the beginning of summer. My year revolves around the salmon season in Alaska… I’m working 7 days a week from about June 1-August 15th and sometimes through September, so over the years the time between Beltane and leaving for Alaska… the month of May, basically… has become my summer. May Day is also a labor holiday. I always take the day off and, weather permitting, try to spend as much time lounging in the grass and sunshine as possible.
This year the tiny house laughed at my adorable need for a break and put me to work. Dad was able to come out for a few hours in the afternoon and I will never, ever turn down the chance to have Dad at the build site. Everything is easier when Dad is there.
But I did get a massage in the morning.
When I got to the build site, my house was sitting sun drenched in a small driveway outside the carport where it had previously lived. My stepdad moved it for me during the week, since the carport was just a hair too small to accommodate the roof. I’m glad I wasn’t there for this. The idea of moving the house gives me nightmares. It seems to have gone fine. Dad was already there and setting up the support beams for the ridgepole, which I had in the back of my truck (two 2x8x12s). He/we ended up attaching two very tall (14′?) 2×4’s to each end of the house on the inside, and two more in the middle attached to temporary crossbeams and a few scraps screwed into the subfloor. We placed the beams 3/4″ off-center of the house so that the ridgepole would sit evenly at the centerline of the roof. Well, we did that after we realized we’d forgotten to take the width of the ridgepole into account and nailed the support beams on the center-line. Whoops.
Dad went home around 4 and I had a very relaxing evening watching SVU and making beef stew with Bear cuddled at my feet.
In the morning we got back to securing the support beams, and once they were up realized we needed more 2x4s for scaffolding so I ran down to town in Dad’s truck and got more lumber and the OSB to sheath the roof. When I came back, Dad was in a temper. The nail gun had stopped working and his dog Skyler was going nuts from anxiety at the sound of the gun and all the banging, and Dad looked ready to murder everything. We thought our work might be done for the day, but Dad took the nail gun apart and fixed it, I put Skyler in the bunkhouse up the hill with some water and a nice doggie bed, and we ate the rest of the beef stew that I’d made and got back to it after lunch.
There were still a few 2x4s screwed crosswise into the spaces where the loft joists will eventually go, so we put up a few more and created temporary scaffolding at the loft level, about 7′ up the walls. We made it so you could climb up the ladder on one side and walk across the entire length of the house on the scaffolding, albeit with a lot of climbing (and bending after the joists were in). This made working on the roof so much easier than I imagined it would be, working on ladders. Dad suggested the scaffolding and he is awesome.
Since the ridgepole was in two pieces, we made sure the joint would be in between two of the joists and left about two feet hanging off each side; I’m going to leave a foot of overhang to create a little eave. Dad screwed 2×4 scraps onto each support beam just at the level where we wanted the ridgepole, then we attached each half with drywall screws to the support beams. We nailed a 12″ piece of 2×6 to each side of the ridgepole at the joint.
Then it was time to figure out the angled cut of the joists. My trailer is built to 8’4″ wide. The legal limit is 8’6″, so I knew I couldn’t overhang the long sides of my house at all. This meant we didn’t need to figure out a birdsmouth cut for the joists… just one angle where they meet the ridgepole and another where they sit on the top plate, flush with the edge. Dad said his usual method is to hold up a piece of wood at the edge of the roof so that it sits flush with the ends of the walls and the ridgepole, then just draw a line where the pieces of wood meet, and this gives you your cuts. No fancy math or speed squares for that guy. But since my ridgepole was sticking out 2 feet, we couldn’t do that. I grabbed the piece of wood that I’d cut with a test angle from my little experiment drawing my roofline out in pencil on my subfloor (see Week 7). We held it up to the ridgepole and it was perfect. BAM! We sat my cut flush with the ridgepole and held it just off the edge of the roof, drawing the top plate angle as per Dad’s usual method. Cut that angle and then brought it back up to test it. Perfect. Dad said, “This theoretically should work on the other side too, if we have the ridgepole dead center, but it’s rare to get it that perfect.” Guess what? It fit. BAM! Master carpenters here, clearly. I checked the top plate angle with the speed square and it was the same angle as the ridgepole side, but reversed, which according to my Youtube carpentry education, was as it should be. 10/12 pitch. And so we had our template roof joist with barely 10 minutes having passed. High fives for us!
Uncle Jack showed up just as we were getting ready to cut the 22 roof joists. He’d meant to come out earlier, but his garage door had gotten stuck in the open position when he was leaving his house, so he had to deal with that. This is why I don’t trust machines. We got a good roof joist cutting assembly line going, and banged them out with a quickness. Ditto getting them nailed up. We’d marked out the 24″ oc measurements on both the ridgepole and the top plates earlier, so it was easy to get them in place. Dad and Uncle Jack muscled them into position and I shot a few nails at top and bottom. 30 minutes later and boom! Roof joists.
Next up was putting strips of the 7/16 OSB on each joist to raise it up a bit. This was part of the system for venting my roof that I copied from Tiny Nest. Jake explains it better on that video than I could with words, so just go watch. Basically there will be a 1/2 inch gap (created with the same small strips of 7/16 osb) between my fascia board and the house sheathing, then a 1/2″ gap between the roof sheathing and insulation leading up to the ridgepole, then a 1″ gap between the tops of the roof sheathing, allowing air to flow up and over the insulation and vent out underneath the ridge cap. There will be mesh at the top and bottom of this gap to keep bugs out and a DIY vented ridgepole (this will be explained after I figure out how exactly to do it, but was suggested to me by the man at the hardware store that sold me the metal roofing, so that I didn’t have to buy a more expensive vented ridge cap). It is, apparently, really really important to vent your roof so that air and moisture don’t get trapped and start to encourage mold, as happened to Little Yellow Door. After reading that post I was extremely fixated on how to vent the roof and do it right, and am grateful as always to the Tiny Nest folks for making it seem simple. I had seen their video a few months ago but wish I’d researched it more deeply before starting the roof, as there were a few things I forgot or would have done a bit differently if I’d sat down and mapped it all out clearly the night before. Oh well.
Uncle Jack and I got to cutting the furring strips of OSB while Dad nailed the bejeezus out of the roof joists. I sort of hate the nail gun and sort of love the saw, so this was good.
Dad left. Uncle Jack and I had a few hours until Auntie Mary met us for dinner, so we nailed the OSB onto each joist with little roofing nails, leaving a small gap at the top to allow for the air gap.
I think we did something else next. I can’t remember. We had lasagna and baklava with Auntie Mary for dinner. I drove to Snohomish after with a long list of things to look at/buy at Home Depot. I came away with a big ass tarp and two rolls of bug mesh, drove home and made halibut. This halibut is the first animal I ever killed and every time I eat it I feel incredibly self-sufficient and badass, but also kinda like a cannibal because I vividly remember that thing looking at me as it came over the side of the boat and it’s eyes were *intelligent* and it was PISSED, and then I bonked it on the head and cut it’s gills and have been eating it slowly for a year.
Sunday I had the house all to myself. Mom and Jerry were at the beach until the early afternoon and all my helpers had other plans. I wanted to get the roof sheathing on by the end of the day, but had a lot of little tasks to get done first.
The OSB sheets we used on the walls are 8′ tall. My walls including sill plate and double top plate were a bit taller than 8′, and we also let the sheets overhang at the bottom to assist moisture run-off… so in the end there was about a 2″ gap between the top of the sheathing and the top of the top-most plate. I first cut down some more OSB and filled in this gap. I did it first because I was dreading it. Then, I attached hurricane ties on every single joist.
These will help keep wind (when driving on the freeway) from separating the joists from the top plates. I used the same little roofing nails and this was the most pleasant part of the tiny house build so far; it was bright and warm but the sun hadn’t climbed high enough over the trees to beat down on my neck. I had kombucha and dark chocolate and good music playing, a sleeping bag to pad my knees, temporary lofts to sit on, a cool breeze and dragonflies bobbing about, checking in on the progress. Next, I attached bug mesh all around the perimeter of the roof.
I did this with the roofing stapler. I had 36″x25′ rolls and cut one into 12″ wide pieces. I first stapled each piece hanging down the walls, then folded it up and under so there is a fold of mesh at the top and bottom. I wrapped them around the corners and up the joists about 10″. It seemed like creating folds at the top and bottom will help keep the bugs from slipping underneath the mesh, but I don’t know. It looked good, anyway.
I measured the joists and decided to keep the ends of the sheathing flush with the walls. I’d forgotten that to keep the air gap for venting, I need to put furring strips underneath my fascia. Plus the fascia. The roof joists are 64.5″ and I should have cut the sheathing at 66.5″ and overhung the walls by 2″, which would have made the sheathing flush with the outside edge of the fascia. But I didn’t. I ordered my metal roof panels at 66.5″ and the eave trim will cover up the gap with no harm done, I think.
My dear friend Sarah was coming over at 6:30 to help lift the sheathing up to the roof, so I was rushing to be ready for her. I screwed little stubs of 2×4 on the wall at the edge of every other joist, so that when we heaved the sheathing up onto the joists, it could rest on the stubs instead of someone having to hold it. This took longer than I anticipated. Everything takes longer than anticipated. Still, I got them in with time to spare and cut all the OSB down to 64.5″ (except the ones that were acting as temporary lofts) and in a fit of independence, decided to start putting them on the roof myself. A 64″ sheet is much lighter than a 96″ sheet, but still heavy. I pushed them one at a time up the 10′ ladder ahead of me, balanced them on top of the ladder, then pushed them sideways over my head and onto the roof and let them slide down to rest on the 2×4 stubs. This hurt my arms. That is an understatement. Then I got down off the ladder, went inside the house and back up the ladder, and stood in between the roof joists to turn the piece of sheathing the right way. The first piece I held at the edge of the roof to see if it was square, which is was not, so I got out the trusty ratchet tie downs and, using the temporary loft joists as ballast, pulled the 2×4 that was still attached to the ridgepole toward me until the sheet was square.
I got 3 sheets up and nailed down by the time Sarah arrived. She had 4 year old Violet with her, who was in a mood.
We got 2 more sheets up and nailed down… SO MUCH EASIER to put sheathing on the roof with someone up there to grab the sheet!… and then I had to take down the support beams that held up the ridgepole because they were in the way. To do this I had to dismantle the scaffolding. This took longer than anticipated and was a gigantic, unweildy, exhausting pain in the ass. Meanwhile Violet was building towards a blow up, but bless her sweet little heart we managed to keep her calm long enough to get the rest of the pieces that I had ready up.
Sarah is a badass as both a build assistant and a mom. Good work, dudette!
I thought I would go to bed and die quietly for 10 hours or so, but I had mega anxiety about getting the sheathing on by myself in the morning, plus some kind of not exactly sunburn, but overheating of my skin from the sun which felt like a fever and I was up tossing and turning until I plastered my face with a cold washcloth about 2 a.m. I had to be at work at 4 the next day, an hour away, and needed to get the house covered with a tarp before the rain that was forecasted for Tuesday, and to do that I had to take down the other ridgepole support beam which was sticking way up above the house.
Oh, did I mention the nail gun quit working Sunday morning so all of this nailing of sheathing was by hand? My elbow and arms and neck and shoulders and everything were screaming when I got up Monday morning, plus the housecleaner was in the kitchen so I didn’t eat. I just put on my fucking Carhartt overalls and went at that house like the stubborn maniac that I am. I won’t go into all the details because it gives me anxiety just thinking about it, but I got the temporary lofts taken down and put a few smaller pieces back up to stand on, cut down the rest of the plywood sheets, took down the support beam, pushed the rest of the fucking sheathing up the ladder above me and onto the roof, got everything squared up and nailed down, by about 1 p.m. I didn’t sheath the gable ends because I still need to add framing for the windows.
I tried to pull my 20×30′ tarp up over the front of the house with ropes, but the ridgepole caught and ripped it, then I was out of time, exhausted, starved, dizzy, and couldn’t lift my arms over my head, so my stepdad said he and Mom would take care of the tarp when they got home and I got myself some kombucha and THREE cheeseburgers (Bear got one too) and headed an hour north where I went immediately to work for 6 hours delivering pizzas. I. Am. Tired.