Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mother Nature Communes With The House Kit

To quote comedian Daniel Tosh, 
"I don't want to commune with Mother Nature, she's out to kill us all." 

After the last few days, those on the East coast would probably sympathize with Daniel. Mother Nature hasn't tried to kill us on the prefab house site but, she certainly has made rapid progress difficult, if not impossible. While we have accomplished a few things since my last post, the really crucial element of getting dried in, roof on and windows/doors installed, has been made difficult or impossible by the very cold and snowy weather.

We pretty much finished up the wiring and got the tub/showers installed. We started on the siding and did get 4 windows and 1 door installed, but it was cold and messy work. We were also able to install 8 inches of fiberglass insulation between the trusses, which only had 2 X 6 blocks at their base separating the interior from the elements. This was a weak spot in the energy envelope, but between foaming all cracks around the blocking, packing the insulation between the trusses and wrapping it in plastic, we think we have pretty well made this element as tight and resistant to energy loss as the rest of the house. At first I tried to blow in cellulose, but that turned out to be a real bummer. The blowers for that stuff are designed for wide open attics, not the 2 x 2 foot enclosures we'd fabricated. Consequently the stuff just blew all over the place, nearly blinding and asphyxiating me. When I left that day I looked like Pigpen from the Charlie Brown comic strip, with a little cloud of cellulose kicking up around me with each step. Won't try that again!

Eight inches of snow on the roof, however, have prevented getting the shingles on. It looks like we might have a week to 10 days of relatively friendly weather starting tomorrow, and for that reason we removed all the snow from the roof yesterday. Fortunately I had a snow rake that I used to use when we lived in a rather remote area, and we would receive occasional heavy snowfall. When that is the tool you need, nothing else will do. Hopefully, we get the shingles on, siding and doors done, and we will be set to install drywall and flooring.

After that, HVAC, kitchen and finishing up the siding. I'll feel like we're in the home stretch then.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Panels Set As Winter Sets In

Finally, all panels are set!

It seemed like a long time, but actually was only 17 days from delivery to setting the final panel. Between weather delays and working weekends to make up, we took about 12 full working days to finish.

As expected, the 8 x 24 roof panels were a handful. There were some tense moments. If their size alone wasn't enough we had a couple of complicating factors:
  • First, wet weather had made already soft ground around the site even worse. Operating the forklift was very difficult, as it sunk 1 to 2 feet in the muck when it had a load. The area around the site looks like we had a mud-truck competition. 
  • Second, the trusses we bought were constructed wrong. The height that they rose off of the wall plate was short, necessitating building up the wall plate, and the pitch, which was supposed to be 8/12 was wrong. It was actually somewhere around 7 7/8's or 15/16's, which meant that they were not as tall as a true 8/12 would be. This would not be a problem if the entire roof was supported by the trusses, but in this house that is not the case. Each end support is a SIP wall, which were a true 8/12 pitch and therefore ended up over an inch higher at the peak than the trusses. We had a choice, send the trusses back or compensate for the error in construction. Being late November and wanting badly to get under roof before bad weather set in we decided to go with what we had. It made installation a much more time consuming chore, but was preferable to waiting another week or more for new trusses. Turns out we made the right decision, as nasty winter weather moved in, and as of today remains.
Just before it started snowing we were able to get the conventionally framed roof on over the bedroom wing. We are now expecting a spell of single digit lows and highs in the teens. We need about a week of half decent weather to finish up details on the roofs so that we can get shingles on and dry everything out.

Windows and doors should be here in 3 days, and house wrap and installation will soon follow. Combined with a finished roof this should improve working conditions greatly. We are all curious to see how well the little 80K BTU propane heater we have will heat up the house!