Remember that time we dug out and hand-poured the most extreme concrete footer ever? Well, we finally got around to building a structure on it! Juggling projects in order of livable necessity while both working more-than-full-time and cohabitating amidst our construction has made for slower-than-awesome progress on some things, but WE ARE GETTING THERE!
When we last left off, we’d gotten the footer poured. Once it was set, we spent a good amount of time admiring it from hammocks, talking about how awesome it was, and standing on it to just feel proud. With more pressing projects ahead of it, the footer got to enjoy the rest of the summer in the spotlight, without the structure that would soon live on top of it stealing all of its thunder. Unfortunately for the footer, this has finally changed.
After Burning Man, we enlisted the help of our Soul Couple, the Clavos, to come and help us frame out this bad boy. They’ve got some pretty serious framing experience under their belts, having previously framed out their own house on a much larger scale. With their help, the four of us got our 119 square foot structure framed in one weekend.
First things first, we had to plan it out. Roof type, pitch, layout, and everything had to be more or less decided before we could start construction. After several failed attempts at modeling it on a computer, Austin resorted to good old fashioned graph paper and drew up our schematics. This gave us a general idea of how much lumber we would need so we went ahead and bought 20% more than that… and used all of it. We’re committed to using post-consumer products for the majority of this build, however framing lumber is best bought new. We decided on a 3:12 roof pitch, which is pretty much the bare minimum for the snow loads in our neck of the woods, but just in case, we also opted for a metal roof so the snow won't pile up as much. Additionally, the metal roof decision was made for fire protection and durability.
Once we regained our bathroom focus, Austin got the sill plate and metal flashing in place on top of the footer to keep water out of our new foundation. Next up was boxing out the floor and putting in joists. We decided to use 2x6” lumber for everything: floor, walls and ceiling. It’s typically best to keep your 2x6” joist spans under 12’ across, but we had several inches of overlap all the way around the floor, so our layout is more than strong enough.
Once we got the floor installed, it was time to install the subfloor. We glued all of the joists and then nailed on 1” OSB for a nice squeak-resistant base. The next step was obviously framing up the walls. We did the walls one-by-one, and then secured them after making sure everything was plum and square. The last step for framing was the roof joists. This part can be a little tricky, especially when you’re building out a flat, single pitch roof like we decided to do. But if you do your math right, it isn't that hard to figure out the cuts (although this part was responsible for wasting more lumber than any other part of the project). Once everything was nailed together, all that was left to do was to sheath and seal it from the weather. We wrapped the entire structure in Tyvek house wrap to seal the base envelope, followed by a layer of tar paper and then the metal roofing. We figured a metal roof would be easier than shingles… but we were so, so wrong. During framing, we acknowledged and accepted that our structure was about 0.5” off-square, which we assumed was acceptable because nothing is really square, right? Wrong. It was totally fine until we put up the metal sheets which are, of course, perfectly square. So after some fumbling around and a whole lot of silicone, we got the roof installed just in the nick of time – the day before our first real snow storm.
Next up was installing a pre-hung french door. If you have never installed a french door, our best recommendation is to pay $400 for a professional to do it. It took Austin about 6 hours of shimming, and Margot about 10 anxiety attacks while trying to hold it in place, to get it perfectly square enough for the door to operate properly. But the result is perfect – a big beautiful opening to our wild and wonderful property.
Our plans for the exterior are to create our own 0.5” siding out of scrap wood, utilizing leftovers from other projects, pallets, and whatever else we can get our grimy hands on. The immediate plan for the interior is to let the Tyvek and tar paper act as a seal while we continue to build out the inside. The front wall (which will be our bottle wall) is framed out in pressure treated cedar and some temporary studs that we remain through the winter. Come warmer weather, we’ll cut this out and begin construction on our magnificent bottle wall.