Sunday, December 18, 2011

Now It's A Carriage House!

Friday night I picked up a nice copper weathervane for the garage which features a horse and surrey. The garage was originally built to house Model T's..... but now it qualifies to be called a " Carriage House"!

It will eventually be mounted on top of a cupola when I find time to build one....

Roof Raising

It's been a busy few weeks... too busy to even post, but I'll try and get ya blogged up to date.

After the ridge beams were set I installed the top section of rafters. That was easy enough. These are all 2x6s on 24 inch centers.

The "new" framing nailer made quick work of getting all the rafters in. I picked up a used one on ebay and wish I 5 years ago when I started restoring the Hall House!

Next step, install the lower rafters. I carried these down to the sill without any rafter tails extending past the wall on the eave. There will be a pitch change later that will form the eaves.

To form the front and back eaves, I notched the 2x10s passing through the gable walls. The eaves are built with 2x4s which will later be finished with 1x6s. I will also be enclosing the eaves with beadboard at a later date.

The eaves take shape and the 3/4 plywood sheathing is installed on the upper sections.

One more addition for the loft, the side sections are added. These will help support any long items stored, plus hold side lighting underneath, and finally to attach tracks for the garage door.

The final stage of framing involved the side eaves. I wanted to do "bracketed eaves" which is when on a gambrel style roof, the eaves change pitch near the bottom. Usually they aren't very wide, but because my pitch was shallow to begin with, they ended up being wider than usual. The jury is still out if I like them or not, but they are there now! The other eason I went with this design was if I extended the rafter tails down and then enclosed... the beadboard enclosing the eaves would be against the stone... making for an ugly cut trying to get the bead board tight against the stone. This design will have it installed against the sill. The bracketed eaves  are made from 2x4s sistered to the main rafters.

The eaves are complete and ready for sheathing.

And finally.... roll out the tar paper!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Bigger and Better Ridge Beams

Out with those ratty and rotted sad excuse for ridge beams.... delivered from Tague Lumber were 3 2x10x24 foot Hemp Fir boards. My idea for installing these was to build a cradle at each point on the walls to drop these in. The cradle consists of a 2x4 which would be the same width as the new boards and two recycled 2x4's from the old structure. The new board between the two is 9 1/2 inches shorter, creating a U shape to support the new 2x10's. As you can see they work pretty good. When installing the new beams I left 12 inches extend past the back wall to build an overhang... and on the front I'll cut any extra off when I build the front overhang.

And now my rant on just how bad things were out of whack to try and start a new roof!!

I started with building the center cradles and then the one's on each side. On the front wall I built the right side first and then the left. When I measured for the left, it was 4 inches higher than the right side??! Some investigation with the tape measure shed some lighton why the angles of the roof didn't look the same on each side.... none of the measurements matched. The height of the left and right was 4 inches different... and the distance from the center were a few inches different too?! Then comparing to the back, none of those meaurements matched the back either. Yikes! Now what?? So I figured I had to get my center ridge in first and build from there. The back wall was the closest to being symetrical, so I would build from that. So I dropped in the ridge beam into the back center saddle and then leveled it. This also revealed that the front was lower than the back so I had to shim the front saddle to make the top ridge level. Here's a pic with the first beam in...

If you look at the front right angle change, you can see where I have lifted the rafter over 4 inches to match the left angle...

Next step was measuring the back right ridge from the center ridge and making the front saddle match that distance. Then dropped the new beam in place and again leveled it. This one was so far off I had to dismantle the right section of the front wall so I can rebuild it to match the back.

The left side was not as bad but still had to move the front over a few inches...

Well after alot of figuring and adjusting I now have 3 ridge beams that are level and parallel to each other! So in theory I should be able to make one rafter template and have it fit all the way around.... we'll soon see.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Goodbye Saggy Roof

After removing all the shingles and the lower sheathing the next step was building the front and back storage lofts. With these built it would make final removal of the old structure much easier. I'm using 2x8x20 footers to span the loft installed on 16 inch centers... giving me about 5 feet of storage in the front and back. I installed bracing between them to tie everything together, followed byt 1/2 OSB. Now I'll have enough space to store 55 Chevy parts!

A closer inspection at how bad the old structure was getting...

Next was bracing the roof to the new loft so I could remove the old support beams.

The last of the old sheathing is removed leaving just the framing... strange they went to the trouble to build the garage with granite walls, yet framed the roof with literally scrap lumber?!

And down comes the framing leaving just the gables which I will try to save. I was hoping to salvage some of the lumber but it's not looking good.

Next step.... installing new ridge beams.... stay tuned

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Garage Roof Woes

Once again I am side tracked from working the bedrooms. The reason this time.... oh, just a collapsing garage roof!! With the 55 Chevy off the the body shop, I did a close inspection of the roof which had been leaking pretty good for the last year or so. On each ridge (there's 3 because it's a gambrel style roof) I ran strings from end to end so I could measure how much the roof had sagged from level. What I found was alarming. About an 1 1/2 inch sag in the top and right roof lines... but over 5 1/2 inches sag in the left ridge! I tried to jack that side back up but the wood was too rotted and was breaking apart. The problem is the rafters are tied together with ridge beams that are only bead board. One more heavy snow and this roof could easily come down... and no way would I even think about parking my 55 under it!

So off comes the 2 layers of roof...

And let's not forget the sheathing...

This is as far as I can safely get the structure apart. Next step is to start building the loft so I can have easy access to the roof and multiple places to add temporary supports as I dismantle the rest of the roof. Stay tuned...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Great Flood..... or Two

With winter approaching I really needed to get crackin on the radiator work in the master bedroom. I decided to add another closet in the void by the butler staircase, so the original radiator and pipes to the 3rd floor needed to be relocated. The old radiator would have to go to, instead using a shorter radiator installed under the window. The first step was modifying the wall I built, adding a doorway for a closet.

I also removed all the old piping down to the supply and return lines coming from downstairs. Then lots of cutting, threading and piping! The lines split to feed the bedroom radiator and to feed the 3rd floor.

While the system was drained down I headed downstairs to the powder room for repairs to that radiator. 3 years ago a deep freeze and some poor insulation in the crawl space led to a frozen pipe and busted an elbow in the return line. So back into the crawl space, one of my favorite places to work on the house... but first I finally opted to clean some of the debris out! The coal pit here was filled up some time in the past with lots of bricks and trash.

I think this winter I will take the time and do what I should have when I had the kitchen floor open... clean out the junk and seal the sides and dirt floor with heavy plastic. That will take care of any drafts and keep the moisture down. After that, having it open to the basement will not be an issue... and neither will frozen pipes!

Ok, so where does the floods come in?? Well after fixing the pipe and hooking up the radiator I started to fill the system... long story short... forgot the other bedroom radiator was not hooked up! I remembered when water started dripping from the foyer ceiling. Needless to say there is some drywall repair in my future, but not too bad.

Capped off the pipes in that bedroom, fill the system again, and looks like no leaks. Later that day a slow drip showed up in the powder room around the reducer to the union. Usually these small leaks seal themself up, so I stuck a bowl under the drip and checked on it occasionally.

Then... two days later... I come home and there's water all over the powder room! The nut on the union elbow cracked from too much pressure.

I had a hard time hooking up the radiator because the faces would not line up flat to each other. The pipe feeding out of the floor was on an angle leaning towards the radiator and could not be straightened without shortening a pipe. So drain the system, tweak the pipes, drill out the floor holes a bit more and reconnect. This time... no drips.

BUT... as the hardwood floor dried out it has begun to buckle and warp. And of course after 5 years of storing in my garage, I just got rid of the extra flooring a week ago!

Never fails.....

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Bedroom Ceiling Leveling

I posted about this in detail when I did the downstairs... but a quick recap. Old construction lumber can vary a great deal in dimensions. When they built the floors, the joists were leveled to the floor surface leaving the ceiling side to vary across the room. It then became the plaster guys to "level" the ceiling. In the world of drywall this is not an option, so there's no choice but to sister the joists. I read a few years about using a laser to find the lowest joist in the room and then running string across the room at the level. Then using metal studs which are virtually guaranteed straight, sister them to the joists at the string lines. This system worked great downstairs so I'm using it again.

Here's the master bedroom finished. Like the dining room, I actually found a 4 inch difference across the room! The walls need to be done too which I jsut use a long level or straightedge and shim out the low joists to make a "flat" wall.

Next job is moving the rad pipes before the cold gets here...

Friday, October 7, 2011

Emergency Drip Cap Repairs

I was sidetracked once again a few weeks ago over at Case de Jessica's 1920's bungalow. Her 4 year and counting restoration is coming along... recently finishing up with the wall repairs and all new windows. Imagine the horror of seeing water staining and damage after hurricane Isabel and the other 20 inches of rain we've had the past 2 months! The damage all occured on the one wall that takes the brunt of the weather and was mostly around the 4 windows on both floors. The stucco had been cleaned up and painted last year and new windows installed but the wood work had not been dealt with yet.

My hunch was rotted metal flashing on the drip caps above the windows. But to my surprise there never was any metal flashing when the house was built?! They just used wood drip caps that were all in very poor condition after 80 years. So bring over the scaffolding, take apart a window frame, and see what kind of solution we can come up with.

The surrounding wood work was all in pretty rough shape and the choice was made to replace it all with new composite material. This way there will be no more rot issues down the road. I was able to sneak behind the stucco, so I came up with a plan of installing some metal Z-flashing over a piece of composite. Here you can see the original drip cap removed from the first window...

While everything was apart, spray foam was applied to all the gaps, followed by a layer of 30# felt that will shed any moisture that may get behind the trim.

Caulk was applied liberally around all the seam areas and the new trim installed. A final caulking, the original sill stripped and primed, and a final paint job made things good as new. Once I had one window down, the other 3 went smoothly. They also were found to be in worse shape with a good bit of moisture surrounding the window.

Another issue we found was a section of bricks on the chimney that were spalling. Inside the attic, the flashing apparently is failing and letting water in... causing the damage to the brick and probably causing the one ceiling stain in the upstairs bedroom. So while the scaffold was set up, I tried my hand a repointing the bad part of the chimney. Some of the bricks could have stood to be replaced, but this was more of a "get things stabilized" repair and deal with it more once the leaks are stopped. I knocked out about an inch or so of mortar and applied new. It didn't come out too bad considering the condition of the bricks, but I could certainly use a little more practice!

I forgot to take a close up of the after since it was starting to rain. We replace the attic vent wood work too and stripped the louvers... again since we were already working here.

After a long week of work... this side of the house is water tight and lookin right! Now back to the Hall House project!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Busy busy as usual and the house is getting ignored again. We had a fire at work which has required a lot of overtime but those repairs are finally done. Then I made a trek out to Pittsburgh for a few days and while there I finally got to visit Fallingwater - Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece. All I can say is it's even better in person!