Dwelling on #DesignersBuilding – A DIY Blog Series
This blog series is an account of what happens when an architect, me, pushes past design and single-handedly tackles renovation from design through demolition and to construction. I look forward to sharing with you my discoveries, the challenges, and the solutions. Please share your stories of renovation and remodeling in the comments, DIY or not.
Last time, in the premiere Homework post, I highlighted demolition beginning on our enclosed porch. Removing all the siding that enclosed the space uncovered a good amount of rot (and other stuff) from moisture that had infiltrated and sat on the wood. The rot was all on the old framing that was coming out so I had no worries. When the west wall, the wall which had the greatest amount of damage, was completely removed, the deck board underneath was the only piece that needed replacing. This section sustained the worst of the wood rot, as pictured in the demolition post.
Demolish Design – Design Build
There comes a point in every project where virtual design space meets the material reality of construction. This is where we are. The porch already fits our modern sensitivities, with the more open look and feel, without the leaded glass casement windows. Once all the old material was removed, it was a good time to evaluate the design against what was uncovered. I had basic sketches of how I intended to put the screened-in porch together. It was just enough to show my wife, Annmarie, the idea and get a rough estimate of materiel costs. That concept held up with what I saw with the exception of a few columns that were placed and constructed differently than speculated. The columns also changed the design I had for a continuous 2×6 rail/ledge around the perimeter because it would not leave enough lumber after cutting a notch for the column; the ripple effect. These changes lead to a nice detail with mitered corners on the rail/ledge at the columns that I will show in the next post. For the rest, it was onward as planned… working on weekends and a few week days when the business schedule allowed.
Delivery for the Staffords
Once design adjustments were made for the unforeseen conditions, materials were ordered. I am proud to say there were no major change orders. The truck arrived with the materials for the project…so exciting! I was really fired up to start on the new construction. This is the best part of any project! There is a great energy and reward that comes when an idea, steeped in design and cultivated with details, first breaks into construction. The former vision starts to materialize, the human scale of the working drawings takes shape, and the project begins to take on its own life as the new space is captured. On this project, there is also the great feeling that it is really a return on investment project, adding value to our property, as well as improvements to an already cherished space in our home that were more in tune with our tastes.
Sawhorses, Sawdust, and Suspenders
Framing began. It’s been a lot years since I last strapped on the tool belt. I was framing spec homes in Madison, Mississippi before my last year of architecture school when I last had that belt at full utilization. There have been plenty of DIY projects since then, but the tool belt stayed hanging on the shop wall. Not this time. This project is the first major renovation to our mountain home, getting at more than cosmetics or repairs. It was time to tool up, to have everything right there at the fingertips, ready to go. I love the smell of freshly cut lumber. Seeing the immediate product of my own handwork and power tools is also very satisfying.
After sanding and staining the existing deck boards, I removed the one deck board that needed replacing, the only one with wood rot. I framed in some box beams to back up the existing siding at the gutter on the front of porch. Then on to the columns that were set against the back wall of the house, with a strip of T1-11 siding to make them flush out with the finished siding at the soffit. The brick at the back wall had to be scraped clean before putting these on, to remove the sealant from the existing porch walls, and prepare the brick to accept the new sealant. My 5 in 1 tool came in real handy for that. I then installed two columns on either side to maintain the visual rhythm set by the 4’ spacing of the existing structural columns on the front of the porch.
The new columns on the sides were challenging because of the sloping roof and beams. I had a few tools in the bag to address this challenge. I used a plumb bob to ensure an accurate measurement for a snug and plumb fit where the top of the columns meet the sloping beams. How? Basically, mark the location of each column on the floor. Drop the plumb bob from the sloping beam above to hit that mark and transfer the floor mark plumb (vertically level) to the beam, as shown in the pictures above. Then measure twice and cut once. The top of the column will be cut on an angle to match the sloping beam, so keep track of if your measurement is to the tall, or long, side or short side of the cut, see illustration. With the columns in place I started with the secondary framing – 2×4’s to accept the Screen Tight tracks, more details later, and leave the columns as a visual element, rather than covering them. I am using #10 3” exterior screws with a T-25 driver head to hold all this together. Between the columns and secondary framing being screwed together, I’d say the original structure, 5 posts and beams, has been substantially fortified. When demolition was complete, we really enjoyed the more open feel that the space had. It is great to realize that feel remains on the porch as the framing and rails are installed.
In the next post I will continue with framing and move out to the new rails on the deck outside the screened in area. Come back to “Homework” to read about the next round of construction challenges and how we overcame them.