Taking a break

My knee kneeds (hee) some time to heal, so now that the roof is mostly on, I’m going to stop working for a little while.  My doctor had told me to stay off of it for a couple months and knit or something, but I just couldn’t til now.  Weather and building a house trumps comfort sometimes.  It’s apparent in the photos how the edges are still loose ~ I have a fascia idea I want to try still before it all gets affixed.

EPDM sealed down except at the edges.

EPDM sealed down except at the edges.

A LOT of my rabbits got free from a hidden burrow of their pen.  They like to come down and hang out with me.  Please ignore the drying laundry, LOL. Seriously, this is long-term camping these days, complete with wee beasties at my door.

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What’s up?

 

I got the underlayment cut out on half the interior and made some interesting observations.  First off, it definitely looks like a more recent water incursion (thank goodness).  I’m sure that it got wet this past spring after I took off the tarp ~ I should have waited for drier weather.  It’s hard to know in these parts when that’ll happen, though.  The tarp I had over the floor didn’t cut it, and leaked around the edges (I’m guessing).

The underlayment underside, showing how the water got in at the edges.

The underlayment underside, showing how the water got in at the edges.

The house appears to have settle slightly to one end and more slightly to one side.  The great part about that is the water settled there, too.  Well, mostly.  The puddle was there, but higher parts were damp to quite wet.  I cut down through the layers to the insulation, and removed some sections of it to dry and to allow the structure to dry.  I just stir the wool up every couple days to help it.  The wood is all ok, even the parts that were somewhat underwater.  It’s drying out well.

Because of an oddity to my joist design, most of them weren’t even wet.  I used a sort of box idea to hold the wool and built it 6 inches deep.  To allow a thermal break, I only hung 2x4s for the joists, leaving a space between the bottom of them and the floor of the box.  This worked well except in the middle of the house, where I didn’t get them fastened in tightly and securely enough (springy floor!).  I haven’t decided whether to wait until everything is dry to fix that or if I should just go ahead and pull that part out now and redo it.  It will hasten the drying if I do it now, perhaps.

The rigid insulation is holding up well, even wet.  It’s drying too.

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Rigid foam board under the wool revealed to allow it to dry.

Plywood underlayment cut and pulled off to expose the wet wool.

Plywood underlayment cut and pulled off to expose the wet wool.

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Wool is wet and still fluffy! The space below the floor joist is visible in this picture, too.

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The brown is just sawdust from cutting the plywood. On the left is a joist and rigid foam boards underneath.

 

The wool is the most interesting part.  One of the many reasons I choose to use it was due to it’s high insulating value even when wet.  It is still fluffy and thick and has no mold or weird smell.  It’s wet as a sponge in parts though, and I might need rent a commercial size dehumidifier to completely get it all dry, after the house is closed up.  I think I’ll do that even if it all “looks dry”….just to be safe.

So the floor is all torn up, but is fixable.  I admit to being scared to cut into it, afraid of what I’d find.  It’ll just take time and a bit of work, and nothing terribly complicated.  It’ll be nice to have a solid floor everywhere. :)

While that all is drying, I’ll finish hanging the wall sheathing, and then hang the rigid foam insulation on the outside of that.  It’s super light, so that part should go quickly.  I have some rigid foam glue that I’ll use at the corners of the building, and I’ll nail it up all over with these special nails with plastic washer-things I got at the ReStore.  I do not intend to use building paper as originally planned, as I want the entire wall assembly to be able to breathe to the outside.  Instead, I’ll just have the plywood sheathing, then the rigid foam boards, then some blocking for a rain screen effect, then the siding.  To allow wetness out at the bottom of the wall assembly there will be a small gap around the entire house, which I’m thinking to cover with a wire mesh.  The last thing I want is mice or other critters to get up in there!  I found a big roll of wire mesh at the ReStore the other day, enough for the whole house and only $10.  I’ll have to figure out a way to securely attach it to both the inner, foam and plywood section and the outer, sheathing section without it showing.

After all that, I guess the next part is weather-sealing the door and window openings, then installing them.  After that the house will be officially “dried in” and that’s when I’ll rent the dehumidifier to finish the floor.  The weather should hold reasonably well through the end of September (fingers crossed), which gives me a little time….I just want to get my knee to a less pained state and hopefully get it healed enough.  Living alone on a mountain will be challenging enough without being lame, LOL.

OK, off to play some Civ 5 or something!

Halfway There!

After working on this roof, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s really not that hard to work with EPDM.  You have to use the proper materials and pay attention to detail, and preferably work with another person (I’ll say why in a minute) to get to a good result.  If you want a low-slope roof and fear water intrusion, it’s a good choice.  It is very tolerant of temperature extremes.  It’s flexible and of course that’s a great quality in a moving home.  It should last for years – up to 50 in some installations!  That’s one of the reasons why you’ll find it in commercial buildings – they don’t want to be replacing the roof every few years.  It’s easy to repair if it gets a tear for some reason (generally due to improper installation, from what I’ve read).  It works for green roofs, walkable decks, ballast (gravel) applications and fully adhered – like mine is, and on any slope, even super steep ones.

So why do you want a helper?  It worried me to see that in every installation instruction I found, two people were shown working together, and I hoped I’d be able to do it well by myself.  Now that I’ve got it half done, I know why!  First off, the stuff is heavy at 2 pounds per square foot.  Due to it being floppy, it feels heavier.  Of course, I have the strength of a baby bird these days….  It’s easier to keep all wrinkles, creases and bubbles out with two people working at either edge, and those are the bane of rubber.  Well, those and inadequate sealing at the edges.  Adhering goes MUCH faster with two people, as you can do half the roof at a time, keeping the total time spent under 3 hours.  Alone, it took me 6 hours to get half the roof done yesterday.  You have to put glue on both the roof decking and on the EPDM, then wait for it to “flash off” (get to a nearly dry state), before carefully stretching the rubber and laying it down perfectly smooth and then smooshing it down very firmly with a push broom.  Flashing off takes up to an hour.  Since I can only handle a small section at a time, you see how it takes lots more time doing it alone.

It’s fun though!  I’m having a blast messing with the glue – for some reason it’s like playing to me :).  I get to work and stop (and read) to wait for the glue to be ready, work and stop, work and stop – and I don’t feel lazy because taking periodic breaks are a required part of the process!

 

EPDM rolled out to relax before gluing it down

EPDM rolled out to relax before gluing it down

Glue applied to the roof deck and back of EPDM, waiting to be dry enough to adhere together

Glue applied to the roof deck and back of EPDM, waiting to be dry enough to adhere together

The glue goes on like thick paint.  Please ignore the photo-bombing hair...!

The glue goes on like thick paint. Please ignore the photo-bombing hair…!

I Buckle And Ask For Help (again).

It’s taken quite a bit longer than anticipated, but my roof is nearly finished!  An old boyfriend came to my aid and helped me haul the super-heavy roll of EPDM up the 14 feet or so to the roof top late Sunday.  I’ve been hassling with that stuff for days, and with help it took less than 10 minutes.  Thank you, Ray, hope you enjoy the wine!
Per instructions, I’d already smoothed out the roof decking and sanded down all the edges.  Before rolling out the rubber, I swept thoroughly and double-checked for sharp slivers.  Thankfully, I was able to keep the wood clean during it’s construction, so I didn’t need to wash it down.  Rolling out the EPDM was easy, and straightening it out was too.  A sprinkle of rain started right after the rubber was laid out, which was great timing, phew!

End of EPDM roll hangs off the end of Oliver's Nest

End of EPDM roll hangs off the hitch end of Oliver’s Nest and over the new sheathing

The rubber needs to sit and relax for at least an hour after positioning it, and it’s had a day now to do so.  The glue-down will be done today.  I got side-tracked yesterday at the local ReStore, and bought a bunch of stuff!  They had a big roll of 12 gauge electrical wire for $30 (woot!), enough in theory for my needs.  They had a huge amount of really pretty pine trim at .25 cents a foot.  I bought about 175 feet, which I hope will be enough…I want to use it throughout Oliver’s Nest for continuity.  There is still enough left at the store for another whole Tiny House!  There was a bunch of other good stuff, too.
While stewing over how to lift the roofing up, I put up more sheathing.  Both ends are done, as well as part of the south side.  I wish I could use full sheets of plywood, but they are just too heavy.  Instead, I’m using smaller pieces and getting it done.  It’s not the best practice, but it’s the one available to me.  I’m good with it.  I’ve decided to bolt the sections of pre-built studs together to make the frame stronger, since the plywood won’t be doing the job.  I still have to put more bolts through to the trailer frame.  I just don’t feel confident in the attachment as it stands – I don’t think it currently is strong enough.

Unfinished pine molding/trim which needs some cleaning up

Unfinished pine molding/trim which needs some cleaning up

Tetris-styled sheathing

Tetris-styled sheathing

Tail-end sheathing with edge of EPDM peaking over the new sheathing

Tail-end sheathing with edge of EPDM peaking over the new sheathing

I’ve also revisited the floor underlayment, which was the first thing I put together.  It got soaked through last spring, unfortunately, plus the middle has always been sort of “springy”.   I know that’s not right!  So to fix the water issue I drilled a ton of holes through to the wool insulation from the top, and a few, smaller holes to the wool from the bottom.  To solve the bouncy floor problem, I’ve started cutting out the plywood to see what I did wrong with the joists.  It’s giving the dampness another avenue out so that’s a good side benefit.  I haven’t finished taking up the plywood yet, so still don’t know why the floor isn’t solid there. It was interesting to note the wool is still fluffy and full, even wet.  Awesome!

1/2 inch holes drilled into the underlayment

1/2 inch holes drilled into the underlayment

Big day today!  The sun just peeked out and I’ll be going up to glue soon…eeeek!  Very excited and nervous!

Progress!

Finally I have come upon an easy task!

It turns out that sanding, at least with a powered sander, is eeeaaasssyyy. Yay! It’s gratifiying to see changes so quickly, with so little effort. Caulking the screw holes and edges with silicone is easy too. It’s been a nice few days. The roof is now ready for some love with the liquid EPDM. I remembered why I bought it ~ It’s for smoothing over anything that could possibly tear the sheet of rubber roofing. The silicone was fantastic for that too, but I want to make absolutely sure that this roof WORKS. I have a slight fear of the silicone not staying adhered, although that’s probably silly.
Another fun part of this stage in the roof is that I can switch back and forth between different tasks. The fascia is now painted ~ a pretty, soft powdery yellow that was left over from painting my mother’s house. I picked it out for her originally, and just love it…no matter how gloomy it is, the yellow glows with a cheerful light. I don’t want seams to show in the fascia, so cut them at an angle where they will join. According to a contractor I met, angles are hard for the eye to detect…I vaguely remember learning something like that back when I worked at State Farm. So much information is roaming in the depths of my poor, jumbled brain…. He also suggested I sister a painted bit of wood behind the joined edges to make them strong. That was easy ~ I just used the angled cut-off bits. They are already painted, and are exactly the right size. They are sitting now, glued and clamped together, waiting to be hung. Phew!
While waiting for the various caulks, paints, and glues to dry, I managed to hang more sheathing. Handling plywood has been the most difficult part of this whole process. There isn’t anything fun about it at all ~ the stuff is heavy, awkward, and splintery. I hate it. At least there’s immediate gratification to see the house getting enclosed. If I had someone working with me, it would be tremendously easier. Working alone has drawbacks.
Working alone. Yes, there are drawbacks. Tasks take much longer alone than with help. That’s the biggie. It can be dangerous, as no one is around if I get hurt. That should be the biggie for me, but I’m used to being alone so don’t think about it too much. There isn’t anyone to bounce ideas off of when I get stuck. Something that I am a little embarrassed to admit is that it’s a bummer to not have anyone to high-five over achievements….nobody to admire Oliver’s Nest but me. Recording my progress here is helping with that. Being able to go back and re-read how ON was put together by me…well, this way it won’t get lost with so many other memories.
There are benefits to working alone, too. I go at my own pace, without guilt at holding anyone back. I make all the decisions, so my little home will be a reflection of my ideas come to fruition. There’s a deep feeling of accomplishment. Lastly, given my “issues”, it feels safe to not worry about having to rely on others to move forward. Granted, I’ve had a couple hours of people helping heft plywood, but since then I’ve come up with ideas to do it myself. Much less tension and worry. But enough of that!
Getting stuff done! Woowee! Cheers for me and everyone else who is building their own shelter with fun and love! Go, Tiny Housers!

 

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Tall, tall ladder….

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Ladder to the roof from above…SUPER fun to haul things up this!

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I can use any sandpaper with this little sander, which makes it flexible to use. It has a smaller hand-hold, so it’s comfortable.

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All cracks, screw holes, and all other spaces filled with silicone.

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I smoothed silicone over the clips, too.

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Fascia being painted a pretty pale yellow.

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I like the roof dimensions, although it is over-width.

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Using a cut off bit for the sister. I’ll glue them together once they are hung.

 

Yay, Summer! And An EPDM Roof Update.

 

I had such a simple plan in mind.  Some dimensional lumber trusses laid straight across the top plates, covered with simple panels of plywood, followed by simple panels of rigid insulation, and covering that in turn with a single sheet of EPDM.  I thought I was prepared with the proper adhesive, plenty of fanfolded insulation, the proper nails and screws, all that.  I was wrong.

This would be a good place to make a sandwich to eat while reading.  It’s a longish post.

First, of course, there is the extra layers I’ve already added, that make up the insulation sandwich.  They are really important to break thermal bridging, but add expense, labor and height.  Next, it turns out the fanfolded insulation I have “might” not be the correct kind for my brand of EPDM (it’s hard to know for sure because my manufacturer has been absorbed by Firestone, and their requirements “might” be different ~ it’s common with EPDM manufacturers to each have very narrow and specific needs for each brand).  The safest route is to use 6 inches of polyisocyanurate insulation on top of the roof deck, and fully adhere the rubber layer on top of that.  Uh, oh, I don’t have 6 inches extra height to spare.  Plus, that’s OMG expensive.  I’m feeling a little panicky now.

After much investigation, it seems most brands of EPDM can be applied directly to wood, but only smooth-as-silk wood like Fiberboard, which is a very bad product to use in this wet environment.  So add more hours of investigation.  It looks like silicone is compatible, and can (probably even should) be used to fill all holes, gaps and cracks larger than 1/4 inch in the plywood decking I have to create a smooth surface.  So, off I go to buy silicone.  Not the mixed stuff, only pure silicone, since I couldn’t find evidence confirming the compatibility of the mixed stuff with EPDM.  So I buy several contractor tubes of silicone and a spatula thing to smoosh the stuff into crevices.   FINALLY, ready!

Maybe.

Oops, no.  Any and all splinters or rough bits need to be sanded off or there’s a risk of the rubber tearing.   Fine.  I do some research and buy a powered sander.  Hand sanding will take forever, and sunny days are rare and precious here.  I’ll need to sand the barn wood interior anyway, so this extra purchase doesn’t dismay me, not too much.

At this point things get fuzzy.  I literally can’t remember why exactly I deemed it necessary to purchase a gallon of liquid EPDM,  I really can’t…somewhere in here my doctors changed my meds and I sleep-walked through a couple weeks.  But I bought the stuff and am going to brush it onto all the plywood edges for waterproofing and over the clips to soften their sharp edges.

Somehow I’ve gone far astray from my “simple” roof solution!  Tomorrow is supposed to start a week of dry sunshine, all my newly purchased stuff has arrived, and my knee is down to a dull ache.  My plan is to sand, sweep and silicone.  I have no idea how long it will take, but hopefully not more than a day or two.  Fingers crossed!

In case of fire, exit building before tweeting about it.

Taking a cue from Macy over at minimotives, I’ve decided to write about safety in a Tiny Home. People ask me about it when they find out about my build, and I’ve seen lots of questions in various blog’s comments. Although my Oliver’s Nest isn’t livable yet, I feel entitled to address this issue, as I live in a (even Tinier) truck camper while building her.

So. first off, privacy. It’s related to safety, if you think about it. Who feels safe with no place to get away from everything? To hide? To really relax? I can only do what most people do, close curtains and lock the door. Here in this camper though, those normal things doesn’t really cut it. The walls are thin, so sound carries both inwards and outwards too clearly. The windows are single pane, and some of them won’t seal close. When the wind gets to really gusting, the whole place jerks sideways with a booming sound, and if there’s an electrical storm nearby, I get to feeling a bit tense with those sound effects!

Oliver’s Nest, on the other hand, will have 6 inches of insulation in the walls and floors, and over 7 inches in the roof. I’m positive that sound will be damped by the thick sheep wool insulation. The whole structure is heavy, and sits solidly on blocks. The double-paned windows aren’t installed yet, but no doubt will be more effective than the campers are. During strong winds she doesn’t even creak. Wind and storms be damned in there!

House fires. That’s a scary one. Although I haven’t read of any fires in a Tiny Home, even those with wood stoves, odds are someone will have to contend with one at some point. I’m doing my best to ensure it isn’t me. In such a small home, even a small fire could render it unlivable. It’s taken a lot of thought on where exactly to locate the wood stove so that I can make the minimum recommended clearances on both it and the chimney. The insulation behind the stove and chimney will be Roxul (rock wool) which is completely non-flammable. I’ll have the required heat shield with an inch of air space to the wall. I’ve discovered pretty chimney guards to help prevent contact burns. I’ve thought about the weight (and my home is already quite heavy), and have decided to place it over the axles. Interior gravity-fed water storage tanks will be located nearby (overhead, in the loft) for additional insurance against disaster. Lastly, I have a plan in mind for a metal roof to be added after Oliver’s Nest is moved to her permanent location, to cover the EPDM.

And what about scary events like forest fires, or random disasters like the girl who lost her newly-built Tiny Home to a barn fire? Once again, such small homes can be quickly ruined. How to best prevent these things from happening? I’ve already spoken to one of the forest rangers local to my property to find out what they suggest for protection. It was a surprisingly reassuring conversation, given the history of severe forest fires in the area. He gave me great advice and I’m a bit less worried, as I know now how to best protect my home. I can only hope everyone is also careful, no matter the size of their home.

Moisture, as I’ve said about a million times, is a real problem here in the Pacific Northwest. It’s imperative that any home in this area be built to withstand water intrusion from every angle. This comes under Safety, as mold, mildew, rot and their attendant pests are not safe or healthy to have in your living space. If the rot gets bad enough, you can end up with not much of a home at all.

On to the question of having my home towed away or broken into. Honestly? I think it’s a valid concern. There are uncool people in the world who think nothing of taking what they want, and messing with what’s left. The good folk over at Solar Burrito Blog had stuff stolen from their building site while they were away, and that can happen to anyone, especially those with an attractive target like a Tiny Home in a more rural setting. I’m not worried too much while living here, as there are three large dogs, lots of neighbors, and my home doesn’t show from the road. There’s also the old tires on the trailer….replacing them will be an unavoidable expense, but for now helps keep my home safe. I will be removing the wheels once on my own place, which only solves part of the problem. Keeping a safe home in a very rural place isn’t just a worry for Tiny Housers. I have to hope that strong fences, big dogs, a low-profile, and knowing how to use a gun (with appropriate scary signs) will keep me safe from all sorts of predators.

One last safety feature I feel strongly about: having two methods of emergency egress. Some people make do with windows for an emergency exit. Some apparently don’t allow for emergencies at all, from looking at their tiny little windows. I have two doors (not yet installed) on opposite ends of my home. I made the trade-off of useful interior wall space for safety. It has made planning out the interior much harder ~ I admit to working out plans with only the one door, which allowed for more counter space in the kitchen, or a fully enclosed bathroom, or a much larger closet ~ but kept coming back to wanting quick access to the outdoors. So, one end of Oliver’s Nest will have a full wall of windows due to the french doors that I’ll be able to open out wide onto a large, covered patio area. The other end will have a dutch door with a window in the top half. This door will open inwards (in the event of deep snow), let in more light, and give me quick access to the “mud room” area of my little home. I feel good about my design.

I’m really curious about how other people feel about these subjects. Please feel free to comment on your own thoughts and solutions!

As for roof progress?  Not nearly as much as I thought there would be.  I was so wrong about being nearly ready to install the drip edge.  So terribly, terribly wrong….  I’ll update soon. :)

I. Am. Exhausted.

Putting a roof on is so much work!

The sun glinting off the newly-fastened trusses is rewarding

The sun glinting off the newly-fastened trusses is rewarding

First, all the decisions to make: roof style (gable, gambrel, arched, flat?), whether or not to put in dormers (light and precious, precious space added, depending on what roof style), how much insulation, what type of insulation? What material for the outer skin? Metal? Asphalt shingles? Wood shakes? EPDM? hot or cold (vented) roof? I will use a wood stove, so chimney through the roof or through the wall?  Good thing I like to do research.  There are so many choices, so much information to evaluate!

Insulation going in as each truss is attached.

Insulation going in as each truss is attached.

Then comes the reality of putting that puppy together.  I find that this is the stage where flaws in my design really show up, necessitating on-the-fly changes and re-evaluations of my patience and ability.  I’m sure that with generous helpings of both, I could have fixed the initial roof trusses, but after staring at the darn things for a year, decided I lacked both.  Off with the cool gambrel trusses, and on with the “flat” roof.  Boring, yes, but also doable and gives a huge bang of space for the buck.   Even so, this is a lot of work.  Hard, sweaty, muscle-groaning work.  I never knew that sweat actually DOES sting your eyes until I started this project.  Maybe it’s partly due to my state of physical fitness (almost nonexistent), but more likely it just comes with the job.  I am handling heavy, awkward pieces of wood, really high in the air, alone, and without experience.  Yeah, I sweat!

Sweaty, frizzy, and dirty.  I'm quite a sight after a day up there in the sun

Sweaty, frizzy, and dirty. I’m quite a sight after a day up there in the sun

There are days when I’m tempted to just build a most basic box, and not worry about boring stuff like thermal bridging and moisture problems; or simply follow a plan developed by someone other than me… I can see the allure. Well, actually seeing as it’s me talking here, the truth is I like a challenge, and to try to do things as “right” and “perfect” as possible. In my own special way. In my own, special, really hard-to-do way.

The saggy middle portion of the roof makes the insulation look too skimpy.  After I go below and screw the lower sheathing to the trusses, the insulation looked much more impressive

The saggy middle portion of the roof makes the insulation look too skimpy there. After I go below and screw the lower sheathing to the trusses, the insulation looks much more impressive, but I forgot to take a photo

So. What stage is Oliver’s Nest at?  Well, the insulation “sandwich” layer is on, the trusses have been wrangled into place and tethered down by many screws and metal tie-downs, the Roxul insulation is tucked in and securely covered by the AtticFoil radiant barrier, and the sheathing has been cut to size and numbered so I will know which piece goes where without (hopefully) any mistakes. I would have liked to use full-size plywood pieces, but they are just too heavy and unwieldy for me. I don’t think even having my boy over to help would get them up. I don’t think it’s the strongest roof design, but it will work for now.

My 22 foot piece of AtticFoil, rolled up as neatly as I could, ready to be carried up to the roof top and placed over the Roxul

My 22 foot piece of AtticFoil, rolled up as neatly as I could, ready to be carried up to the roof top and placed over the Roxul

I lay the foil lengthwise along one half of the roof, stapling each side to ensure air can flow from side to side (Cold Roof style)

I lay the foil lengthwise along one half of the roof, stapling each side to ensure air can flow from side to side (Cold Roof style).  The foil will also make sure the insulation stays put, and might even add to the total insulative value

I want to  remember how much I messed up my knee doing this and yet continued on;  how sore my shoulders and back are.  Years from now I want to appreciate the work I’m putting into this little home. I often downplay accomplishments, and I’d rather not do that with Oliver’s Nest.  It is an important part of a giant leap-of -faith that I can make a happy life for myself, and hopefully leave a lovely space for my son some day.

Finally, something the closely resembles a roof! My water bottle rolled right off the edge to bounce on the gravel below, so I know there's a little slope ~ yay!

Finally, something the closely resembles a roof! My water bottle rolled right off the edge to bounce on the gravel below, so I know there’s a little slope ~ yay!

Edge Clips are helpful to beef up strength, and to guarantee perfect spacing

Edge Clips are helpful to beef up strength, and to guarantee perfect spacing

 

After having to balance on loose trusses for days, being able to walk across the roof deck is wonderful!  I’m thinking it’ll take another day to finish the decking, and after that a day to get the drip edges on.  It’s supposed to be drizzly for almost a week starting tomorrow, so my knee will get that rest the doctor ordered.  Booo-ring!