Author: AC Priest

Someone Get the Drill Out of the Rain

Howdy, folks. It’s time for another C.H.O.I.C.E. House roof raising roundup. Y’all know the drill, so let’s jump right into what we’ve been up to since our last post.

end of day site progress

It’s been a long time coming, but we are happy to finally report that trusses are up! Thanks to our friends working on Patriece’s Home and the expertise of “Crane Shane,” we raised all 25 trusses in one day. Everyone was pleased to see our 8:12 gabled roof make its way off paper and onto the streets of Uniontown as well as a first look at our big hit, the porch!

After truss day, we wasted little time moving right along to bracing and purlins. The bracing helps connect the trusses to each other and offers some more stability while sheathing the roof is in progress. Purlins are horizontal support beams that support rafters in the roof. We also installed hurricane straps as another layer of protection against future severe weather events.

Purlins were a multi-day adventure. For our readers looking to put up some purlins of their own, the process looks something like this. First, harness up (safety first!) Next, install the sub-fascia along the East and West ends of the units. Use the sub-fascia as the starting point for your first purlin. Make sure the purlins that are exposed under the eaves are painted gray before you install to ensure a coherent detail language. Alternatively, locate a younger student and hand them a ladder and a paintbrush. Begin moving up the roof! Adjust your harness as you climb. As you ascend, use the previously installed purlin as a step stool for placing the next one. Brace yourself against the wood to nail in the next 2×4. Take a moment to ask yourself: Why you didn’t wear knee pads? Finish nailing and make a mark for the next board at two feet on center. Repeat process until all purlins are installed.

On top of purlins, we also took some time to raise the trusses for the third volume with the help of Steve and the “Bob crane,” a.k.a. our Bobcat with a crane attachment. In the next few days, we’ll get the third volume sheathing going just like the roof of the main units.

Back at the main units, we’ve moved on to sheathing the roof. This team knows that the girls are capable of some tough stuff, so Hailey and AC have taken over the roof and turned it into a girls-only zone. Next time you see us, we’ll be dried in for winter, allowing us to frame up our interior walls without worrying about winter wind and rain. 

hailey and ac sit on roof

In the middle of all of this progress, we even took a day to dress up and check out the current 5th-year projects at Halloween Reviews. I guess you can say we think we’re hot (and spicy!) stuff.

Fall Means Walls

One month since we last posted, and our site is practically unrecognizable! It’s been a productive few weeks out in Uniontown, so let’s catch up.

sheathed units

South Street’s newest slab was just itching for some walls, so we started by installing pressure-treated sill plates. Using a powder actuated nail gun, we shot nails through the lumber and concrete, giving our walls a solid connection to the slab. 

sill plate installation

We then framed up all of the exterior walls, attaching them to the sill plates and bracing them back against the ground to keep everything plumb and level. 

After bracing the exterior, we turned our attention to the porch and ramp where there was yet more concrete to be poured. We built formwork for the column base, porch caps, and ramp edge. Over the next couple of days, we hand mixed and filled the formwork. Mixing the concrete ourselves allowed us to work at a slower, more careful pace and finish the pours to our satisfaction.

ramp edge without formwork

Then we were seeing green – green ZIPS panels that is. Thanks to the fine folks at Huber Engineered Woods, we started sheathing our walls to make them more rigid before raising the trusses.

ladder framed by window

And now we’re ready to raise the roof for real! Our trusses are on site and ready to be raised within the next few days. Until then, Auburn’s basketball team won’t be the only ones practicing their crane skills.

trusses being delivered
crane kick meme

All in Good Form

As Summer winds down, the C.H.O.I.C.E. House team is heading into Fall with a shiny new slab, but how’d we get here?

finished slab pour

Picking up from our last post, we trenched for plumbing and put a pipe puzzle together, making sure that all of our pieces were properly placed before pouring concrete. A big thank you to this week’s guest stars on site, our friends Elisia and Caitlyn.

In the past couple of weeks, twenty new faces arrived in Newbern signaling the start of a brand new academic year. With the new year comes “Neckdowns,” and our team was lucky enough to have a whole crew of helpers throughout the week. Continuing with our prep for “The Big Pour,” our new 3rd and 5th-year friends showed up to place rebar and grout our CMU cells to further strengthen the foundation.

After the pipes were buried, we brought in gravel as the next ingredient in our slab sandwich.

Vapor barrier and mesh then followed, as well as formwork for the showers. Because the shower needs to slope to drain water, we built formwork that will allow us to do the showers as their own pour. The maintenance closet also gets its own pour, so we prepped for that too.

Once we got everything placed, plumbed, and tied, we were ready for the main event: “The Big Pour.” Once again, thanks to the crew from Crosby Carmichael for the concrete. With the help of our concrete finishers, we got the whole pour done in a morning, and we were able to use the extra concrete to set anchor bolts for the porch.

Who knows what these next few weeks hold? We do, actually.

Our trusses are ready for delivery, and by the time this is posted, our lumber package will be on site. We’re also taking some time in studio to explore new details for the windows and the porch, so we’ve got plenty to nail down before our next post, literally and metaphorically. 

girls in matching coveralls
In honor of New York Fashion Week, the ladies wore their matching coveralls, an homage to the SS20 boiler suit trend.

My Month of Work and Anticipation

This Summer has flown by for the C.H.O.I.C.E. House team. Good news! We’re officially up and out of the ground! A few rainy weeks put block laying on the back burner, but thanks to local mason James Harris, we’ve raised the slab (and the roof will soon follow)!

While block laying was in progress, we continued working on the third volume. The main house units are built on an elevated slab foundation, but the third volume is designed to be on a slab-on-grade foundation, so no need for any concrete blocks. With the help of a few of our fellow “leftover” students, we knocked out the small slab pour in under an hour and got it finished up and ready to frame.

Building the small walls of the third volume was a great way to knock the dust off of our framing skills before we tackle the main units. With the help of professor Steve Long, and a much appreciated guest appearance from our colleague Caitlyn, the walls were up and braced in a morning. Framing the third volume first was also a great way to test our strategy for connecting the porch header to the wall. It looks like the “notch” in the framing was successful! Soon, we’ll assemble the third volume’s column and header to test the entire detail assembly, almost like a second mockup!

steve and ac frame a wall

Now that the CMU walls are up, we also backfilled the footprint of the units with dirt. Next up is setting up plumbing, adding a layer of gravel, building some formwork, and then we’re off to the races for our final concrete pour!

Until next time, we’ll be keeping our hopes high and our trenches dry.

Doing Things!

Man oh man what a month it’s been. Last post, our team was preparing for a fast approaching dig day, and dig we did! After many batter boards and much anticipation, we were happy to have Tyler from T & C Excavating come out and help us officially break ground! Over the course of one morning, Tyler and crew managed to dig up a literal mountain of dirt to make way for our driveway and footings.

After a couple days of placing and tying rebar we followed fast behind with an early morning concrete pour. All of our fellow leftovers showed up to help us out, and we even had a special guest star all the way from Project Horseshoe Farm! A couple truck loads (from the generous Crosby-Carmichael Inc.) later, and we found our footing(s). Nothing says “no stopping us now” like a few thousand pounds of concrete. As the concrete set, we also placed vertical pieces of rebar for the block mason to tie into as he builds our block wall. (Thanks again to Crosy-Carmichael Inc. for their donation of concrete!)

students watch concrete pour
freshly poured concrete footings

Since then, we’ve turned our attention to the driveway and third volume. Steve stopped by to give us a quick Bobcat tutorial and Toews Brothers brought in new red dirt to replace the old topsoil. This allowed us to start building our driveway. For now, the goal is to get a gravel surface suitable for delivery trucks. Keeping the gravel just below our desired grade will allow us to come back later and either pave or add a finer layer of gravel. Over at the third volume, we hand dug our trenches and prepped the area for plumbing and formwork. All in a month’s work!

heavily edited picture of student digging
We let Davis edit this one all by himself!

Spirits are high here in Hale. Next time you hear from us, we might even be raising the roof!

cat leans over phone