Rev. Walker’s Home

The Reverend’s Home

When I began this journal, I made my intent clear. The aim of this log was to accurately document the efforts of Rev. Walker’s Home team from start to finish, from render to reality. I have come to cherish this opportunity to reflect and recount to a wide audience, and make our story is known. Looking back on every success, failure, hardship, triumph, and moment of comradery of my crew has further endeared me to my time as their captain. It is truly bittersweet to say then, dear reader, that this will be my last entry.

Work on Rev. Walker’s (Reggie) Home concluded on the 27th of September, in the early afternoon of a cool Fall day. With great fanfare, cheers, and tears, my crew will disband and embarked on new adventures. Reggie and I will continue to sail this ship for as far as she will take us. I digress, dear reader, my task is yet complete. I will now give an account of the completion of Rev. Walker’s Home. As per tradition, I will offer a description of the current state of the county to provide a context to place the actions of my crew.

To the delight of every soul in Hale County, the seasons have turned. The languid heat of summer has been replaced by a refreshing breeze. This is the only time of the year when the air is your friend around here. Another summer endured, and the feeling of change in the air, the Studio staff and students enjoyed a new burst of energy. In this encouraging atmosphere, my crew set about finish work. The tasks included painting, trimming, flooring, cabinetry, finish plumbing, finish electrical, installing screen doors, and cleaning up for the project opening.

Painting

Of course, a properly finished home needs a splash of paint. The shape of the interior of Rev. Walker’s Home made it a long process. Everything that was painted got a coat of primer and two coats of finish paint. Originally, the plan was to give everything a white coat, however, five gallons of a cream color were accidentally purchased. We ran with it and concluded that it was a happy accident. We feel that the result is an interior that feels warm and house-like.

Plywood Walls

The interior of the home uses birch plywood selectively. The two sides of the galley kitchen are plywood, implying the ability to mount things to it, whether that be hooks, shelves, or additional cabinets. The wall dividing living space from core space is also finished in birch plywood to further emphasize the core volume. Knowing that walls are often not straight, making it difficult to align the sheets of plywood, we used a plunge-saw on a track to get precise cuts. The saw allowed us to whittle sheets down to fit perfectly into their designated spaces. The sheets are fastened with pneumatic-driven finish nails.

Flooring

The floor in Rev. Walker’s Home is a cold-welded rubber system, kindly donated to our project by Interface®. Commonly found in commercial and institutional settings, this floor is robust and watertight. We found the flat quality of the material was preferable to the highly textured aesthetic of more traditional floor systems. We got this done in a day.

Trim

With painting concluded (I use the word concluded lightly), we could move forward with other tasks like trim work. Baseboards, window and door trim, and kitchen wall trim were all done out of cypress boards. We were planning on painting these but ended up liking the look of the cypress and decided on a stain. We don’t have any photographic evidence of us doing this but I can assure you we did. Here’s some finish shots of the interior trim.

Also Paul Did This

House Warming

With all of this done, plus a thousand other odds and ends, we swept and mopped the home, and left feeling satisfied and ready for the project opening. We held a housewarming party for Reggie the following afternoon. Rural Studio staff and students, families of the team, and friends of Reggie were in attendance. It was a joy to be able to celebrate Reggie and his new home, and to have an opportunity to offer our thanks to everyone who made the project possible. Seeing the porches come alive for the first time was an amazing moment.

big roof coming in handy

Rev. Walker’s Home

We hope you love the place, Reggie. (We know you read this.)

A Fond Farewell

In 13 months, a home was designed, a slab poured, a large roof built overhead, and a living space made underneath. However, this is not the end of a story. Rev. Walker’s Home will continue to adapt to the needs and wishes of the client. Given enough time, we expect it will scarcely resemble its current form. For many, the idea of one’s conception becoming another thing over time is frightening. For us, it is the source of excitement that led us on this journey.

If cats could cry, I would be while writing this. Our endeavor was not modest, dear reader, nor our obstacles small. It would take a good team and a charismatic leader to be a success. My crew joined this expedition as fresh as they come. In the beginning, I led with a strict paw. Over time, they earned my trust, leaving me more time for napping. They depart now as confident and skilled sailors out to make names for themselves on the high seas. I suspect that many other great adventures await them, so keep an eye out.

As for me, I have elected to continue my journey with Reggie. I have found this new home an excellent place for laying about, and intend to do so for as long as I can. I’ll be sure to keep a close eye on Reggie and that confounded dog he keeps around. When the time comes to modify the house, I will resume my position as a swift delegator and fierce captain once again. Alas, dear reader, my crew demands a portrait and I must oblige them. This will be my final entry, until our next adventure.

Yours fondly,

Captain Taterhead

Shiny House, Neckdowns, Things Exterior

Welcome back to the journal, dear reader. In my last entry, I reported that Hale County had entered a state of oppressive heat and humidity. Several weeks have passed since that report, and climatically, nothing has changed. It’s 95oF in Hale County today, but they say it feels like 106oF. Let me ask you, dear reader, that if it feels like 106, then is it not 106? Alas, my mind wanders. Such a question is a trifle in comparison to my duty to you, that is to recount in an earnest fashion, the activity of Reverend Walker’s Home team.

While the environment is still and sweltering, my crew is the opposite. Intrepid and strong, and with the help of a protective roof, they carry on. I will admit, this motley crew are always raising the bar. I previously issued orders for them to complete the exterior of the home in a timely manner, and that they have. It was not a trivial amount of work. The tasks were varied and many. But yet again, the team has risen to the occasion. Doors and windows were built and installed concurrently with the application of siding and flashing. With additional help from new students during Neckdown week, roll roofing was installed, the site was graded, beneath-ground drains installed, and a small patio built.

Doors & Windows

As Addie and Becca finished windows in the woodshop, Paul and George would install them on site. The whole unit is fabricated in the shop, making installation quick and easy. Pre-hung doors were installed and custom trim applied to the face of them to match the window details. As the doors and windows went in the house, siding and flashing were installed as allowed by what openings were done.

Siding

Reverend Walker’s Home is clad in the same galvalume r-panel that makes up the roof. Large, cut to length sheets make a fairly easy process. The only tricky parts are at those window locations where c-shapes need to be made out of the sheet metal. Bottom flashing was installed prior to siding.

leveling bottom flashing
installing r-panel
sided wall

Flashing

After the siding was put up, metal flashing and trim were next. The corner trim was installed first and then the top of wall flashing. The typical metal building corner trim has always been a team favorite. It is incredibly easy to install and is so big that it somehow disappears, or appears as just another ridge in the r-panel. Thank you fat corner trim. Top flashing was trickier with the different angles and cuts needed to make crisp connections between pieces. But with some practice cuts and good measurements it came together without much trouble.

cutting flashing with an angle grinder
flashed, trimmed, capped

Roofing

As flashing wrapped up, Neckdown week began. Each day we were assisted by one or two new arrivals, bright-eyed and incredibly clean. We were also able to welcome Becca and Addie back from their shop sabbatical/site hiatus! Reunited and reinforced, we set about our work. Becca and Addie led the charge on the application of asphalt roll roofing to the top of the volumes. The roofing provides the final layer of water protection to the two volumes underneath the roof.

roofing layed out

Fireplace Patio

As the roll roofing went on, Paul and George were joined by several Landscape Architecture students, who offered advice and assistance in making a small gravel patio. After a quick design discussion, the area was graded, and a first length of French drain was installed so that we could move forward with edging and infilling with gravel. The rest of the drain would be installed later.

relax

Grading

When the roofing and patio jobs were complete, it was all hands on deck for site grading. With the help of the skid-steer, earth was moved from the excavated pile to the slab edge and graded away. Additionally, several large ruts were filled in and the site was smoothed out. The septic mound was extended with any remaining earth in the pile.

So, post grading, what we are left with is a mostly finished exterior of a house. There are always a few odds and ends to take care of, but there is no doubt that neckdown week was a huge success on site.

Certainly, much has happened in a short period of time. I tell you once more, dear reader, that this bunch is special. Of course this is not to say that it could have been done without my strong leadership. It takes a steady paw to guide a vessel this size through choppy waters. On the horizon I see finish carpentry, plumbing, electrical, and other odds and ends. I will continue to record the progress of Reverend Walker’s Home for posterity, the world deserves to know the intricacies of our grand adventure. Alas, dear reader, the sun draws closer to the horizon and I have grown weary. I must put aside my journal in favor of a nap. I think I will chose a nice spot in between two elephant ears Paul has acquired for this occasion.

Yours sincerely,

Taterhead

A Variety of Tasks

Welcome back to my journal, dear reader! This log aims to provide for you an accurate account of the goings-on of Reverend Walker’s Home. Might my words inform or at the very least entertain, then I should be satisfied with its effect. I generally begin these entries with a current description of Hale County as a whole, to provide a context to place the actions of my crew.

As of late, the county has sunk into a thick, languid humidity that prevents large amounts of evaporation. This atmosphere results in dense fogs, oppressive temperatures, swampy ground, and incredible displays of heat lightning. It is not a forgiving climate, to be sure. But it is a West Alabama climate and it’s in it that the special quality of Hale County is made.

My crew labors through these conditions with spirit and humor. They are a hardy bunch indeed. But enough of my musings, dear reader, you must think me sentimental. I have set the team a multitude of tasks to be completed. These range from procuring materials and making final orders to wiring and plumbing the home.

Interior Framing

putting in the interior walls

To separate program and create a loft space, a small number of interior walls were built. These divide the living and core spaces, and divide the core space into a bathroom and kitchen, with a small closet facing the living area. It was not a big task, but it was a good feeling to be done putting the bones of the home together. After getting the sticks up we put together the loft floor and were ready to sheath.

short wall

Sheathing

Reverend Walker’s Home uses an OSB sheathing system wrapped in tar paper. The large sheet material makes it a relatively quick process. It was interesting to experience the space in and around the solid volumes for the first time.

before
after

Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing

Before we can get drywall up, we need to install the guts of the home. This includes running wire for fixtures and plugs, running water lines, drains, and vents. Reverend Walkers Home uses a PEX water supply system. Getting to focus on some nitty-gritty MEP details was a refreshing change from rough carpentry.

pulling wires
pex
shower fixtures
water wall
stack out the roof!

Lighting Design

Before we can finish up electrical and get insulating, we need to develop a lighting strategy. To help we used the built volumes as 1:1 mockups, and clamped lights around to draw conclusions. We did this for the interior and porch spaces. Interestingly, our initial idea for lighting the exterior was to use the overhead roof as a lighting device. Instead, we found it far more comfortable to reduce the scale by bringing the light down. This has developed into an overall strategy of letting the spaces be grand and open during the day, and shorter, closer to human scale at night.

porch light brought down

Windows

The quest to crank out window units continues. You will recall the custom cypress windows our team have designed. We are eager to complete these and get them in the house so that we can move forward with cladding the home in galvalume r-panel. In total there are five windows of three varieties. The difference being in the proportion of glass to hatch. I walked into the shop for some pictures, this is what I found Addie up to.

scribing

Indeed, my crew has been hard at work. I have put my full trust in them to perform their tasks well. Fortunately for me, they are a good lot which makes management easy, leaving more time to nap. As the Reverend’s home nears completion, look forward to learning about siding, lighting, and finish carpentry. Things are going to begin coming together fast. Alas, dear reader, I must draw an end to this journal entry, for I have grown weary. I believe I will choose the Reverend’s slab porch for today’s restful occasion.

Cordially,

Taterhead

Beginning the Enclosure

Rendering of Reverend Walkers Home from the Street
Rev Walkers Home

My my, dear reader, it has been some time hasn’t it? Welcome to my latest journal recounting the design and progress of Reverend Walker’s Home. I can assure you the silence has not been due to any lack of activity, rather the opposite. Upon completion of the large pavilion structure, my crew has moved underneath to begin constructing the enclosed volumes that inhabit the space between slab and roof. You can be sure that they are grateful for the sheltered workspace that defends them from rain and sun. They have no excuse to not be working. Myself, I have found it a most suitable location for napping. There’s much to catch you up on, dear reader, so let’s begin with a recap of the design of the Reverend’s Home.

The Home

Batter board plan

Reverend Walker’s Home is a response to the rural phenomena of home addition, which you can read about in an earlier journal. It aims to provide a forgiving space on a strong foundation to facilitate successful addition. The home is a kit of three parts: a slab, a roof, and two enclosed volumes. One volume is the main living block with all necessary program. The smaller volume is a partially unfinished space furnished with utility stub-outs.

The intentionally disparate items are intended to imply a process of addition… first the slab, second the roof, third the enclosure, and so on and so forth. Although the home encourages clients to design and extend the enclosure according to their lifestyle, it is completely livable as-built. Crew member Paul likens the Reverend’s Home to a “hook to hang one’s hat on”. Ultimately, it is built as a minimal enclosure with a luxury of porch space. The porch could exist as outdoor living, or be infilled.

As of now, the roof and slab are done. The only piece of the kit left is the enclosure.

what’s next?

Slab Seal

As a part of our vapor barrier system, we used a DOT approved slab seal to ensure that moisture can neither seep into the slab or move up through it into the home. Before sealing, the slab was pressure washed and left to dry for 48 hours. This stuff is very hydrophobic and water now squeegees right off.

Addie – Ghostbuster

Mock-up

Before diving into framing the units underneath the roof, we needed to ensure that our details were going to work. We do this by building 1:1 mockups. In ours, we tested framing and flashing details, as well as a full-scale mockup of our custom window design. You might recall that our team has designed a window system made of a fixed glass pane and an operable ventilation hatch. By doing the mock-up we were able to refine details and systems which will make a better final product.

Floor

Satisfied with our details, we’ve moved on. To make things easier in the future, we decided to go ahead and attach our treated sill-plates to the slab and build the sub-floor. We used powder-actuated and pneumatic tools for the plates. The sub-floor is r-7.5 rigid insulation between sleepers with plywood on top. Following the installation of the floor, we were ready to frame.

sub-floor tetris
clean floor

Framing

Becca – stud cutter
make some walls
framing double wall
lifting double wall
rafters
framed

There you have it, dear reader, the current state of Reverend Walker’s Home. It’s certainly beginning to take shape. With my thoughtful leadership, I have brought us to this point and will continue to ask my crew to go above and beyond. I am confident they will not disappoint me. My next order will be for them to put up sheathing and wrap the house, after which I will banish them to the woodshop to build all the windows and doors. Alas, I could go on forever, dear reader, if only it wasn’t my nap hour. For now, I must retire to the captain’s table and rest my weary paws.

Fondly,

Taterhead

Further Assembling a Rather Large Roof

Make way, dear reader! My crew is steaming ahead at an alacritous boil and would take several miles to stop given their momentum. Where I last left, I detailed the process of erecting the columns and trusses that support Reverend Walker’s Home’s grand pavilion roof. In this entry, you will see the roofing process through to the end. With truth, dear reader, the hot and muggy days have affected me. Most of my time is now occupied with napping. However, my crew, motivated by the promise of a permanent shade structure, carry on without my constant oversight. I trust them to be the thoughtful and disciplined design-builders that I know they are. Let me begin to describe our progress.

After securing the six steel trusses that hold the roof up, the next step was to bridge them with 2″ x 6″ purlins. Purlins provide a surface to screw sheets of roof metal onto. In our case, the purlins are painted white to help brighten the porch areas under the roof. The process involved trimming the 2″ x 6″ material, passing them up to two team members on the scaffolding above, placing and securing them into the manufactured purlin clips that came on the trusses, and bracing them to be 2′ on center. We repeated this process for each bay.

trim purlin
secure purlin in purlin clip
touch up paint above a sea of braces
brace purlins 2′ on center
purlins

When we finished up the purlins we were ready to put our galvalume r-panel on. On steep roofs, we generally predrill holes on the ground for easy screwing. An issue we quickly discovered with this method is that purlins are normally flat, providing a large surface to drill into and greater tolerance. Our purlins are vertical, meaning much less tolerance. Given that wood is rarely straight, we would have to continuously measure to ensure the holes were drilled in the right spots.

measure purlin centers
predrill
pass it up
push screws

After getting the sheet metal up, the final step was the ridge cap. For this step you will need some ridge cap and a Paul. We used a system of ratchet straps to get the lengths of metal up to him.

pass ridge up
fasten
enjoy a (mostly) complete roof

As you might have gathered, dear reader, the trust that I have placed in my crew is well-founded. I have done my duty as Captain, and through strict leadership have made them into good sailors. It appears that I may allow my management style to relax in the future, given the frequency of scratches does not suffer any loss. I have little worry of it, dear reader, for they both love and fear me. Ah, it appears scratch-time is immanent. I must cease my musings for a time, but rest assured I will be back with more updates on Reverend Walker’s Home in the near future.

Crew member, Becca, giving me scratches

Yours with esteem,

Taterhead