18x18house

Topped Out, Drying In

The second half of the fall semester has flown by for the 18×18 House team!

Jake, Julie, Meagan, and Naomi have been flying through framing. Watching the house take shape from the second-floor walls, the gables, and the stair has kept the entire process exciting.

To build the house, the team had to design a couple of special elements to help with construction. As they moved up through the floors, they had to build temporary wall and floor structures. These gave the team platforms to stand and work on, and also helped support the habitable attic before the roof was framed.

Of course, framing the roof meant lifting the ridge beam into place! Naturally, a celebration was in order for the topping-out of the 18×18 House. But no time to slow down! Now come the dormer walls and rafters. Building the dormer was icing on the cake, something the team has been excited (and nervous?) about for a long time. But with it built, the house finally looks like they imagined!

Next comes sheathing. The 18×18 House is well on its way to being dried in for the holidays. The team isn’t losing steam as the semester ends, and the new year will bring new milestones! Watch out for the next 18×18 blog to see where 2024 takes them!

Leveled Up

Last time we saw the 18×18 House team, they were putting shovels into the ground for the first time. Three months later, the project has leveled up! 

The team first got their formwork ready for the concrete pour. This started with them digging their turndowns and trenches and then pulling strings, setting up formwork, and setting the plumbing pipes and electrical conduit.

The next step was putting down gravel, vapor barrier, and rebar. Then came the day everybody had been waiting for—the concrete pour! The team watched as Meagan cried tears of happiness when the slab was finally in place.

Once the slab was set, it was time to get to work. The team ordered and organized on-site to help them work as efficiently as possible.

Before the walls went up, the team laid down, some the termite flashing and sill gaskets to reduce air infiltration between the slab and the pressure-treated base plates. 

After just two days, the exterior walls of the first floor were up and braced, then the team began to build and tilt up the interior walls from inside the house—a task that required lots of careful maneuvering due to its size.

They moved some scaffolding to the site and set it up around the house as to prepare to move upward.

Now the team is working on framing the second floor and building the stair. The joists have already been installed, and the team is gluing and nailing down the subfloor.

With the second floor platform installed, the team got a great view of the sunset down the hill, and they can’t wait to see that view from the very top. Stay tuned to see what the 18×18 House team does next!

Do a Flip

You haven’t heard from the 18×18 House team in a while.

And they’ve been busy! Now officially “leftovers,” the squares graduated in early May, so everyone is feeling grown-up and very official. Pig Roast was a great chance for friends and family and visitors to catch up with the project, and for the team to explain the scheme of the house they were planning to build.

But then, everything changed…..AGAIN. Very recently, the 18×18 House was flipped on its head another time, with sleeping and bath on the ground floor and living and cooking elevated above. By cutting the third-story loft almost in half and extending it to the dormer, they found more usable space up there and vertical interest in the house. Now, the living room is below a balcony of sorts, and the loft has access to operable windows in the dormer. The team is pretty excited about making a double-height space happen in the living room, because the house now has a grand reveal when going up the main stairs.

section drawings

At the same time, the mock-up has begun! The squares got their first shovels in the ground and poured their backyard slab for their doghouse-sized version of the project. Next comes tiny framed walls, sheathing, and cladding. Getting started with work on site is just around the corner!

team with client

A Site For Sore Eyes

The 18×18 House team kicked off the past month with their most important deadline so far, the first Executive Review. Justin Miller (Associate Professor and Head, School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture), Rusty Smith (Rural Studio Associate Director), and Rural Studio faculty were all in attendance to evaluate the team’s progress and give important feedback as the team prepares to push towards the next construction phase after graduation. At this review, the team also gave a new version of their presentation where they talked in depth about the different types of constrains on rural sites.

Heirs’ property site constraint
Physical rural site constrains

They got some great feedback from this Executive Review and kept working to refine the details of the design and structure. For the next few weeks, the team shifted focus towards the porch and overall cladding strategy of the 18×18 House.

Team presenting for Executive Review
Isometric sketch w/ details

The first event after the review was one of the most inspiring times of the project. The team finally met their client and received the site they will be building on! Their client Detyrick is a Greensboro native, and the team is very excited to be working with him in the coming months. After meeting the client, the team headed out onto the site for their 1st round of surveying to get an idea of what the topography is that they’ll be working with.

The next week, Chicago architect Pete Landon came to Newbern. He worked with the team on the aperture placements in the 18×18 House. Pete challenged the team to work from the inside out. First, they should use the size and height of windows to direct light and views in the space. Then they should put this plan to the test with a mock-up. So, the team built a full-size stud wall, which they tilted up and covered with rigid insulation to mock-up the living space. The exercise helped them understand where to increase the perceived size of the room with openings in the wall and the storage wall.

The team used their mock-up wall to pin up their work for their next guests: North Carolina architects Katherine Hogan and Vincent Petrarca. The pin up wall was a disaster, but the workshop was a lot of fun. They built on the previous workshops by working on the apertures in elevation and considering the porch.

The final guest was Louisville architect Roberto De Leon. He pushed the team to explore the spatial qualities of the storage wall and porch and dive into some finer details. 

detail porch sketches

So much has happened for the 18×18 House team in such a short time. With a client in mind and a site to study, the project feels more real than ever and the team could not be more excited for what is to come. And as the end of the semester approaches, the team will be building mock-ups, getting their hands dirty, and doing everything they can to set the project up for success ahead of Pig Roast and the final Executive Review.

tilted up mock-up wall

Moving on Up

It’s been a busy month for the 18×18 House! Design of the house is moving into a technical mix of details, framing, material choices, and structural design.

Student

The team finally got to meet the FPI building partners from Nashville, TN, whose idea created the 18×18 project. Eddie Latimer, CEO of Affordable Housing Resources, and Barbara Harper from Honeybee Builders spent Valentine’s Day in Hale County with the Front Porch Initiative and students. The 18×18 House team presented their work to Eddie and Barbara and received feedback on expectations for the project. It was an exciting day for all of us!

The same week, engineer Joe Burns and architect Dan Wheeler came back to Newbern to help the teams move forward with structural and detail strategies. A first round of full-size details made it onto the wall for discussion, and the team explored structural possibilities for the house’s storage system.

New York architect Andrew Berman also came to work in Hale County this month. He pushed the 18×18 House team further into designing a loft for the house, and his visit left them ready to make that space bigger, better, and more usable. Now the team is exploring how to design a dormer to make an upper level for the house, which could be an extra bedroom, workspace, living area, playroom… the list of possibilities is growing!

And this month brought tool trailers into the mix! Keys were made, inventory was taken, and spirits are high as Executive Reviews (and construction!) get closer. Check in next month to see where the team is after their biggest review of the year!