rsleftovers

Straightening Ducks and Mocking-Up

Students stand proudly on dug trenches for mockup.
Duck Ahead!

In the time since our graduation, the world has kept spinning. The team quickly returned to work on the project with the time for outside work quickly approaching.

After all the labor poured into iteration and preparation, we are ready to make our plans a reality. In Rural Studio fashion that means it’s mock-up time! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. We must get all our ducks in a row, or at least some of them into a decently straight line. We worked on transforming the core and house elements to a smaller scale, while also putting the finishing touches on details with the help of Dan Wheeler.

Dan Wheeler sketches over 1 to 1 detail drawings.

We are also double and triple-checking our structural strategy with Joe Burns. On top of this, we met with Thomas Paterson to discuss our general lighting strategies, which, like many other things, needs more iteration. With all this help, everything is looking good enough to get started. So, we have officially broken ground on our mock-up and things are progressing smoothly.

It is fascinating to realize that there is another layer of complexity in construction that we must reckon with beyond the seemingly overwhelming complexity we face with our drawings and design. It is a lot to keep track of and easy to make a mistake, which you then find yourself taking time to fix. One of the incredible opportunities of Rural Studio is that we must work through all these problems as a team and truly understand the repercussions of what we design. No one does it for you; if we find a problem, we must think ourselves out of it.

Groundbreaking News: We Broke Ground

So where are we today? Well, we are busy finishing the foundation trenches and prepping our pieces for the assembly. We have built the core base and the walls. We also have the formwork assembled and rebar cut to size.

Materials and pallet for the project organized on Fab Pav.

Throughout, we have been critiquing and altering our process and design. As soon as we finished the core base, we became aware of how we would build differently and how it would be designed differently. We all know that design has a long way to go and that even as the house itself is built, we will see things we would change if we could do it again. But that’s for future teams to figure out.

For now, we are pleased with our progress and do not want to slow down anytime soon. At the time of writing this, we are hoping to pour our mock-up slab in one week! It has been a welcome change of pace to do some physical work. We’ll see how long that disposition lasts in this heat. But for now, we are happy to swim through the humidity towards our next task.

The Start of the Home Stretch

Welcome back to the 18×18 House blog, summer edition!

Meagan and Julie with Detyrick

Temperatures have officially risen in Hale County, and the 18×18 House team has had several milestones in the past month. Drywall was installed, trees were planted, siding is going up, paint is on the walls…

First, at the start of the summer, the team had to say “See you later” to Naomi, who traveled back home to South Africa. But this isn’t goodbye! We hope to see her back before the project opening.

18x18 Team

Digging the Groundwork

Then Jake, Julie, and Meagan got going on planting trees around the house, which was more work than you might think! They needed holes much larger and deeper than their containers, and plenty of water to protect them from the summer heat. Thanks for the beautiful trees goes to Plantation Tree Company near Selma, who donated all four!

And some shenanigans were involved, as usual.

Jake watering tree

We also had a visitor this month! Thanks to Jake’s sister Ella, we were able to set and cover the French drains on site, to help control water flow around the house. French drain systems include perforated pipes that are buried with gravel, to keep water from pooling around the property. Ours will funnel water away from the eaves of the house and from the porch. And after we put her to work shoveling gravel in the summer heat, Ella will never come to see us again.

Siding! And a porch!

We also wrapped all four sides in battens and purlins, to which the siding will be attached. The strips of wood are going to hold the upper portions of our siding a couple inches out from the house, to make a shadow line and hide refrigerant lines from the air conditioning system. The eastern façade is the first one completed, and isn’t it satisfying?

Soon, the steel porch roof will be installed, which was fabricated for the team by Superior Metal Works in Newbern, and delivered to site. It’s a big part of the exterior of the house, so we were eagerly awaiting its delivery!

DRYWALL!!!!

Amongst all the work outside, the most exciting part of the month was the drywall installation! There’s a huge difference inside the house now, and we’re so happy to see how light fills the spaces. Painting started right away so that interior finish work can begin soon. That means taping a LOT of corners and using very long extension rollers to get to that double-height ceiling.

The light in the house with drywall installed is better and brighter than we could have hoped. How ’bout them windows?

The summer is passing in a whirlwind at the 18×18 House, and the opening is in sight! We’re going full speed ahead with finishes, inside and outside. Stay tuned to see the end of our story!

Starting the Summer at the 18×18 House

The 18×18 House team has been BUSY! The end of the spring semester came fast, bringing a big ol’ Pig Roast celebration with it. Dozens of family members, friends, and alumni crowded around the house to see what this project is all about. We had a great time sharing the work, and figured out just how many guests can fit onto two parking spaces…

Post-Roast Tasks: Roofing

After the fun of Pig Roast, the “18s” hit the ground (or the scaffolding?) running to get the roof installed. Without a watertight roof, the team couldn’t install insulation or drywall, so it was the priority. The first step was laying rigid insulation over the roof sheathing, then attaching purlins across the top. These purlins will be what the metal panels are screwed into later.

Then all the corners and edges got metal flashing installed on them. The whole roof was outlined in metal profiles to keep water OUT!

The team laid the metal roof panels across the length of the house, attaching them one by one. The back side of the roof was the easy part, but then it was time for the dormer…

Before installing the metal on the front, the team had to install the roof and the siding panels on the dormer. If they didn’t, there wouldn’t be a way to reach the dormer walls later. Meagan and Jake did some tricky flashing work from the scaffolding to install everything over the purlins and insulation. And then, a finished dormer emerged!

The rest of the panels went on smoothly after that. And isn’t it pretty? After it was finally done, Meagan took a break.

Insulation Nation

But no time to stop! As soon as the roof was finished, it was time to insulate. The 18s stuffed the house full of hemp wool and mineral wool batts. And then some more mineral wool. And then some more… Let’s just say there was plenty to do. Meagan had to take another break.

Closing in the Walls

The last step before drywall can be installed was to hang cement board in the bathroom. Cement board is a water-resistant substitute for drywall in showers and other wet areas of a house. The team will be tiling the walls of the shower later on, and this will provide a sturdy base for it. Julie and Meagan measured each panel, scored them with a utility knife, and broke them along the scored edges. Then Meagan took a break, again.

And drywall was delivered to the house this month! We watched as the sheets were lifted into the house through upstairs windows. It all fit inside just fine, and the house is once again crowded with materials. All that’s left now is to hang it up!

We aren’t the only ones eager to see what will come next at the 18×18 House. Watch out to see what happens as summer goes on!

Kitten in doorway
Awwwwww

Get MEPped

Spring has sprung on the 18×18 House site! And with the grass, flowers, and leaves on the trees, new things are springing up inside the house too…

After installing their Pella windows at the start of this semester, the team kept moving with mechanical, electrical, and plumbing rough-ins, or MEP for short. That means pipes and wires!

First up were the drain, waste, and ventilation pipes. The PVC had to be cut and sections fitted together, leveled to slope downwards everywhere, and then taken apart to be glued BACK together. It took some trial and error, but Julie was on top of it.

After drain pipes were glued and checked for leaks, the team moved on to water supply lines. These had to be run to the outside of the house, where eventually the main line will be connected to the water meter.

Student with water line

Inside the house, flexible pipes snake through the walls to a few places. They eventually reach the locations of everything that will use water: the bathroom sink, toilet, shower, kitchen sink, washing laundry, outdoor hose, and refrigerator. Some of the spaces were tight, but once again, Julie saved the day.

Then we ALSO checked all of those pipes for leaks, but this time using air pressure.

Student reading air pressure

Meanwhile, we were also filling the walls with wires to run electricity throughout the house. Wires need to run to every single outlet, switch, and fixture, which can get complicated in a compact space like the 18×18 House.

But fear not! Meagan kept track of all the circuits, which all worked when tested! Phew.

And if that weren’t enough to keep everyone busy, the team has been finalizing some new flashing details for the exterior of the house. The 18×18 House will have about two-thirds of its cladding bumped out by a couple inches to add some dimension to the metal siding. Jake’s on that one!

Look at him. We’re all so proud.

Student with flashing mock-ups

And the FINAL thing the team has done to date… interior finishes! As the insulation and drywall stages approach, the “18s” are deciding on flooring, stair materials, railings, you name it.

The spring evenings in Hale County are setting the 18×18 House aglow every day. Keep an eye out for more changes as spring turns to summer, and as the team gets closer to the finish line!

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!