Rev. Walker’s Home

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

Assembling a Rather Large Roof

Welcome to the blog, dear reader. This journal is my honest recounting of the design and construction of Reverend Walker’s Home. It is late May. Day by day we ease further into the dense atmosphere of the West Alabama summer. The thickness of the air is visible at certain times of day, beautiful and inescapable. This is the time when a big hat is a necessity rather than an accessory. This being the case, my crew has been pushing to raise the great pavilion roof that is the key feature of the Reverend’s home. The roof will provide a solar reprieve through the coming months. It should then please you, dear reader, to learn that a milestone has been made in this endeavor.

Barn Raising

Trusses are up! Thanks to Shane of Stillwater Machine, and our professors Steve and Andrew, we were able to get the six trusses lifted, secured, and braced in a morning. What follows is a summary of the steps my crew took to get to this point, starting from what I described in my last entry.

Brackets Set
start with some brackets
plane ends of post and trim to length
stand it up
level and brace
auger for thru-bolt
secure bolts
fasten screws
repeat

Soon after getting the columns up, the trusses were delivered, and we quickly realized there were a few discrepancies from our specified drawings. The mistakes were fixable so we brought out the angle grinders and got to work trimming steel. Once the revisions were done, the trusses were ready for the boom-truck to lift them into place.

examine your trusses
wear some cool shades and fix them
get a boom truck on site
lift
position
secure
take a band photo with Shane
complete, send Shane on his merry way

To be perfectly truthful, the process was less smooth than this slideshow implies. There were many obstacles to overcome. But trust when I say, dear reader, that when ill-fated circumstances arrive, my crew does not despair. Due to my fine leadership skills, they rise to the occasion and do what has to be done with their heads held high. With my steady paw on the wheel there is no chance this ship runs aground. I will continue to document the progress of this home in future journals, but for now I see Reggie sitting, and therefore I must also sit. Look forward to accounts of mock-ups, roofing, and window making.

Myself and Reverend Reggie Walker

With sincere regards

Captain Taterhead

Captain’s Log: Two Concrete Pours & Interior Design

Rendering of Reverend Walkers Home from the Street

Welcome back, dear reader, to my captain’s log! This is where the story of Reverend Walker’s Home will be kept for posterity. My hope for this journal is to provide an accurate account of my crew’s efforts to design and build a rather unique home. It should gladden you, dear reader, to learn that since my last entry, the team has been able to pour both the slab and the column footings, allowing us to be free of the famous West Alabama mud for some time. The next step will be to raise the pavilion roof which will provide us with protection from the summer sun and afternoon showers while we work on the volumes underneath.

Slab

Concrete Slab
finished slab

Reverend Walker’s Home invests heavily in the initial infrastructure. By providing a large, continuous slab foundation, a homeowner can rapidly build an addition, if desired. After earthwork and plumbing, the crew began setting the slab perimeter formwork. With our teams’ expert board physicists, we pushed, pulled, and leveled the boards until we had a square and level rectangle to hold the concrete.

Students Set Formwork for Concrete
setting formwork

While we finished up formwork, our modest order of 88,000 pounds of gravel was delivered to the site. Upon completion of our forms, the gravel was spread within the formwork with the help of the Myers’ Home Team! We were rather fond of the gravel mounds and found it bittersweet to move them. We also owe the Myers’ Home team our gratitude and more than a few milkshakes. After the gravel was in place we stretched out the vapor barrier which will prevent ground moisture from infiltrating the slab.

Under-Slab Vapor Barrier
vapor barrier
George set a form box around shower drain
stub-out formwork

With the end in sight and spirits high, we made quick work of setting perimeter rebar and laying steel mesh. The slab is extra-enforced which will hopefully work to prevent any major cracking in the future. The last step was to pour concrete! On a particularly dry Tuesday, and with the help of Clyde and Jimmy from Toews Bros. Inc., we poured and finished 27.5 cubic yards of concrete to form the slab. But we couldn’t rest yet, dear reader, with the wind at our backs we aimed to have the column brackets cast in footings by the end of the week. 

Students Laying rebar mesh
rebar mesh
pour and finish

Footings

The grand feature of Reverend Walker’s Home, the large pavilion roof, is supported by twelve 8″ x 8″ solid sawn columns that are set into Sturdi-Wall® wet set anchor brackets. The greatest challenge in making these footings was the very low tolerance of the column to truss connection. Our goal was to create a system where the brackets could be set and held in place by formwork prior to pouring concrete, which would allow for very precise alignment and measuring. My team did mock-ups of three versions of the bracket jig, each one getting progressively more simple and effective. After our final test, we decided we were ready to move on to the real thing. Rebar ties were added to the brackets, 18″ diameter holes were augured, the formwork was built and reinforced, and the brackets were placed and secured. We were then ready to pour.

students discuss pier jig with professor
discussing the jig with our professor, Steve Long
student bends rebar
making rebar ties
student fastens rebar ties to bracket rods
the ties work to prevent pier blow-out
student augers holes for column piers
Addie the professional augerer
Finished Bracket in place
finished footing
Brackets Set
ducks in a row

Interiors

Alongside sitework, we have been developing interior finishes for Reverend Walker’s Home. In such a small home, we want to reduce the amount of clutter on the interior design. We also are committed to creating an environment which does not dictate or imply a certain type of lifestyle. Like the exterior of the home, the interior should be a springboard for the creativity of the client, and encourage many lifestyles. For now, the interior is made of cork flooring, plywood and drywall for the core area, and drywall for the overarching enclosure shell. This design work is still in progress and will continue to develop as we begin to build the space.

rendering of kitchen interior
kitchen
render of living interior
living area
Potato Head the site cat
Taterhead: Self Portrait

As you might have gathered, dear reader, our journey is fraught with exciting challenges, and each day brings a new opportunity to push my crew and the design of Reverend Walker’s Home to heights yet unobserved. After all that I’ve found in my travels around I can scant recall a home so lovely. Alas, this is where I must leave you, for naptime beckons me, and I believe I will choose my favorite sun spot for this day’s occasion. As always, I will continue to act strictly yet thoughtfully as I lead my crew to success.

With regards,

Taterhead

An Earnest Account of Plumbing & Piping

Hark, dear reader, and hear my tale! In my previous journal, I happily announced the arrival of Spring in Hale County. Indeed, the change in temperature was welcome by friend and feline alike. However, I must admit that the boons of Mother Spring cannot be divorced from her burdens. The tempests of March are frequent, strong, and heavy as to turn stable earth into a muck so thick it will suck the sole off one’s boot. My crew has been battling these conditions in a campaign to prepare our site for an approaching concrete pour. Several tasks must be completed before the slab is laid down, the first being to install plumbing & piping. With a slab-on-grade foundation, all of the infrastructure must be installed prior to pouring concrete, this includes the electrical and water mains, as well as waste drains. Our process for this is as follows:

Student hammers in stake
set batter-boards & strings
students dig plumbing trench
dig and grade trenches
prime and glue
student checking slope of a pipe
check your work
completed plumbing on site
revel in a job well done

Although most of the digging was done by hand, we were able to make use of the trencher during a few particularly dry days. The width and depth of the trench that the machine makes is perfect for laying water and electric mains because it can easily dig beneath the frost line in the area. We are grateful when the weather is nice enough to start the trencher up.

student operates trencher
trenching for water main
student laying pex
laying water main

You might be wondering why there is so much plumbing! Reverend Walker’s Home features a main living volume with a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and loft. In addition to the main enclosure is a separate room that we have dubbed the “bonus room”. The bonus room is a partially unfinished space that is supplied with plumbing and electrical stub-outs to allow for many possible uses, whether for storage, a home office, a studio, or even another bathroom. The initial investment into infrastructure will enable a homeowner to quickly and easily expand their home.

diagram of bonus room
supplying the bonus room with utilities gives it many possible futures

You will be happy to hear, dear reader, that this step in the process is complete. My next order will be for my crew to set formwork for the slab and column footings! Despite the sky’s grim countenance, spring brings longer days and fresh growth, and morale remains high! The wind is at our backs and I will continue to push this team steadily towards greatness! Alas, dear reader, the magnolia leaves are dripping water onto my head, and I must retire to my chambers for chance I catch a cold.

With affection

Taterhead

The site cat Taterhead
Your orator, Taterhead