Howdy from the freshly established Patriece’s Home team: Adam Davis, Lauren Lovell, Daniel Burton, and Laurel Holloway! While the team has not met their client, Patriece, yet, they have been diligently working on Rural Studio’s next 5th-year house project.
Rural Studio has been designing and building homes for rural families since 1993. Patriece’s Home seeks to provide flexibility and adaptability for rural homeowners as the number of occupants and their relationships change over the life of the home. Often in rural areas, as homes are inherited and families grow, porches are filled in, and additions are added to provide more interior space.
The goal of Patriece’s Home is to make the interior rooms flexible enough that they can easily and completely change without significant alterations or additions to the home. Building upon research from one of last year’s 5th-year projects, the Myers’ Home, this new project will also provide more occupiable interior space in the attic. By extending the interior upwards, the footprint remains the same, the cost per square foot of the home is decreased, and the details of exterior additions don’t lead to thermally weak points, leaky places within the home envelope.
The team is also considering the option of an exterior stair that allows for the second floor attic space to be separated from the first floor. This offers opportunities for the home to have two separate families under the same roof or additional space for the homeowner to rent, providing potential for a second source of income.
To understand the limits and possibilities of an interior stair, the team first dove into residential code analysis for interior stairs. Next they drew stair and attic truss schemes into several previous Rural Studio house designs to challenge what restrictions and possibilities come with a two-story house. This research combined with the drawing exercises helped the team develop new criteria for the project.
Halloween reviews are right around the corner and the team will begin to mock-up and understand what makes a delightful Rural Studio porch and the kind of spatial challenges a staircase offers. So, come along and porch sit with this team as they keep this project moving on up (into the attic)!
Madeline and Judith have been working away on site, but where’s Riley been? What’s this mystery man’s secret? Alright…he’s been out shopping. Woodshop-ing, that is. He’s been crafting the window systems for Myers’ Home with his own two hands!
What, Where, Why?
The team hasn’t just picked up this big task for the fun of it though. Designing and building the window system introduces a slew of advantages into the Studio’s home-building philosophy.
In rural areas like those studied by Myers’ Home team, the most common windows are not durable. The cheap vinyl and plastic warps over time and the window becomes useless for ventilation. They also are often filled with window AC units that reduce interior light and make passive ventilation near nonexistent.
The Studio decided to tackle this challenge of durability and home efficiency so the team first studied the essential functions of a window in this context and boiled it down to: light, passive ventilation, and active ventilation. They decided the best tools for each of these elements and worked to fit them together into one window unit. By separating each component, particularly active ventilation from the others, light and passive ventilation are preserved.
Windows are also typically installed in the rough openings of the home. In this case, installing three separate components makes the process more difficult. The team designed a dimensioned box that holds all three pieces precisely. This unit is then moved into the opening and leveled as one piece.
Riley Makes a Jig
First, Riley had to find a way to streamline the process. A “jig” is the most effective way to move forward here. Jigs are tools of a sort, they hold other tools, or pieces, in place so that they can be worked. Often they are a negative of a piece one is trying to build.
In the case of Myers’ Home windows, Riley set up a system in this line of thinking. He built low tables, drafted the window frames on the tops, routed holds for clamps, and assembled each window section atop them.
A Mill-ion to One
Once the jigs are complete and workstations ready to go, Riley can begin the first step before assembly: milling. The team chose quality pine boards for the base box of the window units. Cypress trim will make up the interior and exterior trim and the exterior lid to the box. The pine arrived slightly larger than necessary dimensions, so to the planer it goes. After a few passes the boards are ready to be assembled into the dimensionally stable frame for the three components.
Boxes and Squares
With all this freshly milled wood, Riley began scribing his dimensions and cutting the pine pieces to length. He moved these to his assembly space in the Red Barn where he begins laminating and screwing them into a solid unit.
Put a Lid On It!
The team designed the window unit as three pieces: the core box, the lid the shuts it, and the trim that covers seams. Once the box is complete, Riley uses the same jigs to assemble those lids. They are made of cypress, which is more weather-resistant for the lid on the window exterior.
The milling process is much the same, he continued to scribe and cut to size, this time on the chop saw rather than a sled on the table saw. After this though, some changes happen in the process. He used the table router to route small drip edges on each sill, another level of weather protection. And, as the pieces are so thing and would be prone to splitting, Riley employed pocket screws in the assembly of the window lids. This requires another jig and predrilling of each component.
These pieces all move to the jigs and are ready for assembly. Once lined up and in place, the glue is placed, the whole things is clamped, and pocket screws are driven. It sits to dry for a day.
How About a Trim?
The last piece of the layered window system is the trim. Riley lays these pieces out much the same as the lid and assembles with screws and lamination. The difference in this piece of the window unit is its future-proofing. The box is independent and the lid and trim are tightly attached to one another. Then these two pieces are simply screwed together, sturdily.
When Riley attaches the lid, the screws are left visible and unpainted. This means that over time, when the trim of the window weathers or rots, the piece can be replaced with something else by the owner, keeping the rest of the window secure.
Steps to Site
Riley had a few finishing steps before the units move to site are installing operable windows, weather sealed taping, and priming and painting. All of was is done in the shop and Red Barn as well. The team’s plan was the finish just about everything that could be done in-shop. Designating the majority of window production as pre-fabrication allows the entire unit to be transported in nearly its final state.
On-site, the box is popped into the rough opening and leveled with shims. Then the team lined up the lid and screwed it on tightly. This leaves installing the fixed glass and wall-in conditioning unit, both simple and straightforward tasks.
Pre-Fab Pays Off
The team carefully transported all six operable window units to site and have been steadily installing and weatherproofing each one. In help install the high attic units, the TMBV team has lent their boom lift!
In addition to the operable window units, Riley fabricated four fixed window units for the living space, kitchen sink, stair landing, and bathroom.
News of Newbern
The team has already started installing siding on the exterior and working through finishes inside. It’s been exciting to see so much visible progress lately! They’ve also been getting some extra helping hands from the new 5th-year teams. Keep those eyes peeled for blogs from them and the 3rd-year students.
And a ridiculously loud congratulations to these three teammates over at Rev. Walker’s Home. They finished their project and hosted a housewarming party for Reggie. This team could not be more proud of their hard work and grateful for their friendship. These folks cannot wait to see what they do next, the sky is the limit. Over and out.
The latest is in from the Myers’ Home project site! The team has squared away interior framing and are close to debuting their windows. This means it’s about time for the house to get its nerve center. The Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing train is leaving the station in Newbern.
With Riley offsite in the woodshop working on the custom window units, Madeline and Judith have been at the helm on site for the past few weeks. Madeline is taking the reins on plumbing the whole house, and ducting it too! Judith has got the power alongside her, running electrical wires, installing outlet and switch boxes, sorting circuits, and labeling everything.
The plumbing contains stub-outs to the attic space allowing a bathroom to be built for future generations. These are beside the water heater, also in the attic to save space in the downstairs. Electrical decisions were also based on rooms that could serve different purposes across generations. Dedicated circuits are in place for AC units and the home is treated in zones of use.
Lighting the Way
This also entails a discussion in lighting the house, helped along by a new consultant to the Studio, Thomas Paterson of Lux Populi in Mexico City.
The flexible nature of Myers’ Home doesn’t stop at the plan, section, or material finishes. The team’s been applying their goal of generational expansion and flexibility to the lights in the house too. The home was studied in zones to determine lighting strategies, and tools (fixtures) were chosen to achieve these. The team is working to balance task lighting and spot lighting with the necessary amount of immediate switched light in a space.
The team mirrored lighting and fan locations in each zone for alignment no matter the scheme of flex walls. They then worked to place lights in the core such that it remains a hearth and can be the main source of immediate light in the home.
As these folks press on with electrical work, they’ll begin to test how to optimize the tools they’ve chosen for each flexible space.
It’s Getting Hot in Here…
Drywall looms and Myers’ Home Team must consider all that the wall must hold before it is sealed up. Wires and pipes have been run, the lights are set in their places. It’s time to stuff if full of foam and fiberglass. The insulation line for Myers’ Home is at the roof. This requires five and a half inches of spray-in, open-cell insulation. It’s one of the few jobs that the Studio hires out. Meanwhile, the team put up blocking framing upstairs and left the premises for a day. Upon return, the attic was cool as a cucumber and ready for windows.
The original intention for the home was to install a flash-and-batt insulation system downstairs. However, foam prices are cost-prohibitive and the team moved forward with Rockwool insulation in downstairs walls. Madeline, Riley, and volunteer Bess from Project Horseshoe Farm knocked out the ground floor in just a couple mornings!
The team put some quick blocking in place and documented each wall before making the call for sheetrock. The crew arrived first thing and got to it. By lunchtime, the first layer of finishes were all in place. All that remains for drywall is mudding and sanding to smooth everything over.
Much of this happened over the course of Neckdown week—where new students knock out work around Hale County using, arguably, everything but their heads. Myers’ Home played host to a few helpers who helped begin more layers of finish materials in and out of the home. Many thanks to new 5th-year students Jackie, Hailey, Davis, Brenton, and Caitlyn, as well as 3rd-years Peter and Laura!
Window units ready to show their faces soon! In the meantime, the home is being battened down with flashing and prepped for siding as the summer slides on by. Check out Myers’ Home team’s brethren over at Rev. Walker’s Home as they also install windows and siding. Or jump to the Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Ventilation crew for some big moves upward! Best to all, over and out.
With a shady roof finally in place, the team is ready to fit out Myers’ Home on the inside. This includes all interior walls but the “flex walls,” the staircase, and the attic floor. Once these are all set the team can move on to rough mechanical, electrical, and plumbing work.
Framing interior walls is much the same as exterior walls. In this case none are load-bearing thus headers don’t require the same level of structuring. However, as the core in Myers’ Home interlocks with the staircase, funky framing conditions arise. Before the walls can go up though, the team lays sill plates again, sans gasket and caulk this time around.
Once sill plates were secured, Madeline and Judith framed the ground floor interior walls. The north bedroom was the first to rise, followed by its southern counterpart, the two bathroom walls, and the stair landing.
A Step Up
Judith and Madeline took the first stab at building the staircase. It’s been a while since the Studio has built a staircase! After a day of figuring up from down, they were off to the races. Once Riley returned from the woodshop — he’s been hard at work on some special windows — they really started moving. The platform for the landing is framed first and joists are placed atop before OSB flooring. Stringer angles are measured from marked distances and pulled string with an angle finder.
Once measured and scribed, they cut the stringers from 2×10 boards and leveled them across each step, from bottom to top. This became a touch more difficult on the second run when the stringers were fourteen feet long. Madeline stands on the newly moved scaffold between trusses to level the attic end. Judith pushes the lower ends in place and checks to ensure each step is level across stringers.
After these three completed the stairs they moved on up to installing the attic floor. The 3/4″ tongue and groove OSB is hauled up through remaining space between trusses, interlocked, and tacked in.
The attic will soon be partially divided by the enclosed volume of the stair. These folks are in the process of framing those small but tricky little walls. Judith and Madeline will be getting into electrical, mechanical, and plumbing next while Riley returns to the shop for that mysterious window fabrication. All will be revealed before too long. So long for now.
Myers’ Home team is flying high as they install the roof on this generational home. Goodbye errant raindrops, so long harsh sunbeams. Say hello to a cool and shady workspace!
After nailing the sheathing and taping the seams, the team can’t get straight into roof metal installation. The edges of the corrugated metal sheets must be finessed. This is all accomplished with honed and tight flashing details. Way back when this team reviewed such details with Jake Labarre and Dan Wheeler. They tested them in a mockup and it’s finally time for the real deal.
Done in a flash
The flashing is ordered custom and is produced from sheet metal with folds and smash joints as specified. It provides a clean edge for roofing and siding panels to run into and weatherproofs by serving as a drip edge from openings. Later down the line door and window flashing will also be applied before siding to protect the home’s openings.
The team also installed what’s called a “vapor diffusion port.” This consists of a strip of Tyvek paper taped across the gap in the peak of the sheathed roof. Once open-cell spray-in insulation is installed it will serve to diffuse moisture from the home through the attic space.
Up and at ’em
With flashing up, it’s about time to start slinging metal up of Myers’ Home’s 10/12 pitch roof. The team went with a larger corrugation width, 1-1/4″, than that of the siding, 3/4″. This creates distinct planes with similar textures.
Thanks to extra hands Andrew, Steve, and Chelsea, the process was about as smooth as can be. The roofing began with Andrew at the peak and Judith on the roofing ladder at the eave manned with drivers and screws, Madeline and Steve manning the scaffold positions, and Riley and Chelsea pre-drilling and hoisting sheets up.
The front slope of the roof, shortened because of the heeled truss, was completed with just one row of 12′ panels. The back of the house however has a slope length of nearly 20ft. To roof this with a single run of panels is slightly more unwieldy to install with the small crew on this project. The team split the back into two portions; an upper 8′ run and a lower 11′ 6″ segment.
In the home stretch!
The final upper portion proved trickier to maneuver with a lower row already installed. The previously designed rope system continued to prove its worth in this area. Down on the scaffold, a string is pulled across the bottom edge to mark where the roof overhang ends. The scaffold hands push the panel into place and align corrugation to the sheet adjacent before those further up secure the metal.
These folks completed the whole job in two mornings of sunrise starts. All that remains is installing the ridge cap once the team gets their hands on the elusive closure strips. These corrugated foam strips seal large gaps in between the roof and ridge cap across the house’s peak. A complete roof is well in sight!
The Great Indoors
With the roof and sheathing complete, Myers’ Home team finally has that shaded interior workspace. They’re jumping into the first steps of interior wall framing, which will be the core unit of the bathroom, laundry, and staircase. The team has also hit the shop with the first pre-fabricated cypress window unit well underway.
Soon to be released, the woodshop tell-all and the beginnings of plumbing and electrical!