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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!

I’m Floored

It’s been a minute since you’ve heard from the Patriece’s Home team.

We last left them in the middle of their window installation, and since then they’ve finished! The fenestrations definitely gave the home its facial features and the wonderful Pella-donated windows filled the interior with beautiful light. 

The team also installed the Pella-donated exterior doors. The doors have integrated windows to give the home even more exterior daylight and now the team can lock up the house when they leave for the day. 

With such lovely natural light, the team met with designer Thomas Paterson of Lux Populi again to finalize a complementary artificial lighting plan. The group selected fixtures and bulbs that won’t attempt to replicate daytime light but give a different type of warm cast and task light for differing interior program.

With the stairs complete, it was easier for the team to bring tongue-and-groove plywood to lay the subfloor within their attic truss. 

Once the subfloor was complete, the team could then finally finish their interior framing! The upstairs rooms have taken shape, and the team got very excited about the possibilities for flexible room at the top of the stairs. 

They also put half-inch plywood along the interior walls of the stairs to later attach a durable layer of tongue-and-groove cypress boards. With a surface to cast light on, the team got even more excited about the exterior light from the windows at the top and bottom of the stairs. 

With all the walls established, the group began looking toward wall fillers in preparation to enclose them with drywall (and with endless miscellaneous blocking). 

We enjoyed installing the downstairs shower and upstairs bathtub base. From there, the team began fitting together the PVC drain, water, and vent system to the stub outs connections from the main drain in the concrete slab. 

With the chunky PCV filling the walls, the group began routing flexible PEX tubing through the house. These water supply lines connect to their various fixture stub outs in the bathrooms and kitchen. 

Then it was time for electrical boxes and outlets to find their place in the wall. With the supervision of some expert help, the team installed the two electrical units. These separate outlet boxes offer the opportunity for power to be individually accessed and maintained. With all the wire strung, the house is ready to be plugged into the meter on the temporary power pole outside. Just like decorating for the holidays. We might as well: the house is already green. 

Speaking of holidays, Soup Roast snuck up on the team so fast! The four tidied up for the visitors and started the special day’s project tour with a quick presentation of their home. The crowd got to wander around the home. It’s safe to say it was well received! 

The team has a lot to be thankful for in their second holiday season at Rural Studio. The opportunity to build, the wonderful community that supports them, delicious food, and a home now ready for insulation and drywall! Check back here in the new year for more big updates on Patriece’s Home!

Brace Yourselves… or Brace Those Trusses!

Shop and History

Professor Dick Hudgens took the 3rd-year students on a trip to Tuscaloosa this week to visit Jemison Mansion. Having helped work on the house’s restoration, Dick knew all of the house’s hidden secrets like reveals of the home’s original wood. Every aspect of the house has been expanded to a larger-than-life scale to make the mansion feel more expensive and grand. Windows and doors were kept within the same scale as each other, making it’s large size seem normal without a scale figure.

Ophelia’s Home Site

The roofing team replaced the temporary truss supports with permanent ones which finished all preparations for the purlins. Purlins rest horizontally across the trusses, running northeast to southwest. A purlin was placed every two feet, stating at the tail end of the truss and ending 4″ from the truss’s peak by the roof and enclosures teams. The 4″ gap will allow for ventilation in the attic once roof metal has been drilled to the purlins. The framing team finished the front porch of the house. A small hole was left open to allow for storage under the porch, or allow for retrieval of fallen objects. A wooden “cap” was made to rest in and fill the hole. We are so excited for the front porch, seeing as Ophelia and her family like to spend a lot of time outside. The site cats were also very excited about the porch which has become there new favorite spot to sunbathe.

Raising the Roof at Ophelia’s

Shop and History

Between portraits of Russian monarchs, a stroll through a Greek themed yard, and getting to feed some chickens, Oak Hill is definitely the most unique house tour the students have had the honor of partaking in. Before COVID, the owner had thrown a Russian monarch themed party and chose to keep some decorations. One room is filled with colorful furniture, beautiful glass vases, and extravagant curtains. In another room portraits of Russian monarchs hang by string like they would have been in the 1800s.

Outside, classical Greek-styled statues stand side by side with modern takes on the statues. Some pieces are left to be “dissolved” back into nature. After the tour, the students drew an elevation of the main house and of the cabin, which we believe turned out pretty great.

Shop class has been filled with exciting new ideas and crazy curves. Steam bending, while frustrating at times, has opened a whole new world of woodworking to the students. It will be exciting to see how our curvy wood works will turn out!

Ophelia’s Home Site

To finish truss prep-work, large bolts were put through the beam to fully brace it, and the columns were given another layer of bracing. All the prep work payed off because the trusses went up fairly easily. Steve Long came out to site with the Bobcat, the studio’s skid steer loader, to provide some much appreciated help. Steve long used the Bobcat to first lift a truss, guided by 3rd-year Ethan, above the walls. Then a team of 3rd years with Professors Emily McGlohn and Chelsea Elcott directed the trusses into place and adjusted them until plumb. Temporary bracing was put on the trusses as everyone held them in place.

Once all the trusses were on the walls, and they were put in the correct spots, permanent bracing started going up. Next week, the rest of the permanent bracing will be placed by the roof and enclosure teams while the framing team starts work on the front porch! We are so excited to have the roof raised and to be finally building Ophelia’s front porch!

Festive Frights and Bewildering Beams

Shop and History

This week 3rd-year students started a new project in woodshop class which taught them the technique of steam bending. The project brief is quite open ended; make something “useful” using steam bending. The open nature of instructions will help students really use their creativity. After the great results from the cutting boards, it will be exciting to see what students come up with next!

In history this week, Dr. Hudgens had the students complete their final Design Problem for the semester. Third years have now completed 3 of these Design Problems and look forward to their final review on their last Monday at Rural Studio, November 23rd.

Ophelia’s Home

At Ophelia’s Home this week students continued to prepare for the incoming roof trusses. They put up a beam on the front porch of Ophelia’s home which the trusses connect to in order to create a covered outdoor space. Trusses will span from the back, western wall to the front, eastern wall and over the front porch, resting on the beam. The roofing team placed the brackets, called hurricane ties, on the top plates of each wall for the trusses to secure into. The Enclosures Team and the Framing Team worked together to level the columns on the porch. They also attached the beam on which the trusses will rest. A meeting with Professor Emily McGlohn’s father – a structural engineer – helped solidify the roof team’s trusse placement and bracing. Now that Ophelia’s Home is prepped for the trusses, it’s time to raise the roof!