rsleftovers

Over and Out

It’s curtain call on the Myers’ Home, construction that is. The team wrapped up just in time for the holiday season and towed away the trailer and all. The keys have been given to the clients. The team can’t wait to hear how the house functions in action. But how about a dive into those last few weeks on site in Newbern?

Flex Walls, Finally

One of the primary aims of the Myers’ Home was to provide a formwork for varying generation needs. The team explored this concept by building the “shell” house with no spatial divisions outside of the “core” volume. With this method, a client could hypothetically walk through the full-scale model of the home. With full experience of the space, they can decide where they’d like bedroom divisions from several schemes.

These “flex walls” are stud walls constructed in place, rather than tilt up, and anchored with a few masonry screws. They are paneled with sanded and primed plywood and fasteners are entirely visible. These details allow the walls to be more easily altered or removed years down the road. If the family is in need of a new room configuration, these walls can handle it.

Bits and Bobs

Of course, at the end of every building project there is what’s called a “punch list.” It’s a list of the remaining tasks to ready the house for turnover. On this list for the Myers’ Home was a few coats of finish to the butcher-block countertops, making the stair handrail, caulking the last of corners, tightening up door hardware, and sealing the interior and exterior slabs.

Porch Conclusions

Another final task was to complete the lower row of siding on the front exterior face of the home. A quick task that certainly visually completes the house quickly!

With all bents in place and secured, we begin raising and securing purlins. Then, we welded the purlin mats at the same time as the bents and installed them as single units by bay. Riley took the reins and began welding up a storm while the others clamp and shimmy the pieces to level.

Finally, we wrapped up the roofing, a quicker job than expected. After just a day and a half the team completed the final line of siding and the porch roof. The panels went on with slightly more precision than the main roof. The tapping screws needed to catch the 1-1/4″ purlins, so measuring and pre-drilling of the sheets and purlins were required.

With a final coat of sealant to the interior slab and porch pavers, the house was ready for move-in!

That’s a Wrap

Madeline, Judith, and Riley are on to new endeavors, though questionably bigger and better than this one.

Start spreadin’ the news! Riley is kicking it in the Big Apple, starting work at MADE Design/Build in Brooklyn, NY. With an in-house woodshop and IKEA next door he’s sure to be up to his ears in miters and meatballs.

Judith is sticking around Newbern and joining the teaching team as 3rd-Year Instructor/Coordinator. She’ll be working on Rosie’s Home with Emily McGlohn and the new batch of 3rd-year students. Hale County just can’t seem to shake her off!

Madeline has hit the road to Bozeman, MT, where she’ll be working at Minarik Architecture. She’s pleased with her new snowboarding opportunities and excited to get into conscious and contextual residential work. Stay thawed up there!

The team could not be more grateful for the support of Rural Studio faculty and staff, student colleagues, consultants, donors, and friends. It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later. This is the Myers’ Home team signing off.

Surface Level Thinking

The Myers’ Home team has made it to the top layer of finishes. Almost every material and layer they apply at this point is completely visible and the finish surface in the home. So they’re watching their step with the mud and taking some extra care in details.

Painting the Day Away

After sheetrock is complete, the team and their helpers scrub up the drywall mud and prepare to begin painting. While the home’s core, outer walls, and to-be-built flex walls are designed using different materials, they’ll all be painted white to reduce noise. It also provides a clean surface, should the homeowner want to paint it to personal preference.

The sheetrock is the cleanest surface on the outer edges of the home. It contains most electrical for the possible rooms and is more workable for openings like windows and doors. The board surface on the home’s core—the kitchen, bath, and stair—is a durable tongue-and-groove board. These surfaces are interacted with more often and need added durability. The flex walls that partition bed and living space will be plywood, and primed white. These walls will be anchored in only a few points should the home configuration need to change years down the road.

Just a Trim, Please

Once the walls have their first coat, trim can be installed around the whole house. As materials change, so does trim design strategy. The baseboards run along sheetrock surfaces, and where board material begins, the trim moves to the top edge of the ceiling. Windows are trimmed out on their edges.

Last Call on Windows

Speaking of windows, all of the custom window units are installed and Riley is adding the last few components post-install. Each of the operable and fixed windows get their own trim box, also constructed of cypress. These are taped off and kept natural as the last coat of paint is applied to the surrounding wall.

Steel-Clad Sensibility

Meanwhile, the exterior of the house is getting the full treatment. Siding is starting to be installed on the two gable ends and back of the house. The lower twelve feet of front face will be clad after construction of the porch slab. This prevents siding from being dinged and damaged during concrete pours and metalwork. The porch structure will then be used as a platform to finish the top few feet of siding.

However, the installation process is straightforward for the other three sides. Panels are pre-drilled with screw holes, openings for windows and vents are cut, if necessary. Then the panels are moved into place, overlap length checked, and screwed in from overlap edge over. This prevents most bubbling in the panel as the lines of screws progress over.

The Thermal Mass & Buoyancy Ventilation team has also kindly lent their rental boom lift. The Myers’ Home team is using this lift to install siding high on the gable ends. It’s certainly a much smoother route than multi-story scaffolding! They also used it to install the last few pieces of flashing around windows. The flashing details on this house are in the same family as those used on the roof. To maintain the tight shell, window openings are designed to be sharp and clean.

On Deck

The team is now on their last big push for the interior. They’re building flex walls, preparing for stair treads, painting cabinets, and making the rounds on finish electrical and plumbing. Soon, all lights will be on and water will be flowing!

On the outside, these folks are on standby for porch plans. Imminently, they’re headed up the road to Birmingham for some porch fabrication. This means steel cutting, drilling, and welding! Before that they’ll be boots in the mud again digging for the footings and pavers of the porch. More on that soon, thanks for keeping up!

Handmade Windows

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 ventilation and lighting strategy of Myers’ Home

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.

The three components of the window unit

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.

Riley assembling a section of the windows on a jig table

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.

Windows and siding together

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.

How To Fill A Wall

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.

Becoming Plumbers…

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!

Sheetrock City

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.

Neckdown

Much of this happened over the course of Neckdown weekwhere 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.

In the trenches

Despite the constant rain and muddy site, the team was able to set the rebar and pour a few days later! By using Steve’s fancy plumb bob, and the previously set batter boards, we were able to find the center of the footings and consequently tie the rebar in the right location. After the rebar was all laid out, pins were staked into the ground (every 5 feet) as a reference where the level of the concrete should be poured to.