The 57 acres that comprise Cedar Ridge Farm are located in the beautiful rolling hills of South Central Kentucky. My wife, our four children, and I are on a homesteading adventure as we work toward increased self-sufficiency. We grow much of our own food and enjoy being in touch with the agrarian roots of our lives.

One of the major projects we have undertaken is the building of our own home. The house we're building has three major distinguishing features: 1. we're building it without incurring any debt; 2. it is a timber frame structure; and 3. the exterior walls will be plastered straw bales. We live debt and mortgage free, and building our house with that approach makes perfect sense. Large timbers in a home possess a beauty and project a sense of strength, stability, and warmth that we want in our home. Straw bale walls provide insulation and make ecological sense. This blog is a record of our home-building project.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The rafters are on

I can't believe how quickly time goes by. It was almost six months ago that we raised the frame. At that time it was my intention to get the roof on by the end of September. That didn't happen. I've continued to plug away at it, though. One of the good things about not getting the roof done on my original schedule is that it allowed another design change/addition: the cupola. I wouldn't have gone back and reworked things to add a cupola if the roof was already completed. Since it wasn't, once we had the idea, it wasn't too difficult to incorporate this new design element. In all fairness, too, designing, framing, and constructing the cupola also added time to completing the roof.

The roof isn't on yet, but we're several steps closer. Over the last two weeks, I've worked as often as the weather permitted on getting the rafters on. There are timber frame rafters, of course, but that's not what I'm referring to. These rafters are the ones that will hold the roof above the insulation over the cathedral ceiling. The timber frame rafters hold all of this and are visible inside.

I'm very pleased with how my design for the rafter system worked. I was able to use material salvaged from a mobile home roof and from some logs I milled, thereby saving several hundred dollars over buying commercial 2x4s for the structure. The 10" pieces of 2x6 I used to hold the rafters at the desired height for my insulation actually provide nice rigidity to the system. Once I add a few diagonal braces to the rafter system and sheet it with OSB, it's going to be completely solid.

I endeavored to get the overhang on the back and the front as even as possible. You can sort of see how the ends of the rafters line up in these photos. I may have to trim some of the ones on the back. The ones on the front will matter less than the ones on the back. The porch roof will tie into the ones on the front while there will be an overhang of about one foot on the back (the rafters extend 3' beyond the frame because they will overhang past the straw bale wall). At the peak, I didn't butt the rafters from each side; I brought them each close to the peak and then tied them together with some 1/2" thick boards.

There are 19 rafters on the front and 19 on the back. They are on 2 foot centers. Each rafter is connected to the frame at 3 or 4 points via the 10" pieces of 2x6 (and some 2x8). On at least two of those points for each rafter, I was able to toe nail them into the purlins on the timber frame, not just the vertical strapping.

Working on the 3:12 slope on the back of the house presented no problems. The 8:12 pitch on the front is a bit steeper. Although I can walk on it safely, it was more comfortable for me to nail 18" steps in four places on the front to make climbing up and down safer. You can see a couple sets of these steps in the photo.

While adding the nailers around the cupola for the sheeting, I needed to take the blue tarp wrapping off. I should've taken some pictures of it unwrapped, but I forgot to have my camera with me. I put pieces of the tarp back on to keep the rain out. It will also serve as a vapor barrier under the siding. I intend to install the windows on the cupola before putting the roof metal on. I expect the metal on the front of the house will provide less than secure footing.

It's noticeable in the photo above that the construction area needs cleaned up. I had my boys (ages 6 and 4) start on that project, but they didn't last long. In my desire to get the roof on while the weather cooperates, I haven't taken the time to get things picked up and straightened up as I should. That's on the to do list.

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