Building My House

I have always wanted to build my own house. I am retired now, so I have the time. I found some land, designed a house that would fit the land and my needs and got started. I am doing all the work myself, so progress will be fairly slow. To read this blog from the beginning, start with the oldest archive and read posts from last to first.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Solving Problems

I am writing this blog as much to help others build their homes as I am to document the building of mine. Therefore, if I figure out an unusual or innovative way to solve a problem, something that I think may help others I want to post it in the blog.

Just such a thing occurred yesterday as I was building the girder beams that hold up the floor joists. My girders are three 2x10 nailed (and soon to be bolted) together. As I mentioned in a recent post it seems that for me wood warps in storage, even if that storage is nice and dry and the wood is packed tightly together.

Long story short, one of my 2x10 was a little warped and needed to be pulled down about 3/8” to line up with the others. To set the stage here, this girder is up about 5 feet in the air; roughly shoulder height for me.

I tried the standing on a step ladder and mash it down with my body weight method; that didn’t work. Then an idea popped into mind. Could I somehow use one of my many C-clamps to bring these two boards in line and in the process free up both hands for nailing them together.

The pic is what I came up with. It’s two pieces of a discarded bed rail, each about 8” long. I have a metal cutting chop saw, so cutting them wasn’t hard. And as a bonus, the holes were already drilled in about the right spots. So, I grabbed a couple of #12 screws, mounted the angles, put the clamp on and voila, lining up the boards was easy.
This little jig idea might not be that impressive to a professional home builder, but I’m not a pro; so anything like this I think of, I’m proud of, especially when I saw how easy it was to use.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Mudsill and Rim Joist

Building the subfloor comes next, but the first part of that job is putting up the mudsill and rim joist. For those of you who are not builders, the mudsill is the board that you see bolted down to the foundation walls or to the slab. Houses built with wood subfloors also have a rim joist, which sits perpendicular to the mudsill and goes all the way around the outside perimeter of the house. The regular floor joists “tee” into the rim joist and are nailed or screwed to it.

I’m using 2x10 floor joists so my rim joist is also 2x10. The mudsill is 2x8, which is about the same size as the top of the concrete block foundation wall. With the exception of the front porch area, the mudsill and rim joist are up all around the perimeter.

Every contractor I’ve ever seen toe-nails the rim joist down to the mudsill. It’s a lot quicker this way, but I don’t like toe-nailing because I’ve seen it done wrong too many times. Done wrong the wood splits which compromises the strength of the connection. I like screws much better than nails and am willing to take the extra time they require to use. To connect the rim to the sill with screws required that I build everything upside down, then pick it up, flip it over (upright), carry it over and place it on the foundation wall and finally then bolt it down. Not having a helper, I could do all the steps myself except hold the sill and rim together (properly aligned) while at the same time putting the screws in. For this reason I built a jig to hold the boards straight (Pic 1). Using the jig freed up both my hands which made it a lot easier to put the screws in.

Buying all those screws would be expensive, but one day at the local building supply center I found a drastically reduced price table with a 25# pail of 3” exterior grade wood screws. I weighed the pail to make sure it was full (it was). As these were the same screws I was going to buy inside I felt like I had really come across some good luck.

My mudsill boards are 14’ long, the rim joist are 12’ long. That means there are lots of overlapping joints in the boards. Everywhere there is an overlap I have to do some sort of toe-nailing, but I’m doing it with screws. To avoid splitting the wood at the toe-nail I used a ¾” spade bit to drill a pilot hole (1/4”-3/8” deep). Putting the screw in the pilot hole means there is more wood there for the screw to grab, which lessens the tendency to split the wood. I also drill down through the big pilot hole (on an angle) with a 1/8” bit. This further reduces the tendency for the wood to split. (Pic 2)

It seems most any wood you buy, even if it was straight as an arrow when you bought it; letting it sit stacked (even in a dry garage) for any length of time guarantees some of them will warp. But, I found that using the ¾” pilot hole trick could also be used to connect and align the top of two rim joist boards that didn’t want to line up perfectly. (Pic 3)

Solvitur Ambulando - latin for “finding solutions as we go”. Maybe that’s what this blog should be named. I’m finding “lots” of opportunity to solve problems doing this project -- more than I ever expected.