Chapter 49: Puttin’ on the Ceiling

December 16, 2010 • Written by Christina Berry

Well, wow. It’s only been five months since the last update? Geez, it feels like five years. This whole framing and roofing thing, it’s hard and painful and boy are we glad it’s (mostly) behind us.

In the five months since the last update, Errek and I both got older (literally and figuratively), we survived the second wettest September in Austin history (only those people who were trying to build a house in September of 1921 suffered more than us), we both managed to impale important parts of our respective bodies, and…oh yeah, we FINALLY got a lid on this place.

But before we get to the gory and glory, I will start where I left off…walls.

What I’ve found as we work on the walls, and I document everything for this blog, is it’s really hard to photograph stud walls. It just looks like a bunch of sticks standing on end. So, my apologies in advance that this is sort of a useless batch of pictures. I will attempt to caption like a pro.

This group of sticks here, well it’s our new master closet.

Oh here, a better perspective on the closet. The door on the left is the door from the bedroom into the bathroom, and the big hole at center-right is the opening for the closet pocket door, which will open into the bathroom.

And this little wall is what will separate the toilet from the shower. Please note, the diagonal wood is temporary. That just keeps the whole house from falling like dominos.

Up to this point, we’ve basically been building a sitcom set — no fourth wall. But alas, life it not art, and we need a fourth wall for privacy and to keep out the stalkers or whatever. Meet the fourth wall. It’s pretty much just a big hole where a giant window and giant door will go. Check me out, I’m totally holding that wall up all by my lonesome.

Um…just a sec, it’s raining, aka break time.

Yep…enjoying the rain while sitting under a tarp ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

See, it requires a lot of maintenance. We have to literally push the rain off the tarp by poking it with a broom.

Woohoo! Par-tay!

My turn.

Okay, rain stopped…back to work. But it’s dark. Well, that’s why Home Depot invented lightbulbs…or Tesla or Edison or…oh whatever, grab the Halogens, it’s gonna be a long night.

Whoa, now the bathroom has a fourth wall too. Neato.

Hey baby, while you work, I’m just going to sit in my future bathtub and pretend that I can relax. I have a pretty good imagination, I think I can make this work.

Um yeah, that’s your get-off-your-ass-and-help-me face isn’t it? Fine!

So, what’s next? I mean we have all four walls, right? Um, yeah, so there’s this very important fifth wall that we need to tend to — the ceiling. Oh joy. Check it out, our future ceiling stacked neatly in the breakfast room.

So this is how you have to figure out roof pitch. It’s very old school, which of course makes it awesome. Also, whatever your roof pitch is, you have to cut that same pitch off the ends of your ceiling joists, otherwise the ceiling joists would poke through your roof. And that’d just be dumb.

Whoops! Well, there’s a reason why they say “measure twice, cut once” — those board ain’t cheap.

Hey baby, you come here often?

Breaktime over. Time to get the ceiling up. Gotta measure out our 16s. This here again is where we went over board. Normally people put their ceiling on 2-foot centers, but we’re putting our 2x8s every 16 inches.

Hey, new problem. Our house it so tall that we’re all up in the trees.

Look ma, pecans in the bathroom.

Ah, tis no matter…for now. We can get the ceiling up around the Pecan limbs. One down…or up, as the case may be.

And where there is one, there will be many.

Hey look, I’m helping.

Woot! Look at all that ceiling.

Just so you don’t think this is all fun and games, note the sweat.

Day two we got the ceiling up over the bathroom too.

But then the weekend ended and there was rain in the forecast, so witness the return of the tarp.

Despite the rain, we were pretty excited because we thought the ceiling joists would make nice channels for the rain to travel down and away. Uh…nope…the day it rained, I got home to find what looked like a giant manatee belly over my head. And a giant manatee belly over the head, well that’s quite terrifying.

Fortunately, by the next weekend we had clear skies again. So the tarp came off and it was time to tackle the rest of the ceiling.

Now here we encountered an interesting challenge. Because the kitchen is taller than the rest of the house, there was not a center wall to overlap with our bedroom ceiling joists. Oh my goodness, how will we ever get our bedroom ceiling joists up?

Oh sweet, apparently someone thought of that. They (whoever “they” may be) make these handy dandy brackets for just that purpose. You just mount a board at your ceiling line to the back of the kitchen stud wall and then mount the brackets to hold the ceiling joists.

Oh yippee, this job calls for the spiffy red glasses.

So, this is why these glasses are so handy. Check out the red laser level line. Here’s before (aka naked eye)…

And after… Whoa!

Tada, ceiling in new portion of bedroom is up.

Course, we still have that pesky old house in the way.

I love this photo.

And this one.

I’ve got a duckface because I’m so tough!

Boy would I ever eat those words. Shortly after my “tough” picture was taken came this.

Apparently, I was getting out of line and Errek had to set me straight…I kid, I kid. Although it was his fault. So here’s what happened, we were putting up bracing. This is just a 2×4 that you screw/nail to each of the ceiling joists to keep them from curving, moving, twisting, etc.

In order to get this brace up and in place, we had to snap a chalk line on each ceiling joist. This was to ensure that it would be straight and the joists would be properly spaced. To snap this chalk line we would each stand on a ladder on opposite ends of the ceiling. Then we’d have to throw the chalk line fob from one end to the other. Well, remember how we have pecan trees all down in our business? Yeah, makes it hard to throw things without getting the string all tangled up. Errek tried once and it didn’t work, I made a joke that he’d have to throw it harder, “put a little elbow in it.” He…uh…did. I caught it…YAY…with my eye…BOO! Witness Errek’s guilty face.

I must say, it was quite an odd experience sporting a shiner that week. Everyone who saw it seemed to want to ask…but then didn’t.

But a black eye is nothing, right? If that’s the only injury we incur…oh wait, it wasn’t. Hrm. Okay, moving on…

At this point we encountered two big obstacles — a really low Pecan branch and the original house. We couldn’t put the roof on until the arborist cut off the Pecan branch, and we weren’t able to put the ceiling on the kitchen until the back of the original roof and the old back wall of the attic were gone. Errek, of course, was quick to jump on the demolition job. He loves to tear shit up.

Okay, pretty much that was when the reality of it all hit — the house was now open to the elements, animals, etc. We’d just crossed a point of no return. Ah, tis no concern. We could move forward with the kitchen ceiling.

One up…wow, that’s a tall ceiling.

From one to many. Woot!

Okay, so the ceiling’s done. Now it’s time for the roof, right? Well, apparently, no. Errek needed to get the roof ridge up in order to determine if the Pecan tree was actually in our way and in need of Arborist intervention. The “ridge” is the center peak of the roof, and in our house it’s huge. That board he’s holding is 2″ x 10″ x 16′. Wow!

At last, with the ridge up we could see exactly how tall our house was, and whether or not the Pecan tree limb would need to be cut.

Yep, the Pecan is indeed in the way.

So we called Nevic the Arborist. With a wonderful name like that, we couldn’t expect that he’d just be sitting around waiting for our call, right? Yep. He’s a busy arborist. So we went by┬áhis schedule, and his first opening was in two weeks. Well crap. Just when we had some momentum, we’re stopped cold in our tracks by a low hanging branch laden with Pecans. What on earth will we do while we wait? Hmm. Oh I know, build other stuff. It’s not like we were running out of crap to build.

First up, the closet pocket door frame had arrived. Install: check!

Hmm, okay, what’s next…oh crap, rain!

We were at work for this one, so we didn’t get a chance to cover up. Had to figure out a way to get all that water out of our house after the fact. Hmm…

Christina’s spark of genius — a wet/dry vac:

Errek’s spark of genius — a leaf blower:

Like peanut butter and chocolate, these sparks of genius were clearly meant to work together.

And then there was the usual post-sparks of genius goofing off period — so that’s how those heavy metal rock stars get their hair aflowing, a leaf blower!

Followed closely by the post-sparks of genius margaritas! Genius has its benefits.

But alas, our margaritas were not bottomless, and we had to get back to work.