Summer Routing

While Terry ran some intense geometry calcs to figure out the location and height of the mudroom walls, Carson and I sheathed the rest of the first floor. The initial row is the hardest. We snapped a chalk line along the studs to mark the top edge of the sheathing, so a 4×8-foot sheet would overhang the ICF wall by an inch and a half. (The sheathing is Zip-Systems engineered panels. It’s different from plywood or OSB, oriented strand board.)

Next, we ran a bead of glue along the first-floor rim boards to help seal the house. After that, we carried over a sheet of Zip-Systems and held it so one edge ran flush with the previous sheet and the top followed our chalk line. While holding the sheet exactly in place, somebody grabbed the nail gun and tacked the sheathing to a couple of studs. (This step required an extra hand; if a third person wasn’t available I held the sheathing with a knee and nailed it myself.) Finally, we double-checked our alignment and once satisfied we finished nailing.

Subsequent rows of sheathing go up more easily because we can align the sheets to a physical object rather than just a line. As we sheathed higher, we rested each sheet on the edge of the sheet below, which reduced the physical effort required to perfect the alignment. Still, we often got it a little wrong… which is why we always double-check before putting too many nails in. Depending on severity, our remedies varied from hammering one corner a little to knocking the whole sheet off with Sluggo.

Carson admires our sheathing job on the house's tallest wall.

Carson admires our sheathing job on the house’s tallest wall.

We don’t want sheathing over our door and window openings. In some cases I used a circular saw to pre-cut sheets so they fit around the openings. But often our most time-effective (and foolproof) method was to place an entire sheet to partially cover the opening and then cut it in place. Enter one of my favorite power tools: the router. It has a round bit that cuts a half-inch-wide path out of the sheathing and a roller bearing that runs along the rough opening to keep the cut straight. It also kicks up tremendous amounts of sawdust, so you get it all over your face and arms and feel like a hot shot. Good luck getting somebody to hug you, though.

Routing out a kitchen window. See the sawdust fly!

Routing out a kitchen window. See the sawdust fly!

Behind the house, Todd and his crew moved two enormous septic tanks into place along the drain line. Here’s how it works in a nutshell: sewage (aka POOP) runs into the first tank, where solids settle to the bottom and compress as they decompose. The liquid components move on through the second tank and exit as greywater. A force pipe carries this relatively clean fluid to the mound (leach field) way out back where it percolates into the soil. Country living at its finest!

The septic tanks before they got buried. (Kiara for scale.)

The septic tanks before they got buried. (Kiara for scale.)

Burying the tanks along the drain line.

Burying the tanks along the drain line.

Meanwhile, Colin and anybody with a free hand raised trusses for the second floor joists. The process worked basically the same as the first floor joists, with somebody cutting the truss ends to the proper length as necessary. We had a bunch of them nailed by Friday morning, in time for a plywood subfloor delivery from Richmond.

Plenty of hands on to raise the second floor joists.

Plenty of hands on to raise the second floor joists.

Just like last time, Ben the delivery man dropped our subfloor order atop a corner of the walls. It saves us a whole lot of lugging and provides easy access as we start the second floor.

Terry and Carson spread out the plywood subfloor. Pretty soon the Farmhouse will eclipse the Barn in size.

Terry and Carson spread out the plywood subfloor. Pretty soon the Farmhouse will eclipse the Barn in size.

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