We installed the front door! And not only that; we also installed the doors for the screened-in porch and the dog room in the basement. In contrast to the windows with their removable sashes, we found no easy way to make the door frames lighter for installation – the glass does not detach because it’s built into each door, and we didn’t want to mess with any hinges to take off the door. Plus, leaving the doors in added rotational stiffness to the frames and kept them square. The front door really makes a statement with its twin sidelites and geometric patterns… it’ll certainly add a touch of modern to the classic farmhouse style.
Upstairs we continued to put up interior walls. As I’ve alluded to before, the sequence for installing an interior wall is different than for the load-bearing walls. Since we’ve already built stuff above our heads (in this case the roof trusses), we have to squeeze the wall in between fixed elevations. It’s possible (though not always easy) to wedge a series of studs between the floor and roof; not so if we raise the studs first and then try to fit in a top plate.
Therefore, we construct the interior walls from both the bottom up and the top down. For the ceiling attachment, we nail a strip of plywood to the bottom chord of the roof trusses. If the wall happens to go between two trusses, we install perpendicular blocks across the bay and nail our plywood to that. Next we nail the upper top plate (remember, every wall gets a double top plate) to the plywood, positioned so some plywood sticks out on both sides for drywall attachment. We frame the stud wall with the bottom plate and the lower top plate, and we raise it so the lower top plate meets the upper. Then comes the fun part: somebody grabs Sluggo and whacks the bottom plate, one end at a time, until it lands on our layout line that we chalked on the floor before starting. Getting the hang of this method Terry and Colin raised all the major second-floor walls in a day and a half, including closets.
In the basement was a similar story, but not quite. The walk-out side needed an insulating 2×4 wall, and I found myself down there alone to install it. I too opted to nail the upper top plate first, using a ladder as a prop to hold one end of the 16-foot plate high while I nailed the other end in the right place. I cut pressure-treated lumber to separate the stud wall from the concrete slab and ICF walls. With two massive doorways, the stud frames didn’t have a whole lot of studs, so I wedged them in one stud at a time. Turns out the pressure-treated lumber is a whisker thicker than 1½ inches. As a result, I cut my studs too long and needed every trick in the book to squeeze the wall in. Put a spacer block underneath, use a long piece of lumber as a lever, bend the studs a little, go to town with Sluggo… I tried it all, and at one point I needed a hand from Terry anyway. But this story has a happy ending: we got the wall in, and it sure ain’t going nowhere now.
The younger staff have returned to school, leaving just Colin, Terry, and me. As a result our pace has slowed considerably. But we’re fully indoors, protected from the elements, and finally we can call in subcontractors for plumbing and HVAC and other interior trades.