August 27th, 2016. I'm at the top of a ladder, baking in the late summer heat, and singing to myself as I hammer up rafter hangers. My dad and I each took one side of the ridge beam and climbed up with a pocket full of nails to begin.
It would've been a perfect afternoon to be out on the water, but instead, we watched as the weekenders partied it up on the lake while our brains cooked in our skulls and we dripped sweat. We laugh now, looking back at how miserable this day was. When you watch all those tiny house tv shows, everyone always seems to be havin' a blasty-blast, working well together and making dreams come true. This day was the antithesis of that. The hammers were getting heavier in our hands. At this point we weren't speaking. All we could concentrate on was hoping that every swing hit home on the nail. Each time I missed I was getting more and more frustrated. So I decided to take a quick break (luckily after only about 5 hangers) and climbed down to inspect our work. That's when I noticed that one of us had measured wrong, and the hangers on my dad's side of the ridge beam were about 2 inches off-center of the hangers on my side. Guess who had measured wrong? I'll give you a hint, it wasn't me! This is when all hell broke loose and the yelling started. To those of you that do this for a living, I'm pretty impressed with you. I couldn't take 3 days of simple roofing. Tearing off the bad hangers and nailing them back up in proper alignment was almost enough to break us. By the time we started cutting the angles in the actual rafters, lumber was flying around the yard. We wasted so many pieces of 2x6 pine, screwing up one after the other as we measured and remeasured and still couldn't get the slope right. Like I said, we look back at this a laugh at how ridiculous it was that we were so mad at each other. This might also be the day that my dad truly realized the true overcommitment he had made to me. He was giving me all of his time and it wasn't going to end until this house was done. We had a long road ahead.
We realized we needed a break, and waited for the cool of the evening to get back to it. Over the next couple of days, we fixed the hangers, finished the hammering, finally figured out all of the correct angles, and got back to laughing and singing. Shout out to Peter, Paul and Mary (and my mom who got this song stuck in my head in the first place) for getting me through this dark time. If you don't know this song, you're missing out on a folk classic. Look it up.
Now you may be interested to hear how I managed to construct the rafters over the sleeping loft (the complicated part). Unfortunately, and I have to be honest here, I wasn't allowed to help. I had designed the house to essentially have dormers on every side of the loft, which resulted in this crazy star shaped roof structure. My dad was so confused just trying to work it out by himself, that he would've surely killed me had I been standing there waiting for direction. We decided right then that the roof would be one of the few areas left more or less completely to him (for everyone's sanity), and that was ok with me.
The last step of framing was sheathing it all in with plywood. Fun fact - When it comes to budgeting your costs, plywood needs to be on the list of pretty major expenses. This stuff is highway robbery. Not only is it expensive, but to add insult to injury, you'll very quickly realize that you're about to drop a ton of money on something that's just going to get covered up immediately. 30 sheets of plywood, times about $25 per sheet, meant that I coughed up almost $800 for the shittiest material of the entire build. Cool. A zillion tubes of construction adhesive plus several hours with the nail gun and finally the house was closed in. We also added several more hurricane ties to the sheathing around the wall frames and the roof.
August ended, 10 days after beginning "The Big Push", with a fully framed in and sheathed home. I could go inside. I could walk through the door and look out the 'windows'. I was really making this thing happen, and that was a great feeling.