Monday, July 23, 2012

Owner Building a Home - Day 48 - Raising the Roof

We have been working towards this day for a couple of weeks now.  It is so very rewarding to see your hard work turn out just like it should.  When Mr.W first suggested we build the roof on the ground, we were all for the idea.  After all, it is much safer and easier to build on the ground instead of many feet in the air.  Moving all the trusses is easier.  Sheeting and shingling is easier.  Soffits and fascia?  Easy!  Even putting siding on is easier.  Everything about making the roof on the ground makes complete sense, especially when the roof has an 8/12 and 12/12 pitch and you have all the room you need to make the roof on the ground.  I could see it being a challenge on a city lot but with 5 acres, we had all the room we wanted.  So making the roofs on the ground is exactly what we did.  All we had to do when it was done was crane them up and set them on the walls.  Easy peasy.  Sounds simple, right?  Well, it is actually much simpler than you would think.  First you find a really big crane, I mean a REALLY BIG crane to come and help you out.  The main roof was 11,300 pounds so the crane not only needs to be big enough to lift that weight but also has to lift it from quite a distance.  In this area that means you call Mr.Boom Truck! 

They arrived just shortly after 8am this morning, pulling in just after I arrived.  I unloaded the kids and set them up with breakfast at a safe viewing distance while the crane truck set himself up.  It is quite interesting to watch it put out its "feet" and place them on large platforms made of wood.  Then it lifts itself up onto those feet and completely off the tires of the truck.  It then adds counter-weights to ensure the truck is not going to fall over and out comes the really, really, reeeeealy long arm.  At the end of the arm is a ball and at the end of the ball is a hook. 

Straps are wrapped around the 2x10 bracing we added to the trusses of the roof and hooked onto the ball.

Then, very carefully, the roof is lifted.  And with a slight spring, it is hanging in the air, about a foot off the frame it was sitting on.  A few creaks and groans could be heard but it was in the air and it was holding together!  We were thrilled and watched with anxious excitement as it started flying in the air. 

Now, before you think the crane did all the work and we just watched, each of us had a very important job to do.  Mr.W was the signal man, telling the crane operator what he wanted with all these hand signals I have yet to figure out.  A spinning of the finger or a rubbing of the fingers or a squeezing of the hand all mean different things - either up, down, rotate, sideways, I want lunch, you look good, I'm milking a cow, etc.  It is an easy and effective way to communicate if you know the language, which I obviously don't.  Our pastor (who came to help just for this), Mr.G, Mr.E and Jay were stationed at the four corners of the roof.  It was their job to ensure the roof sat down on the wall just where it was supposed to.  Mr.W made sure this happened by running back and forth to give commands to the crane operator and then running to the corner of the roof to ensure it was coming down like it should. 

I was flying the roof, much like you fly a kite.  I, along with the assistant crane operator, were holding onto long ropes attached to the roof.  It may weigh over 11,000 pounds but it can still be controlled with a rope.  Our job was to ensure the roof stayed square to the walls.  I honestly had no clue what I was doing but was able to do what they wanted when they yelled at me.  Pastor kept calling me the rope girl.  RJ didn't think that was appropriate.  I thought it was humorous.  Whatever the case, slowly, ever so slowly, the roof was lowered down onto the walls, just where it should be. 

And Mr.W looked so surprised that it fit.  That should bother me a little but it doesn't.  Of course it fit, we built it.  I mean, Mr.W built it so of course it fit.  Roof #1 was done.

On to roof #2.  This roof was only 3000 pounds in weight so it was supposed to be easier. 

The part we weren't expected was the fact that it didn't want to hang level.  Oh, right, one side has shingles, one side doesn't.  That adds a bunch of weight.  After a bit of discussion, they decided to leave it as such and just work with it like it is.  The trick with this roof was to not just lower it into place but to also slide it up against the other roof, interlocking the plywood that was left hanging over.  It worked out perfectly.  Roof #2 done.

Before relocating the crane to another position, they quickly lifted up the small chimney chase.  It was easy to lift but doesn't fit perfectly.  Ack, you win some, you lose some.  No biggie.  It can be fixed now that it is up there.  While they were putting up the chase, I went to see the front of the house.  With a roof, it looks completely different.  And huge.  On to the last roof.

The crane moved to its final location, set itself up and hooked onto the garage roof. 

With tension on the straps, Mr.W and Pastor realized the straps needed to be longer so as to not put too much diagonal pressure on the trusses, causing them to twist.  No problem, longer straps were added and the 8,700 pound roof lifted with ease. 

Once again, the guys had their positions and I flew a kite roof. 

And this roof landed just where it needed to as well. 

We. were. done.  (In case you were wondering how I knew the weight of each roof, I simply stood on the scale and weighed myself.  Then I picked up the roof and weighed myself again.  I subtracted the first weight from the second and got the weight of the roof.  Or you could ask the crane operator who has a built-in scale.)

Then I stood back, way back and looked at the house and smiled and smiled and smiled. 

It looks so good.  SO.GOOD!  All our hard work is paying off.  We have a roof.  We have a house.  We have a roof and a house that WE built.  Unbelievable.  We have been dreaming about this house for about 10 years.  We have known about this floor plan for about 8 years.  It is kinda surreal to see your dreams unfold into reality before your eyes.  Sure, they may take a lot of work but they are so SOOOOO worth it!  Go for your dreams, people!  It is quite the ride!

Then, in the middle of raising the roofs, our windows arrived.  A big Durabuilt delivery truck pulled up and unloaded some beautiful windows and a gorgeous front door.  Those are MY windows and doors.  Once again, huge smile.  It-hurts-to-smile kind of smile.  Plan says we could install them this week!  Ack.  So exciting!  Too much excitement for one morning.  And that was just the morning!

After a lunch where Mr.W recouped from all the excitement and stress since he is really the one feeling it all, we made the rafters that join the main house to the office-over-the-garage portion.  Mr.W climbed on the roof and harnessed himself in and I set up in the office with a saw and some wood.  Mr.W called out measurements and I cut wood.  I cut straight pieces.  I cut 45 degree angles.  I cut 8/12 angles with 45 degree bevels.  I cut 45 degree angles with 35 degree bevels.  It was all kinda confusing but I did it and he built the saddle portion of the roof so if it looks all funny, it is probably my cuts.  While I was doing that, Jay was starting on the back framing.  That is all the extra blocking and framing required to ensure there is a nailing surface for the drywall to attach to in all the corners of the rooms.  Plus we need to add all the trimmers we previously left out and ensure everything is nailed down everywhere.  Basically you go into a room and go around it ensuring nothing got forgotten and everything is secure.  Super important with nothing to show for it after.  But hey, it can't all be roof-raising fun, now can it?  Mr.G helped out where needed and sweet Mr.E spent time in the sun taking apart all the framing we put up so we could make the roof on the ground.  We now have our yard back.  And that brings us to the end of our day.

It was so fun to have some of our family come to watch the excitement.  Uncle C came and took some pictures while pretending to work.  Uncle D and Aunt V and the kids came to watch and our kids jumped all over them.  Then Grandma came and sat in her truck watching so the kids went to join her.  It was a busy place but it was so fun to share the excitement with those people dear to our hearts.  And if you couldn't come, you are welcome to drop by for a visit some time when it suits you - we are there practically everyday and we would love to give you a tour.  And if you live far away and only visit occasionally, we will be sure to have you over the next time you are in town.  After all, now we actually have a roof over our heads.

Just for fun, this is the house without the roof and the house with the roof.  Quite the difference, hey?

***  Partying over here  ***

The DIY Dreamer


The 36th AVENUE


  1. Wow it is looking so beautiful! And what an exciting day!! So thankful it all went well, and everything is sitting exactly where it should :).

  2. WAY TO GO!! The roof fit!! hehe I loved that you mentioned he was a little worried haha!

    Thanks so much for sharing this at The DIY Dreamer.. From Dream To Reality!

  3. It looks like you definitely had a lot of fun helping out with the construction of your roof! It DOES make a lot more sense to build it on the ground, as it eliminates the risk of someone falling and hurting themselves. I love the color of your roof, too! That dark blue looks so classy!

  4. Building the roof on the ground is a unique and potentially frustrating move since there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the measurements for the base completely right. But you all pulled it off really well! Congratulations! It must’ve been really fun to see that crane lift the roof off the ground and place it on top of the house!


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