Oct 282007

Framing has made it up to the roofline, and we can now climb onto the upper deck of the house. The top deck is pretty good sized, almost 18’ square, and the view is great. We are beginning to get a feel for what it will be like to live in these spaces, walking around, imagining windows and doors. One of the foremen, Randy, kept telling passing hikers and bikers that they were building a Starbucks, This was guaranteed to get a rise out of the generally-liberal folks in the area. It’s pretty clear now to everyone what our home will look like.


First, here a view across the top of the house, from a week ago, looking from the living room area across the lower deck and into the master bedroom. You can see the steep hillside beyond. Just over the edge on the left side is a 25’ drop down the front of the building! Somehow, I never anticipated how high that would feel. The spiral stair will be in the deck area in the center of this picture, and the upper deck is above and to the right.


This is a preview of our bedroom. I’m standing in the back corner against the retaining wall, looking out at the hillside across the street. Windows will fill the large frame in the wall, and Nancy is standing in the doorway that leads out to the lower deck, the same doorway that was in the picture above.


Here’s a perspective shot of the whole thing. The shape of the house is finally visible. The master bedroom clerestory windows can be seen on the upper left, giving a view of the hillside behind the house. The decks are in the middle, and the folding doors will be installed in the two big openings in the upper center of the pic, behind the ladder. The big openings in the front of the house will be filled with windows. The bedroom will have 6, mulled together into a group of 4 and 2, and the living room will have 8, mulled together in 2 groups of 4.

Alex has completed framing of the eaves and installed the cedar facing boards on the living room area in the upper right. We spent several meetings discussing how much of an overhang we wanted for the roof line, and settled on 9” in the front and back, and 5” on the sides. This is a modern design, so a small overhang is simply true to the spirit of the house. Also, this lets us position rain gutters close to the house, so we don’t have big long visible gutter connections from the corners of each roof, and it keeps the eaves from protruding into the upper deck area.

We’ve spent hours ironing out a bunch of details for the framing. For example, the house was designed with living room and bedroom windows and doors all the same height. This meant getting exterior doors that are 90” tall. But…we have interior doors nearby, in the bedroom, elevator and half-bathroom on the 3rd floor also. How tall should those doors be? We settled on 7’, which is still tall, but will not line up with the exterior doors. The only place where this will be visible, really, is the master bedroom wall, where the interior door and the door out to the deck are less than 10’ apart.


Or…here’s another one. Remember how the original contractor screwed up excavation, so the back wall is 11” deeper on one side than the other? This means that the back wall framing has to be positioned at an angle on top of the foundation, and that the walls will not line up with each other. Here is a picture of the back of the house, showing the framing for the clerestory windows in the bedroom, the top of the back foundation wall, and the drainage ditch behind the house. See how the framing is sitting on an angle on the wall? The back wall of the living room, in the background, is about a foot out of alignment with the back wall of the bedroom. We have no other choice.

In the next week, we should be finishing the drainage, sewer and water connections, and the roof framing. We should have a roof on the house before the end of next week, which will help keep things dry as we move into the wet winter season. We were blessed with a nice dry week, but we’ve already had a couple of good rain storms, and we’re due for a wet winter. We were lucky last winter was dry, while we were excavating.

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