Every now and then we do work that's a little out of the ordinary for us, and the small roofing job this week was no exception. The client had a leaking sunroom roof, and the entirety of the problem was due to a relatively horrible sunroom design (the sunroom predated the clients purchasing the house many years ago). Long story short, there was absolutely zero flashing between the sunroom roof and the exterior wall of the house the sunroom butted up to. The only thing the sunroom installers did to keep the rain water that ran down the house's aluminum siding from going into the sunroom was...caulk. Gobs...giant, crazy fat beads of caulk.
Caulk is meant to seal up hairline cracks; anything larger than that and caulk by itself is a totally improper use of the stuff. Granted, if you look at the labeling on tubes of caulk - doesn't matter which kind, whether it's cheapo painter's caulk or high-end silicone - most of them will advertise that their product will work on cracks up to 1/2", 3/4" or even 1" thick, which is absurd. Caulk dries out, it shrinks, and especially with exterior applications, it deteriorates over time. To attempt to "seal" an addition's roof to the house by way of caulk and caulk alone, especially in the absence of any flashing...that's cutting corners. The adage that there are always 3 options: good, fast and cheap but you can only have 2 of the 3 was fairly appropriate in this instance; caulk was a cheap and fast installation solution, but it certainly wasn't a good one.
Long story short, we put a roof on top of a roof. By adding OSB sheathing and asphalt shingles that came close to matching the shingles on the rest of the house, we were able to also slide step flashing in behind the house's aluminum siding and into the new shingles, providing a rock solid means of diverting water from the wall of the main house onto the sunroom roof...not through it as had been happening previously.
The job wasn't without challenges. The ridge beam was beyond rotten, undoubtedly due to poor roof design and years upon years of water infiltration. Securely attaching 1/2" OSB sheathing to an existing paper thin aluminum (and styrofoam!) roof wasn't easy. Having to cleanly and accurately cut roughly 40 linear feet of aluminum siding, as well as cutting 40 linear feet of step flashing, and then gently pry the aluminum siding away from the house in order to slide the step flashing in behind it...only cutting myself 1 time was a mild success.
...and sometimes you commit to doing roofing work when it's snowing outside, nothing really goes as smoothly as you thought it might, and then it turns out that the wood in the roof structure is so rotten that it's become mulch.
Or, you're the bug.
Today was cold. And a battle. But we made progress and overcame the unexpected challenges we discovered late in the game. We'll get everything buttoned up tomorrow, making this little sunroom roof watertight for the first time since, probably, ever.
As is usually this case, this project got started, interrupted about 17 times by other projects, went through a few design changes and took a little longer to complete than I wanted it to. But, it's done, and it turned out pretty good. Unfortunately my camera and/or camera skills aren't real good; this thing looks 1,000 times cooler in person than it does in the pics; there's a certain texture to the piece that I don't have the camera skills to capture.
Man...these doors were a beast to get just right, and I'd be lying to you if I told you we got everything perfect on the first try. When dealing with uneven floors, walls that aren't parallel, and doors slightly larger than what the hardware was built for...sometimes all it takes is 1/8" here, or 1/8" there, and things just don't work the way you want them to.
But on the second try...nailed it. These bad boys stand a full 8' tall and 4' wide, slide smoothly and open enough to yield about a 5' opening between the doors, ample room for servers and whatnot to scamper around.
It's rare that there aren't multiple projects going on, and sometimes sleep is entirely too scarce. We've been getting early starts the past couple mornings - commercial restaurant work usually requires us to work around around their business hours - replacing what had been a makeshift curtain, used to divide the private dining room from the main restaurant and bar, with a set of custom sliding doors. The job isn't done yet, but the doors are built and now it's a matter of seeing how quickly we can get joint compound to dry.
After the general contracting work this week, and quick (or, not so quick) naps after the general contracting work, I've been in the shop trying to wrap up what seems like 42,000 smaller projects. The biggest and most unique one isn't quite done yet, but she's getting close: some good-sized St. Louis skyline wall decor made out of lath and the skin of some old doors. Once I get past the arch, it should be smooth sailing...and I can start wrapping up weekday work before 2am.
Any day we get to work in a super old commercial building like this one is a good day in my book.
After that loft bed build, I was more than happy to bang out some small project requests for my buddies over at Urban Matter. One of those requests was a small wooden letter "D", with my reclaimed door lumber spin...
I got hired recently to build a loft bed, based on Jay Bates' (he's a woodworker dude with a couple YouTube channels) design, and while the build itself was fairly pedestrian - one of Jay Bates' niches is using a lot of dimensional lumber (off-the-shelf, Home Depot style) - the out of the ordinary projects are always a nice change of pace from the regular stuff. That said, I pretty well maxed out my shop space on this build, so it wasn't the most efficient of operations, and even the installation was a bit of a challenge.
In hindsight, I should have gotten lumber from a legit lumber yard, because everybody and their brother - and certainly myself - knows that big box store lumber isn't the easiest stuff to work with. It only took about 3 hours and trips to 2 separate big box stores to come up with some decent lumber, and it took me about 4 times as long to plane and sand everything to where it wasn't all twisted up and horrible.
Once I started construction everything went smoothly, although I'm not sure that if it had been up to me, I'd have used the same design. Being a structural engineer by education, I have a hard time simply relying on mechanical fasteners alone, like screws, to carry significant loads. Similarly, the design of this bed made it very difficult to keep the bed frame square while doing subsequent work. I don't own any 8'+ clamps, so I had to be a little resourceful and use some ratchet strap tie-downs to hold the frame square during preliminary assembly.
Once all the pieces are cut and assembled, I disassembled everything and stained each piece individually...which took what felt like forever. Then I loaded all the pieces into my ride, drove to the clients' house and got the bed assembled. Assembly only took a few hours, but I was definitely sore the next day from all the wrestling I had to do with a structure comprised of several dozen 2x4s and 2x6s.
Unfortunately...the bed is gigantic, and as it turns out, the clients have a ceiling fan in the bedroom that will probably have to be relocated...or anybody in the bed runs the risk of getting some serious noggin bruises. Regardless, it was a fun project, and with a few design additions on my part the thing is plenty solid...but I'm going to need a bigger shop before I build one of these again.