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February 8, 2009
The parapet puzzle

Russell with a piece of the “parapet puzzle” – each subfloor piece had to be custom-cut (usually multiple times)

For the past year and a half, Russell’s main task – and headache – in our mountain house construction has been framing the interior walls. The octagonal shape of the house has added to the complexity. With a normal house, everything is at 90º angles. With an octagonal house, walls can be 45º or even 22.5º degrees against each other.

Framing the upstairs walls has been even more difficult due to the vaulted ceiling. This has added additional vertical angles of 15-20º to account for the slanted roof and its supporting knee braces.

And most difficult of all has been the parapet – a quasi third story set above the upstairs hallway and closets. Framing the parapet has had all of the difficulties above, plus the added complexity of trying to construct around the center pole and the knee braces themselves. We chronicled the spaghetti-like joist construction in our blog of October 17, 2008.

The interior framing is now pretty much completed, with a few exceptions. One of these exceptions has been the need to construct an OSB subfloor on top of the parapet. Remembering how difficult the parapet was to frame, Russell was not looking forward to flooring it as well. However, Gail mentioned that this was one of her critical paths in order to continue wiring and drywalling.

So on Friday, February 6, Russell made a trip up to the mountain. (Gail’s schedule has offered her less opportunity. Unfortunately, while our son Joss has recovered from last year’s spinal surgery, he has now begun suffering from debilitating migraine headaches.)

Joining Russell was our friend Steve. Still out of work, Steve asked for another opportunity to whack at things. As a result, Steve spent the weekend outside, clearing brush.

Steve clears brush, using a newly-acquired garden cart that Gail picked from Craigslist

Meanwhile, Russell began cutting pieces of 1/2” OSB to create a subfloor for the parapet. Not only did he have to avoid the center pole and knee braces, he also had to straddle the joists that ran in a hundred different lengths and angles. He spent more of his time measuring, cutting, remeasuring and recutting pieces than actually installing them. The average piece had to be recut three times, resulting in very sore knees from continuously climbing up and down the ladder.

Anatomy of a puzzle: floorbaord pieces had to be cut to straddle the oddly-angled joists, as well as the center pole and knee braces

By the end of the weekend, Russell had finished about three-quarters of the parapet. He was actually still cutting and installing on Sunday morning up until the time we had to leave. Frankly, the floored parapet looks pretty good. Now in his groove, Russell can’t wait to come back up and finish the job.

A panorama of the parapet, before and after


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