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August 3, 2009
August marathon 1: Rebuilding Cameronís wall

Gail and Russell use crowbars to pry apart Cameronís bedroom wall

The beginning of August is usually a very productive time for us in building our mountain home. The days are long and the weather is sunny. In addition, our youngest son Joss is gone for an entire week with his church caravan. This gives us an opportunity to go up to our mountain for a longer period of time. This year, we planned and provisioned for nine days, from Saturday August 1 through Sunday August 9.

By the time Gail and Russell arrived Saturday early afternoon, our friend Dirk was already there and working on the electrical wiring. Our other friend Steve showed up soon after, ready to clear and haul away more brush.

Gail received some bad news earlier in the week: she has developed tendonitis in both elbows, her right shoulder and her left thumb. This was undoubtedly aggravated by too much heavy lifting of drywall and floorboards lately. Gail has vowed to refrain from doing any heavy lifting for the next month. While she brought books and painting supplies to occupy her time, she was clearly frustrated by the situation. Fortunately, she was able to provide pitch-in help to all of the other workers.

Russellís priority for the first few days was to rebuild Cameronís bedroom wall. As we have previously recounted, the wall was framed and built 16 inches over the stair alcove. We didnít realize the consequences until we started to design the stairs: we missed the minimum requirement for headroom by several inches. As an alternative to moving the entire wall, we decided to move the wall joists from underneath the floor to on top of it.

Cameronís original wall, which protrudes 16 inches over the stairway alcove. The wall is constructed normally, with supporting 6Ē joists underneath the OSB subfloor.

Russell estimated that it would take two hours to remove the old joists and two hours to install the new ones. He had underestimated by several hours.

First, we had to cut and install the new joist. (For obvious support reasons, we decided to install the new joist before removing the old one.) We originally planned to use 2x6s doubled, but discovered that we didnít have any suitable lumber on hand. Fortunately we had some 2x8s, so we used those instead.

Gail uses wood glue on the 2x8s to create a double-joist.
Gail and Russell use a circular saw to cut the stud bottoms (note Gail's wrist bandages)

Once the new joists were in place, we trimmed and plumbed the old studs and reattached them.

The sill plate has been removed, as well as several inches from each stud

Finally, we removed the old joists from below the floor. This ended up being the most difficult task, as Russell had installed the old joists to be as permanent as possible. The task was finally finished Monday mid-day. Fortunately, the result looked as if the wall had always been designed that way.

The new 2x8 joists have been installed. Note that there are currently two sets of joists: one above the OSB subfloor, and one underneath it. (Note also the temporary braces we installed, to prevent the new joist from falling over the edge!)

The critical path to completing the house is still the stairs. While Russell has yet to install a single piece of the future stairwell, rebuilding Cameronís wall is a major milestone towards that goal.

The final wall, with the original joists removed from below the OSB subfloor. It looks like it was designed that way!


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