Skip to content

Building w.s. – All covered

August 6, 2017

Running out of vacation (and even-half-decent weather), the roof works come to a sudden stop after three weeks of progress. The worst summer ever! in Finland made constructing a roof not much easier. The constantly changing weather conditions, from little rain to a lot of rain to rainforest monsoon, slowed things down considerably. But after a bit more than half of the vacation half of the rood boards were attached.

The extended scaffolding came in handy several times and – when secured against the wall for more stability – actually felt quite safe. Without attaching it to the building, the climb up to 6 meters standing on loose gravel did not feel like “you are going to live a long and happy life”.

After another 10 days, all roof boards had made their way up the building. Not all the underlay has been attached because the last four days of rainy conditions made that impossible. I simply didn’t feel like attaching the underlay on top of wet roof boards.

So, the building is now mostly covered, at least with roof boards, but the dormer windows are still wide open and it’s raining through that gap all the time. Closing the dormer windows is the next job to get done, but that’s for another time…


Building w.s. – Topping out

July 25, 2017

“May god bless this building, the people living and working here!”

More than half of the summer vacation is still left (glass half full principle!) and we are able to pop some sparkling wine and celebrate the topping out of the workshop roof.

The triangles, which form the top of the roof, have been assembled on the roof and therefore the load-bearing structure of the roof is ready. The lifting of the triangles was a little complicated. 16 pieces, each weighing some 25 kg, had to make their way 6 meters up. The primary option was to call our friendly helper with his multi-purpose tractor. But at 65 Euro an hour I thought whether there was another way to lift them to the top of the roof. I opted for an electrical winch from Biltema:

This simple winch set me back 149 Euro and it can lift up to 200 kg vertically. Instead of lifting them up vertically however, I pulled them up on the side.

The final step was to attach the beams extending 1 meter over the edge of the building.

Building workshop – framing the dormer windows

July 10, 2017

Summer. Sun. Sisu.

Finnish Sisu* is what it seems to take to build the mansard-style roof with 6 dormer windows. After another weekend, I  only managed to complete on roof of a dormer window to make that side of the roof weather-proof. 5 dormer windows still to go. And I have attached only the minimum underlay. The tar shingles and all decorative plates and boards are still missing. Well, I did also some other stuff this weekend, not to mention that I completed the last bit of the roof that remained undone last weekend.

The dormer windows are very much constructed from scratch from long boards. On the photo below you can see the basic frame that is all cut to measure and screwed in place.

to be continued in two weeks…

*more about sisu

Building workshop – Almost 1/4 Dry

July 2, 2017

Closing off the roof before the autumn is goal number 1 for this summer. And with the summer vacations approaching, I got started on nailing the roof boards in place.

I’m working myself from bottom to top and…

…from left to right.

Unfortunately, while the dormer windows are an essential part of the overall workshop design, the dormer windows make the roof building 6 times more complicated than compared to a straight roof. On a simple roof, nne can just pick boards of any length from the pile and nail them on top of the roof trusses. The ends of the roof boards that are too long one just cuts off with an hand-held circular saw once all boards are attached. Life is not that easy with something more complex like I designed:

For the dormer windows, one needs first to build a support structure which is attached to the roof trusses.

Once the support structure is ready one has to cut each roof board to roughly the correct size to fit it in between two dormer windows which makes the whole process much more cumbersome (=slow). It takes me roughly one day to complete one of the sections between the dormer windows.

The first protection against rain is in form of an roofing underlay, an engineered tar-paper, called Icopal Fel’x Plus which is designed for steep roofs. This one is fairly easy to attach because one side is always glued on the previous lane which one side is nailed to the roof boards in zip-zak style.

Roughly 1500 75 mm nails and 200 roofing nails later, I’m almost done, but I ran out of weekend to complete the first quarter (completion meaning to get the building protected from rain; it’s still missing the roof panels, tar-shingles, and all decorative lists…).

On a close look one can see that the roofing underlay is not all neatly flat the roof and is making some waves. I could swear that they were rather tight and flat on the roof boards when I attached them in the morning. Now things don’t look so nice anymore in the afternoon, but it doesn’t matter. Lots of stuff will still come on top of the underlay.

Building workshop – Diagonal alley

June 25, 2017

With the roof trusses attached, it was time to strengthen the roof structure and extend it over the sides to protect the wall better from the rain.

In order to avoid a domino-effect for the roof trusses, one has to attach diagonal boards (25×95 mm strong) across the floor joist over the drive-through. That’s an easy job as long one has two people and a pneumatic nail-gun for framing purposes.

Diagonal boards are also attached to the ceiling joist of the last three roof trusses on both sides of the building to give the roof structure more stability. Nailing these boards on top of the ceiling joist is a rather hairy business because one cannot with reasonable effort build a decent scaffolding and working from a ladder is not exactly safe either. Hence, this was the first time my new safety harness came into play. Well, it wouldn’t leave me without bruises either if I fall but at least I won’t have a free fall of 5 meters. Luckily, the safety harness wasn’t tested…

With more stability in the roof structure, I started to build the eaves that extend the roof to the sides. Our eaves are hanging a meter over the wall and, according to Kontio, are attached with only two 160 mm long screws. That leaves me a bit wondering whether that’s enough to carry one meter of snow but I guess I will figure it out one winter… Or, maybe, I’ll attach another diagonal support for the beams that carry the eaves later in the project.

Now the roof has its final width: 14 meters. That means quite some few roof boards to attach…but that’s for another weekend.

Building workshop – Assembling Rooftrusses

June 18, 2017

The main challenge of this weekend was to lift the roof trusses on top of the logs and attach them. There are a total 16 roof trusses across the building that shape the roof.  Initially, only the lower part of the 16 roof trusses are assembled because diagonal support boards are attached before the little triangles can crown of the building.

This is how things looked like at the beginning of the weekend:

At a previous weekend, I did as much preparations as possible: I attached three quarters of the L-brackets already saving a lot of nailing on the actual assembly day and and also ensuring the roof trusses land in the right place.

Furthermore, I attached 2 beams on each side of the building that stop the roof trusses from tilting sideways as long they are only attached to the logs.

On the actual assembly day, the first thing we had to do is to move the roof trusses closer to the workshop building because the crane didn’t extend far enough. Fortunately, our local “multi-purpose guy” – that has done already all kinds of things with his tractor at Villa Linnea including spreading of soil and moving rocks – found an easy way to lift a whole bundle of roof trusses beside the building.

But then, just shortly after 9 o’clock, the first roof truss had lift-off and made its way to the far end of the building.

Only four hours later, the last roof truss was lifted onto the building, all L-brackets were attached, and the temporary boards connecting each roof truss horizontally were nailed in place.

And with that another major step forward was taken. The building is now almost twice as high, but plenty of work is still ahead…

Building workshop – The final row

June 11, 2017

If the first rows of logs were easy as pie then the last ones had to be a b!tch. We assembled the last rows with a crew of 6 adults. And even that proved to be quite a challenge. Yes, we could have called in a mobile crane and lifted these 7,5  meter long logs 3 meters high into place at ease. But our log house building is a hobby and improvisation is an important part of having fun with the project. So, we lifted the final logs up first with the help of a step ladder and the large work platform on one side of the building and then repeating the same stunt on the other side after moving everything to the other end. The logs that bridge over the driveway are not one piece but they are 7,5 meters and 4,5 meters long to cover the 12 meters length of the workshop.

The two logs are connected with a metal plate and 10 nails. One keeps the shorter log slightly elevated on one side while connecting the two logs. When one lowers the log into place, the movement pulls the logs tighter together. The connection is ultimately hidden in the joint itself and one cannot see afterwards that there are actually two longs instead of one long one.

Once all logs are assembled in place, the work with wood stops for the time being and the builder needs to re-visit the metal working skills in order to cut the tightening rods to the right length. The tightening rods are another example for comparison Kontio and Mammuttikoti, two major log house manufacturers in Finland: The photo below shows one M12 and one M16 tightening rod. However, the M16 tightening rod does not belong to the 200 mm thick logs from Mammuttikoti. No, Mammuttikoti tries to optimise its profits by delivering M12 tightening rods even for a over 200 thick wall. Kontio then again delivered a M16 tightening rod for a 95 mm slim wall. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that one can put significantly more force on the logs with a M16 rod and prevent them from twisting while they are drying naturally.

Another quality difference between Mammuttikoti and Kontio can be noticed from the readiness degree of the door support beams:

The door support beams that are to be attached to the logs must have a groove for each screw allowing for the logs to settle while the doorframe itself remains in the same place. Kontio does deliver these door support beams (and the window versions) with readily cut grooves and one only needs to screw them into place. Mammuttikoti did not provide the same service and one needs to cut these oneself either with a circular saw (which leads to potentially to slim grooves) or with a router (which takes a significant amount of time).

With all the logs assembled one can finally get a feeling for how high 3,30 metre actually are. The drive-through is more than high enough for the average car…