Thanksgiving Break Work Party

Over the Thanksgiving break Tim and I worked long and hard trying to get the roof completed.  Everything we did took four times longer than expected and while we managed to make good progress, there still is not a roof on the Bodega.  The end is in sight however.


The soffits are made from 3/4 plywood with 2×4’s screwed to them.  They were constructed in 8 foot lengths and screwed on to the building with 8 inch headlok fasteners.  They are a bit cantilevered since there is only foam behind them.  The strapping holding on the foam will join up and form a brace that prevents them from bowing under load. When the final layer of roof sheeting is screwed on it will provide additional support.  Even without the strapping, I was able to sit on them without any serious bowing.

To trim the soffits to length, we used the front and back overhangs as a guide.  A string was tied between the front and back ans we used it as a trimming guide.  As part of this process we compared the left to right overhang to see how even we are.  It turns out that the left side has 1/2 inch less overhang than the right side.  I suppose we could have extended one side but I doubt anyone will notice 1/2 inch difference…it did not seem worth the trouble.


With the soffits installed, we began the task of installing insulation.  The overhangs for the peak seemed to have settled and we actually had to unbolt one to get the foam under it (another hour wasted on the unexpected).  With the peak on, the rest of the insulation went as expected.  I used 3 inch wide Zip tape to seal the seams between sheets.

To secure the foam to the roof, I used 1×4 strapping with headlok fasteners.  To prepare the strapping, I used a 3/4 inch spade bit to provide a counterbore for the head of the fastener.  Then I drilled out the center with a 1/4 inch drill bit (you don’t want this to split).  Fasteners were placed every 24 inches with the ones on the edge being set in 6 inches.
Installing the strapping is tricky because you must get the fastener into the roof joists.  Unfortunately, the roof is covered in Ice and Water shield so there is no way to see where the joists are.  A stud finder is a useless POS when dealing with Ice and Water covered sheating.  The solution Tim and I devised (might have actually been Tim’s idea first) was to drive in a short drywall screw from the inside on either side of the joist.  On the roof side the midpoint between the screws is the joist.  You then mark the spot and keep transferring it to the insulation sheets as you install them.

As the strapping was installed, Tim watched from the inside and told me which way to move the fasteners that had missed.  On a miss all that is need is to lean the fastener in the direction you need to go. By “leaning” the fastener you can adjust its position by an inch and sometimes over an inch.


Originally I planned to used 6 inch deck style screws.  As we worked with them, it became clear that 6 inches was not enough to get a good hold in the wood.  I scanned the internet for a source of 8 inch deck screws and came up empty.  It seems that 6 inches is the longest “deck style” screw you can buy.  I made the executive decision to use Headlok fasteners instead (I really like them).

Naturally it was 2 days before the holiday and I needed to find someone who could ship them in fast.  A place in WI had them and could ship in time but it was going to cost me $480.  Before I hit the “place order” button I did a quick search on Amazon and hit pay dirt.  There was a supplier with two buckets of 250 pcs for $136 with Amazon Prime Shipping!  For $290 including expedited shipping I had 40 pounds of 8 inch headlock fasteners on my doorstep the next day!  My Amazon Prime account costs me $79 per year and saved me over 100 bucks on shipping for this one order….worth every penny!

The 8 inch fasteners work fantastic for attaching 4 inches of foam.  If I were doing 2 inches of foam the 6 inch fasteners would have been fine….live and learn.  I now have 2 cans of gold colored really long deck screws as a memorial to this project.

Wrap Up

The soffits are on and one side is fully insulated.  I have a small amount of trim work to do on that side and it will be ready for sheating.  The other side still needs insulation but the first tier was installed when I did the peak so it should go fairly quick.

Next weekend I hope to get that side insulated and trimmed.  Then we begin sheating which I think will take another weekend day to complete.  Then I’m ready for felt paper and shingles.  This roof is taking forever!!!

End Overhang Construction

This weekend we figured out the end overhangs and were able to install all but one corner.

The goal is to create an overhang so that the house looks normal but still has four inches of foam insulation under it.  There can be no wooden support structures under the overhang that would cause thermal bridging or breaks in the insulation.  Here is a CAD drawing of what I am doing with the overhangs.  If you compare it with the photos you should get a pretty good understanding of whats going on.

Production Work

We set up a production line to cut up sheets of 3/4 inch plywood and the 2×4 stubs.  To cut the plywood without too much fuss I built a “door board”.  This is basically a guide for the circular saw that lets you cut sheet materials very quickly and with nice edges.  I used a 4×8 sheet of luan to construct mine but just about any thin flat piece of plywood will work.  Here is a video so you can make your own:

With the production work completed we assembled the peaks for each side using screws and a liberal amount of Gorilla Glue.  Before the caps could be placed we needed to attach foam to the wall.  We used some scrap plywood and 6 inch screws to fasten the foam sheets to the wall.  You will notice from the photos the triangle-shaped pieces on the foam….those are the scrap pieces I used to attach the foam.

Human Crane

Getting the end caps up to the roof proved to be a bit challenging at first.  We attempted to bring it up a ladder but it was just too heavy to safely handle.  We then brought it up the side of the roof using the roof jacks and planks….this worked very well.

I lifted the cap over the roof peak and then straddled the peak with a leg on each side.  Slowly I inched the cap towards the edge until it dropped into position.  If I were doing it again I would cut out handles in the plywood to make it easier to move.  Once in place Tim climbed the ladder and drove in the Headlok fasteners to secure it in place.

Attaching the “Legs”

Next, we needed to attach the four “legs” to the caps.  We built up the sections on the ground so they could be lifted into position.  Each leg was measured separately to deal with variations in the placement of the cap.  Additional foam was installed on each corner which had to be trimmed to properly overlap the sides of the house.
One at a time we slid each leg into position.  You will notice that I attached foam spacers on each leg to maintain the correct spacing.  The front legs were difficult to align due to some boneheaded mistakes we made during assembly.  The first back leg went on easily but we ran into an alignment issue on the other leg.  We need to install some string and make sure that all four corners are in the right places.  We’re within an inch but want to get things a bit closer.  Fortunately, the ends are only held on with 4 fasteners each so we can loosen them and “tweak” each corner as needed.


As we attached the ends, we realized that 6 inch long fasteners are just not long enough.  The two packages of screws I bought to hold the “roof sandwich” together will need to be replaced with something about 8 inches long.  Bad news is that no one makes typical deck screws in 8 inch lengths.  I ended up ordering 500 Headlok fasteners on Amazon for $300 delivered.  An unexpected expense, but my roof is never coming off!

Wrap Up

Once again we learned that roof work takes three times as long as you might expect.  We hoped to have each end on and insulation but just ran out of time.  This week is Thanksgiving and it looks like I will have 3.25 days (damn family turkey thing) or so of good weather to try and get more done on the roof.

Air Barrier Installation

The outside of the Bodega needs to be covered with a barrier that will keep air from leaking in or out.  Additionally this barrier should be capable of shedding any water that manages to get past the siding and insulation.  The preferred product for this application is an ice and water shield used for roofing.  I chose the Grace product but there are others that are cheaper but are not a highly regarded as the Grace product.

I had managed to wrangle up some additional help on Saturday since much of the days activities were up high and it really helps to have support from the ground.  We started by removing all the roof jacks but still leaving the nails in place so they could be easily reinstalled.

We began the first row so that half the sheet was on the wall and half on the roof.  The Grace product has a little wire embedded called a “rip cord”.  This wire allows you to peel off half of the release paper and leave the other half still stuck to the sheet.  The temps on Sat while warm, were still not warm enough to have the material stick on its own.  It was a bit tacky, but not sticky.  As the day went on, I realized that this material is easier to work when it’s not sticking to itself and everything else.  As a test we places a few pieces in front of the heater and they became pretty difficult to manage.

Saturday end of day progress

The safety hook up close

Making it Stick

My process for installing the underlayment was to use a couple staples near the top of the sheet and get it positioned in the correct location.  I then went back with a paint striping heat gun and warmed up the edges which caused them to become sticky.  Kind of a “stick it in place” operation.

For the walls we used a similar approach as the roof but instead of the heat gun, we used the 60,000 BTU propane powered jet heater.  I picked up the heater and directly heated the underlayment while an assistant used a stiff broom to “squish” the underlayment to the wall.  We melted the bristles of the broom, but otherwise it worked very well.  The neighbor stopped by to see me holding a huge ass jet heater over my head as we worked on the third tier of air barrier….he thought it was a pretty funny sight (don’t try this at home I guess).

Inside shot…still need to trim air barrier around windows and doors

Overall it took about 18 hours of labor over 3 days to install the air barrier.  I wish things were going faster, but anything up on the roof seems to take forever.  Work on the walls did seem to go pretty quickly.

Next weekend the goal is to apply four inches of rigid foam to the roof and possibly the final layer of sheeting.  The following week will be the Thanksgiving break when I hope to be putting on shingles.  Once the shingles are on the pressure is off and I can work at whatever pace I want.

More Roof Work

Apologies for getting this installment up late.  Not much happened and I only have one pic to share.  This upcoming weekend is going to be three nice 60 degree sunny days!  I have possibly four or five people helping out and there should be lots of progress.

Its getting cold here in MA and I’m working on the roof which has reduced progress to a slow crawl.  Its possible I spent more time putting up staging than I did working on the roof this weekend.

Tim and I managed to get the left side of the roof sheating nailed on.  I also blocked the rafters, and attached some steel connectors to each one.  I was also able to add the last pieces of OSB to the corners.

At this point the house has sheating except for a couple of strips that cover then ends of the roof rafters.

Wall Covering

Since I will be building my walls using the REMOTE method (similar to PERSIST…of the same) the walls get covered in Grace Ice and Water self sticking underlayment.  This underlayment acts as an air barrier and a last-ditch water protector.

Unfortunately, the self sticking part did not work in the cold MA temps.  I was expecting to lay down 250 square feet of this stuff only to discover that it was 100% not sticky.  The outside temps were about 40 degrees and the box says to apply in 40 degree weather.

Next weekend It’s important that I get this stuff installed, so I will be participating in global warming.  I have located a cheap 60,000 BTU propane heater that I will use to warm the shell and the material.  With a combination of heat guns, staples, and determination hopefully we can get the air barrier on.

Roof Jacks

In my last post I lamented the difficulty of working on this roof perched on 1.5 inch toe boards.  This week I has 10 roof jacks and 16 foot 2×8 planks.  I chose the fixed 12/12 pitch units because I thought they looked stronger.

You start by nailing each bracket to a roof rafter.  The instructions say 20D nails I used 16D which I think is a mistake since the heads seemed a bit small.  I replaced one of the nails with a Headlok fastener which has a 900 pound shear strength.  I spaced my jacks at 4 feet.

Once the jacks are in you lay a 2×8 plank across them and drive in some screws to hold it in place.  I’m a big fat guy and felt ok working on the plank.  It was 1000X better than the toe boards.

In order to service the entire roof I installed 2 rows of planks.  To get from one row to the next, I built a small ladder from 2×4’s with angled steps.  This little 2 foot ladder was a really useful addition to the staging.

With roof jacks in place the sheating went up fairly easy.  I was hoping that it would be possible to pull sheets of OSB up solo, but they were too heavy and I really needed Tim to help.

Craftsman Nextec Right Angle Impact Driver

Doing a lot of work on the roof I decided that it would be nice to have a small battery-powered screw driver in my tool belt.  I own a nice Dewalt impact driver which is the gold standard IMO, but it’s too heavy to hang on you unless you really need it.

As a tool belt driver It does not need the ability to drive in timberlok fasteners or tighten large bolts.  I just need something capable of driving 1-4 inch screws and possibly drill a hole or two.

There are a number of battery-powered drivers from companies like Black and Decker, there is even one made by Dewalt (my default tool supplier).

As I shopped for this tool I learned that the Dewalt driver would not share batteries with my other tools.  I also found the Craftsman Nextec series of tools and their really compact right angle impact driver.  I did not expect to find an impact driver this compact and at $80 the price seemed right.

Another selling feature was some of the other tools in the series.  There is a small circular saw, sander, and multitool that I think may be of some use as I complete the finishing work on the Bodega.  I was also assured by the Sears dude that I could just bring it back if it sucked.

I left the store with the driver and a spare battery to see if this thing was a piece of shit or not.  Two things that turned me off right away was the operation of the light and the button that controls the direction.  The light only comes on when the bit is spinning unlike every other driver being sold.  The detent on the direction button is weak and easily moved during use.

The battery is a very compact lithium that is also very light.  You could easily carry one or two of these in your pocket.  The 120V charger has two lights to indicate the state of charging.  I charged both packs in just over an hour.  The spec says 30 minutes which sounds about right.  They also make a special charger that can charge to 25% in just 3 minutes.

With two charged packs I set out to install my wall crawlers on the left side of the building.  This would require driving six Timberlok Headlok fasteners thru 2×4’s to secure the bottom and a number of 3 inch drywall screws.

The Nextec performed flawlessly on this task.  It took about 30% longer to drive in the timberloks but it was perfectly acceptable.  The 3 inch screws went in easily as well.  Between used the tool fits reasonably in the hammer holster of my tool belt.  There are times when the wire ring activates the on/off switch but with some tweaking I think I can make that problem go away.

The device does have a “fuel gauge” that supposed to warn you when the battery gets low.  In practice you don’t get much warning at all…when the battery dies it really dies fast.  The 12V batteries are so small and light its easy to carry a spare (or even 2) in your tool belt.

If I had to guess, I think this driver could drive 50 or so large 3 inch drywall screws in a single charge.  Thats not really very many, but considering you can carry several spare batteries with you it’s not that bad either.  I don’t think I would use this tool to screw on a deck, but it could handle the job with enough spare battery packs.


Overall I would recommend this tool to people.  It’s a great way to have a fairly powerful impact driver with you on the job site without the bulk of a full size driver.  The driving power and battery life are not great but they are adequate.

Rafters and Roof Sheating

With the hurricane coming I wanted to get the roof on my place.  Worst case I figured I could get a large blue tarp and cover the place.

My rafters are cut from 2″ x 12″ x 12′ stock, each end is a bit different.  The end over the ridge beam starts as a 45 degree cut.  Then I notch out a section so that it sits over the ridge beam.  The other end again starts out as a 45 degree cut with but this time I cut off the remaining material so that it sits flush with the wall.

I started by making a right and left template piece.  I started with a piece roughly cut to size but a little oversized.  My first attempt was undersized and I ended up screwing up a $25 piece of lumber.  Slowly you trim each template piece so that they fit perfectly.  All the other rafters get marked with these templates.  Be sure to check your lumber for a bow (crown) up or down and make sure to orient the crowns in the same direction (up).

Attaching Rafters
My rafters are inline or not overlapped so that they are sitting in line with the wall studs in either wall.  The tops get nailed together with some framing nails.  Then I added four universal framing brackets.  The tab gets bent 90 degrees so that it lies flat on top of the ridge beam.  All tabs get 3-4 metal connector nails installed.

As a belt and suspenders I added 2 pieces of 3/4 inch plywood cut into triangles.  These were attached with 2 inch nails and Gorilla glue.  My rafters are never coming apart!

We finished installing all the rafters just after dark on Saturday.  We planned to attach the sheating and underlayment on Sunday…if the weather held out.


My roof is a 12/12 pitch meaning that for every 12 inches in it rises 12 inches up.  In other words, the roof angle is 45 degrees.  It does not sound too bad until you need to work on it…then its a real bitch!


I guess that the roof would be tough to work on so I took the precaution of ordering a safety harness and rope.  This one cost me $111 shipped in two days from Amazon.  I’m a big fat guy and this fit me no problem.  Its well constructed and I do think it would save me should I fall.  I attached it to my ridge beam and swung around a bit and it seems pretty solid.  There is no reason to die working on your roof, so I suggest that you get one.


With a roof this steep, I think you need to use some staging.  I happen to own a set of wall crawlers that I used during a cabin restoration project.  During that project I also bought some OSHA approved planks that can safely be used for staging.

Sheating Application

With the wall crawlers set up we began putting up sheating.  The first course was pretty easy since it could be attached from the staging.  The next course was not so easy.  I installed some “toe boards” which are some scrap 2×6’s nailed with large nails into the rafters.  You balance on a 1.5 inch board and try to attach the sheating without falling off.  It sucked and I need to find a better way for the other side of the roof.

By noontime on Sunday it began to drizzle and we realized that we could not complete the roof.  We decided to buy a big blue tarp and call it a day….go watch the Patriots destroy the Rams in London.

A Better Idea

I learned that I will need a better way to work on the roof, so I will be getting some roof jacks to make my ankles happy.  Here is a good site to see them in use.  They cost less than $10 each and I think will more than pay for themselves.