Finally after several weeks of trying I have shingles on my roof.  As of this morning, I just need to trim the rake edge shingles and remove my roof jacks.


The morning started off a bit wet so I decided to exercise my second amendment right at the gun range with Tim.  I shot a new toy that I recently acquired.  All I can say is that the Israelis know how to make great rifles!

By Saturday afternoon the sun was out and I was able to install about five rows.  This side of the roof we still had my wall crawlers installed which allowed me to stand at roof level to work.  It actually sped things up a bit.  In general, I think that the time spent installing staging pay back in time saved doing the job.  I was too lazy to move it for the other side but I think that was a mistake.



Sunday started out about 20 degrees with some sun.  I got started by cutting up 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 length shingles we would need for each tier.  When cold the best tools I have found to cut shingles are a really sharp knife and tin snips.

The rest of the day was spent installing shingles up to the peak.  We had minor delays when we had to cut shingles to match the plumbing boot and the chimney pipe.  A pair of dividers fitted with a china marker seems to work well for figuring out the cuts around these items.  Tin snips seem to be the best way to cut cold shingles into odd shapes.


By late Sunday night the shingling job was completed less a few detail items.  The next day I applied clear caulking to the chimney boot and storm collar.  I really like Lexel for roof caulking.  I used it on my last cabin and inspected it after 5 years and it was in perfect condition.  It’s really fantastic stuff.


Clean Up

With a big storm bearing down on the northeast I cleaned up the job site and took down all but two roof jacks that the plumber will need to install the vent.  It really is amazing how much trash there is to throw away at this point in my build.  I need to see how the local transfer station works so I can get rid of this stuff.

Sill Trim

The pressure treated sill plate needs to be sealed up as a lot of air can leak past it.  I decided to use foam in a can and extend the Grace ice and water over the slab insulation.  This creates a nice drainage channel for any liquid that might get behind my siding.

I cut 1×3 foot strips and applied them with a heat gun.  Using my foam gun I applied a liberal amount of foam between the slab and bottom of the OSB.



Tip: Cutting rake edge shingles

Typically you install shingles with one end lined up perfectly with the drip edge.  The other end of each tier you allow to overlap the drip edge.  When the job is finished you trim off the excess shingle material.


I used architectural shingles so I was cutting up to 3 layers thick in places and it was cold which made cutting them difficult.  I was also a dumb ass by starting at the peak of the roof and working down.  If you cut from the bottom up the job gets 1000% easier.  It also helps to change utility knife blades often.


Finally Done…just in time too!

Shingles…not so fast!


With an ice/snow/rain storm on the way I wanted to get my roof shingled so I took an extra day off to make that happen.  Unfortunately, the gods hate me and I just couldn’t get it done.

I bought pre-primed 1×6 trim so I would not have to deal with painting in the cold.  My dad and I were able to get it all installed along with some drip edge and some underlayment.  I also was able to complete a 6 foot long roof ladder.  You can see it leaning against the house in this pic:


This roof is a 12 pitch and it’s not really possible to stand on it without some kind of toe boards or roof brackets.  This ladder rests on a roof jack and lets me climb up and work the last 8 feet of roof without installing another set of roof jacks (which is a pain).

The royal pain in the ass job award goes to cutting a hole in the roof for the chimney.  It’s in a awkward location up high near the peak and the ridge beam really gets in the way.  After an hour of dealing with falling sawdust and a lot of cursing I was able to cut thru the inside layer of sheating and two layers of insulation.

Chimney Tips
code requires that the top of your chimney pipe be at least 3 feet from the roof and 2 feet above any structure within 10 feet.  With a tiny house this presents some challenges.

2-10 RULE

On a 12 pitch roof you cannot install the pipe on either of the two outside walls without having a 10ft piece of pipe sticking up which would look ridiculous.

Practically speaking you want to be within two feet of the peak.  On a tiny house having a 4 foot chimney sticking up looks a bit out of scale. That means you need to mount the chimney about 12 inches from the peak.  It will need to stick up three feet.  The flashing boot just barely runs into the ridge vent in this location and it still looks just a bit out of scale.

My original design had the pipe running up the center of the house, but I decided at the last-minute to place it near the front wall about 12 inches off the wall.  The stove I have selected will be spaced about 8 inches from the wall.  If needed I can install two 45 degree sections to offset the pipe about 6 inches.

We got off to a late start because “someone” overslept.  As it turns out it really did not matter.  We shingled the first few tiers, installed a set of roof jacks and shingled up to the point where the chimney would poke thru.

After locating charged batteries, I was able to cut out the hole for the chimney.  A temporary shelf was attached to the wall which supports the pipe while we attached the mounting brackets.

With the mounting brackets attached, I drove in four headlok fasteners to complete the pipe install…..then disaster struck!  When I went to install the flashing boot I discovered that it would not fit around the pipe.

After screwing around with a cutoff wheel and a lot of cursing I decided that a larger boot or smaller pipe mount would be needed.  Instead of finishing the shingles, we ended up driving all over creation to locate one or the other.  As you might imagine that was an impossible task for a Sat night.  No wood stove places were open, Home Depot does not carry class A pipe, and Lowes does not carry a logical selection of class A parts (their merchandiser should be fired for incompetence).

I left Lowes with a package of jam nuts worth $1.19.  Jam nuts are half the width of normal nuts.  My hope was to shave 1/2 inch from the width of the pipe mounting bracket.

Bright and early Sunday morning, I installed my jam nuts only to discover that another part of the bracket was interfering with the boot.  I had to unbolt the pipe spin it 180 degrees and was able to fix that.  Then the threaded part of the main mounting screw was interfering, so I hacked it off with a cut-off wheel.  Then the metal plate attached to the house was interfering, so I hacked parts of it off.  After all that I was able to fit the boot (nearly) flush with the roof.sp_roofsupport

Today I found the supplier of the pipe mount and realized that I installed it upside down.  In the other position the brackets would have been lowered by 1/2 inch which would have solved all my problems.  If there were instructions inside the box, I could have been spared all the trouble….doh!  Overall I’m super happy with this mount as it provides excellent support for the pipe.


With the chimney boot installed we started up again with the shingles.  After about 30 minutes it began snowing and by 90 minutes we had to pack it in for the weekend and tarp the place.  After a brutal weekend of work we only managed to complete 95% of one side :(.

This weekend is looking cold but no rain or snow.  I’m hoping that the roof will be done by Christmas.

Tip of the week
For me to get up to the roof jacks I had been installing a small step to make the transition from ladder to roof less wonky.  After installing shingles the transition was a breeze without the step.  My tip is to install a scrap piece of shingle instead of a step.  Its easier to install and remove than the pieces of wood I was using.

Roof Sheating…Check!


This weekend the Bodega got its final (outside) skin of OSB for the roof.  Once again, the weather gods were not smiling on us.  The entire morning Saturday was a washout and we were only able to get in about 3 hours of work.  Sunday was drier and we got nearly an entire days work on the roof.

Getting It On The Roof

We attached some small blocks of wood on the lower edges of the roof to provide a shelf for the OSB to sit on while it was screwed down.  It was at this point where we learned how square or not so square our roof was.  Overall I would say we were within 1/2 inch of being square.  As a non-professional builder that’s pretty good in my book considering that the ends are mounted on a squishy layer of foam.

The drip edging will hide any gaps between the OSB and trim.  In some cases we cut the OSB to match the squareness of the roof, in others we just left a gap.  It’s not possible to see any imperfections from the ground so I’m not too concerned.  You really can’t even see them on the roof unless you break out a tape.

OSB Sheets Can Be Dangerous!

Earlier I said we used small blocks of wood to make a shelf for the OSB.  That was being a bit generous.  OSB is NOT a very dimensionally stable product.  It swells with moisture so you need to leave gaps between sheets.  It curls up like a potato chip and won’t lay flat until you nail it flat.

The flatness is where the danger part comes from.  Imagine you have a twisty curly sheet perched against a 2×4 block to keep it from sliding down the roof.  You move to one side of the sheet and push it tight against the joists.  The curl in the sheet makes the other end pop up and over the block holding it up.  The sheet then rotates and falls off the roof killing your assistant or dog standing below you!

Tim and I had one incident where the roof jacks stopped the sheet from decapitating him.  Next to falling off the roof, I think attaching curly assed OSB sheeting is on the top of the most dangerous jobs list. When working by myself I used shelves that were six inches tall to make 100% sure the sheet would not fall.  When working with Tim on the ground he would use a 2x6x12 to assist in holding one end of the sheet in place. Ajax was sent off to chase his ball in the woods while we had loose sheets on the roof.

As you can see from the above pic this sheet has a 5 inch curl in it.  After it was screwed down it laid reasonably flat.  OSB is one of those things you might want to pick out yourself to make your life easier.  Thicker sheets are also better at staying flat, We used 7/16 sheets and had to deal with it.

IMG_3438 IMG_3437
I have no finished pics this week since we finished after dark and we had to tarp it for the next round of rain showers.  Next weekend we plan to install shingles.  During the week I need to get the location of the chimney and vents established and attach some trim.  I’ll try and get some finished pics after the weather passes.

Roof Insulation…check!


Last night I finished up all the bits and pieces needed to complete the roof insulation work.  What you see in the pic is 5 of the 8 layers completed.  Here’s a cross-section of what the completed roof will look like:

Screen shot 2012-12-06 at 4.08.40 PMAs you can see we still have the final layer of OSB, felt paper, and shingles to go.  I found an interesting way that one fellow used to hoist his sheating up to the roof I may try something similar.

Have a nice weekend!

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.

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.

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.