Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Banks St Construction Journal

Feb 2013
I really love the Banks St project. I got carte blanche to design the space for resale but showcase quality craftsmanship. My client is a contractor named Aaron Gordon who is growing his business and capabilities. Given the relationship, I'm even getting to make tweaks during construction without going through change orders. So really it couldn't get more ideal. It is a teeny tiny house. 17'-1" wide stud to stud. I even love that.  

I have sorta been holding my breadth while it is being constructed. I know I loved the idea of it in my head. I really did get the chance to get my idea out there and built as I imagined it without any unreasonable compromises. I have been feeling this really pregnant sense of "Will I love this child, will it be what I imagined?"  

Today I began to settle into to it. I know that I will have hindsight is 20/20 moments... but today I kinda felt like it had a soul.

One of my non-change orders is adding glazing above the door to the master bedroom which you can see framed out below. One of the crew remarked how nice it will be to see the different pools of light the skylight will cast in the bedroom throughout the day with the glass transom. Gotta love a crew who gets it.  

Nov-Dec 2012
The roof got buttoned up before the rains came.  First the new skylight locations were set.  Since they align with the edge of interior partitions the locations had to be just so.  The walls will run right up to the skylight giving the light a surface to reflect on. One benefit of a small house is we are allowed to have a skylight at the property line, since we are under 1,000 SF a floor.  This will get us a pool of light right at the stair landing and a feeling of height where the roof would otherwise comes down a bit  low. Notice no ridge vent.  AGC's foreman Chad costed out rigid insulation verses adding a ridge vent and edge vents for the cathedral ceiling.  Turns out rigid insulation was cheaper in this application.  (Don't you just love that shingle color Aaron?)

We have a great engineer on the job, Toft DeNevers and Lee.  In order to remove the collar ties we hung a new ridge beam and sistered on new roof joists from below.  This gave us maximum ceiling height without changing the exterior envelope. Below is the roof framing just getting started.  All of the horizontal supports will go away once the new shear walls are in. 

Look no eaves.  That copper gutter sticking out is not a mistake.  Though the crew keeps asking if it is.  There will be a chain drain coming down and a rain barrel in the front yard.  Rain will be a fun event at Banks St.

Fall 2012
Client is contractor.  Contractor's business is growing. Aaron Gordon Construction, really good, look them up.  Crew pulled from his own development project to work on other people's jobs.  Very slow going.  But when it does go it goes really well.  The building inspector saw me on another job and told me how much he liked the work on Banks St.  

June and July 2012 
These months are best described as the big dig.  Opening up two walls of a building without adding a moment frame, means we have strong walls and the concrete equivalent of the keel of a sailboat in the ground as ballast.  We also excavated to fit in a complex system of pipes and materials to evacuate water from the building.  Though dry as a bone right now we observed this ground through the winter when every exploratory demo hole filled with standing water.


June 2012
New floor height set.  Sigh of relief.  The new floor height upstairs feels good for the scale of the rooms.  Downstairs feels like a real place.

May 8 2012
Setting new floor height.  Our drawings measurements are spot on at the front of the building.  Not so much at the back where the roof framing falls 4” in a few feet.  Solution lift roof joists.  But at the middle of the building where the stairs come up we are still 1-1/4” off.  Not much but every inch counts.  We need exactly 7’-6” from the landing to new ceiling.  Solution more excavation below.

February 2012
Finishing construction documents.  Selected glue down cork floor for second floor.  It is thin.  Every inch counts. But how to deal with the transitions from the cork to the tile at the bathrooms?  Don’t want a threshold.  We have a plywood diagphram on the second floor.  If we remove that and thinset the tile no threshold.  Call to Kevin our structural engineer at Toft De Nevers and Lee.  Kevin we want to remove the plywood at the guesat bathroom and master bathroom on second floor.  Guest bathroom fine.  Master bathroom hits exterior walls.  What about adding straps around opening?  Straps under the cork will telegraph through and you will see a bump in the cork.  Solution add them at the underside of the plywood.  These details need to be tight-in the good way.


  1. The crew was really cool to see how the skylight would do with the glass transom. His years of experience in the field couldn't help but show, right? Furthermore, I also would like to take notice of the good placement of the skylight. You can never get just the right amount of sunlight at a wrong angle, after all. :) -->Lakisha

  2. I'm sure whoever sleeps on the master bedroom enjoys every moment in that room. Though these pictures only show the construction process, I can imagine how wonderful it's going to be after everything is finished. The skylights will certainly be the highlight in the room. They were installed in the perfect spots. Whether you go to the left, right or center part of the bedroom, you'll definitely have the chance to take a glimpse of the skylights.

    Arrys Roofing