room addition–misadventures in carpentry

As previously mentioned, one of the bigger projects here on the HunkerDown was adding a room to the 2 room cabin.  Having already had a little experience with the “weird” construction methods used to build the cabin, I knew that there would be some complications, but little did I know!!!

The original structure was 16ft. X 24ft. long axis oriented north/south.  A porch had been added on the south end, again 16ft wide by 8 ft or so deep.  My plan was to put the addition on the west side tying into the old structure through what was the “kitchen area” of the front room.  I knew that there were some floor leveling issues, so I figured the first attack would be some leveling.  My assumption was that the cabin was basically a portable building sort of thing, but when I  took my first good look at what was holding the cabin up—big surprise.  There were three double 2×6 beams running the 24 ft length–one on each perimeter and one down the middle –which meant that the floor joists (2×4) were spanning nearly 8 feet.  The piers the beams rested on were 6 foot apart front and back with a 12 foot span in the center–the beams were only supported at 4 points across 24 feet???.  And,  the west side beam had been cut through for the toilet drain pipe without any additional support or scabbing –just flopping around in the breeze so-to-speak.

I hired a crew for the major carpentry work–framing, roofing etc, and the first job they under took was adding two more 2×6 beams  at the midpoints between the originals, and adding the needed piers under those sagging babies.  Wasn’t the easiest of jobs, since the structure was not even 2 foot off of the ground at it’s highest point, but those guys managed, and did their best to level things out.  I say their best, as it would have required cutting the water, sewer and electrical service to jack that west wall up enough, and since we were living in the cabin while this was going on, I let them slide a little on that.  Something that would cause me other problems and lots of fun later on.

The addition was to be 12 ft x 18ft. with the long axis again running north/south, and the roof ridge running east/west so as to intersect the old roof at 90 degrees–no big deal, and the crew knew what they were doing and work progressed rather quickly.  The only issue was tying into the front wall of the cabin with the new framing.  Seems that the original front wall of the cabin was about 3 inches out of plumb top to bottom–back wall also but that didn’t effect things just then –leaning to the south.  Got all the new construction dried in, and then it was time to open the wall between the two.  Now, I’ve worked construction–mostly as a mason –for 40 some years, and never before did I see a framed wall without a double top plate.  In fact there wasn’t really a top plate at all as the stud tops had been cut off to match the roof pitch, and the top plate was nailed to them in such a way that the roof trusses didn’t have to be notched at the wall but were just laid on top and toenailed in.  I was already aware that the framing did not adhere to any sort of regular spacing, so much so, I’m still not sure if they ( the original builders) were trying for 16 inch centers or 24, or were just nailing up studs where ever it seemed right to put one.

Anyway, we got through that mess and all of a sudden, I had just about doubled my floor space, and it was now my turn to get to work.  I wore the plumber’s hat, the electrician’s hat, the trim carpenter’s hat and was the finished flooring guy too.  More about all that later.


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