Building Project Archive: July-September 2021
September 28, 2021
Concrete, Sewer Line, and Grading
The concrete floors in the church basement are finally complete. The kitchen and the offices were demolished months ago, but the replacement concrete floors were deferred so the addition could be framed, roofed and made watertight before the fall rains. It seems inevitable that the first significant rains this fall coincided with pouring concrete for these two floor areas. The trucks arrived at 6:30 am, or so I was told. I arrived in time to see the last of the finishing.
The sanitary sewer line for the addition is finally connected. The line emerges from the southeast corner of the addition. It runs east for just 20 feet to connect to the line that has served the church for years. From there the pipe serving both connects to the city sewer line in Van Buren Street.
They have begun to reshape the surface in front of the church and addition. The east end of the space will be paved patio, and in front of the addition will be play area, sidewalk, and bike racks. Machines will excavate to 9 or 10 inches below finished grade and then add back about 6 inches of compacted crushed rock. On this base we will add about an inch of bedding sand and finally the paver blocks. Reinstalling the pavers now in piles east of the church sounds like a good project for a work party next spring.
September 26, 2021
Sprinklers, Electricity, Audiovisual and Grading
More subcontractors have started their work on the addition. On Thursday and Friday the electrician began to run wires and conduit. The fire sprinkler system is also taking shape in the addition (see the black pipe up next to the ceiling joists).
Last week they finished burying all of the needed cables, conduits and plumbing in the alley and parking area. That means they can now grade this area to the final finished elevation, and put down final layers of crushed rock, sidewalk and asphalt. On Friday they even made the first passes to grade the area south of the addition – where the kids play area and the paver patio will eventually happen.
Getting the audiovisual capability we need must be a joint effort of the carpenters, the electricians and the UUCP audiovisual people. The stage frame is now in place. Service boxes and access hatches have been selected. The electricians will run the hot wires. Pat, Sam and Rod got a start running AV wires on Saturday. Once that’s all in place the stage will get its layer of sheathing – and eventually carpet.
September 23, 2021
Trim and the Last Trench
The surface water trenching has finally reached the street. This leg goes from a catch basin to the “bubbler” that will release rainwater at the gutter to flow to a grate in Adams Street.
The carpenters are beginning to work on trim, a necessary step before applying the siding. This includes some soffits like this under the roof on the tower. The carpenters defer to Roger for final decisions on how to do it.
Most of the windows are simple rectangles, and easy to fasten on the trim. The gothic arches take a bit more time, using bits that must be custom cut and painted before being nailed in place. They are nearly ready to start applying siding on the rear wall.
Pam did another small pour of casting resin on the chalice window last evening to smooth out some rough spots. I think that is the last, so the next step is to deliver the finished window to the church.
September 21, 2021
Trenches and Commercial Wrap
The addition is now about 50% wrapped with a moisture barrier. The “commercial” Tyvek is just a bit thicker than the “house wrap” product. The joints are all sealed with tape. They are starting in back because they want to get the back sided so the steel fire escape can be put up. They want to put these heavy stairs in place soon so they can use big equipment without damaging the west sidewalk and the paved parking they hope to do soon. The chess game of what tasks to do in which order is enough to drive Roger crazy. Coming up very soon – siding, electrical wiring and elevator installation.
The subcontractor has made significant progress with the surface water drain system. There’s a spider web of surface water drain pipes that come together in this box near the street.
Looking inside you can see the 6 inch pipe centering the box. Tomorrow they will extend the trench into 2nd Street for a “bubbler” that will release water into the gutter to flow to a sewer grate in Adams Street. The tape you see in the trench is a material that can be detected by the sensor device they use to locate underground utility pipes. These tapes are required so they can locate and determine depth of buried utility lines before they dig.
September 20, 2021
Elevator Arrives, Trench for Surface Drain
Today’s highlight was the arrival of our new elevator. It arrived in a long red semi trailer. The big heavy looking crates still sit at the curb. Over the next several days the crates will be unpacked and the elevator pieces assembled in the shaft.
The other visible activity was another trench, this one for surface water. This system collects water from the roof, from foundation drains around the addition, from the base drain behind the retaining wall, and from the sump pump that helps keep it dry under the church basement floor. All of this surface water is collected and will flow to a “bubbler” at the curb, where it will eventually flow to the storm drain in Adams Street, and then to Paradise Creek. The man in the trench is holding a measuring stick. There’s a device on the stick (several feet above his hard hat) that beeps when it detects a laser leveling beam. This helps them keep the bottom of the trench (and the drain pipe) at the proper grade.
September 16, 2021
Gas Line, Chalice, Gravel and Grading
The HVAC compressor units will sit behind the church in a 6 inch thick concrete pad. The pad will be about 8 feet by 12 and will cover the old window wells. In a way this will be good, because the concrete pad will seal out the water that has been percolating in here for the past century, seeping through and under the ancient foundation, and keeping it moist under the old kitchen floor. Before they can pour the concrete pad, they need to pull out the old natural gas regulator that our new heat pump system won’t need.
They dug to expose the natural gas line that came in from Van Buren Street. Apparently, they cut and capped the line, left the stub under the curb and sidewalk and then filled the hole.
The carpenters finally got back to working on the stage yesterday. Two months ago, they made a start, and then got caught up in the race to finish framing the addition before the fall rains started. They won the race with the fall rains but their first attempt to frame the stage didn’t provide enough room for a wheelchair to negotiate the stage ramp. Correcting the problem, they widened the clearance on the right, modified the ramp, added the steps and incorporated a 45 degree corner. It should now be ready for electrical and audio-visual wiring before it finally gets the coat of sheathing and handrails that will make it look like a stage.
Several tons of crushed rock were delivered this morning. It came in a truck I haven’t seen before. It had a conveyor on the back. He backed the conveyor through the door to the basement, and then unloaded rock into wheelbarrows. They wheeled the rock load by load to fill the office and kitchen floor areas so a concrete slab can be poured on top.
After they compact the rock, I expect they will use a similar wheelbarrow system to carry the concrete to the pour areas.
They finally finished the utility connections under the street. The trench carries a big pipe connecting our fire sprinkler system to the city water main, a little pipe for the potable water connection, a medium sized pipe for our internet connection and a second medium pipe in case we need it. Three big electrical cables for the Avista 3-phase electrical service are a bit to the side. The trench is backfilled with gravel and compacted. It may even have gotten an asphalt patch this afternoon. I haven’t looked, but the street may finally be open.
Pam poured what we hope is the final layer of epoxy casting resin on the chalice window. A week ago we put a gallon of epoxy over the rainbow. Today we put a half gallon over the central chalice area. The stuff works its way down through the jumble of colored glass to bond to the window itself – tying everything together and to the window. Depending on what it looks like in a day or so, we may decide to add a bit more to the central area. From the optimal vantage point – on my back on the floor underneath, with a bulb above for backlight, it looks spectacular.
September 12, 2021
First Pour of Casting Resin
To assure that everything sticks together, some of Pam’s creations get a coat of casting resin. This is an epoxy material that comes in two parts – the resin and a hardener. These are measured in equal amounts, and then mixed well for exactly 3 minutes.
Pam poured the mixture over the entire rainbow area. The material is amazing. It works its way down through the mesh of glass pieces to the underlying window glass. This is good – it assures that the chalice image will stay stuck to the inside face of the window, in spite of the hot summer sun and the passing years.
Pam, Duane and Mary Jo spent a few minutes popping little bubbles and helping the resin penetrate by poking with skewers. It turned out that the help was not really needed, but it was fun.
The colored glass is on the side of the window that will face the interior of the south gable and the side that people will see is still the bottom. The best way to view the results is to hang a strong light above – and then lie on a little wheeled dolly and scoot underneath. Eventually the 2’ by 4’ LED panels will light the window from behind.
Addendum: September 13, 2021
The Resin is already hard to the touch this morning, although it is supposed to take 3 days to fully harden. It looks beautiful from the top and beautiful from underneath. We only covered the rainbow area yesterday. Pam plans to come Wednesday after work to finish up the central chalice area. That means we might deliver the completed window to the building site next week.
There wasn’t much to see at the church when I went down Monday morning. I caught Roger up on the roof explaining how the solar light tubes need to be installed in the roofing.
However, things are happening inside. The electrician is supposed to be getting started this week and the HVAC crew also. Apparently, the city is ready to proceed with testing our new water lines after a Covid scare in the water department delayed things.
September 10, 2021
More Roofing and Windows
It makes the building look very different to have the windows in place. They are all in now except for one on the west end. I assume that one is saved as an opening where they can get big and heavy stuff inside. Would that be parts for the elevator, and perhaps sheets of drywall? I really like the way the gothic window looks above the front door.
The shingles are all in place on the south roof, but the roofers still have a little to do on the north side. There is still a bit to do on the top of the shed roof where the solar light tubes penetrate through the roof. After a lot of discussion, we decided to go ahead with the light tubes. Installing them is a complicated puzzle given the maze of trusses in the way. They won’t be quite in the center of the room, but it will be nice to have some natural light in the conference room. Besides, the vendor has a high restocking fee if we return them.
Note that the window with the gothic top that used to be in the southwest corner of the sanctuary has been reused in the landing between the second and third floors. We are hoping to also reuse one of the light fixtures that was in the church foyer in this same space, since there is plenty of vertical room.
The building is now waterproof, just in time for today’s rain – that if you can call 0.05 inches a rainstorm. What the building needs now is doors. There are five door openings, a front door, the west door, and three doors that exit out the back. Doing them will secure the building.
September 8, 2021
Roofing and Windows
This is a big roof so it will take them several days to finish. The valley, with its woven pattern between the south gable and the main roof will definitely slow them down. They also have a good start on the shed roof on the north side.
They started putting in windows today. They first prepped the openings with a layer of water barrier membrane over the bottom of the opening. Then, a bead of caulk around the opening to seal the flange to the sheathing. Finally, the window is lifted into the opening and the flange is screwed tightly into place.
September 3, 2021
A Roof for the Addition
The first step in roofing is the waterproof membrane. At the eaves and up the valley is a black strip. This is thicker and somewhat gooey to seal any punctures and resist ice dams. Higher up the sheets are thinner but tough. The men are sliding the bundles of shingles down into position for installation. They are heavy, about 75 pounds each. At each side the membrane extends up under the siding.
To be a roofer 25 feet above a concrete slab you must trust your rope. They are starting the waterproof membrane on the north side. It is a trick to make a continuous coverage with all the foot-boards fastened to the roof. Here they have slid pieces between the brackets. They will have to come back later and patch the gaps. As they move up the roof, they remove a 2×4 step to make room for the white sheet, then nail it again about 8 inches below the top edge so the next sheet has room to lap. I expect they finished the entire roof membrane today – so if it rains the addition should shed water.
Look through the arched window opening. The light comes from the hatch opening in the 12-foot foyer ceiling. The flat roof above is accessed by an extension ladder through the hatch.
Roger sent me this picture he took from the flat roof. They have installed layers of insulation board followed by another kind of waterproof membrane. The seams are heat-sealed – hence the LP gas tank. You are looking south at the roof of the 1912 Center with its pup tent skylights. It is a shame that a place with such a view is not a public space.
September 2, 2021
Three Ring Circus
There are three things going on here:
1. They are starting to roof the addition. The first step is the waterproof membrane, and a double layer up the valley. This is the real defense against water – the shingles are to look nice and protect the membrane. The shingle bundles are stacked at the peak and will be applied very soon. As someone who doesn’t do heights, I was pleased to see that the roofers are wearing safety ropes on the steep roof.
2. The guy in the basket is framing the parapet around the flat roof area. He will apply sheathing just like a little roof and eventually the parapet will get a layer of roofing.
3. The pipes up on the flat roof are drainpipes. There are two drains in the corner – a regular drain and an overflow drain. They come down through the towers to each side of the front door. (At last I see the real purpose for the towers. They are not purely for visual effect – they will contain pipes.)
Today was supposed to be pressure testing of our new water lines, followed by water contamination tests. All these tests are on hold because of Covid-19. Several workers at the Moscow water department have tested positive for Covid. These were not the people who worked on our pipes, so hopefully none of our workers were exposed. However, the Moscow water department staff are being tested for Covid, and finishing the certification of our water line is on hold. The trench will stay open for a while longer, and steel plates will allow limited auto passage through Second Street.
August 31, 2021
Plumbing, Trimming and What’s Next
Lack of a “saddle clamp” has delayed the hookups to the city water main. They finally located one of the scarce items – supposedly in Tennessee or Kentucky and had it shipped here. The Moscow water department did the hookup today.
The action took place across 2nd Street in a 4-foot-deep hole between the curb and sidewalk. The saddle clamp is the shiny thing under his arm. The red thing is a valve. The black and orange things are a hole cutter device. Somehow this device extends through the valve and cuts a hole through the water main pipe – all under water pressure and without leaking water. (This way the water service to the neighborhood is not disrupted.) Then the cutter is extracted and the pipe to our addition is connected to the valve. Next, the line must be checked for leaks under pressure and checked for any contamination.
Note also that the black potable water line (on the right) looks different. They decided that our old supply line was too old, and both the line and the water meter should be replaced.
Today the carpenters have been putting up trim around the perimeter of the roof. The trim needs to be in place before the roof is shingled. Roger said that the shingles might be delivered tomorrow.
This is a picture of the secretary’s future office floor. Apparently, water from the little shower we had a week or so ago collected here and slowly evaporated leaving an interesting design. Roger is very anxious to get the addition shingled and watertight.
The next step to button up the building will be windows. Most of the windows have been leaning on the wall in the minister’s future office for several weeks. The big gothic window that will go above the front door was delivered yesterday. I expect to see window installation happening over the next few weeks.
August 25, 2021
The View, The Under-street Plumbing
The trench is dug, and the pipe is mostly in place, but there is a problem. Our fire sprinkler 4 inch water supply pipe is supposed to be connected to the side of the city’s 8 inch steel water main with a pipe fitting called a “saddle clamp”. They thought they had access to the required saddle clamp, but apparently someone else got it first. They are looking for another, but with the nationwide construction explosion, apparently saddle clamps are among the construction items that are hard to find. It may be a while before the fire sprinkler water supply gets connected to the church. I will keep you posted.
Looking down into the hole, you can see the 8 inch city main. Our 4 inch pipe (now in the trench but obscured by the curb) reaches almost to the main where it will be connected with the saddle clamp. To the right, on top of the main, note the small fitting and bit of black pipe. That is the potable water supply line that served the Yellow House. This is still pressurized and connected to the water meter across the street. The potable water line still must be connected from the meter to the addition, but since it will go in the same trench it is also delayed by the saddle clamp shortage.
The Rainbow is done! There are still some things to do to finish the new round window, but the rainbow is essentially complete. Here are the workers who helped under Pam’s leadership.
And this is my attempt to photograph the window from underneath. With the camera on the floor, it is still not far enough away to get it all in, and it needs more light to really see the colors.
The roof sheathing is in place above the third floor foyer. That means that the carpenters are now working on framing details on the new almost-flat roof. This is the highest flat point on the addition and provides quite a view of Moscow. Phil took these pictures this morning. Don’t get the idea that this is going to be a publicly accessible viewpoint. To get to the roof you would have to crawl through a small hatch in the 12 foot ceiling of the third floor foyer – probably after climbing up a ladder. Still, it is quite a view.
August 24, 2021
Water Trench and Foyer Ceiling Joists
This trench runs from the city water main to the addition. The pipe for the fire sprinkler is in place except for the final connection to the main (visible in the foreground). The potable water line and internet connection will come next.
The excavator stretched out across the street makes a convincing sign that the street will be closed for a while.
The framing of the addition is approaching completion. The last ceiling joists are being added to the third floor foyer. All that is left is some work to frame the flat roof that will cover this area. This milestone is bittersweet since with the addition of a few more sheets of sheathing, much of the work on the addition will be done inside, so it will be harder for me to document the ongoing progress in my blog.
August 23, 2021
Water Connection, Foyer Framing
There will be two water connections – the ordinary one to provide potable water for both church and addition, and a second larger one to serve the fire sprinkler system in the addition. They are digging the trench to connect both lines to the city water line across second street. The wire for internet service will also go in this trench.
They cut the asphalt with a big circular saw before excavating the trench across the street. They will run the pipes under the curb and sidewalk somehow leaving these undisturbed. The street will be closed for several days as the lines are connected and tested.
These pipes are stacked nearby. Are they water pipes or internet conduit?
Framing the third floor foyer continues, with studding for the east wall visible through the scaffolding.
The lead carpenter saw me and commented that I had caught them in a mistake – the east studs were 6 inches too long. Here they are trimming them to length. Too long is better than too short. Too long can be trimmed but too short is a problem. They are about ready to begin the roof framing.
August 19, 2021
Firewall, Front Façade, Chalice Window
The back is one of the few places I can still peek into the interior of the addition. This angle gives a view of the firewall installation – see the white gypsum board sheets against the clapboard siding. Note also the two workers visible through the farmed opening. When that opening is fully framed upward it will hold the relocated tall arch-topped window removed from the southwest corner of the sanctuary.
We finally have a framed doorway onto the balcony.
The framed details to each side of the front door have reached the top. They will arch to frame the large gothic window to go on the third floor.
Note how the addition, including the arch, extends somewhat closer to the street than the old church building – probably a bit more than the ordinarily required setback. The rules provide for an exception when nearby buildings are also closer to the street. The arch lines up almost exactly with the McConnell Mansion.
The Widow is getting its rainbow. Tomorrow should start the greens. This was another picture with my phone camera positioned down on the garage floor. The colors should be more vibrant with proper illumination.
August 17, 2021
Chalice, Foyer and Keys
This morning we had a meeting to talk about keys. The topic is surprisingly complex for a building like a church. Keys for entry doors, for the utility and mechanical doors, keys for the RE rooms, individual keys for the offices, a very few master keys that fit all the locks, and so on. We may get both a key lock and a keypad with a changeable code for the main front door.
The chalice window is progressing, although it takes time to apply all that colored glass. The red is complete, and the orange arc is nearly done. Pam is doing the assembly, but others of us have sorted and cleaned glass pieces.
The north shed roof has some more sheathing. This makes it easier to see the opening for the fire exit door.
There seems to be a planning session on the third-floor foyer. They are probably discussing how building the door to the balcony will interface with the soon to be installed firewall.
August 16, 2021
Chalice, North Shed Roof, Upper Foyer
Pam started the rainbow with red. Since the colors blend gradually from one to the next, she’s applying some reddish orange as transition to the full orange band. I took the picture looking up from the garage floor, so you also see the background of garage door opener, bits of Pam, and other stuff through the glass. When the window is installed in the south gable, it will be backlit, probably by a bright (but dimmable) LED sheet.
The north shed roof (with a hallway to the exit stairs) is almost ready for sheathing.
They are back to working on the third-floor foyer. This room will be about 12 feet tall – in part to make a visual transition between the addition and the taller church, and partly to accommodate the tall gothic window and the tall elevator shaft.
As each level has been framed, the required firewall is extended up to provide a 2-hour separation between the addition and the church. He is removing rain gutters and is trimming back the roof to make room for the 2-inch fireproof sheets. The firewall will span the entire contact between the addition and church – from side to side and from foundation to roof with no openings except fire-rated doors. I expect the next step is to open the doorway to the balcony, so the firewall can be made tight to the door frame.
Here’s where the door will come through. He’s started to pull off the tarpaper, so the light shines through the cracks, and the first bit of diagonal sheathing has been cut loose. The door will be 36 inches wide as required by ADA and some parts of the balcony will be wheelchair accessible.
August 12, 2021
More Roof Framing and a New Sill for the NW Corner
They are almost done framing the third floor shed-roof. Soon they will add roof and exterior wall sheathing. Next week I expect they will move on to framing the tall foyer and the flat roofs above.
These are remnants of the sill under the exit door in the NE corner of the church. Golis subcontracted this project to Wasankari Construction. The century old 8×8 sill beam has suffered from water infiltration around the exit door, aggravated by an invasion of carpenter ants sometime in the past. Since we are getting a new exit door it makes sense to also repair the sill.
This is a tricky project since the considerable weight of the NE corner of the church sits on this sill. They built these stacks of 6x6s as piers to use to hold the weight of the corner of the church as the sill beam was cut out. This is the view from inside the now gutted kitchen, looking out through the slot where the sill has been removed.
There are several of these “screw bottle jacks” to lift the church corner. I remember my dad using jacks just like this remodeling a barn on our farm about 60 years ago. Some technology doesn’t change.
They debated whether to use an 8×8 beam salvaged from the yellow house, or use new wood to replace the sill. The new material finally won out. They stayed with the convention that a pressure treated plank should be the first one resting on top of the foundation. They nestled this 2×8 plank in a bed of mortar to smooth out the irregularities of the rock foundation. This is to be followed by 4 more 2×8 planks to make a new sill beam. When they release the jacks, this will all be clamped in place by the weight of the church.
The new sill is in place and should hold up the corner of the church for another century. There will be a new exit door that should do a better job of keeping out moisture. There will be a concrete landing outside the new door, and 3 or 4 steps down to a new sidewalk. There will even be handrails along the landing and steps.
August 11, 2021
More Roof Framing and Window Progress
Today’s project was more framing on the north face of the roof. It is essentially a shed roof placed on top of the main gable roof to accommodate the exit hall from the third floor conference room. The lift machine is essential to hoist workers and materials to the roof – although it does obscure our view of the work, especially with a sheet of roof sheathing in the hoist basket.
I arrived just in time to see the first rafter fitted in place. The main roof has a 10 in 12 slope, and the shed roof they are building on top has a 4 in 12 slope, making space between for an exit hallway from the conference room. You can see the future door opening on the far right. The door will exit to a landing at the top of a steel stairway attached to the wall. The stairs will run down to a landing outside the second floor door, and then down to a concrete pad. Note that the main roof trusses are stubbed (eliminating the eaves) between the second and third floor landings. The outside wall will continue up here, providing headroom as people descend the stairs. The eaves and rain gutter will be overhead on the shed roof.
Note also that the worker on top is wearing a safety harness – which allows me to breathe easier. I don’t do heights or steep roofs.
Pam is making progress on the chalice window. The chalice is formed of opaque black glass, as are the double rings. The background between and within the rings are filled with fragments of clear glass with a dense pattern of fine bubbles. Pam started the flame several days ago, and today she is adding a halo of light around the flame with yellow glass. Once the adhesive hardens and some smudges and a dusting of wildfire smoke precipitate are cleaned off, Pam is just about to start working on the rainbow.
August 6, 2021
Progress on the Chalice Window
Yesterday they finished framing the south gable and extended the sheathing up to the eaves. Note that they did use pre-built trusses, rather than conventional rafters, which must have been hidden away somewhere inside. Eventually a few bits of 2×4 will be added to the square opening in the first truss to make the round opening to fit the chalice window.
The round window is now screwed to the top of a pair of sawhorses in our garage where Pam can add the bits of colored glass that will make it our chalice window. Her first step is to sketch the design on the front side of the window with a Sharpie. The marks come off easily with water and a rag. The chalice, a familiar UU icon, is framed by 2 interlocked rings representing the merger of the Unitarians and Universalists. Outside the rings will be a rainbow, representing our commitment to diversity. Pam is sketching alternative sizes of the rings and chalice, which eventually ended up a bit larger than shown here.
We used a bathroom scale and verified that the window weighs 44 pounds before Pan adds any colored glass or glue. That’s light enough that we can move it, but heavy enough that it’s good to have 2 people. We wondered how much it will weigh when she is done. Maybe double? When Pam has settled on a design and sketched it on the front of the window, the next step is to turn it over. The task is to glue colored glass to the back following the pattern that Pam drew on the front.
Pam spent some time cleaning the back of the window. Any fingerprints or other marks will become permanent if colored glass pieces are glued over them. Pam decided it would be appropriate to select the chalice as the first piece to be glued in place. It consists of several pieces of opaque black glass. To shape the glass pieces, Pam sometimes uses a diamond stylus to score and break straight cuts. For curves Pam uses a special band saw that uses an abrasive wire. To trim the edges, she uses a mini vertical spindle sander. My job is to sort the glass supply by rainbow colors.
August 3, 2021
Some More Concrete and a Round Window
They poured another load of concrete behind the addition this morning. Some of it was for the pad where the big Avista 3-phase transformer will sit. It was a tradeoff putting the transformer back here, since the required pad dimensions diminish the size of the potential play area. The transformer could have been in front of our new building, but we vetoed that as ugly.
Some of the concrete went to the pad (in the foreground) where the heat pump units will sit near the corner of the church. The rest was used for the landing and steps outside the first floor exit.
Work is progressing on the doorway between the balcony and the foyer. It is slow work since they want to do minimal damage to the adjacent metal soffit and preserve the metal sheets they remove so they can be used to rebuild the opening. The task is slow because the joints are nailed every 6 inches to the curved backing of 1×4 boards.
I was puzzled why several sheets of roof sheathing at the eaves seemed to be missing. The answer came today when I saw a worker cutting off the toes of the trusses where they hang out beyond the wall. This is where the south gable framing will go – this area should be wall, not eaves. It seems that the makers of the custom-built trusses missed that detail. Remember the roof brackets I mentioned yesterday? You can see them in place higher up on the roof. The metal brackets fastened to the roof hold a 2×4 on edge to keep you from sliding off the steep roof.
With the truss toes trimmed, the special truss that has been leaned against the front of the addition for several weeks could now be fitted into the gap. (Thanks to Al for this photo.) I don’t know whether there are more trusses to step back up the roof to complete the gable, or if they will use standard rafter roof framing. Note the big opening in the center of the truss? This is where the round window will fit. This window is an architectural reference to the rose windows in the south and east peaks of the old church. The building committee considered rebuilding and using an old rose window still in the church attic – the one that was once in the west peak of the old building. Instead, the committee settled on a round window using Unitarian symbolism.
We have been waiting months for the round window to arrive. It came today. The creation of the window will be led by Pam Arborgreen, using her technique of glass fragments glued to the back of the glass window. Many of you have seen her work at her Moscow Farmers Market stall. It will incorporate three symbols common to Unitarians and Universalists – the chalice, the rainbow and the two interlocking rings that reference the union of the Unitarians and Universalists. Pam needs a large workplace for the window assembly process, so it will be happening in the Hamilton’s garage. I’ll blog the progress. Today Pam did a draft sketch on the window, which you can mostly see below.
August 2, 2021
I’m Back in Town
We are back home from 10 days in Montpelier, Vermont, visiting our son and family. Steve Flint posted some pictures of the construction progress, including a picture of the completed roof peak trusses and he mentioned the grading and start of work on the retaining wall north of the addition.
With the roof trusses in place, the workers have started to apply the roof sheathing. This is a job I would never want to do. The roof has a 10/12 slope, 10 inches for every 12. These sheets are also very slippery. As they continue to work on the roof, I expect they will use roofers’ brackets that hold 2x4s to keep from sliding off the roof.
Beyond the blue arm of the lift, you can see the studding of the foyer wall outside the door to the balcony. The foyer will be 12 feet tall – partly to provide a height transition between the old church and the addition, and partly because the adjacent elevator shaft must be that tall.
This is what it looks like behind the addition – as viewed out the northeast sanctuary window. If the picture looks a bit grainy, it is because I took it through the glass and screen. The grading is mostly done and the block retaining wall was probably completed this afternoon. The area between the foundation and the block wall will be a concrete sidewalk. On the left, the steel fire escape will descend from the second and third floors, ending on the concrete pad just this side of the first floor door.
We are planning to return the area above the retaining wall to its previous use – as a kids play area. It is a bit of an odd shape, long and narrow and squeezed in the middle by the Avista electrical transformer. Still, it is larger and more accessible to the RE rooms than the alternative play area location south of the addition, and its odd shape may make it more interesting. We still need to devise a low fence for the top of the wall before we can use it for play. In a day or two this area will be backfilled with drainage rock, then with dirt and then topped with bark and watered heavily.
Installing the blocks is exacting work. They sit on a gravel bed and must be perfectly leveled. The ends come somewhat angled, so they can fit in a wide arc, but for short radius corners or right-angle corners (like near the transformer) the ends must be cut with a masonry saw.
They are using blocks recycled from our patio – so they had acquired a patina of moss and dirt. This means work with a hand scraper and wire brush.
The pillars that will stand to each side of the front door are primarily decorative. They will be empty and on the cold side of the insulation envelope. In the picture below they are being extended straight up. As the third floor foyer is framed over the next few weeks the pillars will bend and meet – framing a Gothic window.
So far the door into the balcony has seen only exploratory work. They need to know what they are dealing with before they can cut a standard size door opening through the curved metal at the edge of the ceiling. It appears that the metal sheets are supported by 1×4 backing and fastened by many little brads. It will be interesting to see how they design the opening.
The grading behind the addition extended to the northwest corner of the church. This exposed the remnants of what was once another window well into the area we have always used for storage. The window was plugged years ago with concrete, and the well partly removed, probably to keep rainwater from seeping in. The grade changes we are making should improve the moisture situation even more. The question remains however, just what use do we want to make of this corner area and on behind the church?
July 28, 2021
I haven’t sent anything out for the last few days, and the addition really looks different now! I think the picture says it all.
Also progress on the retaining wall north of the addition. Once it is completed we have permission from McConnell Mansion to use their hose to irrigate the Sequoia tree.
July 22, 2021
Now that the main part of the trusses are up, much of the work involves bracing. The west wall on the third floor has been framed in and framing continues to go up around the elevator shaft.
In the NE corner of the church, one of the 8″ x 10″ beams that sits on the foundation has rotted under the emergency exit door. A portion of this beam should be replaced, and the current plan is to use a similarly sized beam that was salvaged from the Yellow House.
July 20, 2021
More Details on the Roof Trusses
The roof trusses went up fast last Friday. Now there are miscellaneous details to take care of. Remember the gaps in the trusses by the elevator and the fire escape hallway we saw on Friday? Now they have been filled in with “ladder” joists. The subfloor is now in place for the big conference room, except for a couple of sheets when they ran out. They have installed a couple of small trusses to the north of the elevator shaft that they left for later last Friday. Everywhere they have firmed things up with more nails.
The lift machine is a godsend to get materials up to the third floor. Much of this lumber is probably for the framing of the tall third floor foyer stricture that they need to build next to the church – to make the entry into the balcony. I think they are also anxious to get all this material up so they can frame this west opening a bit more closed. For working comfort there needs to be a wall here with just a window opening instead of a 25 foot drop.
They need to bring up some more materials and frame the west wall, but they are nearly ready to install the peak trusses. I am curious whether they will proceed with the peak trusses first or turn to framing the foyer. Roger is also contemplating some of the complications of framing by the elevator shaft, so that may also be a priority. I think I just answered my own question – I see the peak trusses sitting on the foyer floor, so they must get them out of the way first.
I like the pretty clouds today, with not too much smoke. The temperature today is comfortable, under 90 degrees for only the second time this month, and this morning we had our July rainfall – just 0.01 inch.
July 16, 2021
The Roof Trusses Come
I arrived just as the truckload of roof trusses arrived. The longest were over 40 feet long and filled the flatbed trailer. The truck with the hoist nosed in through the gate and the trailer blocked the street.
The load included several different shapes of custom-built trusses. These half-trusses fit near the elevator, and the open space will be the hallway and the restroom.
This is the first of the 42 foot full width trusses. Note the bottom of the truss – called a “bottom chorded girder truss”. Roger assures me these are much stronger than a 2×12, because of the strong triangle shapes and because there are no knots or defects. These sit on the top plate of the hallway walls and provide a platform for the floor of the big conference room. The room will be about 18 feet wide and over 25 feet long.
As the trusses are set in place they are screwed and nailed in position and kept vertical with braces and temporary 2x4s nailed across. One man at each end checks the overhang at the eaves. I was amused to hear “1/4 inch your way” or “1/8 inch my way”. These eaves will be straight.
Roger spent much of his day on the trailer attaching the cable as the trusses were lifted, and then on the ground helping guide the truss with a rope. This is Roger’s photo from the flatbed.
This is another of Roger’s photos as the last full width truss was fastened in place.
When I arrived back midafternoon, they had the last wide truss in place and the truck was ready to depart. This gives a nice view into the space of our new conference room.
I assume that by now you have noticed that these trusses are flat topped, not the peaked gable roof you probably expected. Do you know the reason why? Full height trusses would be 20 feet high – and a 20 foot wide truss sitting on a flatbed trailer would be a wide load with all the highway restrictions that implies. So, there are peaked trusses that will sit on top to complete the roof. The carpenters will put a subfloor in the hallway and conference room, and some more bracing, so they can use ladders and scaffolding to install the peaks. These peak trusses weigh less than 100 pounds so they can manage them without the crane. In contrast the heaviest full width trusses approached 600 pounds.
Look how much the view from streetside has changed. Note also the 2 gaps in the trusses. On the west end this opens clear space for the fire exit hallway. The bottom chorded girder trusses to each side will provide attachment points for a “ladder” of I-joists to support the hallway and conference room floor. Roger explained that the other gap is where the engineer fell asleep. If a truss like the adjacent ones were used, the vertical member would come just outside the middle of the elevator door. The solution is some more ladder I-joists and some conventional framing.
There are 2 peak trusses leaned against the building. One will become the peak at the west end. The other is part of the south gable peak that will sit on top of the new south roof. This piece is the frame that will hold the 48 inch round rainbow/chalice window.
July 15, 2021
Ready for Roof Trusses
Today was another for doing things that were put off for later. I was right that one of these put off things was some more sheathing. Behind the addition this meant lifting the big sheets into position using ladders rather than the man-lift.
From this position you can see more new sheathing, including the strip under the overhang. The sheathing on the west gable end will be put off until later, since the sheets will run up onto the end truss. Note also that they started the process of opening the door into the balcony – they stripped off the siding where the door will go.
This view of the building should change radically tomorrow – with the arrival of the roof trusses. I expect at least some of the heavy trusses will be lifted into place before the weekend.
July 14, 2021
Getting Ready for the Roof Trusses
Today was devoted to the necessary fiddly things. Odd bits of subfloor. Some more nails here and there. Finishing up around the new stairway to the third floor. Sweeping up the piles of sawdust. The roof trusses will be coming Friday, so they want to be ready.
I was startled when I visited the site in the late afternoon. The building looked different, but it took me a minute to realize why. They had cut the sheathing out of all the window openings. I understand that the sheathing helps to give stability to the wall framing, and it is easiest and fastest to just sheath over everything and cut it out later. I asked the carpenter about the windows. He agreed with the stability reason. But even more important, he said it’s cooler working inside during our month-long heat wave. Note the haze in the clear sky and the red tint to this photo. It’s real. Today was close to 100 degrees and the air had lots of wildfire smoke.
The roof trusses don’t come until Friday, so what will they do tomorrow? It seems like there are two choices. They could cut and frame the doorway into the balcony where the window used to be. Alternatively they could frame the stud walls for the foyer where they just put down joists and subfloor. I suppose they could also finish the sheathing up to the eaves.
July 13, 2021
A Third Floor and Some More Stairs
It is getting harder to see much from my perch on the LCHS fire escape. I am looking just about straight across the top plate on the second floor walls. Soon I’ll be looking up instead of down in. What I do see close to the church is the start of the third level floor. This is the floor for the foyer that provides access to the balcony and the big third level meeting room. Will this become our “Upper Room”? Instead of I-joists, the rest of the area will be framed with engineered roof trusses. These trusses will enclose the meeting room – the room down the center and the roof to each side. This room will be about 18 feet wide and 25 feet long.
Look closely and you can see black plumbing sticking up. Most of these are vents for the bathrooms below, but the pipe to the right of the central hall will serve the third floor bathroom. The roof trusses will be arriving Friday.
In the picture below you are looking at the rim joist for the foyer. This will be a tall room – 12 feet tall – with a nearly flat roof just below the flat roof segment on the old church. There will be a gothic window matching the big south window in the church. The windows will line up – the double entry doors below, double windows on the second floor and the tall arched gothic window on the third. To the left will be roof trusses enclosing the meeting room, and a smaller south facing peak with the chalice/rainbow window.
In the hot afternoon, and mostly out of sight, the sounds indicated that stairs were being built. These will provide access between the second and third level. I suspect the carpenters will appreciate using stairs rather than ladders when they start installing trusses on Friday.
In case you have forgotten what the addition is supposed to look like, here is a reminder.
July 8, 2021
Stairs, Sound Booth and Joists
One set of stairs is now in place. Workers can now get up to the second level without using a ladder. The steps will eventually get rubber treads.
Pat Fuerst marked out the proposed position of the sound booth. The bit of finished floor marks the footprint of the old sound booth. The space will need to grow to accommodate the people and hardware required to livestream our Sunday services.
Since it has cooled down a bit – into the 90s – construction can move outside again. The second floor walls are mostly in place, so the next step is up. This means areas of floor jousts and subfloor for the foyer outside the stairway, elevator and balcony, and the area that will become the third floor meeting room. Off to the sides will be the trusses that will shape the roof. I am curious how it all fits together. This stack of I-joists is enough for a start. I expect more I-joists and some trusses to arrive next week.
I believe there was some insulation that has now been removed. In the future it will be an interior wall. I wonder whether it dates from the 1980s when the UUCP remodeled the building or was it even older than that.
July 6, 2021
Avista, Building Stairs, and a Balcony View
Avista was back this morning to do more work on our 3-phase electrical entrance. They cut the power to the 1912 Center for a time as they rearranged things on the pole. This is Roger’s picture, since the woman blocking traffic warned me away and I didn’t want to make a scene.
This box will apparently serve as a connection point for the cables that will run our way through the buried conduit.
Today was another scorching hot day (over 104 on my thermometer) so everybody was happy to work inside the addition. They need to build stairs so they can quit using ladders to get up and down. Stair construction is a complicated and precise business – actually requiring some math. Here they are discussing the process as they lean on the start of the first landing.
The zigzag piece that holds the steps is called a stringer. Given the heavy use these steps will get, the stringer needs reinforcement. He’s nailing a 2×6 stiffener to each side.
Roger also gave me pictures of the view from the balcony (another place I’m not supposed to go). This is the view looking down to the northeast.
This is the view to the west toward where the entry door will be cut through the remnants of the window. The balcony has 3 levels or risers. There will be glass railings across the front, and around the two bump-outs at the big window and by the transom window above the south sanctuary door. These should let considerable daylight into the balcony.
July 1, 2021
Balcony Framing and a Firewall
The heat wave has subsided a bit. It was only a bit over 100 this noon – much more comfortable than 110 degrees. There was noisy thunder last night but no rain in Moscow. Still, a better day to do work inside.
By late morning the first layer of balcony joists were in place and they were nailing subflooring on top.
The I-joists are held in place with metal joist hangers. Note how the balcony frame is blocked out away from the big window and the transom window above the old entry door. Up above, there will be a glass railing around these window wells.
The balcony floor will rise in steps to the back. This picture shows the framing of the second riser. The lowest level sits on the I-joists, which run north/south. The second level sits on the 2x6s that run east/west. The highest riser sits yet above that.
Today was also the start of our new firewall. Code required either a sprinkler system in both the church and the addition, or else sprinklers in the addition and a firewall separating it from the church. Retrofitting sprinklers in the church would have been difficult, expensive, and aesthetically inconsistent. The shotcrete and foundation are adequate retardant down below, but a firewall must be built above the shotcrete. Meeting code requires 2 inches of a drywall like material. That is, a double layer of 3’ by 8’ panels each 1” thick, held in place by metal channels and brackets. Roger is pondering how to construct the door openings and thresholds while preserving the fire retarding envelope.