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Top Plates ... The Hard Way.

December 1, 2011 |

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We are DIYing our moms a Duplex in Alaska! Check out our progress so far as we owner build a home, step by step. Read the Momplex blog here.

posted by Ana White

Momplex Stats

Money Spent So Far: 
$55,000 + Cost of Property
Time Spent So Far: 
1160 Hours on Site Plus Planning

Coulda shoulda woulda.  

I only think it's fair to share with you our mistakes - and not just our successes - as we build the Momplex.  We are, after all, not perfect ... not even professionals.  We are just people, with a dream and a determination to take on the ulitmate of DIY projects.  And of course, along the way, we will have coulda shoulda woulda moments.  
Remember when we put the foam up to cover the concrete to allow the concrete to cure?  If we had to do it over again, we would have instead just put the top plates on the tops of the just poured concrete walls, sinking J bolts deep into the concrete, securing the top plates down.
But no, we are doing things the hard way.  
Top Plates ... The Hard Way.

We should be ready to roof.

But instead, we are one step backwards from roofing. We need boards secured on top of the ARXX blocks walls, wedge anchored into the heart of the concrete, called the top plates. From there, we can use truss brackets to secure the trusses to the top plates.

Top Plates ... The Hard Way.

Wedge anchor bolts have a moving ring around the base with a tapered end. When the bolts are pounded in, the ring is pushed up where the bolt is tapered smaller. But when the anchor bolts are pulled upward, the ring is pushed down over the larger tapered end, securing the wedge anchors in the concrete.

Top Plates ... The Hard Way.

First we roll sill seal out over the tops of the concrete to prevent drafts.

Top Plates ... The Hard Way.

Sill seal comes in rolls sized for 2x6 walls. It's cheap, and but saves you bundles in heating costs. For framed exterior walls, you also roll it out underneath walls to prevent drafts.

Top plates - which in our case are 2x12 treated boards, go on top of the sill seal. Now we need to anchor the top plates to the concrete.
Top Plates ... The Hard Way.

We start by drilling holes sized for the wedge anchor bolts through the 2x12s with a wood drill bit.

Top Plates ... The Hard Way.

Then we load up the concrete hammer drill with a very long concrete bit.

Top Plates ... The Hard Way.

Kind of cool looking!

Top Plates ... The Hard Way.

Then through the predrilled holes in the top plates, we drill into the concrete with the new bit and the concrete hammer drill. I found drilling concrete not so hard, but time consuming. You just have to be patient, keep holding the drill level, let it do it's work, and eventually, the stop will get there!

Top Plates ... The Hard Way.

One down ... a hundred to go. Or more. But who's counting?

After each hole is drilled, we carefully vacuum out each hole.  Any concrete debris left in the hole is potential for the bolts to loosen over time.  Not good when you are talking about a roof being anchored to your Mom's house!
Top Plates ... The Hard Way.

Once the holes are drilled in the concrete and cleaned out, the wedge anchors are pounded in. Remember, once these guys go in, the aren't coming out.

Top Plates ... The Hard Way.

Then the nuts are tightened down ... tight.

Top Plates ... The Hard Way.

And we just keep at it. For days. We ended up creating an assembly line. I daydreamed about chocolate cake, spaghetti, and roasting marshmellows while waiting for the hammer drill to reach it's stop.

And I tried not to think about how much easier this coulda shoulda woulda been if we had just set J anchor bolts into the wet concrete.

And finally, we finished.

Top Plates ... The Hard Way.

Even if we went about it the hard way, we now have top plates to secure the roof too.

Time to call the crane!

clips
loniwolfe's picture

I hate those moments! But

I hate those moments! But they make for great stories later. So glad y'all got them in! I can't wait to see the roof!

posted by loniwolfe | on Fri, 2011-12-02 00:32
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DirtSquirt's picture

Yay!

Awesome!

He may wear the pants, but I wear the toolbelt!

posted by DirtSquirt | on Fri, 2011-12-02 01:25

Go roof!

I cannot wait to see the roof go on! You guys are AWESOME!!

posted by Guest (not verified) | on Fri, 2011-12-02 01:37

Stupid Tax

My dad calls those wasted hours/equipment our stupid tax. Everyone's got to pay it and everyone hates doing. Thanks for showing us reality!

posted by MotherShip (not verified) | on Fri, 2011-12-02 03:17

If I ever

If I ever build my own house I'll just make a plan out of your experiences :)

I hope the weather is nice for the roof cause every new post makes my day.

posted by oana (not verified) | on Fri, 2011-12-02 03:41

I've read every post of the

I've read every post of the Momplex project over the last 2 days, and I am amazed! I'm enjoying this process with you and look forward to every future post!!! Great job to you ALL!!!!

posted by LynnieW (not verified) | on Fri, 2011-12-02 12:04

The crane, boss! The

The crane, boss! The crane!

I'm so excited. Is this normal? Hehe~

posted by Leah Spires (not verified) | on Fri, 2011-12-02 12:17

So excited for you and if you

So excited for you and if you could include some photos of the crane when it comes- my 5 &4 year old boys would be forever grateful!
Keep up the good work. You are inspiring :)
Also on a side note. I grew up in North Dakota and now live in Minnesota. It gets cold here in winter time. I am interested in your outerwear choices. I would love to read a post about your carharts and other winter gear. After all, DIYing a house in Alaska in winter months sort of makes you and your family cold weather gear experts!

posted by MegShannon (not verified) | on Fri, 2011-12-02 12:41
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mamma_joy's picture

Lol

I grew up in Minnesota and now live in North Dakota!

Erin

North Dakota Mom building my home better.

posted by mamma_joy | on Sat, 2011-12-03 03:51

Why you didn't do J-bolts

You were worried that cold would conduct through the J-bolts and mess up the cure, weren't you?

posted by Anonymous Coward (not verified) | on Fri, 2011-12-02 14:33
clips

sometimes your perseverance

sometimes your perseverance makes my day.
if i was up there, i'd make you this and bring it to the site with a gigantic thermos of mariage freres noel tea.
http://www.marthastewart.com/318085/maple-bundt-cake

posted by purejuice | on Fri, 2011-12-02 15:57

Congrats on getting that done!

We all learn from mistakes :) Too bad you had to deal with sub-zero weather to move forward, but you did, it's done, Yeah!
Can't wait for the next installment!

posted by Guest (not verified) | on Fri, 2011-12-02 22:20

I FEEL FOR YA!

I hate those "DUH" moments! We all have um, and we all have to deal and learn from them. But, Thank God that you are that much closer to your roof and heat! Keep up the great work and thanks for sharing!! Go, Go, GO White family!!!

posted by Guest (not verified) | on Sat, 2011-12-03 09:43
clips
annalea's picture

Excellent Lesson

I'm so glad you posted this. Your series on the Momplex has proven an ever-increasingly valuable resource for our home project. Thank you for showing us all of your experiences with Arxx . . . it's helped us already!

It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory. -- W. Edwards Deming

posted by annalea | on Sat, 2011-12-03 17:08
clips
birdsandsoap's picture

lesson learned...glad to see

lesson learned...glad to see you have accomplished another milestone. Even if it took the extra time and work. You are one step closer to the roof. I'm so excited! Can't wait for those pics.

posted by birdsandsoap | on Mon, 2011-12-05 16:44

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