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Plywood on the Roof

May 1, 2012 |

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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: 
$70,000 + Cost of Property

Building a house is like a giant relay race. 

When you hand the baton off to the next stage, you are either giving them an advantage or a disadvantage.  But when you DIY it all yourself, you are running the entire race yourself.  And you are always thinking about the next step, and how decision you make in this step are going to affect later steps.

Let me give you an example.

Let's say we framed up the walls, and the studs are randomly placed, not 24" or 16" on center.  When the baton is passed to the drywaller, he or she is going to have to locate each stud, mark it on each sheet of drywall, and then attach with screws.  And if the studs are not on 16 or 24 inch centers, each sheet of drywall will have to be trimmed down - resulting in wasted materials and time. 

Wouldn't it have been easier to hand off the baton with perfectly placed studs, so all the drywaller has to do is hang sheets, and only cut out windows, doors, and ends?

Today, we hand the building baton off to the next stage, adding plywood to the roof.  Now we've been thinking of the roof plywood all along.  Because this is one the hardest and most expensive stages, being two stories up and having to rent equipment and bring on help.  If there is a stage that you want to go smoothly, safely and efficiently, this is it.

Plywood on the Roof

We have taken great care to space the trusses EXACTLY 24" on center. This means if you measure from the center of the truss to the next, it is exactly 24" apart. This is done so standard 8' long sheets of drywall can be screwed to the trusses, and plywood joints are made in the center of a truss.

What would happen if we did not take such great care?

We would have to measure, cut, and haul up separately 80 sheets of plywood.

Plywood on the Roof

We decided it would be easier to just haul up a whole bunk of plywood, and just grab sheets, lay them down, and nail down.

We had the lift rented for $250 a day to help with bringing plywood up to the roof. We will need 80 some sheets brought up two and a half stories.

Plywood on the Roof

To start the plywood, you measure up to where the first row ends and the second starts, and snap a chalkline. Then you attach the second row first, and work your way up from there, and add the first row too. Sheets of plywood are staggered, so the seams interlock, preventing weak points.

Plywood on the Roof

Plywood meets up dead center on trusses.

Plywood on the Roof

On the horizontal seams, H clips are used.

Plywood on the Roof

They hold plywood together when there is no truss to do the job.

Plywood on the Roof

With the help of a lift, and John and Mike helping, putting plywood up went fast. It was grab a sheet (well, I wouldn't call it that with each sheet weighing 70 or 80 pounds) and nail it down.

Plywood on the Roof

By early afternoon, one side was fully sheathed.

Plywood on the Roof

And then we moved to the back side. We started again at the base and worked our way upward.

If you look close, you will see the plywood actually overextends the trusses by just a little bit. I'll explain that in a minute ....

Plywood on the Roof

By later that afternoon, we finished plywooding the roof. By carefully planning all the steps before, one of the most difficult tasks was made simple.

Plywood on the Roof

Remember the plywood overextending the truss tails? Well, that's because a fascia board is added to the truss tails.

Plywood on the Roof

This finishes out the trusses.

Plywood on the Roof
Plywood on the Roof

This is so we can tie them into the fascia boards

Plywood on the Roof

And then cut them off with a handsaw.

And we hand the baton off to the next stage.

We will be adding a decorative gable roof over the garages to add a little character and some snow diversion.  We decided to add this roofline on top of the plywood instead of to the framing.  I thought maybe someone with a plywooded roof could then use the information to change their own roofline.  I can't wait to show you how we do that!!!

clips

you don't make building a

you don't make building a home look easy but you sure make it look possible which is plenty encouragement for me. Thanks for keeping us all up to date with your progress.

posted by wesleyjack | on Tue, 2012-05-01 12:06
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Ana White's picture

Hi Wesley, thank you! This

Hi Wesley, thank you! This stage is definitely not an easy one for sure, and this Momplex is big because it's two houses in one. We ourselves have brought on some help for this stage - which I think is a great way to go for DIYers - take on the easy stuff, get help with the hard stages. That said, this roof is HUGE - on our house roof, we hand hauled up each sheet and nailed it down ourselves. Can be done for sure! But our roof was much MUCH smaller.

For us, we want to build something that will last and be low maintenance - I know we are taking our time and doing things meticulously, but we figure work done now will save work later.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

posted by Ana White | on Tue, 2012-05-01 12:37
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perchik's picture

As a volunteer roofer, I approve 1000%

I often volunteer with organizations that repair homes of people who can't (financially, physically, or even mentally) do the repairs themselves. At least half the time, the repair is roof related...If we fix the roof, then when it rains, it won't leak, which means we can later replace the rotten floors and sheetrock without having to worry about them rotting out again. Roofs are the hardest to maintain and the most substantial problem we see

All that to say, I've seen my fair share of roofs. The number one problem we run into, on almost every rebuild/repair is that the trusses are not evenly spaced. I can't count the number of times I've had to scab in a board to the side of a truss so that I had something to nail the plywood to. Unfortunately, often the plywood will overhang trusses by 6-8inches and then just be unsupported and attached with H clips to the next sheet. These are ALWAYS the spots that go bad first if the shingles start to leak. Evenly spacing the trusses is the best way to avoid this! (And if they're not evenly spaced, trimming the plywood to fit the trusses is the next best thing, but no one ever seems to want to do that.)

Thanks for sharing the good advice!!

posted by perchik | on Tue, 2012-05-01 12:22
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Ana White's picture

Hi! I have so much respect

Hi! I have so much respect for you to volunteer your expertise on roofs! It is hard work, and to do it out of kindness for others is very honorable. Thanks for reading and commenting!

posted by Ana White | on Tue, 2012-05-01 12:39

Much Love from a fellow roof decker.

Perhick, I also often volunteer as a roofing supervisor at my local Habitat for Humanity. To me the roof is the most important part of any house. Raising walls is one thing, but to put that part of the structure up that protects someone from the elements is the most amazing accomplishment. I feel it is the biggest part of any home.

As for roofing, there are many schools of thought. Our trusses are 24" on center and we usually have to push or pull the trusses to line up with the end of each piece of decking. If we can't get that to work, we some times run into a issue were we have to "scab" (scrap 2x4) the truss to support the roof decking.

@Ana White : the house looks amazing!

posted by liquid6 (not verified) | on Mon, 2012-05-21 15:06

Thanks for pointing out the (not-so) obvious!

We will begin our homebuilding journey in just about 3 weeks. Ours will be a large 2-storey home that just may equal this in size. And we will build it mostly ourselves (under and alongside the guidance of an experienced contractor/carpenter)! Thanks for all the detailed instructions and encouragement! You can be sure I will be reminding my husband that those trusses must be exactly spaced - good enough won't cut it! :)

posted by ChantelleJ (not verified) | on Tue, 2012-05-01 12:55

It's coming together so

It's coming together so nicely! Maybe my dream of someday building my own house isn't too out of reach!

posted by Megan Ashman (not verified) | on Tue, 2012-05-01 13:05

It's coming together so

It's coming together so nicely! Maybe my dream of someday building my own house isn't too out of reach!

posted by Megan Ashman (not verified) | on Tue, 2012-05-01 13:06
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mom of 4's picture

I am continually impressed

I am continually impressed by your attention to detail. Building a house is ridiculously complicated, and you have added in the aspect of taking good pictures of the details, and then blogging about them to help other people not only understand how to do things, but why they need to be done a certain way sometimes. Thank you so much for your generosity in sharing this with us, and going the extra mile to make it informative and beautiful.

posted by mom of 4 | on Tue, 2012-05-01 14:24
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whitney_smith's picture

uh-oh

And with this comment, you may have just given me great ideas! My poor hubby.

"I thought maybe someone with a plywooded roof could then use the information to change their own roofline. I can't wait to show you how we do that!!!"

BTW, looks great. Congrats. You guys are getting there!

Whitney
www.whitneysworkshop.com

posted by whitney_smith | on Wed, 2012-05-02 09:03
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Guerrina's picture

Contained At Last!

Ana, it must be a wonderful feeling to know the inside is now protected from further exposure to the elements even though the biggest "skylight" ever has been closed in!

Umm...that last comment about plywood roofs....I've been wanting a roofed portico over my front entry door....will be watching & waiting! lol

Ciao!

Guerrina

posted by Guerrina | on Fri, 2012-05-04 11:30

Motivation...

Ana,
I am new to your site, (well a few months now), I actually took and build a really neat desk for my wife from the plans provided on your site except my attempt at making it antique white turned it into a pee pee yellow... either way my wife loved it and it now sits in our computer room covered in coupons and other ad clippings... I really appreciate you sharing your insight into how you got started with your dream and then made it materialize through your dedication. It has motivated me to pursue my dreams of expanding my skills in carpentry. I am an army medic and it is all I have done since I left my mother’s home at 18 and though I enjoy it very much... I came to like carpentry during one of my deployments when I had some down time and started hanging out around the engineer shop on our base and watched them build a podium for a VIP that was visiting the base... Since then I was amazed how in the middle of nowhere with just some basic tools these guys made this cool looking executive podium out of what I thought was scrap sheets of wood. LOL... Well to get back on point... thank you for this site and it is very cool to see all the work you and your husband have completed on the mom plex. It is truly inspirational... Thank you guys for sharing your experiences with us and God Bless...

posted by Joel (not verified) | on Sat, 2012-05-12 00:56

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