Saturday, May 10 was the official start of the Presbyterian Coalition, Cobb Habitat for Humanity build in 2008. This is the third article in this series, the first covering the Traditional Dinner on the Slab which includes a slide show of 25 pictures and introduces the future homeowner, Nicole Combs and her son Elijah. The second article is the first in a series of a sort of Habitat Tutorial, Preparation for Build which covers some of the intense preparation that goes on behind the scenes before the volunteers show up. I say “sort of” because I am not an expert, but willing to discuss the various Jobs assigned to me and/or learned over the years. Hopefully most of it is close to right.
This article covers the first day the volunteers show up, and includes a slide show for the entire day with 115 photos, almost all including the volunteers. My photo is hopefully the only one not included, as I am behind the camera. To see the slide show of 115 pictures click here or on any picture below!
This is the start of work, 8:23 AM. Safety instructions and a pep talk have already been given by our SPM (Site Project Manager), Jeff Vanderlip. That’s Jeff in the middle of the site with the orange shirt and big floppy hat. The various top and bottom plates are still tacked together and strewn hap-hazardly all over the site.
The top and bottom plates are numbered and well marked so it doesn’t matter what order the walls are built or if anyone knows exactly what they are building. Grab a set, pull it apart, remove the tack nails, lay them about 8 feet apart and start adding studs, T’s, doors and windows. See the tutorial for good examples.
A half hour later, the walls are well on their way. many of them are completed, including the addition of a sill seal foam tape (blue) on the bottom plate. Some of the build is taking place in the driveway of the house in the background. Often we take to the street. To do a good job we do need a flat area so the components line up properly.
Measure it twice, cut once! The gentleman on the left is our “cut man” for the day. The one on the right is “Pretty Boy” Miller, also known as “9 fingers”. He is our grand master of carpenters and a super-volunteer.
The pictures shown here and in the slide show do not have the resolution you can get if you download them from the Flikr site. Go to the slide show and click on the link at the top left of the slide show to get to the full set at high resolution, or click on any picture in the slide show and then click on View Main Page. Once there, you can click on the button above the picture “All Sizes”. It will open in the large size, but you can download any picture in any size free, or can order prints through the site that will be delivered in about an hour to your nearest Target store. It’s not obvious how to get to the Target option. First put a print in your shopping cart. When ready for checkout, you can send your prints to Target for printing for about 15 cents per copy or have them mailed to your home.
In addition, you can go to “Zassle” and have T-shirts, coffee mugs etc. made with your favorite print. Enjoy. Below are selected prints but only a small sample of what is available for free download.
Nicole installs the first wall to go up! This is always a photo opportunity and can’t be missed. There are several other shots of this in the slide show. The time is 9:09 AM, barely 46 minutes after we started! The all important wall brace is being wrestled into place on the far left. All the walls are braced by long 2×4′s to hold the walls vertical and to make sure they don’t get pushed over by loose walls stacked against them or a tired soul leaning heavily in the wrong place. Long stakes are driven into the ground and the brace is poked through the top of a window or doorway, if available, and nailed at each end when the wall is perfectly vertical.
The second wall. It includes a window unit and a couple of T’s. This is the back of the house and includes the utility room and a bedroom. Notice the brace at the left. Another is being readied off camera for this wall. There was no window or door in the first wall so the brace is through the wall itself. The reason for using window and doors for the braces is so that later much of the outside sheathing can proceed without removing the braces.
Time for a break. Picture windows make good seats. Don’t worry, I have front views of all these people in the slide show, including this one. Hmmm, more suspenders.
OK, these oldtimer’s deserve more respect. They are both Gray Ghosts and SPM’s as well. The Gray Ghosts are generally expert carpenters and woodworkers that have retired but like to stay busy helping the Habitat cause move along. When things don’t go right or don’t get finished, the SPM puts in a request for Gray Ghost help. They slip in after the volunteers are gone, review the work and fix any problems or complete any incomplete work so that the job stays on schedule. The volunteers may notice that someone finished the roof or fixed a window or completed a porch and wonder who did it. The answer is always “a gray ghost”. Unsung heroes to me. There is no telling how many houses they have led and how many more they have worked on as ghosts.
Hmm. Looks like Debbie found her job! Debbie is also an SPM and has already completed her house on this same street. She has lead many houses for her local high school and now that she is retired, continues on.
Every body is busy. Except for me, of course. I put the camera down from time to time to pick up my hammer, but to tell the truth, at my age, I can’t do that much anymore. I did plaster a few OSB walls with nails pretty well however. I’m trying to document the progress with the intention of keeping a working tutorial of the build. Wish me luck.
I believe the 5 people nearest the center of this picture are all board members or past members of the Presbyterian Coalition, 6 counting the guy behind the camera. There are many more on the site today. Everybody works.
Food on the way. Hamburgers and Hot Dogs. Each week a church has volunteered to fix the meal and serve drinks. The assigned church also provides the opening prayer and the food blessing and often a devotional at lunch time. First Presbyterian always provides the meal on the first day of build and Macland Presbyterian provides the meal for the last build day. Often the meals are donated by local restaurants. For example sometimes Papa John’s will provide free pizza dinners or perhaps Williams Brothers Bar-B-Que or Subway. Others are home cooked or maybe sandwiches. It doesn’t matter, we are so hungry you could serve worn out shoe leather and no one would complain.
This young lady is cutting insulation into strips to insulate the T’s. All of the outside walls must be insulated and no exceptions are made for small gaps. You may be able to see an insulted T in the far wall above her head. The T’s and corner posts must be insulated now because the OSB sheathing will cover much of it before the day is over. Another area to be insulated early will be the areas behind the tub enclosure before the tub goes in. Insulation can be a problem if the various inspections delay us from getting other things done. So very often a special day is set aside for a midweek day to insulate the walls. It has to be done after the house is dried in and plumbing and electrical done, but before the drywall goes up.
This is our leader, our SPM. Jeff Vanderlip, a tireless worker and hard task master. Always urging us to “have fun” then assigns us the most dreadful tasks.
This picture may look a little fuzzy but that is sawdust sprinkling down in front of Terry Barton’s face. It is particularly fine sawdust because he is using a metal cutting blade to cut a window opening – it was all he could find. I had a proper blade in my truck as did probably 5 others. Terry is our finance officer and past president of the Coalition. He is also a Master Gardner and does genetic family research on the side (or something like that). Anyway he can tell you if you are related to Napoleon or the guy you thought was a great great grand daddy but you’re not certain.
Here the house frame is being straightened and aligned with the aid of a couple of blocks of wood and a tight string. The block he is holding is positioned behind the string while others move braces inside the wall to bring the wall into perfect alignment. The technique is to put blocks at each end of the top of the wall, tightly stretch a string between them and adjust the wall to a third block that is moved between the wall and the string. The walls are virtually complete.
I was asked to capture these two together and just at that moment, one tried to get away.
There are about a hundred more pictures on the slide show and I’ve sort of randomly selected a few representative shots here. There is another slide show coming up as part of the continuing tutorial if anyone is interested in that. You would be amazed how many people visited last year’s pictures doing searches on construction such as “Hardi Plank” or “roofing” or “siding” or “framing”.
Job Well Done
Well, here is the last picture for the day. The time is 3:10 PM and everybody is gone, some 7 hours after the official start of the day. The house is sheathed, openings cut, all the walls are up and perfectly aligned, the porch beam is installed and the house is completely ready for the roof trusses that will go up next Saturday. Incidentally, the pole at the end of the house is a safety pole to hold the first roof truss as it goes up and prevent it from toppling over. The pole will remain in place until all the trusses are up and the roof completely braced and stable. There is a catwalk used for safety purposes installed over the living room that I’ve not shown. It will be in the tutorial and will come down after the trusses are in. Safety is much more important than finishing the house.
Click here or on any picture for the slide show and for access to the full sets of pictures for free downloads or for ordering prints.