Tag Archives: Gray Ghosts

Habitat Build 2008 Third Day – Roofing and Siding

Saturday, May 31 was the third day of the Presbyterian Coalition, Cobb Habitat for Humanity build in 2008.  This is the seventh  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 beginning of a tutorial “ Habitat Tutorial, Preparation for Build“ which covers some of the intense preparation that goes on behind the scenes before the volunteers show up.   The third article covers the actual first day of build: Habitat Build 2008 First Day – Walls Go Up .  The fourth article is the second part of the tutorial, Habitat Tutorial – Part 2 .  Look to the right hand column of this page and find Oldtimer’s recent posts for the rest of them or to put them in order for reading.

For those of you looking for the homeless veterans or homeless youth, this is also it. Click on one the links above the banner or on either of the two links in this paragraph, or maybe check out the right sidebar.

This article covers the installation of the roof shingles, Hardi Plank siding, and various other 3d day activities.   From any slide show you can access various sizes of the prints for free download (instructions further down – “Getting Copies”).

Link to slide show – 170 pictures Click on picture or here

Link to a collection of all Habitat pictures (2007 and 2008) organized one set per day!

Getting Copies

The pictures shown here and in the slide show do not have the resolution you can get if you download them from the Flickr site.   If you are viewing a slide show containing the picture you want, 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”.    If you are looking at the mosaic of of a set for a particular day, you can click on the picture you want.    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.

The Third Day

It’s amazing what has been accomplished in the first two days!   Not only are the walls up, but the walls are all up, the roof is decked and dried in, the exterior walls are covered with OSB, the windows are in all in and all but one door has been installed.   Today the plan is to put the shingles on and get a good start on the siding.  

The day, as always, starts with an orientation for new volunteers, a pep talk, then a safety talk and an introduction of the homeowner by our SPM (Site Project Manager), Jeff Vanderlip.   If you peek through the tent above the person in the white tee-shirt, that is Jeff in the orange tee-shirt and floppy hat facing us.  You can see that a couple of workers are already on the roof even before the rest of us get started.  They are laying “starter” courses for us to work from.   More about starter courses later.

Nicole Combs is the future homeowner and also in the picture.   To the left of the tent is a man with a purple cap.  Nicole is on the far side of the picture just to the right of him.  She is also in the top picture right in front of the wheelbarrow (yellow shirt).  

And this is Elijah.  He is the son of of our future homeowner.  He has a keen interest in what is going on as he will be living here, but he is too young to work on the site.  When around, he is confined to the food tent or visiting inside after the work is done and helping clean up the property or just playing nearby.  A great kid.

Shingles!

This is essentually the way we found the roof this morning.  The starter edge courses are alrady in place and the bundles of shingles are on the peak of the roof.   The shingles you see along the edges were put there by the Gray Ghosts that I’ve mentioned a number of times in my earlier posts.    

The two people on the roof are putting on starter courses that run up the centerline of the roof in such a way that volunteers can work off each side of the centerline toward each edge of the house.  That way at least four crews of workers can work at any one time.  They’ve also started the porch roof and valley so that the valley shingles can be put in as a “weave” for good looks on the front.

To see the rest of this article and some great pictures, click here: Continue reading

Habitat Build June 15, 2007

sign for this Joi's homeWe had not expected to be working today, Friday, the last day before landscaping, but it was on the schedule just-in-case, and here we are, working.    Unfortunately the word had gotten around that we were probably not working today and many took it simply without the “probably” – not working.   Nine showed up.   That is ok, as we still accomplished what we wanted to do.  Have it ready for landscaping Saturday when lots of people show up – usually.   The goal was to finish the second coat of the inside and outside painting.   We did that.   Work continued on the soffit and aluminum fascia.   The reduced work crew slowed that down but progress was made.  It can be finished Saturday while others landscape.

Concrete Contractors

Gas Line InstallationThe poor concrete contractors had another bad day.  The first thing that happened was the gas company came in to install their line to the house.  So naturally the form left for the rest of the sidewalk came down.  The gas company backhoe quickly dug the trench and the line was installed, but the forms remained down. 

Later in the day, the graders came in to prep the lot for the volunteers.  That meant another trek across the area for the sidewalk with heavy equipment and the rest of the forms came down.   Now there is no trace of the sidewalk forms and the ground has been filled in too high so it needs to be dug out again.  The concrete contractor was not around to see the damage.  I feel pretty certain that Rickey, the contractor, has seen all this many times and allows for it.

Grading

Then the sod came and again the area was breached as pallets of sod were placed around the lot.    Let’s see:  Electrical, gas, grading, and sod across their forms.  Four times is the charm. 

 Once again I was an outside trim painter and managed to get the second coat of paint all around the house.  Looking good.   Some of the women worked both inside and outside to finish up the second coats on each.   “Pretty Boy” aka “Nine Fingers” aka “Rock Doctor” Miller put on the front shutters and did some of the cutting for the soffit installation among other things.  He is an all around can and will do whatever is needed person.

Gray Ghosts

 Gray GhostsJim Miller is one of the Gray Ghosts – an organization of mostly retired contractors and experienced builders.  The volunteers usually work Saturdays, and then the Site Project Manager puts in a call to the unofficial scheduler of the Gray Ghosts, asking if they can put them on their schedule to fix things that some volunteer didn’t do quite right, or to complete a job that must be done in order to meet inspections or to put the house back on schedule.   These men and women volunteers usually work on Wednesdays and slip in, fix things and slip back out without volunteers seeing them.  Thus when the volunteers show up again the next weekend and wonder how that wall, porch or roof got fixed, the answer is “it must have been a ghost”.

SPM’s work on one house at a time, but the Gray Ghosts work on any house that needs it, so sometimes they split up and work on several different homes and sometimes they finish one job and then start on another house.   The Ghosts work on a purely volunteer basis.   If one has something else pressing on a particular Wednesday, he or she simply doesn’t show up and no call is made and no excuses needed.  Yet there always seem to have enough.   The Ghosts do not answer to the Habitat for Humanity organization, but are so well respected and so useful to the cause, that one can call for a door or other supply need and someone from Habitat will bring it right out.  They usually have access to anything they need and often buy lumber or other material and submit receipts for reimbursement without question.

Many of the Gray Ghosts are SPMs themselves both here in Cobb and also in the surrounding counties.  Jim has built so many Habitat houses, he likely doesn’t know  the count.  They are truly dedicated special people.

The slide show for today is here or click on any picture above.

Tomorrow:  Landscaping!

Habitat Build 2007 Slide Show and Pictures

May 6th, 2007 · No Comments

PCCH Habitat LogoPresbyterian Coalition Habitat for Humanity Slide Show of all the pictures made by Oldtimer at the Dinner on the Slab, May 4, 2007.

Slideshow:  Dinner on the Slab

Presbyterian Coalition Habitat for Humanity Slide Show of all the pictures made by Oldtimer on the First Day of Build, May 5, 2007

Slideshow: First Day of Build 

Slideshow: Second Day of Build   May 12, 2007

PCCH Website

The morning started out just like last week.  It had rained hard overnight, but the site was not particularly muddy and very little water remained on the concrete slab.   As usual we had our pep talk, our safety talk and our introductions to the crew leaders.   These little talks are needed each time because there are always new people showing up that could not get there on previous build days.

The goal for the day was to safely put up the roof trusses, deck  and tarpaper the roof, wrap the house and install all the windows and doors.    Short summary:  Mission almost accomplished.  The deck didn’t get finished and it is not tarpapered.

First Truss installedFirst truss Someone had come in during the previous week and put up safety poles at one end of the house.  Probably Jeff, the Site Project Manager (SPM) and the “Gray Ghosts”.   That allows the first roof trust to have something to rest against and to tie to because it is the key to having all the trusses line up properly as they go up.  All the other trusses are tied back to the first one.  Thus the safety poles serve to stabilize the trusses all the way across and assure none of them fall over and start a deadly domino reaction.    The Gray Ghosts, by the way are an organized group, usually retired builders and handymen, that come in mid week and repair anything that is put up wrong and/or was not finished.  They are volunteers that work one or two days a week to make cetain that builds proceed smoothly.   Since they are usually unseen by the volunteers, they are in effect ghosts.   They usually come at the invitation of the SPM. 

The trusses were shipped stacked and nailed together.   I had the job of separating them and marking the trusses for alignment purposes.  That consists of making a mark on one end of each truss at the 14 inch mark for the purpose of setting the overhang.   Each truss also had a mark at 47 inches from each outside edge of the slope for the purpose of setting the first 4×8 row of decking boards.

“Wyze Guys” The first truss was lifted by a crew of 6 or 7 people and one end slid up onto the front wall using the forked “Ys”  poles shown next to the window.   Jeff likes to call the pole holders “Wise/Wyze Guys”.   Often the Wise Guys were women.  The truss is shoved forward and the poles moved back as the truss went over the wall.   Some Wise Guys went inside and helped lift the truss over obstacles such as interior walls until the truss spanned the entire house.   One person at the other end was positioned to align the 14 inch mark with the wall.   Men on the inside lifted the truss into position on the wall and against the safety pole and then shifted as necessary to get the proper alignment.  The truss rests outside of the blocking put in the previous week and firmly against the poles.

nailing the first truss to the safety poleFinally it was nailed securely into place.   Each of the remaining trusses were hefted up in a similar fashion.  One “safety man” had the job of making sure that no one working on the top side was caught between an incoming truss and walls or trusses already in place.  Thankfully no one got hurt.    Special jigs hold the tops of the trusses exactly two feet apart and keep them from falling over.   Usually long 1×4 boards are nailed truss to truss across the top edge to ensure they do not separate or fall over.   These are removed as the decking 4×8 sheets of OSB go up.  This year we also had metal truss spacers that remain permanently.

truss spacers in placeThe picture at the left shows the spacer jigs on the first two trusses and the smaller metal truss spacers on the rest.   1×4 boards were added later as the number of trusses began to worry us about safety.   If one of these trusses fall over they might all fall over and someone would definitely get badly hurt.   We don’t take chances on Habitat builds.

The last trussThe last truss. The last truss was lifted entirely from the outside of the building.  I think this is the most dangerous point of any build.   The last truss is heavier than all the others due to the added OSB on the end, and it has to be raised straight up into position.  The technique is to get it positioned below the wall and then lift it to the top of waiting stepladders.   Wise Guys steady the truss against the wall and the ladder men climb the ladders to get a higher grip.  Finally the whole thing is lifted into position.  It could easily slip off the 1.5 inch ledge it sits on and it could also easily tip too far toward the other trusses and leverage itself off the ledge or with real tragic results tip backward and fall on the whole crew.   Thankfully it went smoothly. 

The truss is firmly nailed along the blocking on that end of the house and the tops joined with spacer jigs and then 1×4 boards tieing them firmly together.

Marking StudsOther things going on.  Even before the first truss went up, there was a crew set up to wrap the house in a waterproof wrap.  In this case Tyvek.  It seems as if it is a rule that this stuff always goes on upside down.   It actually depends on which direction you choose to wrap the house.   Right to left, right side up.  Left to right, upside down.  Guess which way everyone goes.    Once the wrap is started, another crew begins marking the studs on the edge of the slab and marking vertical lines on the wrap.  These are so the siding nailers can Window being installedfind the studs easily.    Also once the wrap is started, the window installers go to work.  Each window is set into place and nailed in.  Then someone comes behind them and puts on vertical and horizontal strips of tape to seal the window edges from any chance of  leaking.  There is a strict procedure on the order of installing the strips.

Decking  A deck crew is started on each end of the house.  It starts with two people working within the trusses reach down to pull up 4×8 sheets of decking.   The placement of the first sheet is critical.  It determines the angle at which the entire roof runs from one side to the other.  Get it a 1/8 of an inch too high on one end and by the time you put 8 sheets down, the roof is a full roof deckinginch out of alignment on the other end.   Several attempts to use the 47 inch marks (gives 1 inch overhang) gave bad alignment due to the rafters being shifted ever so slightly from one to the next.  Finally a string was snapped from one end to the other and the first sheet was properly aligned on that.   The decking proceeds from one end of the house to the other, then by rows above that.  Soon there are 4 to 6 people on the roof working above the first row.

close up of the actionThe porch and storage/laundry roofs use small trusses that span their length.  Once the trusses get to the edge of the main roof, the remainder of these smaller roofs are “stick built”, meaning they are constructed using hammer and nail.   Once a deck is completed a crew begins covering it with tarpaper.   We didn’t get that far today.

The porch beam got another “do-over” because one was cut a little too short and the other was cut a little too long.    A little work with a saw-all by Jim Miller fixed it all up.

picture from PCCHThis Oldtimer cut out about here (picture above), with the roof less than half decked.  The previous week I was so pooped I could hardly keep my eyes open going home.  Sorry guys I left a little early.  Boss’s orders.  You don’t keep a bride 48 years without knowing when to say OK!

There are 35 photos from build day 2 in the slide show at the link at the beginning of this piece.   Take a look. The two earlier slide shows are also linked in case you missed them.  The last (end of day) picture came from the PCCH website blog.

Our next build on May 19th, 2007.  If you are in the Cobb County, Georgia area, come on by.  We can shore put you to work.   We will teach you how to roof and side a house.  Shingles and Hardi Plank lessons here!  Go to the PCCH website for directions and map.

Click to see all Habitat Articles by Oldtimer