Notes from Windward: #61


Cabin Construction - Step 2

On a good day, Windward's a 45 minute drive west of our county seat, so it can take a while to get a building inspector to make the run up to check on work that needs review before the next stage of work can proceed. We recently came up on that situation on a Friday afternoon, and this page is a product of how we handled the situation.

Klickitat is a rural county that's about 40 miles north to south, and a hundred miles east to west. With a population of only about 18,000 souls, the number of county employees is correspondingly small as well, and that's a lot of ground for the staff of our local building department to cover. They are usually pretty quick to respond to a request for an inspection, but sometimes, and especially during the late summer when everyone is trying to finish up projects in anticipation of the coming fall rainy season, well sometimes you just have to wait.

In this case, we were to the point where the framing was in place for the floor deck for the cabin, and it needed to be inspected before we could go ahead and nail down the 3/4" tongue-and-groove flooring. Once that was in place, it would be really hard to make any changes to the floor support, so the framing needed to be inspected and approved before we proceeded.

The problem was that it was early Friday afternoon, and there was no way that we could reasonably ask the building inspector to run up. Faced with having to wait until the next time he'd be in our area, which would have been the next Tuesday, we came up with an alternate solution.

Grabbing the digital camera, we took these pictures of the work and uploaded them to the website. Then it was an easy enough matter for the inspector to pull them up on his computer there in the office, review the work done, and point out anything that needed doing before we proceeded.

In this case, the only thing that we'd left undone was the installation of a sheet of 6 mil black plastic on the ground under the flooring which was needed to act as a moisture/vapor barrier. Once the plastic was in place, we were good to go, and by the end of the weekend the underfloor was nailed down.

We're pretty excited about this new way to conduct interim inspections. Since we're "build-it-yourselfers" we really value the input we get from the planning department and the inspectors. While it may be a hassle to figure out the code and comply with it at times, but the process is worth it to us because of the reassurance that comes from knowing that the end product is right and will perform for us for the long haul. It's expensive enough to do it right the first time; it's way too expensive to have to do it over again.

This is a shot of the foundation before Brad started installing the floor joists. The short wall down the middle of the cabin is called a "pony wall," and it's there to support the middle of the floor.


This shot shows the treated sill that has been bolted down to the foundation using "J-bolts" which where cast in place when the foundation was poured. This shot is important because it shows that treated wood was used for the sill, since the code requires that any wood in direct contact with concrete be treated to prevent dry-rot.


This shot features a close up of the middle of the pony wall which incorporates a section of treated 4x6 beam. This post is there to take the load which will be exerted by a similar beam that will continue on up to provide support for the center of the roof.


The support for the flooring was built using 12' long 2x10's which overlapped each other as they passed over the supporting pony wall. This was much stronger that if we had cut each board to one half the width of the cabin and butted them up against each other over the pony wall.


The outside 2x10's had to be butt joined, i.e. set end to end, so inorder to strengthen that joint, an additional 2x10 was nailed on so as to span the place where the two outer boards met. Also, blocking (the small pieces of 2x10 that are nailed in perpendicular to the joinsts) was inserted in order to strengthen the part of the floor that will take the weight of the log walls.


This close-up shows the way that the joists are overlapped, and the double blocking method that we used. Code requires that the joists be blocked in order to make sure that the floor joists can't twist under the weight of the floor, and this is an example of how we often go beyond to code minimums when building. This double blocking had a nifty symetry to it and really seemed like the right way to go. Since we're working for ourselves, we often do a bit extra just because we want to make sure that the work is the best that we can do.


This last bit of detail shows a mini-header. It sits on top of the short 2x6 post in the pony wall, and will handle the weight of the center roof support.


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