Roofing with Jackson

Framing the roof has been the most challenging task yet. We began with the purlins. We developed a system in which two people install them from the bucket truck. First, we load the telehandler with a stack of 2×12’s high up in the air.

Two people in the bucket truck fly over the stack and secure a bridle around one board.

One person holds onto the board so the wind doesn’t catch it as we fly it into position on the roof. Then, we carefully lower it into place with the wench.

The person in bucket #1 bolts their end to the steel brackets, and then person in bucket #2 does the same.

The boards vary in height by more than 1/4″, so we shimmed up the shorter boards to create an even surface for the plywood to lay on.

We all took turns at the purlins. Sam and I did some, Sam and Jackson did some, Jackson and I did some, John and Jackson did some. Jackson even did one by himeself.

After a few days, we had enough purlins up to start laying plywood over them. It was time for Sam and John to conquer their fears, tighten their harnesses, and pick up their nail guns.

We intended to use mostly full sheets of plywood to cover the roof, but the second sheet didn’t fit. The top edge didn’t line up with a purlin, so there was nothing to nail it to. We determined that the bracket spacing was a little off and the wood boards weren’t quite straight, causing a variable distance between purlins. The top and bottom edges of plywood need to be nailed to purlins, so we had to measure the spacing and custom cut each sheet of plywood!

We loaded the telehandler with a stack of plywood, and I set up a sawing operation in the scissor lift.

I wrote down orders from Sam and John and cut the sheets accordingly.

After cutting a sheet, Jackson picked it up from the bucket truck and lowered it into place.

This seemed like the safest and most efficient method for delivering plywood. The roof has a 10/12 pitch, so walking on it is enough of a challenge. Sam and John didn’t need to carry heavy sheets of plywood too.

Sam and John nailed the sheets down once they were in place.

The sheets of plywood are spaced with 1/8″ gaps in between. We used nails as spacers and then removed them all.

Although the plywood was an exhausting task, we had a little fun. When I couldn’t hear the numbers being shouted over the “bang bang” of nail guns, John would repeat the numbers back in a terrible American accent. Sam immediately gave up on his Australian accent and practiced some Spanish instead. “Arriba!” “mas clavos!”

We finished the West side of the roof just in time for the rain. We didn’t want the plywood to get wet and fall apart. So, we got a few rolls of plastic and started stapling it to the roof. It was already dark when we started. Sam and Jackson were halfway done when the bucket truck broke down due to some leaky valves. It was too late and dark to fix it, so Sam threw some safety lines over the roof and secured the rest of the plastic on foot!

Jackson left the next morning, and Sam and I finished preparing for the rain. It rained a lot over the next two days, but we were ready for it! The plastic stayed on the roof, and all of our wood piles stayed dry.

Over the rainy weekend, we diagnosed the leaks and fixed the bucket truck. We also got to sleep in!

Things dried out quickly, and Sam and I got back to work. We had no helpers, so we went back to purlins – a good two person job. We tackled the purlins on the East side of the roof in just 3 days. By the end, we improved our time to 4 minutes a purlin!

With the bucket truck running and the purlins complete, we were ready for a lot of plywood.

John returned from a short trip, and Jackson came back for a few more days. He even brought a helper, Aysedeniz (who was also very fond of the bucket truck).

She helped me cut plywood, Jackson resumed his position as chief bucket truck operator, and Sam and John stayed on the roof. Sam is becoming a regular roof squirrel.

With all the manpower, we were able to get through most of the remaining plywood in two days!


One thought on “Roofing with Jackson

  1. Oh, darlings, I can’t believe how this building is coming together!! You and all your friends must make up the most adorable work crew on the Planet! Casey, I just love that photo of you in the red jacket and helmet with Mt Adam in the background. Of course I am holding my breath most of the time I am reading your accounts–all those huge machines so high in the air. Your progress is just spectacular. Please take care of each other! all my love pat


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