Breaking Ground

After years of dreaming, and months of planning the ground breaking day finally arrived and construction of mom and dad's new home was finally under way in June, 2010. 

This blog will document the story of the construction of my parent's new home and highlight the details and systems that make it energy efficient, affordable to build and to operate.

A little help from their friends

With a little help from their friends, mom and dad shingled the roof, painted the trim and installed cedar shingles on the workshop during the first few weeks of September, 2009. Soon after they began moving in items to be stored as they undertook the long process of sorting through 35 years worth of personal possessions in their old home to decide what would survive the move and what had to go.
North elevation of the workshop
Northwest corner of the workshop

Mom shingling the roof
Mom and her sister shingling the roof
Northwest corner with Airstream
Dad flashing around the chimney
Dad painting the soffit
Mom installing cedar shingles

One of the first things to go into the workshop was the kitchen cabinets and granite countertop mom and dad purchased from the ReStore in January 2009. This kitchen had come from a home in Falmouth and was donated to the ReStore when that home was being remodeled. The cabinets were in perfect condition and the granite was beautiful, and only minor modifications were required to the design of the house to accommodate them.

Getting Started

Driveway staked out
Mom and dad clearing the site

We decided to build the workshop building before making a start on the house, for storage during construction of the house and to facilitate the move since it looked like it might be necessary for mom and dad to sell their old house before construction would be complete on their new home. In the interest of saving money, and because they actually enjoy doing this kind of stuff, mom and dad cleared the workshop site of a few small trees and brush, and also planned to install the roofing and siding on the building. 

Site Plan

Starting in July, 2009 the sitework contractor built the access drive into the site and brought in a small amount of fill to create a level pad for the workshop.  This 24’ x 20’ building was designed with the same detailing as the main house exterior, and utilized advanced framing techniques to make the most efficient use of framing lumber and eliminate redundancy.

For more details on advanced framing techniques see this article on The strategies employed in this simple rectangular building with a shed roof are:
  • Framing at 24" on center
  • Align roof rafters with wall studs for direct transfer of loads
  • Single top-plates
  • Reduce header sizes in non-load-bearing walls
  • Two-stud exterior corners
North elevation of workshop
Northwest corner of workshop

It took about 3 weeks to get the foundation walls and floor slab poured, walls and roof framed and the entire building sheathed. The contractor also installed building paper and roof underlayment, exterior trim and installed exterior doors and windows. The 4 windows and person-door were recycled items purchased from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Portland. The large double-door on the north side of the building was custom-built by the contractor.