I pride myself on being a good listener. But the whole time my
clients were describing the extensive remodel planned for their
1950s cape, I kept thinking, "If I get this job, I have to get
started soon so I can take my family camping."
We'd been planning the trip for more than a year, but there was
no way I could leave an extensive remodel in limbo for the
two-and-a-half weeks I'd be gone — especially a job that
involved ripping off the house's sloped-ceiling second floor
and replacing it with a full second story. Obviously, getting
the roof off and back on again as quickly as possible would be
critical to the project's success.
Besides a new second floor, the job included a new kitchen, a
rear deck, and a family-room addition on the back of the
Tight Schedule Rules
As soon as I got home from that initial meeting, I created an
11-week construction schedule to ensure that most of the
critical work would be done before our vacation.
The first two weeks of the project would be the most stressful
— laying the family-room foundation, completing the demo,
and getting the roof back on, all while the clients were living
in the first-floor den. My goal was to demo the existing second
story on a Tuesday, frame the new second-story walls on
Wednesday, set and sheathe the roof trusses on Thursday, and
finish installing shingles by the end of Friday.
To keep up the pace, I decided to use wall panels supplied by
the truss manufacturer. As usual, I had done the design work
for the project in Chief Architect (see Figure 1), so I
supplied the truss company with accurate drawings of both
existing conditions and the proposed construction. The company,
in turn, provided engineer-stamped drawings to submit with the
Figure 1. Plans drawn in Chief Architect
helped the clients and the building inspector visualize the
project, and were also supplied to the truss
Dealing With Debris
With a permit in hand and the roof trusses and wall panels on
order, I went about putting in the foundation for the
family-room addition and gutting the second floor in
preparation for ripping off the roof.
The site's narrow driveway meant I couldn't set a dumpster
there because it would prevent the excavation and foundation
contractors from reaching the back of the house for the
addition. Instead, I used my excavator's dump-body trailer for
the debris; it could simply be rolled out of the way when the
need arose (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Demo of the existing roof took
half a day. A dump trailer provided by the excavation
contractor handled the debris.
Tuesday: The Tearoff
Fortunately, the weather turned nice the week of the tearoff.
In keeping with the schedule, a crew of seven guys tackled the
house with bars and recip saws. By lunch, most of the structure
Using the dump-body trailer to catch the debris had another
advantage beyond mobility: The axles underneath the trailer
make it much taller than a conventional dumpster, so dropping
in material from the second-floor level was relatively
Demolishing the second floor and existing kitchen generated
about 16 tons of debris, filling the trailer three times.
Later that day, the wall panels and trusses showed up. We had
the driver drop them in the driveway as far back as he could,
so there would be room for the crane.
We spent the rest of the day cleaning up smaller debris and
adding rim joists and floor sheathing in areas that had
previously been hidden behind the cape's knee walls (Figure 3).
Though the weather looked clear, we tarped the house at the end
of the day for good measure.
Figure 3. Flooring behind the original
upstairs knee walls had to be filled in before the wall panels
could be set. Two-by-ten blocks extended the tapered joist
Wednesday: Standing Walls
The next morning, we finished patching the floor framing and
subfloor. When the crane arrived, just after lunch, we set the
wall panels and trusses for the family-room addition. Then we
had the crane lift the walls for the second story onto the
floor deck, setting them directly over a bearing wall to avoid
cracks in the finishes below (Figure 4).
Figure 4. On its first visit, the crane
lifted the second-story wall panels onto the deck. Wall framing
took a day.
Rather than keep the crane sitting around while we set the
walls, I sent the operator away, which kept the bill to a
three-hour minimum charge. This gave us the whole afternoon to
set walls, so we spent a little extra time wrapping them with
housewrap before standing them.