Week 4 at Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity

This post summarizing our fourth week at Habitat for Humanity will be a bit shorter than my previous weekly posts for 2 reasons: 1) a significant amount of what got accomplished has already been explained in previous blog posts in relation to other houses, and 2) I have two oversized bandages on my left index and middle fingers that are preventing me from typing with any reasonable speed. The latter is a testament to my awesome construction skills and is really quite ridiculous. But, to get to it:

The first two days of the week I spent shingling the third house, working with Rick, Kathy, occasionally Tom and Tony, and some volunteers from Exit Realty who showed en masse to the help build on Wednesday. However, while we were roofing a great deal of work was getting done on the fifth house in preparation for the trusses: top and bottom plates were being made for the interior walls, sheathing (which is done using sheets of OSB) was getting nailed to the exterior wall studs, porches were getting built, and more. Because I was on the roof I unfortunately saw little of this; all I know is that there was a lot accomplished.

Come Thursday all hands were moved from other projects to prepare for the trusses being raised. I’d never witnessed this stage just prior to trusses going up so all of this was new to me but the primary task seemed to be making sure the walls were plumbed and then braced so that they wouldn’t move. Also key was the marking of side walls for where the trusses would be placed on 24 inch centers as well as the marking of rat runs. This latter job is necessary so that when the 16-foot 2×4 rat runs are nailed perpendicular to the installed trusses they maintain the correct spacing while bracing the truss from the bottom.

Then it was truss time. When we raised trusses in the previous house I’d been assigned to help carry them into the house, but this time Pete asked if I wanted to try working in the rafters nailing as they trusses were placed. Even with my not-so-awesome hammering skills, I am good enough to nail bracing into trusses but the issue was that this would involve me standing on 12-inch wide boards that are used to temporarily span the trusses. I only recently (as of August) got up the nerve to step off the extension ladder onto the roof deck but the idea of standing on boards – and in the beginning on wiggly trusses – made me really nervous. With Pete and Dyana’s help I was able to get up into the rafters, though it definitely took me until the 4th or 5th truss going in for me to become relatively comfortable up there. What helped enormously, other than the amazing initial support, was working alongside someone who could help me as I figured out how to move around comfortably; plus another board was offered so that I’d have more solid space to stand on.

Though I’ve mentioned how trusses went in on the fourth house a few weeks ago, I didn’t do much in the way of explaining procedure so a brief summary follows: As each truss was brought into the house and the two ends lifted onto the exterior side walls, Dyana would flip the point of the truss up 180 degrees for Pete and I (mostly longer-armed Pete) to grab. Tony and Dean,who were stationed at the walls, would then line up the ends to the marks on the top plates of the wall and nail the it in while Pete and I would place 22 1/2 inch spacers between the trusses and nail the top of the truss into the 16 foot boards that function as bracing. We’d then move the boards we were standing on forward to span the new truss and repeat the process.

The following day a flurry of projects began on the newly-trussed house including the building of interior walls (a task I worked on until mid-morning when the roof thawed), the nailing of hurricane clips, the continuation of rat runs, the cutting of rafter tails and the creation of sub-fascia, and the building of outlookers. There was definitely more going on though but because my knowledge of this stage of construction is more limited, I am unable to completely enlighten you. By mid-morning Thursday the roofing crew, which includes Tom, Rick, and Kathy as well as myself, was back shingling on the next house while work went forward on the fifth house. Incidentally, me being up on the roof a lot this past week has also limited my knowledge of everything going on around the site. Saturday we Care-A-Vanners were joined by a local group from Souder Miller who worked with us to continue many of the tasks from the previous day, making enormous strides towards getting the house dried in. Meanwhile we roofers spent the early morning doing some interior blocking of windows and vents in houses 3 and 4 in order to prepare for eventual drywalling before returning to shingling.

Rick and Kathy shingling with me

Rick and Kathy shingling with me

Rick and one of the volunteers from Exit Realty shingling

Rick and one of the volunteers from Exit Realty shingling

Lee pounding stakes into the ground while we work on bracing the walls

Lee pounding stakes into the ground while we work on bracing the walls

Tom and Kit laying out rat runs

Tom and Kit laying out rat runs

Tony marking the top plates for trusses

Tony marking the top plates for trusses

Print of a photo taken by local volunteer Mac. This shows a truss being swung up while Pete and I are standing in the rafters

Print of a photo taken by local volunteer Mac. This shows a truss being swung up while Pete and I are standing in the rafters

Me nailing bracing between the first and second trusses. My expression is 1 part determination and 2 parts fear of standing up there.

Me nailing bracing between the first and second trusses. My expression is 1 part determination and 2 parts fear of standing up there.

Team carrying in the trusses

Team carrying in the trusses

View down the trusses

View down the trusses

Truss Life

Truss Life

Dean nailing in trusses

Dean nailing in trusses

Pete nailing in the next truss to the bracing

Pete nailing in the next truss to the bracing

Kathy, Paula, Rick, and Dyana starting an interior wall

Kathy, Paula, Rick, and Dyana starting an interior wall

Mary nailing in a hurricane clip

Mary nailing in a hurricane clip

Deborah sawing door trimmers while a shingle delivery is going on in the background

Deborah sawing door trimmers while a shingle delivery is going on in the background

Rick and Kathy starting the next roof

Rick and Kathy starting the next roof

Rick and a volunteer from Souder Miller putting in outlookers

Rick and a volunteer from Souder Miller putting in outlookers

Look closely and you can see the teams of people building and putting up interior walls, making sub-fascia, and putting in outlookers

Look closely and you can see the teams of people building and putting up interior walls, making sub-fascia, and putting in outlookers

Kathy putting in vent blocking while we wait for the roof to de-frost

Kathy putting in vent blocking while we wait for the roof to de-frost

Evidence of my awesome construction skills. This is getting ridiculous.

Evidence of my awesome construction skills. This is getting ridiculous.

Porch column in the fire pit – how Care-a-Vanners keep warm on chilly evenings

Porch column in the fire pit – how Care-a-Vanners keep warm on chilly evenings

Finally, some spectacular morning sunrises seen while walking the dog. The Mesilla Valley is an amazing place to watch the sun come up.

Sunrise over the Organ Mountains

Sunrise over the Organ Mountains

Organ Mountains Magic

Organ Mountains Magic

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