The Roof! The Roof! (It is not on fiiireeee…)

Oh, it’s been so long. SO LONG SINCE I’VE POSTED. I’m sorry. School started up again, and while I love this project, I’ve gotta get them grades. So…let that serve as my excuse/apology/whatever, and let’s move into how difficult it is to build a roof with sub-par blueprints and a lack of basic math skills!

When you last saw me, I was cursing at rafters. That hasn’t changed much, though I’m almost done with that. Hip rafters and jack rafters, folks. Do you know what those are? Well, I’ll tell you. They are otherworldly beasts created to make you cry, hit your head, and throw 2x4s. In short, if you’re going to build a pitched porch roof over your small loft, I’d advise against it. Spring for the extra window, stick with a gabled roof, and save tons of time while keeping tons of space. That’s really the most important advice I can share with you at this time. The pitched porch area is a ridiculous design flaw that does little more than incite hatred in a first time builder while limiting storage space. (Helpful) rant over.

Ok. So, now that THAT’S out of the way…I accidentally figured out hip and jack rafters. So, the roof is ALMOST done! Oh joy! I need to let you know another reason behind the delay, though. I edited the “blueprints.” (They no longer offer any measurements, so the quotes are necessary). Since I went with the dormers on the back loft (more space, more light, better headroom) the roof pitch changes drastically from the dormer area into the roof over the main living space. When I say “drastically,” I mean that the roof pitch literally cuts the dorm entry space down to essentially nothing. You can enter it from the middle on a ladder, but that’s it. Since my master plan was to build some stairs that doubled as storage space, this just didn’t work. Then I realized:

I need taller walls.

roof25 <– Notice that extra foot of wall there. That was my plan, and it worked! (It delayed everything by weeks. But IT WORKED!)

So, with this lovely addition, my roof pitch shifted from this:


To this!

roof12 <– ooh! Ahh! And notice that little crossbeam on the right? Near the top? That’s the frame for the skylight. AHHHHHHHHH.

So, the rafters were pulled down. They were re-cut. And NOW…I have more wall space (ideal when you consider that storage is at a premium and shelving is awesome) AND my roof is a bit less dramatic. Also, a skylight will actually angle DOWN, and I probably have enough new width to put in a small ceiling fan. All of this AND I can make my storage stairs? Worth the effort. Definitely.

So…how to do rafters? My suggestion is this: prepare to be frustrated. Get some good rafter ties at Home Depot. Also get a speed square, and a little angle slider thing. I don’t know the technical name for the angle slider, but it’s a handle with a metal bar at one end that can be loosened and held against an angle. This way, if you accidentally cut something right, you can measure that angle to replicate it. Do some googling on birdsmouth cuts as well. You’ll need this. Trust me. Also, there are some arguments as to whether 2x4s or 2x6s are more appropriate for rafters. Well, I’ll weigh in here: 2x4s are cheaper, easier to work with, and seem to be less bowed (have fun picking through them. Seriously, it’s a challenge in itself). Also, we are talking about a TINY house. The standard spacing is set to 16 inches between rafters, and let me tell you…I can JUMP on the ridge beam and those rafters don’t budge. I think I’m good, unless a big group of kodiaks decides to have a dance party up there. But then I really do have bigger issues than my roof getting wobbly, don’t I?

So, on to the build. After the majority of the rafters were up (pitched front roof frustration: see “hip and jack rafters”) the plywood went on. I opted for plywood on the roof, and went with 15/32 thickness. I got a premium plywood, which means it’s not only sanded (splinterless! kind of) but it also has more layers. I opted for this over OSB just for rigidity’s sake. Then I covered it with Grace ice and water shield. A bit tougher than roofing felt, but a bit more expensive as well. It self-seals around screws, so I feel a bit better about having this under the metal I’ll eventually put up there.

just challenging my fear of heights, here. NBD.



roof4<– The view from the top. Ahhh, progress. 😀

One more for good measure (because we all know pictures are better than text):

roof20<– Those are my feet. Balancing precariously on a wall that I built myself (my first walk out here was terrifying. But I think it’s structurally sound)

Ok. So. now all I have left to do (on the roof) is to finish laying the plywood. I’ve left the edges open (see foot picture) so that I can walk gingerly between the front loft, which is still open, and the back dormer roof. This lets me work on the plywood over the dormer without having to climb a ladder and hoist myself up on the roof. Which makes me feel a bit more secure.

So. What does an almost-finished roof look like, then?

roof3<–why, it looks like GLORRRRYYY! Or, like a tarp-draped mess. Your choice. But you know which I pick.

I have fall break this week (which is 1 day off in university speak) so I intend to get the roof ready for the metal that I’m ordering. I will also start working on the trim and the windows. Then I can toss that damned tarp, which is a pain. I’m really excited! After the roof and the windows/trim, I can put up siding (which should be nothin’ after the roofing) and then I have a completed shell! WHEEE!

So, since early June, when this thing really started to happen, Ive gone from the below picture to the above, AND I haven’t flunked out of grad school. I’d say I’m not doin’ too shabbily. Thanks for reading…can’t wait to share more! (I won’t wait a month this time. Promise!)

tinytrailer1<–mere months ago. Wow. What an awesome journey!



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About wanderingartemis

Full time indecisive grad student, new owner of tiny house trailer, awkward conversationalist, vagabond wannabe, sort-of anarchist, seeker of eternal adventure

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