Up On The Roof

November 28th, 2007 by Mary Schmelzer

Why I’m not a Roofer

This photo shows why I’m not a roofer. Gary Duden, our contractor, is standing on the top of the roof, straddling two trusses, and giving instruction for the roof sheathing being applied. Yikes! It is very fun to watch the crew’s agility that far from the ground. Some of the sheathing is being applied before the top gable goes on. With November weather unpredictable, Duden & Viken are trying to protect as much area as possible.

Gable Trusses Installed

The west gable end has been attached and the sheathing is being applied to the north face. The north and south faces are each one broad stroke and the east and west ends have the hip broken by an open gable. This arrangement allows for the pitch we desired: it will allow solar panels on the south with the proper angle to the sun, and also allow for ample attic storage (I’m already mentally filling that space). The heat plant will also be housed in the attic.

Front view with roof framing

The new view from the street of the front of the house. It is a terrific time of year for this photo: no snow and no leaves. The front of the house will be covered by foliage most of the year with the trees we have to the east. We are already seeing quite a bit of sun falling on the south slope of the roof, for a large portion of the day. Maybe we can talk the crew into allowing us to take our Solar Pathfinder (the tool we use to estimate solar optimization) up in the lift and re-check our earlier calculations.

Shingles on the South Slope

Shingles! We’re thinking the house looks like a big box, but it will look more house-like again when the openings are cut out and the windows installed. Oh yeah, and when it isn’t sea green anymore…and doesn’t look like we are the Tyvek family.

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Northfield Zoning Could Prevent This

November 18th, 2007 by Peter Schmelzer

Linden Street, Between St. Olaf Avenue and Greenvale Avenue

Neighborhoods have a fabric that binds them together, making them desirable places to be. Variation in the fabric creates charm and interest; tears in the fabric damage its integrity.

Here is Linden Street North in Northfield. It is a street lined with modest homes, most of which are one-story ramblers with a basement. These homes seem well sized for their lots; appropriately separated from each other.

Linden Street Duplex

Here is a recent duplex built where a similar rambler once stood. These buildings are right next to those above. In my option, this is a tear in the neighborhood fabric.

This is exactly the stuff Minneapolis neighborhoods recently reacted against.

Consider these aspects of the neighborhood and the difference between the ramblers and the duplex:

  • Approachable Front Doors
  • Relationship to the Street
  • Importance of the Automobile
  • Importance of Community
  • Storm water runoff
  • Green space
  • Pedestrian experience
  • Minneapolis revised their zoning ordinance to encourage more traditional forms and to simply limit the size of the building allowed on a residential lot. They did this in a few ways.

    FAR, or floor area ratio, was limited to 0.5. This means that for a 5,000 square-foot lot, the maximum house size is limited to 2,500 square feet total. 2,500 is still a fair sized home, much larger than the average existing home in Minneapolis.

    Home height was also limited to 30 feet instead of 35 feet. This resists the seemingly common desire for newer homes to tower over existing neighbors.

    Incentives were offered for detached garages, which do not count toward the FAR. Front porches and other traditional detailing earn points toward complying.

    And “natural grade” was defined, requiring minimal changes to the grading a lot had before changes. This was designed to prevent two-story houses from rising too far out of the ground which creates a high building mass. The idea was to promote traditional basements instead of “look-out” basements.

    For the specifics, see the Minneapolis Zoning Code, Title 20, Section 546.240.

    The Minneapolis zoning ordinance was revised in June 2007; time will tell if these changes have protected the character of Minneapolis residential neighborhoods. Northfield should be proactive in changing its zoning codes to likewise protect itself.

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    When Architects Mini-Golf

    November 18th, 2007 by Peter Schmelzer

    Golfing Architects 01 Golfing Architects 02 Golfing Architects 03 Golfing Architects 04

    I spent Tuesday and Wednesday at the Minnesota AIA Conference in Minneapolis. AIA Minnesota does a fine job putting together the conference. Here are some shots of a few of the mini-golf holes designed for the event; not your run-of-the-mill holes, are they?

    But, it’s not fair to show only the fun at the convention. The bulk of my time was spent on the serious (and fun) business of architecture, continuing education, and keeping up with the latest products and services available in the building industry.

    Tuesday morning started with a course on ethics in the profession. The speaker compared the AIA’s code of ethics with that of the Bar Association and the Medical Association. Interestingly enough, the AIA’s code didn’t shine in comparison; this actually ticked me off. Fertile ground for more development. Anyway, part of the discussion dealt with whether architects should be licensed. Yes, the speaker suggested, the science of architecture should be licensed since that aspect deals with health and safety. No, the art of architecture should not be licensed, because art must transcend the scientific. Very engaging conversation, just the stuff to get me going in the morning.

    Next I attended a review of energy-efficient masonry wall design, just the technical stuff that should be licensed.

    Mayor RT Rybak spoke briefly at the AIA Members’ Congress and we heard from the president of the AIA, too. The luncheon proved to be a fine time to reconnect with past co-workers and colleagues. Then we heard from Robert Ivy, editor of Architecture magazine, regarding the state of architecture worldwide: it is the best of times and the worst of times.

    Wednesday was filled with models of architectural practice, Minneapolis’ zoning changes to resist “monster homes” (upon which I’ll post later), modern eco-homes, and a chance to visit with suppliers and manufacturers on the exhibit hall floor.

    It was a welcome opportunity to learn more about how to serve you better, from the technical to the artistic.

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    Progress on 2nd Street

    November 18th, 2007 by Peter Schmelzer

    Kitchen Counter

    The kitchen and bathroom cabinets are in place on Second Street. Nerstrand Custom Cabinets made and installed them; now Northfield Construction is finishing the carpentry work.

    Kitchen Desk

    The Owners are very excited to move in, which is targeted for later this month.

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    Crane tickles treetops

    November 18th, 2007 by Peter Schmelzer

    Crane tickles the treetops

    Here is a shot of the crane lifting the trusses into place. Blessed as our lot is with mature trees, the operator had to reach for the stars to get the trusses properly positioned.

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    A Roof Over Our Heads…Sort Of

    November 18th, 2007 by Mary Schmelzer

    Roof is framed

    Now we have the start of a roof. The construction crew set the small trusses earlier with a lull (lift) and then the large end wall trusses and the tall trusses through the center went on with a crane. The crane was on site for only a few hours, and did its job quite quickly. The remaining trusses will go on with man power and the lull. Because some of the trusses were too large to ship assembled, some carpentry happened before the crane lifted them into place.

    Roof framing from the mudroom entry

    With this view you begin to get a sense of how the roof is a hip from all four sides and then it has a long gable set atop. It is hard to envision until it will actually be shingled. Everyone is holding his/her breath for good weather. It will be good to have it protected from the weather.
    Running around in the new second floor

    Saturday we all climbed the ladder to our new bedroom floor. You can get a sense for how large the windows will be from the opening. We had a good time pointing out where the new walls dividing bedrooms, closets and the new bathrooms will be. The large storage attic will be great! We can store out-of-season clothing, Christmas decorations, memorabilia, etc. without having to squirrel around the knee-wall height closets we had previously.

    Which reminds me: we had a funny squirrel running around the attic framing this morning. He checked it all out, then raced around the scaffolding on the outside of the second floor walls. He looked like he was lost at the mall and couldn’t find his way back out. Squirrels in the attic weren’t so funny about this time last year….we’re going to love that new roof!

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    Second Floor–Going Up!

    November 18th, 2007 by Mary Schmelzer

    Sheathing on the second floor walls

    Now our second floor walls have the OSB sheathing. They’ve covered up the framed-in windows. This is to keep the weather out as long as possible. It certainly has a cubist look to it without a sense of roof shape, windows or other detailing.

    Tyvek going on

    On the north side (right in the photo) you can see the Tyvek house wrap going over the sheathing. It was fun to watch them apply it: they had a man stand on the lift and unroll the Tyvek while the driver guided the platform along the side of the house and at a level with the second floor.

    It is interesting to now get a feel for the volume the complete second floor provides. Will the house be taller? Yes, definitely. Will it be the tallest in the neighborhood? No, the two across the street will still be taller. Much of the roof structure will be hidden when the trees are leafed out, but now is a good time to see the form of the roof as it starts getting built.

    Gary and Matt have put their sign in the window so if you drive by, you’ll know which house is being worked on!

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