Inner Scaffold Down


Today we removed all of the interior scaffolding from our tiny cottage. At one point I hit the cross tensioning rebar that is yet to be encased in cement. It rang the drum of the roof in a most incredible manner! Now I know what it is like to be inside a drum! At first we didn’t know what had happened. The vault is about 16′ of curve by 20′ long so it is an very deep bass note. Being inside the drum made it so the sound came from everywhere. It was very wild!

Getting the scaffolding down was wonderful. We cleared out the interior and finally got to see the inside of the house. Wow! 12′ cathedral ceilings! With the wood in the way we hadn’t yet gotten a chance to really appreciate the spaciousness of the cottage. Either we were working up above the scaffold planking in the attic or down below with mere 8′ ceilings with lots of cross beams and diagonals to watch out for when moving about.

Removing all that wood also made the space much brighter. One thing our tiny cottage won’t be lacking is light. We have more window space in the tiny cottage than in our old farm house. From the dinner table in the middle of the common room you can look east, south and west out six big windows and a glass door. I anticipate that this will mean less use of electric lighting – a nice side benefit. For much of the day we had the door and a window open, thus the low temperature reading. Having the construction plastic off let us finally see outward through windows at the beautiful view of the new upper pond.

Note for future: before pouring roof put down drapes to catch drips of cement to save on cleanup time. We did this in the second half of the vault and it makes a big difference! Burlap bags work great. Then roll them up, take them outside and shake them – don’t breath in.

In the back wall of the photo above you can see some spray in foam that we did between blocks. Since we dry stacked and then poured and steel reinforced the cores with PVA fiber concrete there are some airy cracks between blocks. The exterior insulation does stop the drafts, for the most part, but I’ve decided to also spray foam in between the blocks to get a tight seal. The trick is to chew flat the end of the straw on the can of foam so it can inject in-between the blocks better. Later we’ll shave any excess foam before parging the blocks and then doing the plaster work. Even though the parge would fill the cracks superficially I am doing the foam because it penetrates deeply between the blocks unlike the cement parge.

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In the attic space of the back wall, and the front wall, there is still the pink foam board that we used for the end wall arch forms to build the roof. This will come down but I’m leaving it there for now for the insulation value. Soon our house will have no pink inside – That will be a visual relief! I’m not fond of pink or pastel paints for my walls. Fortunately we all agree on that. The previous owner of the farm house had painted it an assortment of pastel shades, different in every room. The kids refer to the kitchen as puke green. That and the bathroom are the two room Holly and I never got around to repainting in the last seventeen years. Different tastes I suppose…

In the photo above you can see the inner 661010 Welded Wire Mesh (WWM) that shaped the form of the roof. This will come down at some point and be reused on another roof. Their purpose is to support the expanded metal lath which traps the concrete we packed onto the roof. There are a couple of pieces of WWM I may leave in place within the ceiling inner parge of cement and plaster because they are so embedded in the roof. Of note, over a 14′ wide span it is better to have three or four layers of the WWM to create a strong smooth curve and it is best when they bridge beyond the ridge beam. I had one spot where that didn’t happen, at one of my hatches, that ended up a bit ugly on the bottom. The top of the curve is correct so it’s still strong. Fortunately that spot will be hidden by a partition wall that comes up to it above the woodstove.

Our next project is to build the forms that will support the wirework for doing the ferro cement attic floor over the bathroom (where Holly is sweeping) and master bedroom (to the right of her) as well as the loft in the front for the kids’ bedroom which will feature built in shelves.

Outdoors: 32°F/19°F Overcast, Sprinkle of Snow
Farm House: 57°F/53°F no fire
Tiny Cottage: 50°F/45°F low due to window & door open most of day

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About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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6 Responses to Inner Scaffold Down

  1. Danielle says:

    Wow Walter that hi ceiling really does make it look roomy. It is hard to beleive it is really so small as you have described before. Looking good keep us posted with pics!

  2. LJB says:

    It’s been exciting and educational to watch your progress, Walt. I hope you’ll host an open house one day — I’d love to come see it when it’s fully functioning. Three cheers to you and your family.

  3. Erica + Dan in Maine says:

    Thanx for all the details as you construct! We are going to buy land and build next year and want to do something like this. We don’t need a big place. Really like what youve done. Are you considering selling plans? We would be interested.

  4. Deb says:

    Just got the windows for my house delivered yesterday; I was thinking about going conservative on glass space, but here in the northern latitudes a lot of low-e glass does a lot of good in winter, and it lifts the spirits!

  5. Farmerbob1 says:

    I just realized something, Walter.

    You say you dry-stacked the blocks. As in, they were not mortared together before you filled them with concrete? I always thought you had mortared them together before filling them, and used foam between blocks because that would be hard to fill with a wall-pour.

    So, I’m guessing that you used wooden forms to hold the blocks in place? How did you hold the wooden form walls in place? Just braces, or were the lower layers of block mortared to the foundation?

    • We did mostly dry stacked as in: stack the blocks on top of each other, pour concrete down the center cores and stick in rebar vibrating it to fill the cores completely. No wooden form was necessary to hold the blocks in place – they stayed in place and aligned due to gravity and friction. We did this in sections – a few feet of height at a time and letting that cure before working above it.

      I also did some places of mortared such as the chimney duct behind the wood stove.

      We also parged the surface of some of the try stacked and some of the mortared with various mixes of adobe style sand-cement fiber parges to experiment. This let us learn for future projects including the butcher shop.

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