A Roof!

Image: A roof on our cabin.

Friday, November 13th we finally got the roof on our cabin. For some people, this may have been considered an unlucky day, but for us, it was a very lucky one indeed!

Getting the roof on our cabin has been a real struggle for us. The work was heavy and difficult, with lots of long reaches. I kept wishing I was 6 feet tall and big and muscular, not a 120 lb, 5’5″ scrawn! One of the big crux points was getting the main roof beams up – two 24′ long engineered beams weighing approximately 150 lbs each. Little did I know that this was only the beginning of our difficulties!

I cannot say enough good things about the kindness of friends. If it had not been for the help of a number of good people, we would not be where we are now. The wonderful assistance we received began with the installation of the main roof beams, and continued through to the completion of the roof.

Prior to getting the roof beams up, Ken and I had built the cabin walls up to the gables, and had reinforced the gables so that we could slide the beams up along the gable edges and into the notches at the peak of the gables. This sounds relatively easy, but the beams are very heavy and awkward. And it rained, often heavily, throughout the day as we worked to get the job done. However, with the assistance of a friend, three of us managed to “walk” the beams up the sides of the gables using ropes and blocks. A very interesting process … the first beam took a couple of hours to get up, as we pondered techniques and devised a system that worked. We had the second beam in place in half an hour!


Image: Main roof beams installed.

I thought the going would be easy once the main beams were up. Little did I know the struggle we would have! The rafters were heavy and difficult to put into position. In many places, a combination of both scaffolding and step ladders was not quite enough to reach the highest points where the rafters needed to be hung. Ken and I struggled along on our own, standing on our tip toes and trying to hit nails high above our heads. Eventually, we got all the rafters up, but there were lots of little imperfections in the job. And it rained! Heavy drenching rain that soaked the exposed floor of the cabin and ran in rivulets down the pine walls.


Image: Rafters in position.

And we had not yet done the highest and most difficult part … there was the strapping and the metal still to do. Although I used to rock climb wen I was younger, a serious ear infection some years ago left me with vertigo, and I no longer enjoy heights like I once did. However, I strapped on my climbing harness, tied myself in, and went to work on the strapping. Ken kept busy handing me up 2″x4″‘s, screws, and pieces of equipment, while I crawled around every part of the roof, screwing down the strapping. At one point, I was leaning over the peak of the roof, stretched spread-eagle on the rafters, wondering what craziness had gotten me into this! We got the job done, but when I stepped down off the roof and unclipped my harness, my knees nearly buckled. I knew we would have to ask for help in getting the metal up on the roof and screwed down. There was just no way the two of us were going to manage it by ourselves. I could barely lift one of the metal sheets, and in the nearly constant rain, the rafters and strapping were slippery, making handling metal sheets a difficult proposition.


Image: The roof with strapping.

I think this was a real low point for us in our project. We were both exhausted, we were facing a task that we knew we couldn’t manage on our own, and we were thoroughly depressed as we watched the cabin get soaked and worried about the damage the water was doing to the wood. One of our neighbours is a contractor, and we contacted him. I was happy to pay someone to help us at this point, but what actually happened was an amazingly uplifing event – a “roof-raising”. On Friday, November 13th, a work party of four of our neighbours showed up. They organized us, lifted our spirits, and just as they started to work on the roof, the rain stopped. Suddenly our days of demoralizing struggles with wet weather and scary heights was over – before the sun had set, the six of us, working together, had the roof completed. Wow! I am so thankful for friends!