The first step in lopping off the bump-out is supporting the structure. As it turns out, the bump-out is not very well engineered. The roof of the house is supported by the North and South walls. In the case of the bump-out, the 2×6 ceiling joists have a clear span of about 14′ from the partition wall near the center of the house to the outside of the bump-out wall. There is a 2×4 flat across these joists that the rafters are notched into. A 2×6 is simply not strong enough to support any kind of load at a 14′ span. More alarming still is the fact that the walls of the bump-out are not framed well from a structural standpoint, with the window intersecting all but one of the bearing studs and, of course, no proper headers.

Bump-out ceiling structure

I framed a new section of exterior wall, including partial sheathing. Normally I would have just assembled the framing and put the sheathing on after it was in place, but there isn’t much space inside the bump-out to work once this wall is up. I left out the bottom of the sheathing because the last pieces of sheathing will also need to cover the ends of the floor joists after we cut them back, as well as the top corner so we can pass the windows back into the second floor after we remove them. If I was smarter, I would have put the gap in the middle course of sheathing so I’d have a nice doorway, but I’m not and I didn’t. As I mentioned in my previous post, the plan is to disassemble the bump-out from the inside, so I don’t have to spend a lot of time way up on top of a ladder, handling heavy chunks of house.

Framing and sheathing the new wall

Getting this section of wall tipped into place proved vastly more difficult than anticipated, because of the ceiling joists. In the center of the bump-out, the ceiling joists were sagging almost a half inch lower than the sides, simply because of the weight they were carrying. I didn’t want to frame the wall section short enough to fit, so instead I fought a contest of wills with the mostly-upright wall section and the ceiling joists, trying to hammer the section completely vertical without completely destroying it. I employed a number of methods to get it into position, including cutting the undersides of the bowed joists with a circular saw, using another stud to jack up the joist, and finally using two 3′ pry bars at the same time while kicking at the sill plate to get it the last inch into position.

I went into my weekend thinking I’d have the wall up in a few hours, and instead it took both days. I didn’t even get it screwed into place until Monday evening. Even then I needed to use an array of clamps to get the sides aligned before I screwed it in. This is unfortunately how this project seems to go with some frequency. Hope springs eternal: maybe I can get the new sistered rafters into place with a bit less struggle.

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