With the bump-out gone, we’ve decided that the next project is to replace the front porch. Given the state of the house, this may seem a bit out of order, but as usual there’s a method to our madness. While we have a lot of work to do on the interior, we want to finish the exterior of the house so that we don’t wind up with (more) water damage on the inside, especially on new stuff we’re putting in. The top of that list is replacing the roof and fascia (we don’t have soffits). Before we can do that we want to take the hips off the gables, so we can put a bigger window in the front of the attic and a door at the back (fire code egress requirements). The new front porch will be covered, meaning it’s going to have its own roof and fascia. So the first reason to do the porch first is that it means we can get all of the roofing and fascia done at the same time. If we follow that on with the second floor windows and back door, we can also do the trim, siding, gutters, and downspouts, which would go a long way to improving our life in the basement, just from a humidity standpoint. Once the outside of the house is done, I can go back to the second floor and level the subfloor, replace the attic joists, and frame out the structure, walls, attic stairs, and so on.

House rendering with porch

The other advantage to replacing the porch first is that will work as scaffolding on the front of the house, where we have four very large windows to replace. By building the ceiling frame of the porch before the roof line, we’ll have a flat platform from which to rebuild the second floor bay, which uses the same decorative sheathing as the first floor and needs to be rebuilt before it can accommodate the new windows. Plus while we’re at it we can take off all the siding on the front of the house and the flashing details of the windows can be done correctly. So, in short the plan for the porch is to work our way up, building and taking off siding as we go. When the windows are replaced, we’ll finish the porch roof framing, and then get all of the roofing, trim, fascia, and siding done at once.

With that worked out, the first step to building the new porch (other than planning) is to take down the old one!

 

With the walls gone, the only thing left of the bump-out was the floor. That’s not to say that was the only thing left to do for this project, because there were also large holes in the side of the house and exposed plywood. One of the last things we did when removing the walls was to put the upper corner piece of sheathing on. That hole had served as the primary means of getting in and out of the bump-out. Unfortunately, I realized I’d missed a step, so we wound up taking it back off.

Bottom sheathing temporarily attached

The missed step was to cut the pieces of sheathing that would cover the bottom of the wall and the exposed ends of the floor joists. These pieces couldn’t be fit until the floor was gone, but from the outset I knew I didn’t want to haul them up a ladder. Instead, I cut them and Sarah helped hand them through the re-opened hole so I could screw them to the wall just above where they would fit. That way, once the floor was gone I could simply take out the two screws and lower them into place. I measured the size of the opening at both corners and made sure to leave about a quarter inch extra.

Upper house wrap installed, starting removal of joists

The next step was to put on the house wrap on the upper portion of the wall while I still had a nice platform to put a ladder on. Normally, house wrap is put on bottom-up, because it’s ship-lapped with each layer overlapping the one below. I put on the middle piece first, leaving the bottom foot or so unstapled, then put on the top piece normally. Then I taped the seams, which honestly makes me question why it’s ship-lapped at all, but whatever. The bottom house wrap would have to wait until the bottom sheathing was in place.

My trusty cheap Harbor Freight reciprocating saw

I was concerned that cutting off the joists nice and straight at the right spot was going to be tricky, but a new blade on the reciprocating saw is a marvelous thing. It was easier than expected, and soon I was ready to fit the first of the two pieces of sheathing on. Of course, it didn’t fit. I must not be a very good carpenter, or at measuring, or something, because I swear it never fits. I use a clamped guide when I cut, I measure multiple times in multiple places, but it still never fits. Some of this I attribute to the old wonky house, where nothing is straight, but this seemed pretty consistent when I measured.

Right side joists removed

In any case I then had to maneuver the piece of sheathing onto the remaining joists so I could trim a quarter inch off of it, at which point it did fit correctly. I got that screwed in and then proceeded to cut off the remaining joists. A smarter plan would have been to preemptively cut the other piece of sheathing while I still had a platform to set it on, since I cut them the same size. Instead, I cut off all the remaining joists and tried to fit it, only to discover that it, too, was about a quarter inch too big to fit.

Last joist

Now I could either take it down the ladder, cut it, and then haul it back up, or I could balance it on the ladder while Sarah held the top edge out far enough from the wall to fit the circular saw, going hand over hand between studs to get the saw down the length of the board, swapping positions halfway through. I think you know which option I picked. This (surprisingly) went to plan and I got it trimmed down. If anything I cut off too much, but given the sheathing throughout the house has gaps pretty much everywhere, I’m not especially concerned.

Sheathing and house wrap in place

Back on the ladder, I got the second piece of sheathing attached. The last step was to put the bottom section of house wrap on (under the edge of the course above), including taping it. Being that this was while on a ladder, it took a bit longer than it sounds. I had to move the ladder about four times to get everything tidy, but finally, the house doesn’t have a bump-out!

No more bump-out!

 

From the outset, the goal of the bump-out removal plan was to accomplish the removal with a minimum of time spent on extension ladders. That was largely intended to make the process safer, but honestly, the wall removal didn’t always feel completely safe. For this step of the project, Sarah’s dad, Mike, came and helped. I spent the most of the morning getting the remainder of the siding off, as well as the one small side wall. When that was finally done things got moving, since the sheathing was pretty quick. The tricky part was the framing. From all the rain, the already heavy rough-cut, full-dimensional lumber was even heavier. To keep weight under control, I cut bigger pieces down rather than pulling down larger boards whole.

Walls going

Unfortunately, the relatively tight quarters and limited means of access meant that Mike couldn’t actually get onto the bump-out with me, so I was on my own for some of the trickier bits of framing removal, then I could hand it to him through the open section. Once again, I’m kicking myself for the way I put the sheathing on the new wall section, since I could have made a convenient doorway that was far easier to use if I’d stopped and thought about it. As it was, I’d get a piece loose and then hand it through the opening to Mike, who was standing on the inside. Eventually we got the walls down, and fortunately no one was seriously injured.

The next step was to patch up the remaining bits of roof sheathing that had to wait until the side walls were gone. This we did the smarter way, by first putting in sheathing and tar paper, then shingles, rather than trying to fit already shingled sections into the roof. Mike was able to scavenge all the parts from the old roof and while it still looks terrible, it appears to be water tight. We plan to replace to whole roof in the not-too-distant future, so it doesn’t need to last all that long.

Walls gone (also Sarah)

 

Bump-out removal in progress

The plastic sheeting to keep the rain out proved a bad implementation. I attached it with about 50 staples, but we had some windy and rainy days and I didn’t cut off the extra at the bottom. Rather than drain out, the water pooled in the sheeting and then drained into the house. We had an exciting evening when water started dripping onto our couch in the basement because it happened to be underneath the puddle that was forming on the first floor. Later, the wind tore the whole thing off anyway, and we dealt with various sources of water infiltration for weeks.

Speaking of which, this period went on for longer than anticipated. The previous post took place around April 11th, but other than taking down the underside of the floor, I didn’t get much done until May 13th. Between busy weekends, rainy weather, and the inevitable periods of general disinterest in working on the house, this situation stretched on for a while. I did take down the underside of the floor, mostly as one more way to stop the water coming into the house. It helped, but also exposed more of the first floor to the elements. I did that from the top of a ladder on the sidewalk using a long crowbar. It was fairly easy, but it made a mess. The real lesson is don’t expose the inside of your house to the elements for protracted periods in a rainy Spring, which of course seems obvious in hindsight.

Worse than useless plastic sheeting

We used some of the reclaimed pieces of vinyl siding to form extra rain protection against the bottom of the new exterior wall, where I had left the sheathing off so I could put on a pieces that spanned across the ends of the second floor joists. Because the gutters on the sides of the bump-out were gone, water was pouring out of the open end of the gutter along the house and splashing into the open holes. More siding and even some shingles were put into play to stop that, but honestly nothing worked very well. One of the things that slowed us down was carefully removing the layers of siding and sheathing from the outside of the walls while standing inside or even on the window sills. The middle layer was particularly crumbly and terrible and we were trying not to make a mess of it, since the wall of the bump-out is roughly 4″ from the gutters of the neighbors’ house and we were being mindful not to drop stuff onto her roof, or break her window (or ours) below. Sarah actually went out one evening and worked on it in the rain, just to get progress going again.

Finally a couple Saturdays freed up, we got our acts together, and we made some better progress. Next time!

 

With the roof of the house now properly supported on the new exterior wall, the next step is to remove the roof of the bump-out itself, which is gabled perpendicular to the house. For this project, the always stalwart Dean assisted. There were two key parts of this process: remove the roof of the bump-out itself, then patch the triangular hole in the roof of the house where the bump-out connected. I had the idea of using the sections of roof we were removing to patch the hole directly. While that’s what we did and it worked, in retrospect it wasn’t the best plan.

Inside the bump-out attic

My thinking was that the sections of roof would be too large and unwieldy to get into the house, just to turn around and get the replacement roof pieces back up. While that much was true, the better plan would have been to remove the shingles and put them back on. Instead we cut and fit the pieces of already-shingled roof sheathing into place and I had to knit the shingles together. It looks terrible, even for a temporary patch, and we’ll be lucky if it doesn’t leak, though so far it’s been holding.

We started by removing the rafters of the bump-out from underneath, then the original board sheathing (which was underneath the newer plywood), and finally the sections of roof closest to the house, first on one side, then on the other. Because there wasn’t room in the attic of the bump-out for two people, Dean removed the windows of the bump-out while I worked on the un-framing.

Dean removes windows

The larger sections of roof were too hard to get a handle on, so the next step was to remove the gable end. Because it was from the inside out, we took off sheathing followed by the three layers of siding. With the end exposed, we were able to get the section of roof off, cut it into a triangle, and fit it onto the house. By this time it was well into the evening and with no rain in the immediate forecast, I decided to call it a day.

The next day was Sunday and I got the other triangle of roof into place. This still left two smaller triangle-shaped holes at the outside edges of the bump-out, but I couldn’t finish those until the walls of the bump-out were gone. I put a plastic sheet over the wall, which later served to funnel water directly into the house rather than keeping it out, but I’ll get into that with my next post.

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