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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Sigh. I think two-and-a-half months without an update is some sort of ignominious record for me. This post has been sitting in draft for most of that time un-posted because I ran into a persistent issue uploading photos. To make up for the delay, I’m going to post updates rapid fire over the next week or so to get things caught up, because while blog posts haven’t been happening, actual house progress has. Where we last left off (back in March), I had framed a new exterior wall to take the place of the bump-out.

First rafter sistered

With the new exterior wall in place, the next step is to sister the roof rafters that are over the bump-out so that they are supported directly on the new wall, rather than on the 2×4 on top of the ceiling joists. Sistering is just putting a new rafter next to the existing one, and “gluing and screwing” them together. The roof slope is nearly 45°, so the rafters are almost 15′ long to span the 10-or-so feet to the center. The existing rafters are true 2x6s, so I “harvested” the five I needed from the 21′ ceiling joists that we’re going to replace.

Will gluing a rafter

Sarah’s brother Will came out, and he was a big help getting this step done. The process itself was fairly straightforward, though it involved a lot of climbing around on wobbly ceiling joists.

All rafters sistered

First we cut the end of the new rafters to length at an angle, including a second cut to take off the “nose” so they matches the existing rafters (the ones that aren’t notched onto the 2×4). Then we cut out a section of the 2×4 adjacent to the existing rafter so that the new rafter would go all the way from the top of the wall to the top of the roof. After a test fit, we put down a squiggle of construction adhesive on the new rafter, clamped it to the existing one, and put in screws all down the length. We selected the order of rafters based on the support of the 2×4, so we were putting any more stress on the existing rafter than we had to. I don’t want the roof to be uneven!

Rafter bracket

There were a few spots we had to cut the ends off of nails sticking through the roof so the new rafter would fit, and I can’t understate how much clamping we did to get the two rafters solidly sistered, since one or both of them tended not to be completely straight. I wasn’t thrilled with the rafters just being toe-nailed onto the top plate, so I picked up some framing angles and put them in on either side of the new rafters. With this done, the ceiling joists are no longer supporting the roof, and we can move on to removing the roof of the bump-out!

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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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