Autumnal sheathing: slowing down, buttoning up, closing in

final roof sheathed front

It’s starting to look like a house!

I’ve now finished my third building stint. This was a particularly reflective trip. Last time it had been hot summer and now it was definitely fall, cold and crisp. As I drove up, leaving the unseasonably high Bay Area temps behind, it felt more than ever like I was going home.

It was also a time of solo building and quietude, which was nice given that I have now gone beyond my plans and am figuring things out as I go. This involves a lot of pondering, which would likely drive others crazy waiting for me to decide the next step. Building is a lot like playing 3D chess. You need to visualize how things will come together many steps down the line. It’s incredibly challenging. I love that about it.

On top of this, I was contending with my heights phobia so I moved at the speed of a sloth while on the scaffolding and perched on the ledge mounted on the roof. As a result, I made very little obvious progress but I feel good about what did get done. There were a myriad of details that had to happen before I could sheathe the roof: blocking, hurricane ties and strapping, framing and sheathing the gable ends, laying in the outriggers and flying rafters, figuring out my house “ears”, caulking the blocking, and framing the skylights – and of course they all took longer than I expected. I also continued to do research; tried (and failed) to procure more green building materials; ordered my gas heater, stove top and ventilation fan; and dealt with returning a load of moldy sheathing. Oh, and celebrated Thanksgiving in the midst of all that with my dear family!

I want to send a big thank you out to my parents for making sure I stayed warm and for making me wonderful hot meals at the end of each day. Really appreciated. 🙂

Here is the month in pictures:  

maples and blueberries

Maple trees and blueberries at the tail end of their autumnal glory.

autumn blueberries

Forgotten blueberries.

lucy looking at leaves

Lucy looking back at leaves.

pile of rounds 2

The neighbors graciously donated a couple cords of wood to heat the barn while I’m building. Pops and I spent three days hauling, cutting and stacking. Tom and Julia brought over their log splitter and split the whole pile – thanks so much!

stacked wood

Multiple layers of stacked wood…toasty waiting to happen! It was also a good warm up for getting my building muscles back in shape.

cozy morning

I loved the early mornings by the fire with Dad and Lucy.



rafters up day

Oh yeah, the tiny house…! This is where I left off at the end of the summer.

happy miter

Installing the blocking between the rafters and starting the framing of the gable ends. Having that mitered piece slide right in made me feel like such a carpenter.

through the gable windows

Windows framed in the gable ends.

tail gable sheathed

Sheathing the gable ends. Also hurricane ties and straps have been added to the rafters.

tail gable sheathed int

Relaxing in my loft looking out at the enclosed gable end over the living room. The two catwalks are temporary.


I needed a little notepad to jot down measurements when I was up on the roof and Mom found one that had been in my grandparents’ house. That made me happy.

flying rafters

Outriggers and flying (or barge) rafters installed. That’s a whole topic for another post.

pentice tunnel

Finally figured out the compound angles for the “ears” or pentices – a detail I’ll post about next.

scaffolding tail

Another shot of the flying rafters and ears.


I lied – I did have help at one point. My sister, bundled in two down coats and less one gall bladder, kindly agreed to help hold the ends of the temporary fascia boards as I installed them. It was nice having the company.

jack o lantern house front

Night view.

double mountain drafts

Celebrating progress at Double Mountain – best brew pub ever. Cheers to the ears!

morning frost

Just as I was finally ready to start sheathing, it got colder – lows in the teens and 20s, highs in the 30s.


I stuck a thermometer in the door way of my tiny house. I needed it to stay above 40 to apply the glue for the sheathing and caulking. Fortunately the barn is well insulated and it stayed at about 50 if I didn’t open the doors. I had to do this delicate dance between getting enough ventilation and not letting it get too cold.


This was a critical page of my notebook where I figured out the measurements for the sheathing pieces and how to lay them out using the least number of plywood sheets.

t square flat

Cutting sheathing.

hauling ply up

This was the hardest part of working solo – wrangling the sheathing up to the roof. A full size piece of 1/2″ ply weighs 50lbs. Every muscle in my body ached from hauling them around and climbing up and down the scaffolding constantly. I had two nearly full size pieces to install but the rest were smaller and easier to maneuver.

scaffolding first ply

First piece finally installed!

first roof ply int

The loft starting to get closed in.

skylight clamps

Needed a mess of clamps to frame the skylights.

stom blowing in

A huge storm blew in dumping 2.6″ of rain in one day before an arctic deep freeze set in. I realized while it was still warmish I needed to do the end, since I had to have the door open to get the scaffolding around. It was a race but I got it done by late evening with 40 mph winds blowing the rain in. Made me extremely grateful to be able to build inside.

roof sheathing back nearly done

The ledge I installed to do the upper row of sheathing. Also the loft skylight has been cut out.

loft without skylight

The loft before the skylight was cut out.

loft with skylight

And after. Big difference!

final roof sheathed back

Sheathing complete! Though I was a little sad to lose the open roof feeling, it also feels like I’ve moved into the next phase. Especially with the crazy weather happening outside, it’s a nice feeling to have the space defined and to feel sheltered. It all continues to become more real.

looking out

One happy camper!


P.S.  I kept missing screenings of TINY: A story about living small  in the Bay Area so was thrilled to arrive in Hood River and find it playing in the second annual Hood River Film Festival. I had no idea Hood River even had a film festival let alone that it would show TINY! In yet another moment of synchronicity, I spoke briefly to the woman sitting next to me and later was surprised when she and her husband came over for dinner a few nights later. Turns out they are friends of my parents and know another woman who is just starting to build a tiny house not far from me. Very cool.

Categories: construction | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Autumnal sheathing: slowing down, buttoning up, closing in

  1. Kathy Parker

    I just wanted to comment on your spunk and tenacity… I really admire your efforts to follow your dreams… kudos to your parents for their back support. I can’t wait to see the finished product! Great job!

    • Thanks, Kathy, that’s very nice to hear! I’m working on a related post called “On fear and ferocity” that I hope to get out one of these days. 🙂

  2. That is a lot of work to accomplish alone! Your house is coming together beautifully.

    • Thanks, Natalie – slow but steady :). It was great to find your “My Tiny Refuge” blog and catch up on your build – so many similarities. I will eagerly follow along as you are a few steps ahead of me! Good luck with everything.

  3. So cool! Well conceived and executed. Enjoying all of your insights along the way.

  4. Thanks, Mitchell!

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