Wednesday, September 5, 2018

0 Bear Teeth Cabin, Vol. 3 - How to Build a Kids Cabin

The idea for the roof of this cabin is to have a single slant roof using clear corrugated plastic sheeting to let as much natural light in as possible. We built it out of 2x4's with the cross bars at 16" on center. In Michigan, we'll be dealing with a lot of snow, so potentially a lot of weight, although the pitch of this roof and the smooth surface should allow for most of it to just slide right down.

The kids helped us haul some lumber up to create a strong back end of the cabin for the frame to sit on - we added a 2x4 and a 2x6 to both add support and tie the sides together a little better than just the screws in the sides.

My father-in-law and I started by building a basic frame - 4 sides and a center brace, with triangle bracing in the corners - so that it was light enough to lift up onto the roof. We then brought up all the other center braces and added them at 16" on center.

We also allowed for a bit of an overhang on the backside, and a 3' overhang on the frontside, to act as a roof over the lookout.

It was a little terrifying, considering the ground is not at all level, so I had to prop up one side of the ladder as I worked, and my father-in-law was perched on the other wall. It was a cool view from up top though!

While we were doing all this, Ollie was busy making a fire pit, so later that afternoon, we lit a fire to test it out and burn some dead limbs that were littering the site.

The next day, to keep the production rolling, we built the loft. I had some leftover 2x6 and some plywood from another project, so I built a box and secured it to the three walls. For a railing, I had some 3x3's that were strapped to the Trex decking Becky's parents got that I used for posts, and oak spindles and pine railing leftover from our stair project.

We were also wondering how in the world we were going to seal the walls up. With the decking, not every board is exactly straight, so we ended up with some pretty significant gaps in the siding. after going through all sorts of ideas (including just stapling a ton of screen to the inside wall) I decided to use Great Stuff to see if that would do the trick. AND BOY DID IT. It worked so perfectly I was just amazed. Easy to use and expanded to fill every crack possible. Now, it did take 6 cans and I'm still not done, but it's a great solution, and it doesn't look half bad. Especially now after about a month, when the foam is starting to yellow a little bit.

I do plan on cutting off the excess so that it's flush with the siding instead of bubbled out like it is.

Now for the roof!

We knew from the beginning that we wanted to do clear poly roof panels, and Becky's parents had already committed to purchasing them - that was to be their contribution, other than all the labor that her dad has put into this thing. So on a rainy September morning, we went and got (4) 2' x 12' roof panels (strapping them to Becky's dad's boat to get them home), fasteners (screws with washers and a built-in caulk washer for sealing the hole) and closure strips (fit in the grooves, especially at the front and back to seal it from the outside and went to work.

Because they're pretty flimsy, we thought we'd want to overlap them more than just the average 2" to account for the potential weight from snow and ice, so we went with 4 panels instead of just 3.

We first put the closure strip on the back end of the cabin and fed the first sheet up onto the roof. We left a 2" overhang on the side to account for the siding we'd add to that upper section later. We caulked the strip to add a little better seal, and then screwed it down at the back and worked our way forward. We had 5 total strips, so we didn't screw the panel down at every joist, which I think would be overkill anyway.

It was a bit of a balancing act in some locations, trying to reach the screws and not fall off the cabin. Luckily Paul has a much bigger wingspan than I and was able to get the harder to reach locations.

We wanted the roof to extend to the edge of the lookout porch that we'd have up top, which meant it would be over 12', so I now have to build a standard roof piece to go on that last bit on the frame. Luckily I have some leftover shingles from our roof job that I can use, so once again I won't be spending much on getting that done.

Next up, adding siding, doors and windows to the loft section!

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