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Day 17

Today the roof team installed the first half of our building’s skeleton. The posts and beams are now up and ready for roof construction. Tomorrow we will set trusses and nail on purlins. After that we will build the gable ends and install the roofing and insulation over the interior of the building. 

We used thread rods like pins on the bottom of our 6×6 interior posts to drop into holes in the floor. We stabilized the posts with some strong epoxy. Since the straw bale walls are not load bearing, we constructed a perimeter set of beams to set on top of the interior posts. This holds the posts plumb and will allow the trusses to rest securely above the straw walls. 

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These 6×6 interior posts are one of the most exciting parts of our building. These hardwood support posts come from local oak and cherry trees that had fallen in Ann Arbor. In April, the fallen trees were hauled out to Professor Trumpey’s farm where we used a portable saw mill to cut dimensional lumber for our project. In a total of eight logs from four trees we cut all the interior posts and ceiling boards we would need for this building. I think its a great and unique piece of craftsmanship, allowing us to visualize the cycle of locally sourcing resources. Leftover cherry is also featured in our windowsills, with a natural edge that allows visitors to admire the natural systems that intentionally permeate throughout our building. 

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The last two days have been long days of construction – getting the posts sanded and cut to the right heights for installation, measuring and building the beam sections, and ultimately installing everything. Thankfully the weather has held out on us and we’ve been blessed with two beautiful workdays. 

Today we had an interesting change in power! The Bio Station maintenance crew shut off power to the entire campus while working on a sewer line, leaving our site without power. We routinely plug into their grid to draw electricity for our tools, but today we were able to hook ourselves up to our solar PV system and draw all our power from the sun! The timing was perfect because the system just got up and running this past weekend. It was really cool knowing we were working independently from any local energy infrastructure. A pretty ideal situation for a green building.

Thats all from me on the roof team updates. Overall a productive and fun week…hopefully the weather holds out a little longer until we can get the roofing on..stay tuned.

– Jack

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