A Roof and Ice Mix….A Neighbor Wants to Help…Huh?

I knew it was going to happen. We all know it’s going to happen. But as ususal I’m always doing something else thinking I have more time. Time caught up with me this weekend and winter bit me in the you know where. I knew I should have gotten a couple of tarps and covered the roof up. But I didn’t…and now I have to deal with it. Let’s get back to the start of a busy Saturday shall we.

I had to go into Queens Saturday morning. We were taking the crane down at Hunter’s Point Building B. Not a big deal really but I did the layout for the assist crane and it rained that day and into the night. I just went in to make sure everyone knew where the assist crane was supposed to go. The layout was basically gone when I got there at 5:40 Am. It took me about a half hour to freshen up the lines and then they were good to go for a 6 AM start. It doesn’t sound like much but when nobody knows where the crane goes everybody has to stand around until it gets figured out. Oh yeah here’s a picture of the A and B buildings. This is how I feed my family… reinforced concrete high rise. Okay, let’s rock and roll baby.

Hunteer's Point Building A and B. Queens,New York
Hunteer’s Point Building A and B. Queens,New York

I think we started the B building at the end of July/beginning of August. Two day cycle high rise construction. It’s the only place in the world where it’s done.NYC.

So I left around 7:15 or so after they had the assist crane all put togther. I stopped to get a coffee at this deli and picked up an egg on a roll to go, as well. I mean the egg on a roll thing I thought was all settled in New York. But of course the guy gives me an egg on a roll on some sort of weird like, sour dough bread roll. I’m like…what the hell? I really don’t know why I’m including this except if you’ve been following me, you know how I’m particular about my egg on a roll. I’ll move on now.


Drive back home and I pick up 30 2x4s 8foot at the lumber yard and drive to Hobbit Hollow. You know the weather channel was talking about this big storm that was going to go past us over night and there might be a chance of snow. When I left in the morning there wasn’t a flake to be found so I’m thinking I just dodged a bullet for the weekend at the Hobbit house. So I get out of the car and I go over to the layout platform I built and it’s covered with an eighth of an inch of ice. Great. Now we’re gonna have to de-ice before we can do anything. De-icing is a slow and dangerous process. Especially on the roof deck and with the planking system we have in place. Jude, Terence,and Kevin showed up and we began de-icing. Here they are having at it.

De-icing the roof deck and scaffold.. Terence,Jude,and Kevin.
De-icing the roof deck and scaffold.. Terence,Jude,and Kevin.

So we’re gettting to the end of the line here up top. I want to finish the roof deck a certain way and unfortunately I can’t use a lot of help right now. Everyone will wind up being in the way. What we have to do is move the stack of plywood and the planking underneath it and work from the end back into the middle. Also,for those of you keeping score, I want to limit the number of seams in the living and dining rooms so the first sheet of plywood I put down has to be in the right location. So we have to finish all the framing 100% before we nail anymore deck.

So we broke up into groups. I had Jude and Kevin finish up the walers that Jude and RJ started last weekend. They knocked that out pretty quickly. Here’s a picture of what that form tie system looks like.

Waler and snap tie forming system.
Waler and snap tie forming system.

Just a quick run down of what you’re looking at. Steel form tie goes through the plywood and is locked up using two 3x4s over and under the tie. Once the 3x4s are in place you attach what they call a hairpin to the button end of the snap tie. This way the steel ties hold the pressure of the concrete and your forms don’t blow out. Which is a good thing. The nails you see in the hairpins,if you look closely, keep the hairpins from vibrating off when you pour and vibrate the concrete. We’ll be on the deck when we pour so if a hairpin comes off we won’t know until it’s too late. Very important these nails is.

So while Jude and Kevin did that Terence and I were continuing the framing and the little odds and ends we needed to get done. We’re almost ready for the final push. I have to cut some more roof templates out before we continue but once that’s done it shouldn’t be long to finish the main deck. Here’s Terence doing his thing on the deck.

Terence working on the deck.
Terence working on the deck.

Like I said before Jude and Kevin motored through the walers on the inside of the house. So when they finished I set them up doing the close up panels on the outside of the wall. This was going to be a new thing for them. Now we’re getting into real concrete carpenter stuff. So how do you do it? The snap ties are all through the wall form extensions on the inside and walered up. So when you go to the outside part of the wall you have to drill holes through the plywood guide each individual snap tie through the holes in the plywood. Hmmm. Sounds like a mouthful. ….and it is.

One step back though. On the drawings the height of this outside plywood is critical for the structure. The height of this outside plywood has to be exactly 9 and a half inches above the interior break point where the inside roof line meets the interior wall line. I hope that makes a little sense to you.

So I used a four foot level and a ruler to locate the bottom of this outside plywood which I had already cut at 33 inches. Then we used our handy dandy laser level to strike a line across the whole length of that wall. Now we just measured up from that line to locate where the snap tie holes should be drilled. Once you do it it’s pretty simple but you have to work as a team. One guy calls out the measurements and the other guy marks the plywood and drills the holes. The tricky part is actually getting the snap ties through these holes. It’s not that easy because you’re working off ladders. So we used a three man team for that. When they had a sheet ready to go they would call Terence over and he would guide the ties through the holes from up top. Here they are …Gettin’ it done.

Closeing up the exterior walls. Jude and Kevin.
Closing up the exterior walls. Jude and Kevin.

 This is actually an interesting picture because you can see how we held the plywood in place. Before they put the sheet up we used the Hilti TE-7 to secure  plywood cleats just under the level line we had struck. After the plywood was in place I had them nail another cleat to both pieces so it wouldn’t fall down.Here’s another picture of the boys installing another sheet.

Three man installation.Two guys holding the sheet and one man guiding the ties through.
Three man installation.Two guys holding the sheet and one man guiding the ties through.

Sorry about the bluriness there but you get the picture.

Well. I knew this might happen. And I was hoping it wouldn’t happen. Sooner or later I knew word would get around about a Hobbit house. I mean who wouldn’t want to work on building a Hobbit house? My neighbor friend Mike stopped by and was curious about what was going on. So I told him a little more about the house and about the blog and all. I didn’t swear him to secrecy though…and I should have. I mean I guess he told some of the other neighbors what was really going on. So what do you think happens on my shortened Saturday? The new neighbor shows up and wants to help. Oh boy….what to do. Thank the Lord we were only working till 1 PM.(I had to go to Massachusetts to see Georgia’s dance recital with my wife and that battle ax of a mother in law of mine…I don’t know if I have the stomach for telling you about that debacle. I didn’t know a 76 year old could be that loud. Georgia’s dances were great! One of her dances was an Indian belly dance. That was really cool.)I could see by the look in the boys eyes that they were definitely not into working with this guy. I mean I told him I appreciated his help and all but that the project was really just for me and my boys to work on. With the help of some of their friends. The guy really wanted to help so I set him up for the balance of the day on the router cutting the detail blocks. He actually did a decent job. It’s too bad he makes everybody a bit nervous.I took a picture of him and told him he would be in the blog.









Neighbor friend working the router.
Neighbor friend working the router.

I couldn’t  write his name here because it’s in the black speech of Mordor. We just called him Bob. I think Bob has a bit of an imagination. He said he’s related to the Pale Orc Azog of the third age of Middle Earth. Yeah right. Everybody knows that those Orcs had little to no hair. I mean look at the poof he’s got going on. Who’s he kidding?

I can be a bit of a cruel New yorker at times. I hope I didn’t hurt his feelings.

Here’s a picture of the site at the end of the day Saturday 1PM.

Saturday 12-7-17
Saturday 12-7-17

Anyway I hope you are all looking forward to the new Hobbit movie due out this coming weekend. Just days away now. I can’t wait. So much more to talk about but I haven’t the time right now. Take care,enjoy the movie and this holiday season!



4 thoughts on “A Roof and Ice Mix….A Neighbor Wants to Help…Huh?”

  1. For those of us who have never HAD an egg on a roll (maybe it’s a NYC thing? I’m a southerner), please describe your idea of perfection.

    Are you going to have to wait for warmer weather to pour, or are there special concretes for that?

    • Sally: How are you? How are your plans moving along? The egg on a roll thing probably is a New york thing. I usually have an egg on a roll on Sundays only. I cook eggs on Sunday mornings for anyone who wants them. Actually I don’t cook an egg on a roll on Sundays. I cook an egg on an English muffin which is actually better in my humble opinion. One egg, yoke broken or unbroken depending on your personal preference, pepper. Before you put the egg in get your english muffin and begin lightly toasting it. Once the egg is cooked a bit flip it over and add one slice of american cheese. Let the cheese melt just a bit. Put that on the toasted english muffin and put a slice of bacon in there as well. Coffee on the side with the Sunday paper and that is a little piece of heaven.

      As far as pouring concrete in the winter there are a couple of ways to do it up here in the North. It also depends what you are pouring. The concrete plants add hot water to the mix usually after Thanksgiving and you can also ask them to put an additive called accelerator in as well. This helps speed up the chemical reaction in the concrete so it sets up. Once it sets up you usually cover the concrete with insulation blankets. The concrete is usually still warm the next day.

      As far as warmer weather. I think that by the time I’m really ready to pour spring will be here and that won’t be an issue.

      I really appreciate you writing. Thanks a lot and I wish all the best with your project!

      Good luck and best wishes,
      Hobbit Hollow Jim

      • Your egg on a roll sounds like a good thing!

        Plans for building a (non-hobbit) house for husband and I are coming along well, with start-of-building planned for this summer using this system: http://www.am-cor.com. We are building a small house for us, and cottages for visiting children.

        One of my children wants his cottage to be a hobbit house (which is why I found your blog.) The cottages are going to be much smaller than the house you are building. Check out this system: http://www.birdcagedome.com. I’m going to check with my architect to see if covering this system inside and out with mesh and ferro cement might make a structure strong enough to cover with dirt.

        The plan is for me to learn enough about blogging to document my own progress. I’ll let you know if I actually pull that off 🙂

        • Sally: This project of yours sounds very interesting. I doubt the bird cage construction is suitable for earth cover. Depending on size my original Hobbit shed is probably more of what you’re looking for as a cottage. It’s a lot simpler to build than what I’m doing now. Another building method that was used is a bit similar to the bird cage method. It was used on the Hobbit House of Montana. I don’t know the cost but I believe it’s basically a balloon that they put rebar around and then use shotcrete to cover it with. I don’t have any real experience with shotcrete but it is structurally sound and I’ve seen it used on foundations.

          Don’t worry about blogging. After you know how to input the pictures it’s a cinch. Just go for it and enjoy the ride.

          I hope you enjoy the holiday season and I wish you and your family a happy and healthy new year!



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