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  • Writer's pictureJeff

Hawaii Sugar Shack part 5

Updated: Jun 29, 2022

Hawaii Sugar Shack rebuild

Welcome back to the journey of the Sugar shack rebuild, as well as the continuing adventures in Hawaii! I know it has been a bit since the last update on this one, as we have had other blog entries that needed doing, but I am excited to continue telling this story! For those new to our story of moving from Oregon to the big island, I have posted earlier entries, but just to recap where we left off in the last chapter, we had finally gotten the structure dry, or perhaps be more truthful to say, dry adjacent lol, and had the solar panels installed on the addition side. We were still awaiting the long-delayed tin for the original side of the structure to replace the old roof and were starting to learn the land.

So, I suppose, the best place to start now would be – arrival of the new roof, and what followed. Now, in a perfect world, we would never have attempted to change the roof on a building we were currently living in…but…. after being in the tent, and pounding rain and winds, and then having moved back into a real structure again…we were committed to making our best attempt to change the roof out as fast as possible and just live in the construction zone. There was less than zero desire to set the tent back up…so we formed our plan and got to it. The biggest variable we had for this was the roof joists and purlins had some termite damage, and the top plates on the walls definitely had some termite damage. We knew many boards would need to be replaced, but we would not know how much would have to replaced until we started tearing into everything. We had all the boards on site to replace, just in case, but had lofty hopes that some of the original wood might be salvageable. Knowing what we know now, we would have been time and money ahead burning the original structure down and rebuilding from scratch lol. But, hindsight is always twenty – twenty.

Original old wood- after metal ripped off

When we first started tearing off the roof, we learned quite a few things. The first and foremost, we got a better date of the building. For one, it was nails pounded thru the tin, not screws, and they were square headed iron. We had a friend helping us for the roof swap, and he said that here in Hawaii, the square heads are pretty much all pre-WW2 era, and have been against code since the early 60s, as they rust out and do not hold thru hurricane force winds, and that most people would have replaced them long ago. The majority of them broke apart as we were trying to remove them, so there’s no doubt in our minds if we had a big storm, the roof would have easily let go. Was really amazing to everyone involved that the roof was even on, let alone not leaking like a sieve. Originally, we had false hope we could do the full roof replacement on the original sugar shack side in a day. Once we started though, we found that saving even a single piece of wood was to much. Every piece we removed showed high levels of termite activity and revealed that the next piece was just as infected. In the end it took several days, and the entire wall that the roof joists rest on had to be replaced. But, we got it done. Considering we had never done any such building project like this before, we were very proud seeing those new roof joists and purlins up and proper, and when that last piece of tin was properly screwed down, it was a heavy weight off our shoulders. We live in hurricane country, and having the sketchy old roof replaced with a solid, overbuilt, hurricane strapped roof, it was a big sigh of relief.

The process of replacement of the original roof

Once we had the roof on, while it was very exciting, it also meant a lot of other work could start happening. We didn’t want to put in our kitchen, or office area before the roof swap, in case we got a huge downpour while we were changing the roof, and we knew we would have to drag ladders around and make a huge termite poop everywhere type mess. (Termite poop embedded into your skin makes a nasty rash by the way…ask me how I know that lol) Now that the roof obstacle was tackled, it was time to get going on the next series! Up till this point, we had been using cheap folding tables for our kitchen and food prep area, which left a lot to be desired. My wife and I are both good cooks, and we both enjoy cooking, so it was high on our list of priorities to get a kitchen counter and food prep area built. I think this was probably one of our most debated decisions, as with such a small house, it really matters how you design the floor plan to make if efficient. Now that it’s been quite a while, we did a decent decision, but we probably could have designed it even better. We knew that this sugar shack probably will not be our “forever” home, so we did not want to go to crazy on the budget and do granite and a typical modern kitchen. So, we elected to do a rustic DIY, same as most aspects of the build. I can not take much if any credit for the counters, as my wife designed, and constructed. I held heavy stuff where she wanted it, and drilled a few screws, but she did all the real work. We picked some nice Douglas fur 2x6 boards, played with the layout till satisfied, built our framework to hold them, cut the hole for our sink to lay and got it test fitted, and then she sanded the boards to perfection, and put on a nice stain and sealer. The result is a very homey counter, certainly not high end, but it works for its function and looks pretty nice in our humble opinion.

Nothing was quite like turning on the sink for the first time! It really is the little things in life.

Once we had the sink and counters in... the next stage we tackled was putting in floors on the original side of the structure. We got pretty lucky, and a friend had just replaced their floors in their place and had extra flooring. We were gifted enough flooring from him to do our little place, and we put it to good use! Pretty easy stuff compared to the parts of the build, and nothing heavy to lift lol! Just put down the matt underneath, snap it in together, a couple light smacks with a flooring mallet. Easy peasey compared to ripping roofs off and sawing thru walls!

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