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  • Writer's pictureJeff

Hawaii Sugar Shack rebuild part 3

Well, the story of the sugar shack rebuild now continues. We left off in part three during the tear down, subfloor removal, old wall removal, and reconstruction, which leads us to the next stage – Framing the addition. This part of the build felt like it went by fast comparatively. While we really had no idea what we were doing, as we are certainly not contractors, we somehow managed to get the addition framed very quickly. I cannot remember the exact number of days it took us, but framing was one of the fun parts, as we did not have to fight the termites, or fight the crumbling structure. From memory it seemed like the addition got framed within a week, maybe even only a few days. Having the wall space defined made the entire structure feel entirely different, and I will never forget though the first time I looked thru the rough framing of our window opening, and how beautifully it overlooked our property. It was truly a special feeling and started getting us excited for our new home.


This was the very first photo I took thru the new window that night...definitely will always remember this.

Once all the walls were framed up, we were able to re sheet the original exterior wall, which became the new interior wall between the old structure, and the new addition. We debated a bit between doing the new roof, or siding the new addition first, but decided adding the roof joists would lock in the additions exterior walls and prevent them from moving around at the top. This really seemed key to adding plywood sheeting and more weight safely and securely to the walls. We first added a ridge beam, and then laid the roof joists. We were concerned as we did not know exactly how the new roof line would look, and how much headroom we would have and the overall feeling of the new room, and this project…we did not have plans drawn up, we just winged it. So, when we laid the first few roof joists, and saw how it looked from the outside, and felt the vibe in the room, we were blown away. It looked and felt like we really knew what we were doing, even though we really did not lol. After seeing the first joists up, we knew positioning was right, so we plowed ahead and laid all the new roof joists and installed all the hurricane ties. We had a local friend we met here in Hawaii come help us do the roof, as getting 20’ pieces of roofing metal up a house that’s already 5 foot up, plus the wall and roof height…definitely at least a two-man job. In total, the new the roof is twenty-four feet off the ground. It took quite a ladder to get up there, but the property and oceanviews….to die for! While our friend was here helping with the roof, he mentioned we were in the midst of hurricane season, so it was a good thing to get this roof done asap and get all the hurricane straps installed. He also said he had lost his roof to tropical storm Lane, which had been a full-blown hurricane until right before making landfall on Hawaii, so he made sure our roof was more securely installed to have peace of mind. It certainly made pounding those nails into the hurricane straps feel damn good and 1000% made sure to do a perfect job!

Once the new roof was on, we were able to turn our attention to putting siding up. This process was straight forward, as our house is not exceptionally large or complicated. We set a temporary 2x4 where we wanted the new plywood to land and tacked up the pieces all the way around. Once the test fit and tacking were handled, we then went back and fully nailed everything down full. Having plywood up on the walls helped define the space, and really created that homey feel. Once seeing it siding…we looked at each other and decided ok, we are close to being out the tent! While my wife was not thrilled with the idea of living in the construction zone, we did agree it seemed like it would be better than the tent and canopy. We made a checklist of what needed to happen to get moved up into the addition, and out of the tent. We would still have a lot of work to do on both sides of the house, and both sides were just unfinished shells at this stage. But it was a dry shell! We knew we needed to get stairs built, as till this point, we were getting up into the house off 8-foot ladders. For our dog Charlie, this meant he was pretty much stuck down below. He has always been a spoiled house dog, so we knew to move into the structure, we had to make sure he could get in, and no one really wants to have to climb a ladder in the rain to get in and out of their house. So, one of the big hurdles we knew was stairs. I got to admit, building stairs was one of those things that intimidated me. They seemed so complicated, and when reading how to articles, it was not really making sense to my brain. I had considered the stair build being the first thing we may have had to hire an actual contractor to do. Due to my reluctance, I had made a few inquiries with friends of friends that were contractors, to possibly farm the job out. This was at the height of the pandemic though, so we were not able to find someone to come out. In the end, my wife spent time on YouTube watching how to videos over and over, and then had me watch her favorite one over and over. She heard about stair gauges, which were supposed to be handy additions to make it easier. We got a build list together, and gave it a try, not sure if we would do a good job or what not. Once we had the wood on the sawhorses, and the video open next to us, it made way more sense and it ended up being much easier than my mind made it out to be. We ended up getting them busted out in a day. As happy as we were to get them done, no one was happier than Charlie when he finally got to hang out up stairs as part of the crew.

Once the stairs were built, the next major project we wanted done before moving into the new addition, was power. As I went over in a previous blog entry, the homestead here is fully off grid, so to run power into the shell, I just had to run power lines thru the walls to the inverters sub panel down below the house. That was a simple job, just drilled thru 2x4 studs and pulled the wire, and then wired up some power outlets. Once we had power, it was just a matter of hanging some nice string lights up for lighting and moving up the mattress. That first night out of the tent, and finally sleeping in the house we were building, I cannot even begin to express the joy we felt that night. Any concerns about living in a construction zone and moving up to soon were washed away. Not having wet dog in the tent, and fighting the zippers, bugs, and rain, and the straw we had to put down to suppress the mud getting everywhere…might only be a small house, but that first night, we felt like royalty.

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