Cantilevers Are Up!

Saturday was a very uplifting day for the DBB crew.  Not only did our cantilevered truss and deck get lifted up, but spirits ran high as soon as the most structural pieces held up successfully.  Rick and Andy visited us in Bluff on Friday and Saturday. They offered their expertise and extra entertainment on site.  They made sure everything was structurally stable and built correctly before the cantilevers were propped onto the rest of the framing.  They even stayed late before heading back to Denver to join in on the most exciting part: raising the cantilevered truss!  As the team celebrated over a big success, we kept the momentum going and completed the framing of the other cabin’s cantilevered deck.  All in all, Saturday was our most exciting day yet!

This was biggest celebration we’ve all shared as a group so far into this semester, and we are looking forward to many more happy successes throughout the course of this build.

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Andy explaining the structural strapping around the west patio aperture.

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Before: Getting ready to lift the truss into place

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After: Nailing the truss into place

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Atsushi knocking the beam out from underneath to test the cantilever

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Framing the cantilevered patio deck


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DBB Group Celebratory Photo!


C&C [Cam & Coop]

Roof deck is on!

The week continues with more work on the roof structure and tying the walls and roof parapets together for added stability.

DSC_0475Because each of our cabins is a cantilever of some sort, most of the building is strapped using 16 gage steel strapping cross-bracing to minimize deflection and control for shear movement, in addition to the sheathing.


DSC_0477The trusses are sheathed and ready to be hoisted into place atop the patio walls.  Once on, they will frame panoramic views of both Blue Mountain and Monument Valley.



DSC_0482Roof decking team eagerly awaits their last piece of OSB in order to be fully decked!


And the fruits of hard work at the end of a long day = a small party on top of the new roof!


–Sam and Jason

Day 2 of Roofing

Blue Mountain Cabin TJI's


On Tuesday, the roof decking was finished on the Blue Mountain Cabin. Students were able to all eat lunch together in the shade under their own roof for the first time! Members from the Mexican Water Chapter House visited in the middle of day to walk through the cabins and view our progress. Students, staff and those from the chapter are all excited as steady progress continues to be made each day. The added roof decking allows us to finally visualize the space we’ve designed and created in all three dimensions!

Blue Mountain Cabin with Roof Decking

Blue Mountain Cabin with Roof Decking

Mid Day on Site

Mid Day on Site

The Monument Valley Cabin received its remaining TJI’s from the roofing team as well. A smaller team of students framed the northeast corner of Monument Valley’s patio planned for firewood storage for that patio’s fire pit. Roof decking is scheduled to be completed tomorrow! Formwork is complete and the shallow pits for entry slabs on both cabins are dug, infilled with gravel and awaiting rebar.

View of the Blue Mountain Cabin from Monument Valley Cabin

View of the Blue Mountain Cabin from Monument Valley Cabin

Late Tuesday night, a material delivery including the metal exterior cladding, doors, EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) rubber and other roofing materials arrived at Bluff from Colorado.

Sam, roofing lead, discusses the roof scuppers in the meeting Tuesday night.

Sam, roofing lead, discusses the roof scuppers in the meeting Tuesday night.

This session’s goal of a ‘dry in’ is getting closer and closer!

- Dan & Ryan

Raising the Roof.

Work went right along on the ‘Blue Mountain’ cabin as we began to place the TGI’s (Truss Joint I-Beam), which are made up of thick plywood top and bottoms, with OSB vertical middles. After removing the unnecessary wood from above the windows…

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and raised a few TGI’s for stabilization…

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we proceeded to place the rimboard…

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which formed a box around the outside perimeter of the TGI’s, further increasing stabilization and providing a nailing surface for future sheathing.

After that, installing the rest of the TGI’s was a piece of cake. IMGP6745 (1280x850)IMGP6742 (1280x850)IMGP6733 (1280x850)IMGP6738 (1280x850)

We ended the day of work on the ‘Blue Mountain’ cabin by situating blocks of wood  between the TGI’s so that they wouldn’t begin to twist.

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Dinner was an absolutely delicious beef stew with roasted vegetables. There were no leftovers. :)

Happy Trails,

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~Arron & Johnny

Day 5 of Session 2

As the second week of framing session comes to a close, we are amazed at our progress within the first week. Currently all the exterior wall framing is finished with the exception of the northern truss of our Monument Valley cabin. We also recognized that time is slowly creeping upon us, as roofing is scheduled for this week and interior walls and finishes will start immediately after. As the roofing team is working hard at site, some of the interior groups are staying behind to build mockups in preparation for next week.

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Our weekend progress.

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The Bathroom Team starting up the interior mock-up.

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Ultimately, no matter how tired we are at the end of our work days, we can always rely on our Bluff campus in welcoming us home.

- Linh & Pipsa



Days 3 & 4 of Session 2 – Framing Monument Valley


With the framing of the walls on Blue Mountain being complete, we were able to begin framing the Monument Valley cabin. A portion of the day was spent coming up with solutions for dealing with how our slab had slumped in the middle. Despite all of the work and preparation we had done on the formwork for the slab, the surface was not as flat as we would have liked. This mistake has however given us a good learning experience as we must now frame on an uneven surface. While the north wall is not a load bearing wall, we still decided to use custom shims made from planed down treated lumber in order to get the framing as true as possible.

Additionally, work was done on one of the trusses which will cantilever over the patio. The structure for both cabins is quite complicated so this truss is one of the many structural pieces we must custom fabricate. By the end of the day, only one more truss and one wall remain to be built.

We were also lucky enough to have two guests come and volunteer their time this week! Mitch Levin (Zane’s Father) as well as Anna Chmel (A UC Denver student who was part of the last UCD Design Build Bluff project, Hozho) were here to help us and share their knowledge and time with us.


Our first “framed” picture. Most of the work crew on day 3.

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Making room for the needed wedge bolts.




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Looking over the framing and truss layout.

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Making some cuts for our king studs.

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Raising the north wall on Monument Valley.

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Nailing a stud to the sill plate.

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Drawing the framing layout.

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Planing some shims to raise the north wall and make it level.

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Laying some sill seal.

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Meeting and making some design decisions.

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Monument Valley cabin with 3 walls up.

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South wall of the Monument Valley cabin.

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End of day 4 – session 2


A foggy morning greeted us on Day 3

A foggy morning greeted us on Day 3.

- Kathryn, Becca, Zane, and Seth

Day 2 of Session 2 – Walls Are Going Up!

Today, the first two walls (the south and east walls) of the Blue Mountain Cabin were framed and erected! Our exterior walls have been designed using advanced framing techniques and a staggered stud layout. Sporadic wind gusts and rain throughout the day slowed us but didn’t stop us. Bottom plates were also cut and laid down for the Monument Valley Cabin in preparation for that cabin’s framing beginning tomorrow. Students with framing experience took time at the beginning of the day to demonstrate how to safely use skill saws and nail guns. By the end of the work day, all students on site today were able to participate in various areas of the wall framing using the different tools.

A small portion of the work day was also devoted to scoring the concrete in the foundations and acid etching the slabs. After the all the wall framing is erected, a sealant will be applied as well which will increase the longevity of the acid etching.

A handful of students also spent the day doing research and development in Bluff. The first full scale mock-ups for the wood slats and their connections were built in the wood shop and shared with the rest of the group. HVAC unit placement for Blue Mountain Cabin and Monument Valley Cabin’s entry door layout were discussed and determined by the group.

Tomorrow we all look forward to framing the north and west walls of the Blue Mountain Cabin and beginning wall framing on the Monument Valley Cabin. Hopefully, the weather will be more stable so we can stay on track of accomplishing this week’s goal!

-Dan & Ryan

Blue Mountain Cabin - End of Day

Blue Mountain Cabin – End of Day

Students finishing framing for the east wall.

Students finishing framing for the east wall.


Header Construction

Header Construction

Ryan checking stud layout measurements on a bottom plate.

Ryan checking stud layout measurements on a bottom plate.

Acid etching Monument Vally Cabin's foundation.

Acid etching Monument Vally Cabin’s foundation.

Framing: Session 2 Begins!

Monday, we were welcomed back to Bluff with rainy weather, but that did not hold this DB team back. Half of us went to site and removed the foundation formwork and moved site dirt. The other half of us stayed on campus and made a big supply order that covered windows, doors, HVAC systems and steel cladding. Another large part of the day was spent finalizing details for the start to our framing session that began today.

photo(Monday morning on site) Here is the team looking over Session 1s completion of the cured foundation slab and getting ready to pull off the formwork.

Today on site, two exterior walls were framed and lifted into position, which was an exciting moment for us all. Back at the house, the interior detail team worked on mock-up models for the slatted interior system.  The patio team worked on correspondence with our structural engineer to finalize details that work with the design and needs of the construction.

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Interior detail team working in the woodshop, putting together mock-ups of slat connections.


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Becca is working on the bed platform model.


These past two days have been a big step for us all in realizing that decisions need to be made and detailed out in order to stay on track with the construction schedule. We all love to design and are accustomed to refining our designs, but this program is teaching us to refine the detail in the design we have all already sculpted back in our Spring Semester. Detailing and learning how these construction parts become a whole product is this new exciting and yet frustrating challenge we are facing. Session 2 will bring out the most in this DB team and we have full faith we can handle it based on how hard and dedicated we have pushed ourselves these past two days back at Bluff. Great job guys! Lets keep up the long hard work.


C&C [Cam & Coop]

End of First Session Build!

So the first session comes to a close, Concrete slabs are poured and the Big D order came in! one week off for some well deserved rest and relaxation with some lake Powell, hiking of the narrows, and backpacking Zion! I hope everyone has a wonderful labor day, stay safe, have fun and we will all see you back here next session for some wall framing and roofing!


here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure!


~ J-Bird Signing off!20140829_142616 20140829_142546 20140829_142540 20140829_142537 20140828_175232 20140828_152207_VRpano 20140828_152108 20140828_143514 20140828_131725 20140828_085132 20140827_144841 20140827_142650_VRpano 20140827_142533