Session 3 Day 2… DOORS!!!! and some other stuff

So it’s been a while for me but here’s a little bit of what we have been up to for the past two days, of this our third session! Sam has been great and lead the team to layout and adhere the EPDM on the roof with the assist of his current partner in crime, Ryan, Lihn and Pipsa. Seth, Dan and Zane with the help from what seems like the entire crew have got the windows flashed and started installing our frameless windows. Robin has fabricated what we at bluff have come the call “The Pirate Door”. This is a secondary form of egress in our Monument Valley cabin that will become a hidden door built into the south wall. Matt has rocked it with help from Becca and Johnny and have gotten the electrical laid out and routed through our wonderful structures and as for me… Well I was able to finally install our first door today. With some struggling, the Blue mountain Patio slider door was installed, and thanks to Matt and Johnny the Monument Valley front door is ready to install tomorrow!

Johnny and matt helping nail in the door, and in the background installing windows is zane, dan and Kathryn.

Johnny and matt helping nail in the door, and in the background installing windows is zane, dan and Kathryn.

Return from a break

For the second intermission of the semester, 12 valiant scallywags cruised down Cataract Canyon, one of the most remote stretches of the Colorado River.  It was a nice break from the productive speed of the rough-in session we finished just before the trip.  The adventurers took 5 days of sun and some serious rain on occasion to reach the uppermost reach of Lake Powell after setting off from Moab.  In return for appeasing the river gods, the team was rewarded with some spectacular class IV rapids, and a much-higher-than-usual river flow for this late in the year.DSC_0519 DSC_0520 DSC_0521 DSC_0522 DSC_0529 DSC_0558

Although most of the group wishes we were continuing on down the river, through the Grand Canyon and out the Sea of Cortez, we are hard at it installing windows, doors and the roof EPDM membrane to be fully dried-in.  Soon enough, we will be able to withstand rainstorms inside our own two cabins!


Until next time… Sam signing off

Wednesday fun!

Wednesday went by quickly while working on overframing, sheathing and wrapping some Tyvek around Blue Mountain cabin. Everybody was doing their best so that we could begin to put EPDM on the roofs on Thursday as well as start to install some windows.


Tyvek building wrap being applied

Before noon we all had a flashback to our first session, when everybody gathered to finish off our very last pour; bathrooms and entryways were quickly covered with concrete. Mixing team was doing a great job keeping the mix consistent while others were making sure the forms were filled appropriately. Robin, Coop, Atsushi and Johnny spent the afternoon troweling the surfaces to ensure a smooth finish.

Robin getting his troweling on

After the pour most of us went to the Chapter house to enjoy a local meal, that we were so lucky to be invited to. Delicious “Navajo tacos” were served with a variety of toppings such as beans, vegetables and meat wrapped in freshly made fry bread. No soul was left hungry.

Lunch time!

Seth, Becca and Zane stayed home to make some mockups on cladding; the group tried different ways to weather steel with i.e. vinegar and hydrogen peroxide, and many ideas on fasteners were discussed in the night meeting.


There’s a lot to do before starting our second week off but hopefully we’ll reach our goal for the session by Saturday night!



Pipsa & Linh

Arron and Matt getting ready for the day

Week 3 – Day 1

Monday morning saw the continuation of adding many imperative structural components on the Blue Mountain cabin, including strapping, blocking and sheathing, all of which will help contain the shear stress caused by the truss.  Additionally, the parapets were added to the patio.  These will hold up the truss once it is lifted into place.  Robin, Arron, and Dan worked exceptionally hard to get all of the structure for the decking in place.  We will soon be able to start utilizing the barn wood for the decking members so decisions are being made about sizing and planing.

Eastern parapet and the cantilevered deck

Eastern parapet and the cantilevered deck

Patio aperture sizing discussion

Patio aperture sizing discussion


During the weekend with our professor, Rick, and our structural consultant, Andy, we found out that an aperture that we had previously thought structurally impossible was still an option.  Therefore some of the day was dedicated to mocking up a patio bench and attempting to decide on sizing.

Mock up of the patio aperture

Mock up of the patio aperture

The Monument Valley cabin was fully sheathed by the end of the day and all of the strapping and scaffolding was taken down, giving us an unobstructed view of the cantilever that we successfully erected on Saturday.  The window team began working on a skylight which will be located above a lofted bed.

Ryan and the cantilever

Ryan and the cantilever

Fully sheathed Monument Valley Cabin

Fully sheathed Monument Valley Cabin

View of the Monument Valley cantilever from the window of the Blue Mountain cabin

View of the Monument Valley cantilever from the window of the Blue Mountain cabin

Many members of the group spent the day in Cortez on a material run for electrical equipment, plumbing, and additional steel to be used for scuppers and mock ups for the slatting connections.  Johnny poured a mockup for the dual kitchen/bathroom sink while Sam welded together one of the scuppers.

Sam working on the scupper

Sam working on the scupper

- Kathryn and Becca


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