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Posted by Steven in Colorado Springs, CO on 2/10/2010

Well now--today was an interesting one.

Late last night Colleen got a call from Builder Dale that the crew needed some more pallets of ICFs... they didn't quite have enough straight 8" forms to finish the last couple of rows of the second floor. This was unexpected, as they'd been fairly careful to keep an accurate count ever since the first time this happened, but apparently not quite careful enough...

So Colleen spent her day shuttling pallets of ICF up to the site while the crew stacked what they had, mostly the 4" stuff, for the two end walls. These were relatively simple once the crew got a good rhythm going, since they're basically just straight walls without too many openings--six small glass-block windows at the north end and a large patio door at the southern end (letting out onto the rooftop deck). When she got up there, they helped her unload, she answered a couple of questions, and then back down for another load she went.

After she was done with that, she went to meet with Builder Dale down in Pueblo to go over some ideas for rooftop deck. As one might expect (especially if you've had any experience with houses that have flat roofs), you generally can't just slab out the roof and call it good. There are county codes to consider for drainage (in our case the county wants 5" of slope across the deck), and sealing against water infiltration, and all manner of related stuff. Fortunately, Builder Dale is well versed in dealing with this type of thing, since it's common when building a southwestern-style house (which usually have flat roofs), and so met with Colleen to discuss some options with her.

We had already decided to punch in three drains (6" in size) at the lower end of the slope to get the water off the roof as quickly as possible, and while this meets the minimum county requirements given our rainfall (and snowfall!), Builder Dale wanted to do more. In this case he introduced Colleen to the concept of the "cricket"--a V-shaped funnel of sorts that is positioned in front of each drain and sloped to help channel water off of the deck and through the drain. A slope is imparted so that there are ridges between each cricket, thus hastening any water towards its eventual exit--which is good, because the less time it's on your roof the less chance it has to do damage. 

Once these are installed, the whole thing will be covered with a waterproof  membrane that will be run up the sides of the deck to the bottom of the crenelations, helping to ensure as waterproof a barrier as possible. Where the membrane hits the drains, we'll stub them partway into the pipe and swab them in with a healthy glob of tar to waterproof that interface too, much as one tars around vent pipes and such in your roof. This approach should be good for many decades of service--at least as long as a typical roof and probably longer, since we intend to build a deck on top of this whole mess (which will help to shelter it from direct exposure to the elements).

This all led to a basic discussion of the deck banisters and another county requirement. Turns out that their going-in assumption is that all people are idiots (not all that hard to prove through a casual study of winter-driving habits, I might add), and they view the crenelations as practically begging folks to climb up and dance on them until they slip and fall to their bloody, broken, deaths. To help prevent appearances on the local TV stations, therefore, we need to put up banisters to block off easy access to the crenelations (much as one does with stairs). 

They don't really care what kind we put up, but of course we do. Having gone to all the trouble to put in these cool castle-looking crenelations and ramparts, the last thing we wanted was to put big rails between them to keep some dimwit from hurling his body into the potentilla bushes. That would look ugly, and detract from the "soaring castle rampart" look we are going for. If we weren't going to have a deck up there, we wouldn't have a problem--southwestern style houses don't have this requirement because the roof isn't a typically accessible area, but in our case, it's intended for outdoor living/entertaining and hence the design necessity.

Fortunately Builder Dale had a good idea--we could use steel cables to provide the necessary barriers, much as they are often done with the "modern style" stairwells and such. Not only would these be weatherproof (galvanized steel most likely), but from any distance they would be invisible to anybody looking up at the crenelations--very nice. We eagerly agreed that this was a good way to go and would work well with the intended design for the deck (it's to be a bit more "modern" anyway), and so we began hunting around for cable options and whatnot.

Turns out that most places really, really think fondly of their cables for applications like this! They aren't available at most of the "big box" stores like Lowe's or Home Depot, but online prices seem to vary from expensive to outrageous. After some hunting, though, Colleen located a possible source over at a place called Cable Railings; they look like they're new to the field, but their prices look to be good enough for serious consideration. We'll have to go ahead and get some things in the next few days--with the concrete pour aimed for Monday (it moved since the crew ran out of block); we'll have to get the eyebolts and such locally, but that's not a big deal.

So there we go. No pics today, because Colleen just wasn't up there much.

Steven in Colorado Springs

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