Raise the Roof

The SIP walls were pretty easy to install. The panels are light enough that two people can haul them around and keep them upright. The roof involved a little more planning.

The beam that stretches across the length of the tiny house, was salvaged from our friend Blake’s family’s property in Roslyn, Washington. His family had recently built a beautiful vacation home and Blake offered up the leftover beam, unsure quite how long it was. Determined to have a beam ready for his work party that weekend, Kalib drove up to Roslyn (80 miles outside Seattle) on a work night. The beam was perfect, beautiful solid fir. Just 4 feet short, but a scarf joint would make it work.

Kalib spent the night in his van and set out before dawn. Nothing but a quiet mountain pass between him and the roof now.

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Having brought the beam back on a Friday morning, he quickly hauled it to his shop where he could whip out the scarf joint and seal it. It had to be ready for Sunday morning. Friday and Saturday came and went, the beam was ready.

To know Kalib is to love him. He is charming and genuine. He is deliberate and exact. He is also an artist above all else. Whatever image of a brooding, tortured artist comes to mind, he has probably inhabited those traits a time or two.

We met in August 2007 and I distinctly  remember our first date. He picked me up at the ‘Juanita house’ I rented with two of my best friends, Mallory and Blake. Dinner was at a little Italian restaurant in downtown Kirkland. After dinner, we walked back to his truck and that’s when I noticed it.

Block letters, all caps, no less than 3″ tall, stretched across the entire rear window.

“LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT”

I think my exact thought pattern went something like this, “Jesus Christ. Perfectly good truck with some cheesy bumper sticker on it.” To, “Okay, he must genuinely, earnestly believe that…”

Fast forward to present day. Here it is- the big roof install Sunday morning and the artist in Kalib won’t let him be. He wakes up already in a rush. I’m at least an hour out. I’ll just have to meet him at the shop.

A couple hours later, I meet him at NK, where he has been steadfast at carving a beautiful detail into the beam. The carving runs the length of the beam and reminds me of something a wood weevil might do, given enough time. The yellows and pinks of the wood come alive under their clear polyurethane coat.

It dries fast and just like that Kalib made an ordinary beam into a centerpiece. He does this all the time. At times more overt than others, but always with the same gumption that ‘life is what he makes of it’.

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The beam was now really ready.

After a quick debate, myself, Kalib, Kade, our friend Keith and his wife Jaennae (also one of my best friends), and Kalib’s coworker Evan, jockey the giant beam, now 25 feet long, into the van and secure it ‘enough’ for the quick drive between the shops. The beam is heavy. So heavy it could easily mash the SIP panel edges that eventually hold the kitchen window.

A makeshift scaffolding of ladders is erected to get the beam into the tiny house through the kitchen window. As the guys scramble to hoist, lift and balance the beam. Jaennae and I grimace and wince just watching. We gasp as what seems like fingers and foreheads narrowly miss getting squished by the awkward beam. We offer worldly advice. “Don’t drop it.” “Be careful.”

On each end of the house, two little V’s guide where the beam is to be placed. Keith and Evan balance it as Kalib bolts it in place. With the beam tightly secured, the gang lets out some nervous laughter and jokes about the near misses.

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The roof SIPs require a little strategy. There are six in total and each must fit flush to the center beam and each other. While one side of each SIP will become the ceiling, the other side will be the start of the roof, which will serve as a base for the rainwater collection system.

Splines are precut from dimensional lumber. A handle is screwed onto one SIP face to help with lifting and the first roof SIP fits perfectly!

Somewhere around roof SIP 3 or 4, a sledge hammer and giant steel clamp enter the picture. Imagine 2 guys holding the panel up over their heads trying to align it, Kalib on top of the roof trying to align it and Kade wielding a sledge from the side of the tiny house, atop a ladder.

5 of the SIPs are strong armed into place before majority rules and Kalib is forced to break for the Seahawks’ game. The price of free labor, right?

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