We lived in Arizona for almost 15 years and learned to love the flora and fauna native to the state. Despite years of living in the midwest, we had read about saguaro cactus, prickly pear, creosote bushes, palo Verde, mesquite, and the roadrunners, gambel’s quail, coyotes, tarantulas and scorpions of the desert southwest, but actually living with these wonders and learning to enjoy the sparse beauty and long views of the desert was a fantastic experience. One of the desert’s lessons that I read in a book was to never confuse being able to see a destination in the distance with the time it would take to actually get there. It is true that a mountain appears in the Arizona landscape hours before you actually arrive there by car. That lesson struck me as so true then and definitely applies to this house project.
I was just writing the end is in sight, but it feels quite a distance off once I start working on any one part of the project. Today it was the platform over the guest bathroom that replaces a portion of the attic that existed in a larger area in the original house. This platform will be mostly enclosed and will hold the ventilation system for the house. I had to buy 2×6’s for the project and I bought joist hangers. Because the two beams are not parallel to each other, I ordered 45 degree angle joist hangers from Home Depot.
I began assembling the platform by nailing and screwing the 45 degree hangers at 16 inches on center on the angled 2×6 beam. Then I attempted to attach 90 degree hangers across from them and realized I only had 47 inches to put in five joist hangers on the opposite side. I consulted my mathematician husband only to find that if I wanted the joists to be 16 inches on center on the opposite beam, I had to move all the 45 degree angle hangers to be not 16 inches apart but 16 times the square root of 2 or about 23 5/8 inches apart. So I never learned to apply the geometry I could do on paper to real world problems but luckily Dave did.
I had to pull out nails to move the hangers because I didn’t have screws that were narrow enough to go through both sides of the 45 degree hanger. I used 2 1/4 inch 7# galvanized nails because that is what I had that fit and I screwed the single panel side of each hanger. After I moved all the 45 degree hangers, voila, the opposite hangers worked at 16 inches on center. Amazing.
The first board ended up a bit short after moving the hangers, but I used it anyway and centered it between the hangers which are long enough to hold it securely once screwed into the hangers. The hardest part of the project was keeping my hands on each screw as I secured the hangers and the boards. I must have dropped 20 screws, or about 25% of the total number of screws I used. At least it felt like that. I am reusing screws from the original drywall in the house that we salvaged and organized by size and thread type. No extra cost for screws for some tasks is a bonus. Only a small part of the original drywall was screwed in so we will not have enough to install new drywall. Besides, I really want to use professionals for that part of the job. To get it finished quickly and get the messy dusty part over with.
The platform is almost done but I would like to square up the inside edge with another 90 degree hanger and install plywood on top. I will have to attach the last joist to the current end one to move from 45 to 90 degrees at the platform’s open edge. The platform should end right at the bathroom door keeping the high ceiling for the shower and vanity half of the room. We will hang the walls for the bathroom from these joists and beams so building the platform was a necessary step to getting these walls installed.