Ben’s Garage: Raise the Roof!

by Ben N on December 10, 2016

Today, we put the roof on the garage!

Planning was interesting, because the big weather forecast was for a large snowstorm to be coming in. Fortunately, it shouldn’t start until near the end of the day.

We weather was cold but clear as we got started – about 15 degrees F., but sunny. The first thing to do was build a scaffold to work from. Once we had the plank up, it gave us a place to stand to set our first piece of plywood, make sure it’s centered and squared, and then nail it.

IMG_2366All sheets of 5/8th” plywood run horizontal, and the trusses are on two foot centers. Steve and Josh stopped over, and it wasn’t too long until we were rolling right along, lifting sheets of plywood onto the roof and nailing them in place. We were really just nailing all the corners. Once all were in place, we went through with the nailing gun and put a nail about every six inches. That plywood ain’t going nowhere! (Laugh all you want, but there’s going to be a LOT of solar panels on this roof, and I want them to survive 100 MPH wind…)

(PHOTO: Josh takes a break to tune a guitar. I got a tiny used guitar for my daughter as a Christmas present. Josh plays, and was happy to tune it for me.)

Once all the plywood was down, we laid down the felt. This is actually a modern synthetic material. Instead of starting from the bottom, as would be typical, we started from the top and worked our way down. That way, we didn’t have to step on the felt. The roof was steep enough to merit cleats when we were laying down the plywood. Trying to walk up the roof on slippery synthetic material did NOT seem like a good plan. The only downside to this was that we needed to leave the bottom edge of each roll loose to tuck the next layer under as we retreated down the roof.

Try as I may, I personally wasn’t that useful on the roof. Ever since the notorious “Ben’s Ankle vs the Electric Motorcycle Incident of 2012”, my left ankle doesn’t flex the correct direction for walking uphill on roofs. Instead, I mostly kept busy lifting plywood to the roof, reloading the nailing gun, and moving lumber.

Once we completed the south side of the roof, we took a break for lunch (Sloppy Joes!) and to warm up.

Then, it was back to work, moving the scaffolding to the back of the building. Steve stuck around, but Josh had to go. Fortunately, I had Fred lined up for the afternoon, who had just showed up.


The north side seemed to go a little quicker. All the minor adjustments on the south side make everything line up better on the north side. It was mostly just lifting plywood, flopping it down, and nailing it. The time lapse video ran out just before finishing the felt on the north side.

At the end, I was down on the ground, pushing lumber around and moving materials to INSIDE the garage. That’s right… INSIDE! With the floor already in of the upstairs, and now a ROOF in place, the garage is more or less closed up. (Not that it has doors or anything, mind you…)

As a finishing touch, Wayne and I strung up my single spare strand of LED Holiday Lights on the east gable end, which faces the main road. Instant Festive!

The other guys went inside for pie and coffee. As I finished sweeping the driveway, the first snowflakes started to fall. We had beaten the storm.

I tucked the car into the garage, hoping for plenty of snow, feeling perhaps a little smug that we got the roof on. Even without garage doors, or hydronic heat, or actual roofing, my car somehow seems a little warmer being in the garage, and under a roof.

Until next time, stay charged up!


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michael Stehlar December 10, 2016 at 11:10 pm

Hey Ben,

So I live in Buffalo, NY. I am very familiar with the cold and snow. I would like to an electric vehicle someday but as far as cost effective goes, am I better off buying one? Or building? Thanks


2 Ben N December 11, 2016 at 7:55 am

Hi Mike! The best way to go now for a GOOD, RELIABLE, AFFORDABLE electric vehicle is to BUY a used commercially-built one. There are all sorts of great cars out there, and because the new ones are coming out and evolving so fast, it really pushes down the value of the used vehicles.

As far as cold goes, most EVs have heated seats and great pre-heating features where the car is already warm when you get in!

-Good Luck,

3 Don dakin December 11, 2016 at 10:21 am

Nice work ben et all,

So for the solar will it be panels or a solar roof as in shingles a la tesla or some other manufacturer ?


4 Ben N December 11, 2016 at 11:33 am

Hi Don,
It’s going to be traditional PV solar panels over a metal roof. Those are both GREAT existing technologies that I can get RIGHT NOW. Unfortunately, I can’t just run out and buy Tesla solar shingles right now, and what had been around for “solar roofing materials” have never proven themselves to be particularly reliable/effective.

5 Joe Siudzinski December 11, 2016 at 5:12 pm

Did you button up the open doorways? Looking at the weather that will be hitting you I think it’s great you got the roof on barely in time!

6 admin December 11, 2016 at 8:26 pm

No, the garage doors can’t go in until the inside ceiling goes in, which can’t go in until the electrical wiring is done, as much of it runs through the ceiling. I might grab some construction plastic and make temporary doors from it.

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