Thursday, August 21, 2008

Framing in the HVAC on the first floor

Chaos I tell ya... just chaos.

"Let's just frame it in like two boxes. It'll be easy" he said, matter-of-factly, as if by saying it, the framing just built itself.

"But I want a cubby with shelves to put my keys on and maybe a phone charger, so as soon as I walk i the door, I can set them in the same place." She said, knowing that as soon as she said it he washed his hands of it.

"You're nuts."

Yeah, but aren't all rehabbers?

OK, I just hate wasting space. I see all that space in between the HVAC ducts and I just hate it. Apparently the joists under the floor dictated where these beauties would have to go, and there's not much we could do about that. So we got lemons... let's make meringue.

I got started about three weeks ago in order to get the electric switch boxes in place for the kitchen and the living room, but then I kinda just stalled on the whole project.

It's not like there wasn't anything ELSE to do. Humph.

Anyway, since I decided I wanted an area - shelves, whatever-- to be in the space between the ducts, I'd been kinda stumped. It's kinda why it's taken three weeks to get going, I guess.

I started getting my brain back wrapped around the whole mess this week and I finally got it. Had that "Eureka moment" in the shower. Since I was trying to conserve space in my new cubby, I wanted all of the 2x4's to be flat. Furring against the back wall wouldn't be a problem, but sooner or later I was going to have some stability problems. I mean, I couldn't just build the whole thing with flat 2x4's and toenailing them together. Seriously, I suck at toenailing 2x4's together. It's a weakness.

I started by putting in OSB over the holes that the HVAC guy cut out of our floor. I think he overdid it on the cutting, and we may have some minor problem with a final finish getting some of the original wood flooring back in there, but that's another problem we'll have to address down the road. Anyway, we had to install a couple of 2x4 braces with joist hangers to support the OSB -- which btw was an unholy b*tch to cut out around the ducts. In the end, it looked like a cut out of the Loch Ness Monster. And there were 2 of them (2 1/2" sheets of OSB to bring the floor level with the original wood floor).

Once those were cut and in place, I started forming a 2x4 rig for the floor so I could determine where the walls could go using the least amount of space. That's in the picture above. That's where it stayed for 3 weeks.

But progress progresses.

The inspiration came in the form of nail plates and the realization that I could fit a full 2x4 framed section at the corner. The secondary Aha moment was when I realized I could support where the 'thin' frame section met the 'full' framed section supported with a 2x4 attached to the wall in between the ducts.

I was worried that I'd have a weak spot (in the picture here, on the right side of the framing where the 2 mismatched walls met in the middle where it says 'support from the wall'. An easy place to have drywall crack is right where 2 unsupported wall sections meet in the middle.

So I decided to nail a premeasured 2x4 at a 90 degree angle to a tall 2x4, about elbow height, and squeezed it between the ductwork and tapconned the rig to the wall.
What I ended up with was an 11" support arm pre-nailed in place to the 4' 2x4 attached to the wall that holds the weak joint in place. You can only see the small arm in this picture, but it's doing its job.

The other big help was the nail plates. Instead of trying to toenail the two frame sections together (remember, I really suck at that) I used a couple of angle brackets at the top and bottom of the thin frame and used nail plates on the back and front of each connection. Then once it was in place, I just nail gunned the regular 2x4 frame into it.

And if you're noticing that the horizontal framing pieces aren't evenly matched up on that last thick 2x4 ladder piece, well, that's my fault too. The other frame sections I measured 16" OC from the floor up. This last section was measured the same way, but from the top down. I've started marking the words "top" on 2x4's so I remember which end is up now. I'll get over it.

So, besides a few measuring mishaps, the bulk of the job is done. Now all I need to do is finish up the top of the left side of this puppy with some more nail plates, and four 2x4 horizontal pieces (at 16"OC from the ground up.. heh heh) and I can move on to, well... everything else.

Starting with installing the bathroom vent fans. Ugh.

Oh yeah, and there's the second floor laundry room HVAC duct work directly above this mess that has been stalled for oh, I dunno... about three weeks?

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