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Volume 3 Issue 6“Building Confidence”June 2005



Hope your summer is going well and your construction projects are going smoothly, now that the good weather is here.

What's New

I've added three new articles, this month, all on the subject of cabinets: making face frame cabinets, making doors for your cabinets and making a counter top. Check them out in the Cabinets Series of articles on our Main Page at

I'll be taking my family on vacation for two weeks starting July 3rd, boating and camping in a very isolated part of our province's coast. No internet around there, which means no email either, so bear with me. (I hope there won't be any problems!!)

Ask Away!

Here are some of the questions I've answered in June:

My name is Glenn and my parents are putting an addition to their house.
I was just wondering if you need to connect the new foundation to the
existing foundation and connect the new walls to the existing walls of
the house?
how much would the foundation cost for 25' X 35' addition cost on avg?
(i don't know if u answer estimate questions but its ok if you can't)
Do you have examples of Foundation Plans on your site?

Hi Glenn,

Yes, the foundation should be tied to the original and existing walls tied to new walls, as well. To tie a new foundation to an old one, you can rent a hammer drill to drill the existing foundation wall with holes to install inserts and bolts between the two foundations. This makes a good "key" between the two. Chip away any foundation coating between the two, as well.

I don't get into estimating, just too many variables.

I started a new series on building a house and the foundation article is on the website at:


Hi ...this is Glenn again... thanks for the response... you guys are quick...

Do you need a licensed engineer/architect to get a plan approved for a
permit or can anyone with the "know-how" to make plans get a permit?

Hi Glenn,

You caught me on my computer today!!

Most jurisdictions just want a plan so they know what you are up to. I don't know of any places that require a drawing from an engineer or architect. They are specific on what they want though. You can usually get a handout from them of exactly what is required. Some jurisdictions have this info on a website, too. Check out your city, regional district or county on the web.

These may be some of the requirements in your area:

  • plot plan showing property lines and offsets from the addition.
  • foundation plan
  • floor plan should be to 1/4" = 1 foot scale
  • elevations, (maybe)
  • plans on 8 1/2" x 11" paper is fine and all plans should have dimensions
  • need 2 sets of plans, one will be returned to you
  • the license fee is usually set by the amount of estimated cost to do the addition

Check out this article for explanations of the different types of plans:

As a new member, Glenn, I'll explain some of our website's intricacies:

Some words in my articles are highlighted. Just click on these for their definitions in our dictionary. You can also search for keywords in any of our articles, plans and newsletters. You can use this feature at the top right of every page: a blank box in which to insert the keyword, then click on Find. And of course, use our Ask Dave feature. I try to get back to the person in a day or two. Sometimes I surprise them with an immediate answer, sometimes I go on holidays like most of us, and if I have access to a computer, I will get off a quick answer or explanation of why I can't answer them right away. I'm taking my family on a boating/camping holiday in a place called Desolation Sound off the West Coast of British Columbia, Canada, near where I live, during July 3rd to 18th. It is very isolated, so I will not be able to help anyone for two weeks. In circumstances like this, I leave a message on my computer which answers every email coming in with an automatic reply.

Did you sign up for our free newsletter? It comes out once per month. In it I discuss the questions I got during the month and include my answers. Just click on the link Newsletters on the Index Page, left column, to sign up and view the archives. You will probably be in the one for June. I only use your first name, only and no email addresses. This newsletter subscription has nothing to do with your website membership. You can cancel either at any time and one does not affect the other. The newsletter is our gift to the do-it-yourselfers. Membership of our website has a nominal fee to help us pay for what we are trying to accomplish here and we appreciate your support.


Greetings Dave & Dan, Hope you guys are doing great! Dave I have a question.
I need to deck my small shop roof, that's a total of 28' x 36' gabled roof
with an 11/12 pitch. I was going to deck it in 5/8 plywood due to the screw
penetration needs for a Galv. roof. Due to the price of 5/8 plywood I'm
rethinking this strategy!

It seems like everyone use to lap(sp) roofs for (non-comp) roofing,
cedar shingles, metal roofing, etc. I'm considering lapping it with 1 x 4"
on a 24" center, it figures right at 1/3 of the cost plywood is right now.
Is this something you would consider, or would you steer me another direction?
You know I always value and appreciate your knowledge and advice! THANK YOU!

Regards & God Bless, Bret

Hi Bret,

Yes, strapping is the way to go for corrugated roofing as well as shakes and shingles. The centers of the strapping depend on the gauge of the metal. Some gauges require a 12" strapping, others, a bit heavier, require 16". Check with the supplier of the roofing and he should be able to tell you what the centers should be.



   I have a 6'wide X 8'long concrete(2"thick)patio trimmed with brick with
   brick steps going to my back door to my house. This patio is approx. 3' high.
   I want to put railings(wooden) with an attached roof, not a flat roof
   but a stick built one with open ceiling to match the front porch(12'X16').
   How would I attached it to the original roof?It's shingled.
   How do I attached the 4'x4' posts to the concrete?. Hope I've explained
   this ok?. Oh, theirs 5steps to the porch that I want to have railings also.
   One more question(sorry). How do I attach the railings to the side
   of the house?
   Sure hope I didn"t scare u away!!!.

Hi Mike,

I'm a bit lost. The 6x8 patio is only 2" thick, so it can't support any weight, especially from a roof.

Any chance of sending a picture or a drawing so I know what the front porch roof looks like. And also what the edge of the patio looks like, being 3' high.

I also need to know how the existing roof is oriented for the new porch roof to attach to it.



Sorry to be so confusing!!!. Lets see now, the door is at the middle
of the house, the roof pitch is a 4-12 ,and the patio was built up
on 3 sides with brick and filled in with sand up to the 2" that was
filled in with concrete and steps were added to the front(4 steps)
all this was built up to approx 3 feet high. Door is under the slanted
part of the roof were the the rain gutters go!!! I surely hope this helps?

Thanks again,

Hi Mike,

Okay, now I know how your existing roof goes. Do these drawings help?

Drawing showing how to connect a roof addition to a gable roof.

Drawing showing how to attach roof rafters to a wall.

These were for another member, so disregard the sunroom. I just want to make sure this is what you are asking.

As mentioned before, your concrete is not thick enough to support a roof. You can either reinforce under the slab with additional concrete or come along side the slab with a concrete footing and column, then attach the 4x4 on top of that.

You can attach a 2x4 vertically to the house by using anchors into the mortar of the brick and screw the 2x4 into these anchors. Try to hit the mortar joints rather than the brick itself.

Am I on the right track?



Yep ur on the track with the roof, now the part were I connect
the new roof to the original roof. Do I have to take all the
shingles off where the new roof will go? Or just some of them
where the new roof will contact the original roof?. I was thinking
of using a ridge board say a 2"x 8" and using 2"x 6" for
the roof rafters?

Guess I forgot to tell u I have vinyle siding(Did I spell that
right?). I ask about attaching the posts for the railings to the wall.

As for the 2" slab, even with sand under the slab it won't hold the
weight of the roof ur saying?. If thats so should I cut a section of
concrete out and take some sand out and pour new concrete in ,
say about 6"?.

Thanks, Mike

Hi Mike,

Yes, remove the shingles in the area of the new roof, right down to the sheathing. For a small roof, such as this, a 2x6 ridge is good with 2x4 rafters. Have the rafters come down on 2x4s nailed on the flat on top of the sheathing. This gives more support for the rafters than just on the sheathing itself. These 2x4s will be flush on the outside with the rafters so that when the new sheathing comes down it will come to the existing sheathing.

With vinyl siding the problem is you need movement of the siding and clearances so it will move due to expansion and contraction. This is the problem with attaching something to vinyl. If is a short run of siding, okay. If it is in the middle of a long run, you are better off cutting through the vinyl and attaching the 2x4 for handrail right onto the sheathing and fastening into the framing. Hopefully framing will be there!! Attach the J molding around the 2x4 and replace the vinyl siding.

Here is a drawing looking at the side view.

Diagram showing how to support a roof using concrete footing and column, post saddle, wood post, scab holding the beam to the post, beam, rafters and wall framing.

With a post supporting a roof, usually we go down to below frost and put in a concrete footing and column. If you want the post at the edge of the slab, then you should cut a hole in the slab and reinforce it. In your case I would cut a neat hole in the slab and enlarge a hole below it about 12" to 24" deep, depending on frost depth. Form a 8"x8" concrete column about 8" above the slab to create a concrete column projecting up above the slab. Pour the footing and column and place a 4x4 post saddle on top of the column, level. This should be done for the two posts in the front.


I want to build a utility building like the quonset huts, but I'm stuck
on how to build the roof supports out of wood.
Your advice would be appreciated.

Hi Jim,

What size building? What would you use for the roof sheathing instead of corrugated steel? Does the quonset hut have a military memory for you?


I'm thinking about something on the order of 12 X 16.
No, the quonset hut has no particular military memory.
I plan on using corrugated roofing on a wooden frame,
just like the looks of the curved roof.
My thoughts were straight 6' sides then the curved roof.
I just haven't been able to figure out how to make the curved roof supports.

Hi Jim,

The curved roof needs to be made from 2x10 material about 55" long. First layout the shape of the roof as shown in the drawing, on a floor or a couple of pieces of plywood. Diagram of a quonset hut layout with measurements.We will use this layout as a jig for assembly, too. Scribe your circle using a strip of wood with a nail driven in exactly 6' from the end. Nail the nail in the strip into the floor or plywood. Using a pencil on the other end of the strip scribe the arc as it swings through the 180 degree as shown. Divide the 180 arc into two 90s then divide the two 90s into 4 45s by determining the distance half way between them. Get two 2x10s about 5' long with a 22 1/2 degree cut on each one of their ends. Butt the angled ends up to each other on the center line of the layout and mark the length for the 22 1/2 degree cut on the opposite end. When the four pieces are cut, assemble them together with toe nails. These four pieces should be exactly the same.

Now scribe the arc as before, but on the four pieces. Make sure you assemble the pieces to give the most amount of 2x10 left, about 3 3/4". Remove the pieces and cut out one of them. Mark this one as a template. It should be the same as the other three. Make up four pieces for each truss. There should be 9 trusses, at 2' center to center, not including any overhang. I figure the walls at 3' high will give about 7' clearance at the first junction and about 8' at the center.

You will need 18 pieces 2x10 x10' long.

Another method of doing this is to rip about 10" wide strips of 3/4" plywood (sheathing grade) or use 1x10 and laminate them together by overlapping the joints. The finished truss would be 1 1/2" thick.

The 2x10 trusses will be held together with a gusset at each intersection. These gussets should be made out of 1/2" plywood (sheathing grade) nailed or screwed in place on each truss, both sides, requiring 6 for each truss, with the arc on the top.

To support the corrugated roofing. I hope it will bend on a 6' radius, I'm doubting it will. You may have to go with 1x6 sheathing and a rolled roofing material. If the corrugated will conform, strap it first with 1x4 every 12" or 16" depending on the guage of the material.

If you want a 16" overhang or similar you would make an extra truss up for this, but cut the inside and outside arcs. Have the walls extended to fit the length of the overhang. This would have the end walls recessed.

The end walls would be made from 2x4 studs cut to length under the truss, flush on the outside. Toe nail the studs to the truss. Use sheathing on the outside of the wall to help hold the studs to the truss with nails or screws, that is nail the studs and truss well at each intersection.

Well, Jim, I hope you follow all this. If not let me know where I need a better explanation.


This is a great help, now all I have to do is do it.
This are very clear instructions and easy to follow. Thanks a lot.

Hi Dave, Your website has really helped my husband and I. We are putting in an open staircase in our livingroom. Your stair calculator was a breeze (and a savior). Thank heaven for people like you! And to share your knowledge with everyone!! The treads on my staircase are a solid oak wood, stained with a mohagany. My risers, and spindles, I want to be white. We plan on painting them. Do you know of any type of shalack or varnish I can put over the paint so it will not chip as easy? I am looking for something that will not turn them yellow at all. I may not do the spindles, however, I really hope I can find something for my risers. Thank you, Sandy

Hi Sandy and thanks for the nice words,

I would use a varathane product - Flecto Varathane Professional Finish. It is the one with the black label. The regular Varathane will yellow the finish a bit, this doesn't and you can apply a couple of coats on in a short time period. This is the same product that is applied on hardwood floors for a good hard finish.


Hi Dave
My stairs passed the code inspection and my landing ended up
with 80 3/4" head room after installing the 5/8 fire board
on the ceiling. Thanks for your help getting the measurements right.

Now I'm into the final stage of getting the elevated deck built.
A 10x10 deck 166" from the ground to the bottom of the entry door.
Almost the same as the stairs inside my landing outside is 5' x 8'.
I'm using 2x8 pt for the joist on the deck and landing, supports
are 4x6 posts. I have a bunch of 2x10 pt that I'm ripping them
down to 2x6 for the decking.
I have been reading your article about elevated decks and landings,
trying to get it right the first time and not go thru what I did
with the inside stairs.

What is the best way to figure out what the height of the landing
should be? Should the deck be the same distance below the entrance
door as the rise on the stairs coming from the landing to the upper deck?



Hi Al, and well done on the stair inspection.

One concern I have is with the posts for the deck. In my area they have to be 6x6. Better call your inspector and find out for sure.

Why not rip the 2x10s in half and use both pieces for the decking rather than a 2x6 and wasting the other piece?

The finished deck should be about 2" below the finished floor of the house to keep rain from entering. Then figure the total rise to the ground. Put the landing at the height of one of the risers, this makes the risers above and below the landing the same height. Checkout this article about putting in a landing:


Hi Dave,

Great website! I have been a member for maybe a year now
and have used your tips on several occasions - the stair
calculator worked great! I am truly a novice and am getting
ready to take on a project that I have no business tackling
- without your assistance!

My question involves building a shed - I like the utility shed
plan as opposed to the Gambrel plan. The only size plan for
the utility shed on the website is a 12 x 16. I only have
room for a 12 x 10. What modifications would I make
to compensate?

Also - what are my options for the height of the walls?


Hi Bill,

Thanks for the nice comments.

Remember that we don't build the whole thing at once. We do it in stages, so don't get overwhelmed by the finished product. We'll just start at the beginning and soon enough you will have a shed growing in the backyard.

Now is your size 12x10, 12' wide and 10' long or 10' wide and 12' long? This matters for laying out the trusses.

I chose an 8' ceiling , but you can go with whatever you want. Let me know.

Also which floor and foundation are you going to go with: concrete, block or wood?



Thanks for the quick response. Here are the answers to your questions:

The shed will be 12x10, 12' wide and 10' long. (If I am looking at
the front of the shed where the door is - the front wall from left
to right will be 12')

An 8' ceiling sounds fine.

Going with the wood floor and foundation.

Thanks again.

Hi Bill,

Okay, no problem. The trusses will be the same as on the plan, just make the side walls 10' long instead of 16'. The plan shows an 8' ceiling, too.

Anything else you are having trouble with?


Here is a request from one of our members:

I have a home built in 1910 with a clay tile roof.
The field tiles of the roof are in perfect shape but I am in need of
a Gable Terminal and several Gable Rakes, (due to tree damage).
I have found several tile salvage sites on the internet, but none
seem to have Gable Rakes for Mound City French Tile.
Other manufacturer's tiles do not measure the same and will not
interchange, while they do look similar. I was hoping you may know
of some salvage yards, that I am not able to locate on the internet,
or put this out for your readers that may have some. I have extra
field tiles I would be willing to trade if I could help someone
else out, or I would happily buy any Rakes anyone could spare.

I have been trying for nearly three years on the Internet and am
pretty sure I have contacted every business listed or recommended.

From what I have learned, if anyone has French Tile with
"Mound City A" cast on the back of the tile, it will interchange.
I am sending two pictures with this e-mail. I need a Gable Terminal
and assorted left and right Rakes. I can give the rest of the info
to anyone that may have some available. As I mentioned earlier
I have extra Field Tiles if I can help anyone in the same situation.
Thank You,
Mark B.

Photo of a roof tile.

If you can help Mark with these tiles, please contact him directly at this address. [address removed as situation is now handled]

Good Luck, Mark!!

That's it for another issue. Dan and I hope you enjoy reading this newsletter and encourage you to forward it on to those who may benefit from it.


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