So much has been happening around here, I can barely keep up! The tiny house has quickly transformed over the last few weeks. I’m a bit behind in our updates due to a quick girls’ trip with my sisters and mom, but now that I’m back, it’s time to get everyone caught up on all of Eric’s hard work. The last post was a simple explanation of basic framing. I didn’t go into to much detail about our walls specifically, but I’m going to jump into all of that today. Each wall presented it’s own challenges, but we finally got the walls up and rafters in place. In other words, things got real.
As I mentioned in the last post, we started with the back wall to get the hang of things since it was relatively simple when compared to everything else. Things went smoothly, but of course we had to figure some stuff out along the way. One tricky part to this wall was that we were only building the bottom level, and would go back later to build the walls for the loft on top. This is because the loft will hang out over the bottom of the trailer by 2 feet. The reason we decided to do this was because we wanted some more room in the loft without taking away head space in the main living room. With the overhang, we now have a loft that is 9 feet long, but we are only using 7 feet of “down stairs” head space. However, this means a more complicated building process, but we started with the easy section first.
Once that wall was up, squared, and braced into place, we moved to the driver’s side wall. This wall was also tricky. Actually, at this point I’m going to say all the walls were tricky, and just try to remember that when I talk about the rest of them. Again, because of the loft connecting to part of this wall, we built the lower portion first and would go back later to build the loft on top. We did the same thing for the passenger’s side wall, finally getting the three lower walls up and ready.
Once the back-end-lower-walls were up, we moved to the opposite end of the passenger’s side wall and worked our way back toward the lower wall. This section includes two large window openings where the living room will be. Once we got the wall raised and in place, we laughed because our windows were up so high on the wall it made us look like little shrimps. However, we planned to have the windows higher in the living room so when sitting on the couch and leaning back to relax, we wouldn’t hit our heads on the window sills. Plus, in a tiny house the living room also serves as the dressing room, so higher windows and a little privacy won’t be a bad thing. You’re welcome, world. No one needs to see me dance-wiggle to get my skinny jeans on…
With the living room wall in place, we still had to build up over the wheels and connect the living room wall to the lower wall in the back. The middle section over the wheel included a very strong, thick header, but instead of being at the top of the wall, it was at the bottom in order to hold the weight of the wall. We also framed out a window for over the kitchen sink. Now, this middle section was pretty challenging (remember how every wall is tricky?) in that we had to match everything up: the top plate from the living room wall and the top plate from the middle section had to line up, the opening for the kitchen window fell half on the middle section and half on the lower section of the wall so that had to line up, plus we needed to make sure the top plate of the middle section would eventually line up with the top plate of the loft, which we still needed to come back to. If none of that makes sense, then we’re on the same page. Basically my job through all of this was to hold things in place while they were screwed together or to help hold the walls while additional measurements were taken. I was in no way in charge of the “figuring out serious things” process. I just stood where Eric told me.
But, my standing paid off, because we finally had the passenger’s side wall up!! …With the exception of the loft walls. But, before we tackled the loft walls, it was time to do the same thing all over again on the driver’s side wall. We started in the living room and again worked our way down to the lower section already in place. This living room wall includes the door and one window, and was even taller than the passenger’s side wall, so raising that up was a real treat. Thankfully, our brother-in-law, Aaron, was around to help, because my noodle-arms weren’t doing the job. Once that section was squared, braced, and bolted down, we moved to the middle section over the wheels. We built another very strong, thick header used at the bottom of the wall to hold the weight. Thankfully, we didn’t have to worry about any windows in the middle section, because this will be our stairs and closet area.
With these two long walls mostly up and in place, the house was actually starting to look like something! Very exciting times. Now it was time to tackle the loft. Eric and his dad first built the cantilever that would hold the weight of the walls hanging over the trailer. Then they build the floor of the loft, threw on a few pieces of plywood so they could stand up there, and started working on the loft walls. The passenger’s side loft wall has a long, skinny window opening included, and the driver’s side wall has two smaller window openings.
The real pain came when figuring out how to get the correct angle for the back loft wall. Because we are going to have a shed roof, the driver’s side wall is taller than the passenger’s side wall. This meant we had to get the angle perfect, or else there’d be major headaches down the road. So, lots of measuring and calculating and double checking went down.
Honestly, I think the theme of our tiny house could be: Always measuring something.
Eric is really smart, plus he’s handy, so the back loft wall wasn’t anything he couldn’t handle, and pretty soon we had the loft completely framed! I’ll try to explain how we got the angle: by measuring the height of the passenger’s side wall and the driver’s side wall, we knew there was a 9.5 inch difference. Then, we made a mark on the passenger’s side bottom plate and then made a mark on the driver’s side bottom plate 9.5 inches longer. From there, we laid the extra long top plate board across the floor meeting those two marks with the extra length hanging off the trailer. Since that top plate board was extra long, we could then draw lines following the bottom plate to give us the correct angles to cut the top plate. Basically, we build the loft wall on the floor, making it fit between the bottom plates, so then we could raise it up and it would fit perfectly between the top plates. I’m sure none of that makes sense, but hopefully the pictures below can clear it up a bit. The point is, we got the angle correct, and the back loft wall made it up.
The last wall to finish was the front of the trailer by the hitch. This would finally close in the living room. Because we had already figured out the angle for the loft wall, we could breeze through the top plate cutting for this wall. Also included on this section is an opening for a window and our AC unit. Eric and I both wanted to make sure we had an AC unit that would keep us cool and comfortable in the summers, while not breaking the bank. We would have preferred a split system unit, but those are expensive and they have to be installed professionally… Who do they think we are??! Don’t they know we’re DIY-ers?!?! Come. On. Ha, just kidding!! I’d gladly have someone install anything for us, but it just came down to cost. So, we settled on using a through the wall unit. Finally, the last wall was up, everything squared and braced, and we had a real house taking shape.
Once all four walls were up, we needed to square everything and brace each wall in the exact right place, so we could start attaching the rafters. With walls this tall and built in different sections, we had to deal with the walls either leaning too far out or too far in from where they needed to be. To do this, we attached two small pieces of board the exact same width to the two top corners of the wall. Then, around the corner to those pieces of wood, we drilled in a screw and tied a piece of string from one screw to the other very tightly. Once the string was in place, we took a third piece of wood the exact same width as the others and put it flat against the top of the wall, and then either pushed out the wall or pulled in the wall until the third piece of wood was touching the string just as the other two on the corners. We did this every few feet from one corner to the other. Once the walls were the same distance from the string, we screwed the braces down to hold everything in place. String test: passed!
The last part of Building Phase Three was the rafters for the roof. First, Eric attached a rim-joist-fascia-board-hybrid along the top of all the walls. The point of this board is to hold the rafters to the wall. This hybrid board had a small notch cut out along the bottom, so when it was fastened directly to the top plate there was still a small space open for sheathing to slide up under it later on. This was also the board that the rafters were fastened to every 2 feet. The point of adding this extra hybrid board is so the wall sheathing can slide up underneath the board, while the roof and metal flashing will fold down over the board. This provides an extra barrier for protection that water can’t get into our walls. The rafters were also cut with a small notch to sit on the top plate with the correct angle of the roof. With that, framing was complete!!!
It seemed like after months of planning and waiting around, in a matter of days, everything changed! Build Phase Three is officially finished, and we’re already half way through Building Phase Four. I’m telling you, things are moving fast around here, with the exception of my blogging skills. I’ll start working on the next entry right away, so hopefully this blog won’t be too far behind our progress. Also, I’m super exciting for the next blog entry to announce our first EM & EM Tiny House sponsor!! But more on that next time- be sure to come back soon!