It Takes a Village to Raise a Tiny House

Wall Raising!

Wall Raising!

Friday March 21, 2014

Today, I was lucky enough to have a number of very good friends join me for perhaps the most exciting part of our build process so far: raising the walls.

Who helped today:

  • Susan
  • Mike
  • David
  • Andrew
  • Sabine
  • Sheila
  • Leo

What we did today:

We raised the walls! We raised the walls! Did I mention that we raised the walls? I have a memory of also starting to cut up some of the wood for the loft in the ceiling and of Sabine helping me to sand some of the 4×4’s that will frame the loft. But mostly, we spent the day raising the walls.

Sabine Sanding the Loft 4x4's

Sabine Sanding the Loft 4×4’s

Our friend Susan brought her camera and took tons of pictures today. The photos make it so easy to see exactly how everything happened and what we did, forming almost a time laps of the entire day. These are by far the best photos we have of any of our work so far. The full collection can be seen at the link below. It’s definitely worth a look:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/67320401@N07/sets/72157642812301243/

Our Wonderful Photographer, Susan

Our Wonderful Photographer, Susan

Today’s tiny epiphanies:

  • It takes a village to raise a tiny house. Seriously, I could not have done what we did today without all the friends that we’re willing to show up and help. I continue to be amazed by how many people are willing to come help me with this project and actually claim to enjoy doing it!

Problems we ran into:

16 foot walls are heavy. 8 foot walls made of Parallam beams are heavy. Given how tiny my house is, I’m amazed at how much all the pieces weigh. It took lots of hands to safely lift those pieces. I would not recommend trying to assemble the walls of a tiny house without at least six people (three people for each side of the 16 foot walls).

The First (and Lightest) Wall Raised

The First (and Lightest) Wall Raised

Although lifting the walls was difficult, our biggest challenge today was getting the holes in the bottom plates of the walls to exactly line up with the all threaded rod that was welded to the trailer and sticking out of the floor. We lined up the wall frames on the floor and drilled holes though both the walls and the floor at the same time before we moved the walls into the garage. However, something must have shifted somewhere as things didn’t quite line up right when the wall was 6 inches above the floor, at the top of the rod.

The side walls were especially hard. We installed the left side wall before the right side wall and this was the most difficult wall of all. For the left side wall, we attempted to use a system of blogs stacked on top of dollies to allow us to roll the wall around while giving at the height we needed to get it up and over the all threaded rods. This seemed like a good idea. However, I think the dollies just made it more difficult for us, especially because the walls were resting on the very edges of the dollies which made them want to flip up. In the end, being able to roll the wall added degrees of freedom that only complicated the wall positioning process.

Two Walls Up!

Two Walls Up!

Luckily, we learned from the first walls. After lunch, we came up with a new system to install the right wall which ended up being significantly easier than the process we used for the left wall.

Here’s the process we used to install the right wall. I was pretty happy with how this went and if I had to do it again, I would do it the same way. We used the same basic process to install the front wall.

  • Prepared the floor by placing two spare chunks of 5 ¼” x 5 ¼” Parallam beam on the edge of the floor where the floor was going to sit. The chunks of Parallam beam were just a little bit taller than the rods. This would give the wall a place to sit before we tried to lower it onto the rods.
  • Using six people (three along each side), we lifted the wall and carried it out of the garage until it was lined up next to the trailer.
Carrying the Right Wall

Carrying the Right Wall

  • We stood the wall up on the bottom end so that it was resting on the plywood (I was worried that the plywood would not be able to carry the weight of the wall, but this worked just fine).
Right Wall Standing Up

Right Wall Standing Up

  • With the wall standing up, we lifted just the back end of the wall and moved it as close to the trailer as possible
  • With the wall standing up, we lifted just the front end of the wall and moved it as close to the trailer as possible
Right Wall Moved Next to Trailer

Right Wall Moved Next to Trailer

  • With the wall still standing up, we lifted just the front end of the wall and rotated it up and onto the floor, sitting in on top of one of the Parallam chunks.
Front Corner Up

Front Corner Up

  • With the wall still standing up, we lifted just the back end of the wall and rotated it up and onto the wall to sit on top of the other Parallam chunk.
Rear Corner Up

Rear Corner Up

  • Slid the wall back, forth, in and out until the rods were as close to the holes as we could get.
  • Slid a stack of two 2×4 scraps under the wall near each rod so that when the rod did go through the hole, the wall wouldn’t fall all the way to the floor (taking a finger or toe with it).
  • Removed one Parallam chunk at a time, lowering that section of wall until it was resting on the nearest rod (very close, but not quite in the hole).
  • With the wall resting on the top of the rod, we then put a block of wood against the top of the rod and hammered the block against the top of the rod in the direction of the hole. The weight of the wall resting on the rod kept the rod from springing back to its original location after each whack of the hammer. We kept doing this until the rod finally lined up with the hole and fell in with the wall falling down ~1.5 inches onto the stack of 2×4’s.
Hammering the Rod

Hammering the Rod

  • Once one rod was in the hole, we repeated the sequence for the other rod until that one fell into its respective hole.
  • Finally, we pulled out the stack of two by fours one at a time, lowering the wall all the way to the floor.
Right Wall Installed

Right Wall Installed

Favorite parts of the day:

  • After having so much difficulty putting the left side wall into place, it was great when the right side wall fell into place so easily. Sometimes, you have to do things the hard way to learn how to do things the easy way.
  • Sitting at lunch and realizing that we had the perfect number of people today. We could not have done what we did today with any less people and any more people might have made things too crowded. I let everybody know what we were doing today and somehow, just the right number of people showed up. Some people who usually come couldn’t make it and I also had some new people come who had never been here before. I don’t understand how this happens, but the universe just keeps sending me exactly what I need to build this tiny house.
Everyone in the House With The Walls Raised

Everyone in the House With The Walls Raised

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