Building a Tiny House – Walls and Sheathing

It’s been months since we bought our trailer. Shortly after getting it home I worked on securing the floor joists and subfloor. We then covered it, hoping to keep the weather off of it, and unfortunately it sat for months. We had 8 or 9 consecutive weekends where we were gone, which made it impossible to do any meaningful work.

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I’m happy to report that this past weekend broke that cycle. With a free weekend nothing was going to stop us. I called in an order for 2×4 studs on Friday night so I could pick it up first thing in the morning. For some reason I woke up at 3:00AM and couldn’t get back to sleep. I did the only sensible thing a man could do… grab my guitar and head outside with the dogs. At about 5:30AM I headed to Lowes so that I could pick up my materials as soon as they opened. Little did I know how long of a weekend I had in store.

I got my lumber home and got ready to work. Last week we ordered a 60″ french door, 3 awning windows and 5 picture windows for the house. I made sure to refer to all the “rough opening” measurements before starting the build. We had also previously taped off our floor plan so we could see how the space felt so I had pretty good guides for where all the walls needed to fall. Having said that, the stakes get much higher when you actually start cutting lumber and nailing things together.

The original plan was to just get the walls framed up. I was splitting them into several sections because I knew I’d be raising and working with them on my own. I had no intentions of standing them up, mostly just prepping so I would be prepared the following weekend. I knew that once I started standing up walls I was committed to getting things to a good stopping point, or else risk water damage. That seemed like more work than one guy could do in a single weekend.

The walls were coming together nicely and I started to think that maybe I could go ahead and stand them up after all. I also went ahead and framed out each of the windows so that we could sort of just drop the frames into place when we were ready.

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We identified that we would need 4×4 timbers to support the loft that would have to go in before we could put up the sheathing. Around lunch time I needed to make another run for materials. I decided to go ahead and pick up 4x4s so we could raise the walls… if we felt so inclined. Little did I know how difficult it would be to find any kind of untreated 4×4 lumber.

We tried ¬†every Lowes, Home Depot and local lumber yard we could think of and couldn’t find anything but pressure treated lumber. Treated lumber would probably be fine, but we really didn’t want the chemicals in an indoor application, especially in such a small space. I had about given up hope of finding it when I remembered our neighbor had found it near Nashville. He gave us the location and we called ahead to make sure they had it. They said they did. Knowing we had a source for the timbers¬†I proceeded to raise a couple of the wall sections and begin bracing them. Around 8:00PM I stopped so that I could pick up the timbers for the next day.

I drove about 45 minutes to the other side of Nashville to get the cedar 4x4s. I made a quick pass through the lumber yard and only saw 4x4x8s when we clearly said we needed 4x4x10s. Long story short, they apparently weren’t paying attention because they didn’t have it. I let the manager have it, but ultimately there wasn’t much they could do. An hour and a half of my time (round trip) wasted and no timbers. We were left with the decision… tear down the walls or find a way forward.

My initial thought, and probably the smarter side of me, said to take down the walls and try again the following weekend. The other side of me said that I’m not taking a step backwards. Anyone who knows me very well, knows where this is headed.

When I got back home I proceeded to raise the remaining walls, tie them all together and square everything up. At 2:00AM I finally stopped. All of the lower level walls were raised, squared and tied together. I grabbed a quick shower and laid down to sleep around 2:30AM. Up nearly 24 hours straight and 20ish hours of working in mid-90 degree weather.

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I got up at 7:00AM and immediately headed in to pick up all of the OSB sheeting I needed for the walls. Since the walls were all good and square the sheathing wasn’t a particularly complicated process, but it was a lot of hard work. The lower level sections weren’t too difficult, but as you begin working on a ladder and trying to lug big sheets of OSB, place them and secure them it becomes difficult work to do alone.

It was mostly a slow grind of hanging sheathing, but I did have a couple of small sections of framing that I had to add when I finished. It also occurred to me that I hadn’t doubled up the top plate that would support the timbers for the loft. Usually this wouldn’t be a big deal, you’d just throw another 2×4 on top of it. Unfortunately that would have cost us an inch and a half of headroom in the loft and we weren’t willing to give it up. I had to pull the top plate off, cut an inch and a half off of each stud and then re-secure the doubled up top plate. It probably cost me 45 minutes to an hour of time.

I stopped working around midnight. At the end of day two I had all of the sheathing up that I could, but still no timbers to support the loft. I was so tired I went to bed without eating anything.

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Monday morning I got the idea that I’d call a few local places, that had been closed on the weekend, when they opened at 7:00AM. If I could find them I’d go and pick them up and I’d at least have them available when I got home from work. I called three places and they all said that they could get them for me but didn’t stock them. When the last person mentioned that, I said, “I’ve been hearing a lot of that.” He replied that he could get them for me that day but I’d have to pick them up. I said to do it.

He called his distributor and got me a quote. In the meantime I emailed work to let them know I’d be a little late. What I didn’t know was that I had to go to his store to sign some paperwork before going to the distributor… I couldn’t pay over the phone. As luck would have it it was in the complete opposite direction of the distributor. I ultimately got the 4x4x10 cedar timbers picked up, but since it took longer than planned I decided to just use a vacation day.

I immediately hung the timbers for the loft and finished up the sheathing on that end of the house. At this point we essentially had a giant box. The weather report indicated a chance of rain in the next couple of days so the new priority became getting it protected from the elements.

I roughed in the remainder of the wall on the “high side” of the house. To stabalize it I just braced it to the completed walls below. The plan was to build something sturdy enough that it could hold a few rafters to support a tarp. I didn’t want to create extra work for myself so I went ahead and measured out where the picture windows would need to go and where all of my studs would fall. I was almost complete when I realized I forgot to double up the top plate again. You would have thought that I learned my lesson the first time. Fortunately, I won’t have to back track, too, much since I only roughed it in. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to fix it that night since I still had house wrap to put on.

I proceeded to measure and hang the house wrap. Again, it was midnight before I stopped working, but the walls were covered in house wrap. You could tell that I was exhausted because the house wrap wasn’t exactly my finest work. Fortunately, it’s something that will be covered up so the few wrinkles won’t hurt anything and at least the house was protected from the elements.

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The next day (today) I got up and strung up several tarps over the temporary roof structure that I put in. That alone took me about an hour and a half, but at least now I feel like all of our work will be protected from any rain we may get between now and next weekend. The next time we work I hope to finish up the top sections of our walls, add in the rafters and put sheathing on the roof. I’ll still need to protect the roof with tarps until we put the real roofing material on (EDPM), but that shouldn’t be too painful if I have a solid roof that I can walk on.

All in all a very long weekend, but we are definitely pleased with the progress and like how everything is taking shape.

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4 Comments

  1. Tammy Bobo

    What a weekend! I’m exhausted from reading about it. The pictures are great, though, and I know you all must be happy – and excited – at the progress.

    • kristy

      We’re exhausted as well but yest very excited to see it looking like a house :). The subfloor wasn’t nearly as fun as the walls!

  2. mishalene

    And we always wondered why Gibson never needs sleep! Lol. Awesome Job Derek!!

    • kristy

      Yes apparently more than 1 Bobo can function on very little sleep…the momma of this family does not fall in that category!

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