My hope for framing the walls was that Dad would be there the entire weekend. When I checked in with him early in the week to make plans, he said he could be there for some of Saturday, but his new job (as an inspector with the ‘Airplane on the Ground’ program of Boeing) was sending him to Brunei late Saturday night. Brunei. Figures, right? So as to not waste precious time of my 6 hours with him, I drove down to Monroe Thursday morning and loaded up on lumber. I thought this would be quick. It wasn’t. I bought 85 2x6x92 5/8 studs, 14 2x6x10, 6 2x4x10 and 8 2x6x8. That’s a lot of wood to move from shelf to cart, cart to truck, truck to carport. Have I mentioned yet how everything in the house takes 3 times as long and costs twice as much as planned?
I used 2x6s instead of 2x4s because when I bought my salvaged windows, I didn’t realize I needed to take into account not only the width and height, but the depth. Half of them were 4.5-6″ thick. Too thick for 3 1/2″ walls. I couldn’t shave them down either as many people suggested, one is a casement window and another is my arched stained glass centerpiece. It was either 2×6 walls or get different windows. Since I might/maybe/hopefully move the house to Alaska someday, I opted for thicker walls which would allow for more insulation. This is what I tell myself, anyway. It added some weight but the studs are 24″ on center instead of 16″ and I’m not doing a dormer in the loft as originally planned, so hopefully the weight evens itself out. I also got framing brackets and bolts to secure the walls to the subfloor/trailer, and a 1/2″ metal drillbit.
Then I drove the hour home and went to work delivering pizzas, then I delivered pizzas all evening Friday and then drove the hour to Monroe at 11 p.m. I’m really looking forward to getting to Alaska in June if only to take a break from driving so much.
Saturday morning Dad and I got started bright and early framing the walls. I’d drawn up a nicely color-coded framing plan which, to my surprise, we used almost without alteration.
There’s not a lot to tell about framing. It’s simple in concept and easy to do once you get the hang of it. The hardest part for me was getting the drawing done and making sure everything was going to fit. It did.
We had 6 separate sections to frame; each short end, and the two long sides split in half. We split the long walls at the end of the wheel wells, where there was a sill to top plate stud to hold the header for the wheel well. We laid out the sill and top plates for each section next to each other, held together with clamps, and marked out each of the 24″ oc studs. Then we separated the sill and top plates on the subfloor and nailed in each stud that wouldn’t be cut by a window or door opening. Then we built each window within the framing, stood it up, and attached it to the floor with clamps.
This was mostly simple and fast, except that since we couldn’t lay the nail gun flush with the floor, we kept shooting the lowermost line of nails at too sharp of an angle and attaching the studs to the floor. Derf.
The back ends of the long walls were more complicated; the sill plate in these walls ends at the wheel well, where we then built a header just as you would over a window. The top plate ran the full 10+ feet to meet the top plate of the front portion. I’m a little fuzzy on how these portions of the wall actually got built; Dad and I sped through one side to get it finished before he had to fly to Brunei and he just directed me and I shot nails, and my uncle and stepdad built the other side while I worked on a different section. I think we basically attached the end stud and the one 24″ oc stud that would go sill to top plate, stood the wall up and then built the window and wheel well headers within the standing frame. We couldn’t build it all out on the floor because the wheel well got in the way. I worked on the window and wheel well alone after Dad left and was in tears of frustration before he’d even been gone 15 minutes. It is incredibly frustrating, though not impossible, to do this stuff with only one pair of hands. I didn’t get much done but did get most of the cripple pieces cut for underneath the big living room window.
My dear friend Melissa came up from Seattle in the evening. We had dinner and drinks with another dear friend, Sarah, in town and then Melissa spent the night in Mom’s bunkhouse with me, where we giggled like teenagers at a sleepover and made plans to celebrate our 17 year anniversary as friends, along with Sarah, in 2016. We met when we were 17 so it is a kind of ‘I’ve been friends with you longer than I haven’t’ celebration. Here we are being 17:
In the morning I realized Dad and I, in our haste, had counted 24″ from the end of the sill plate on the long wall; this wouldn’t work because the short end walls go edge to edge on the trailer and the long walls butt up against them. The 24″ measurements should have been from the end of the trailer. Since my big living room window sits with one edge on a 24″ stud, this would have pushed my window 5.5″ forward in the trailer, which would have cut off 5.5″ from my woodstove area, which would have cut 5.5″ from my kitchen… I panicked but Melissa, veteran home renovator that she is, calmly explained that we could use a sawzall to cut through the nails and move the two 24″ studs back to their proper position. Since I’d been too tired and frustrated the night before to nail down any of the pieces for the window, this was easy and took 10 minutes.
Cap’n Fingers came out again and he, Melissa and I worked on finishing the window framing and attaching the bolts through the sill plates, subfloor and metal flange of the trailer.
In the afternoon a bunch of family members came out and we got the walls finished with little hassle and great cooperation. Hurrah!
And then it was 7 p.m. and my house had walls. What!
The door is only going to be something like 6′ tall. I really wanted it to open into the kitchen under the loft, rather than into the living space as most people do. I wanted a sense of comfy closeness in the living area without a big door opening to take up floor space and break the walls. I also wanted more headspace in the sleeping loft, and the loft joists to sit on the header of the door and windows… so 6′ door it is. I was already going to get an old wooden door and make it into a Dutch door, so now I’ll just cut 6 inches or so off the bottom too. DIY baby! The kitchen ‘ceiling’ will be at 6’6″, with an additional 5.5″ between the rafters which I’m hoping to use for dry goods and dish storage. I’m 5’7″ so this ceiling height will suit me just fine.
As the sun went down, I tidied up the workspace, listened to music, wandered around touching the windowsills and imagining what it will look like when it’s finished, and finally swept the floor of the house.
See what I did there? It’s not a trailer anymore. It’s a house.