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  • Writer's pictureJim Martin

Going Up!

Finally, finally, finally, time to put up some walls! It was an exciting day.

Most tiny house builders in the US suggest traditional lumber framing (rather than metal studs). And in general, the recommendation is that the studs be on two-foot centers (rather than 16 inch centers). This basically means that the center of a stud will land every two feet from the corner as you go down the wall. (The two-foot spacing works well for tiny houses because the "roof load" is quite small, even in places were snow might pile up on it.)

There's tons of stuff on YouTube dealing with laying out and framing walls. But the basic idea is that you cut the top and bottom "plates" to length and lay them parallel to each other with their ends aligned. Then you mark out the location of each stud ensuring they are centered every two feet from the corner. Then you mark out any extra framing for windows or doors.

This process for a tiny house gets a little bit complicated by the fenders of the trailer which interrupt the bottom plate of the wall. Our side walls are also higher in the front (over the loft) than in the back (over the kitchen). There's also a two-foot overhang that cantilevers out over the hitch as part of the loft. Here's what the passenger's side elevation looks like from a more technical SketchUp model:

As you can see, I haven't drawn in the framing over the wheel well--which will eventually include a picture window. I'll talk about that later. For now we wanted to lay out the basics and get going. So, after some head-scratching, checking, and re-checking, we were ready to cut some lumber and start framing!

Here you can see the lower wall section in the foreground and the higher section in the back. We haven't attached the top plates yet. Those are coming!

For fastening we're using a combination of a framing nail gun and three inch decking screws. The nail gun is great for quickly getting things positioned and stable. Screws are helpful to ensure that the nails don't work themselves loose over time as the house gets moved.

After the top plate goes on, it's the moment of truth: time to stand up the first wall! Yay!

Since it was just Jenna and me working this time, we weren't sure we'd be able to lift the wall on our own. So we attached the diagonal bracing to the end studs while the wall was still lying down. That way as we lifted the wall, the braces slid into place and I could jump down and tack them in to hold the wall steady. In the end the lift wasn't too difficult!

Then it was time to stand back and admire our handy work. So cool!

We repeated the process on the back (kitchen) wall: Lay out the top and bottom plate. Mark the studs on two-foot centers, add framing around the window. Assemble the wall lying down:

Then... stand it up!

Boom! Oh my goodness, what a day.

One final note: I tacked the corner together with a couple of screws to keep it all stable. But as the other walls go up, we'll need to square them and make sure they are plumb (straight up and down). So those screws are temporary until we're sure everything is correctly aligned. Then we'll make the final permanent attachments.

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