Building My House

I have always wanted to build my own house. I am retired now, so I have the time. I found some land, designed a house that would fit the land and my needs and got started. I am doing all the work myself, so progress will be fairly slow. To read this blog from the beginning, start with the oldest archive and read posts from last to first.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

50: OSB Wall Sheathing

Fall is about my favorite time of the year, especially for outside work. Thinking back on previous years I’m reminded that I seem to get a lot of work done in the fall of every year. Since the torrential rains and winds of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike I’ve finished up the exterior stud walls, plumbed and lined them and now almost finished putting on the wall sheathing.

Because my wall studs are on 24” centers I opted for 5/8” OSB rather than the standard 1/2” stuff. Besides making the wall a little stiffer, I think it will help keep the walls a little flatter.

Pic 1 shows the south and a little of the east wall. My sources recommended that I cover the rimjoist and mudsill with the sheathing as that makes a much stronger wall by making the nails fail in shear (cut in half) rather than in tension (pulling them out). For this to work the sheathing has to be nailed into both the mudsill and the wall sole plate. I used about a 5” spacing on my nails; thank goodness for the nail gun as each 4x8 piece gets about 30 nails.

Pic 2 is the east wall. Because there are so many windows in this wall, I decided I’d get better strength if I ran the sheathing horizontal. If you think of the panels as being 4’ x 8’ you can see that on the east wall the top panels are up almost 18’ in the air. So, how did the boy get those panels up there (by himself).

Pic 3 is the answer to that question. I used a triangle shaped jig and a home-made block and tackle. The jig gets C-clamped to the top of the wall and there is a line that comes off the backside (tied into a floor joist) to resist the load trying to pull the jig off the wall. I came across some really good metal pulleys at the local welding supply store. Engraved into the side of each were the words, max load 685 lbs. These panels weigh about 65 lbs each, so I knew the pulleys would handle it. I started out with 3/16 polypropylene rope (rated for 75 lbs), but it was too narrow and too slippery to grab and pull, so I switched to new manila rope. My block and tackle consists of three wheels, two on top and one on bottom. By my calculations this gives me a mechanical advantage of 3, so the 65 lb OSB panels require only a 22 lb pull to lift.
Having worked professionally in the field of safety, I KNOW that you NEVER get under a suspended load…ever. So, it took a little figuring on how to get the panels raised, and then secured before nailing. Hint: Once you raise them, and tie off the line, then go inside the building to do final positioning. If a rope breaks, you’re safely out of the way.

Monday, October 06, 2008

49: Plumbing and Lining the Walls

After walls are raised and secured, they need to be straightened. Plumbing is making them vertical and square and lining is just getting them all in a line so they are straight.

All the carpentry books show examples of multiple people doing the plumbing and lining. That’s great when you have helpers to push and pull, and then another man renails the braces in place. But how do you do it by yourself. Actually, it isn’t that hard. You just need a way to make an adjustment (push or pull something) and then have a way for that adjustment to stay put while you renail the brace.
At that same welding supply store where I got the pulleys I came across some large turnbuckles. Humm, I says to self, I’ll bet I can use that to plumb and line my walls. Sure enough, it worked great. I buried one end of the turnbuckle in a plywood sleeve that fits over the end of a 2x4 brace. The other end gets clamped to the top of the wall. Now I can tighten or loosen the turnbuckle and in the process make small adjustments to the top of the wall. All my walls are nice and straight now.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

48: Exterior Walls Complete

Like I said in the previous post, lots of work has gotten done, but not blogged about. Yes, the exterior walls are complete. Since the garage walls are 9’ 5” tall, I built the exterior walls the same height so the roof lines would match up.

Pic 1 is the north and east walls. Pic 2 is the front porch/entryway area. There is no header above the left window because that isn’t a load bearing wall. Pic 3 is my view out the back door. That log floating in the lake is secured down to the lake bottom and functions as the “turtle hotel”. We’ve had as many as 15 turtles stacked up on that log during the heat of the day. They’re a lot of fun to watch.

The walls are 2x6 on 24” centers. Studs were located to the maximum extent possible so they would sit directly on top of floor joists. Likewise roof trusses will sit directly on top of wall studs. This is called stack framing and is a building code approved method of construction.

Walls this tall and built out of 2x6’s get heavy real fast. So, the walls had to be built and lifted in 10’ long sections. I had one spot where I had to use a 12’ long section. I got it lifted but that’s the longest wall one person can reasonably handle unless you’re REALLY strong.

Once they were stood up it was a real trick to get the walls braced so they wouldn’t fall back down. I did this by attaching a 2x4 brace to the floor before making the lift. Then when the wall was lifted I would hold it steady with one hand, pick up the other end of the brace, slide it up into position and then attach a big C-clamp. With the C-clamp installed both hands were free to hammer in a nail between brace and wall before removing the C-clamp. Building and raising walls by yourself can be done easily enough. You just have to think your way through every step of what you are going to do and how you are going to do it ahead of time so you won’t be caught trying to hold a wall upright and have no brace within arm’s reach. Out of roughly 15 sections of wall that I had to raise, I had to lay two of them back down because I forgot to have a clamp immediately available or hadn’t nailed the 2x4 brace down to the floor yet.