August update: finishing the floor; starting the walls


August updates, in video:

August updates, in prose and pictures:

Day 4: Finishing insulation, fighting with drills, and crawling about underneath the trailer

Having framed and insulated the floor in early August, my next day on the job involved stuffing the remaining spaces between the floor joists with insulation, then filling in all the tiny gaps and cracks between the insulation and the joists with an expanding foam substance to seal everything up. Messy, but manageable.

(Non-functiong) water pump on site.
Next, I had to finish securing the floor to the trailer: ensuring it (and the walls to be built on top of it) could survive a trip on the open road, strong winds, or another DC earthquake. To do so, I had to drill ten 3/4" holes through (1) the floor joists and (2) some absurdly-tough steel tubing that was welded on a few weeks earlier, through which a threaded rod will (eventually) be inserted to bolt everything (trailer, floor, and walls) together. Alas, drilling holes of that width and depth is not an easy task, so I spent about half the day fighting a bucking drill (and its nine-inch, $60, deadly-weapon-looking bit that I had to specially order) through six inches of lumber (not too difficult) and two layers of uber-strong steel (much more difficult).

Finally, I crawled underneath the trailer to finish up the bolting that Justin had helped out with the week prior: ratcheting in a total of sixty or seventy bolts through the decking and the floor joists to tie the two together. Tough work indeed, but between those bolts and the aforementioned threaded rods (in addition to the fifty-plus decking-to-trailer screws that were done on the very first day of building), the Matchbox should be affixed securely enough to the trailer to withstand the meanest of tornadoes (of course, none of this does anything to prevent the whole structure from just blowing awayit simply means that if the house does indeed blow away, it'll take the trailer with it).

Hours: 6.5
Hours to date: 39.5

Day 5: Making the floor a floor (or, putting sheathing atop the joists)

With the Matchbox's foundation finally squared away, Tony and I next began work on creating a sturdy floor: that is, covering up the floor joists and insulation with the swaths of plywood on which the hardwood flooring will ultimately rest. The morning consisted of making sure everything was painstakingly level (a very important thing for all subsequent work)lots of hammering down joists to just the right height as their neighbors, picking off pieces of expandable insulation that had crept up over the joists. and sweeping minor debris of off the floor's frame.

Then it was on to sheathing! This process went fairly quickly: a bit of cutting and fine-tuning, but in essence, I just slapped some construction adhesive down on each joist (to provide support and prevent future squeaking and creaking), we placed the 8' x 4' sheets of plywood on top, and then we  screwed each down into the various joists underneath. And by late afternoon, we had a solid floor: a 130-square-foot stage on which one could walk (we did), sit at a table and drink (we did), or dance (we, sadly, did not).

The flooring wrapped up just in time for a Boneyard gathering we had with some friends, who were all quite excited to see the fresh progress.

The completed floor (note the sloped trailer, which got some much-needed leveling/loving on Day 8).
Hours: 8.5
Hours to date: 48

Day 6: The search for some decent lumber

Early on in Day 5, it became apparent that we would be making it to walls this weekend and would need lots and lots of lumber to get that process started. So I called my friendly neighborhood Home Depot, hoping to get a hefty delivery of top-quality 2x4s the following day.

I won't bore you with the specifics of this particular exchange or the subsequent mercantile disaster, but in a nutshell: Home Depot (or Home Despot, as Tony calls 'em), royally screwed up the order in every way imaginable, requiring a four-hour visit to the store itself at the start of Day 6, during which we determined that Home Depot does not have enough usable lumber to frame even the tiniest of houses.

By the fourth hour in that big orange prison, I decided to cut my losses, make it out with what I had, and swear off Home Depot for the rest of eternity. Fortunately, we got enough wood to start building the walls (though only enough to build the bottom section of each), so Tony and I loaded what we had into the shipping container, talked details on wall layout, and called it a day.

Hours: 7.5
Hours to date: 55.5

Day 7: Building walls!

With the lumber we had from our ill-fated Home Depot run, Tony, Justin, Jen, and I began actually building the walls: first spending a few hours making some final design considerations, next salvaging some plywood from Lee's scrap materials, then cutting lots and lots of 2x4s to specific heights, and finally tacking and screwing it all together like a giant, immensely-fulfilling puzzle. By early evening we had completed the front and back walls and just about finished piecing together the first of the two longer walls, but rain was a-comin', so we covered everything up with my tarp and left the site with a great feeling of accomplishment.

Justin salvaging plywood from scrap material.
Cutting lumber for the walls.
Taking a look at the first wall.

Making room to build the second wall.

Taking a look at the second wall.
Hours: 12
Hours to date: 67.5

Day 8: Locating lumber, leveling the trailer, and more work on that pesky third wall

Knowing that we'd need more wood for the Matchbox's fourth wall, I started the day early with a trip to the Galliher & Huguely lumber yard, a locally-owned alternative to the less-than-stellar Home Depot of days past. G&H was wonderfully pleasantquiet, friendly and helpful staff, surprisingly close to Boneyard Studiosand my purchase of 40 2x4s and about 30 sheets of plywood was quick, fun, and stress-free.

Upon arriving at the lot, I set out to level my trailer (something I've been putting off for weeks), which consists of raising and lowering its four corners with a pair of scissor jacks and a quartet of jack stands (it gets raised by the former and then ultimately rests upon the latter) and toying with a two-foot level for the better part of a few hours.

Then Tony and I got back to that third wall we had left from the prior weekend, realizing (quite to our joint dismay) that many of the boards had warped or twisted from the heat and humidity of the past week. Squaring everything up required a bit of time and patience (along with a few replacement boards), but by the afternoon, we successfully screwed everything together, triple-checked our measurements, and finished work on the first longer wall.

Working on the third wall.
The third wall, with spacing for windows and stuff.
Hours: 10
Hours to date: 77.5

And so ...

I'll be building this Friday, Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday, hoping to start and finish the fourth wall by early Friday, get all four walls raised by Friday afternoon, and begin working on the sheathing and roof by this weekend. This should be a tremendously exciting weekwithin seven days, a skeleton of the Matchbox should be affixed firmly to the trailer!so if you're around and would like to come out and help build, definitely let me know.

A few thanks as well:

  • Tony, for continued and absolutely invaluable help at these crucial stages.
  • Justin, for the use of his truck and of his labor, and for helping to make some really great header boards to support the windows.
  • Jen, for coming out to help build a wall when she could have been packing for her move to California.
  • Sarah, for teaching me some gardening basics and for helping me to start growing in my Boneyard garden plot (more on this soon).
  • Alix, for coming out to the site on a rainy day with a half-dozen delicious vegan cupcakes, the last of which I am enjoying at this very moment.
  • Lauren, Cari, and Bryan, for enthusiastically accompanying Alix to said site on said rainy day.
  • Jeff, for the G&H recommendation (which I should have heeded much earlier).
  • Our Stronghold neighbors, for their continued encouragement and excitement on those long, hot days on the lot.

"I shall move into a quiet and simple room, an old gallery lying deep in the heart of a large park, hidden from the town with its noise and incidents. I shall live there the whole winter and rejoice in the great quietness, from which I am hoping for the gift of good and profitable hours."  Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet


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