May 11, 2012 – Today we were finally brave enough to officially start building. We’ve been planning for weeks and wanting to start, but also needing to come up with a game plan and source materials. The first issue we had with sourcing materials was finding the recommended framing nails. The plans call for a 3” Bostich Hurriquake nail. We are in Michigan, where we neither have hurricanes or earthquakes, so we weren’t able to just pick these up at Lowe’s. I called Bostich’s customer service line and was given the number to one of their distributors in Michigan. The distributor gave me the number to a sales rep in my area and he was able to tell me that they are available in a 15 degree coil; however, the nail gun that has generously been loaned to us for our project (thank you Jason), is a 21 degree stick nailer. After consulting with our off-site project manager (my brother Chris, who lives in Anchorage), we have decided to go with a ring-shank nail that will work with the nail gun. Let’s hope we don’t regret this when we’re driving down the freeway with tiny house in tow.
Our day started with a trip into town – a 25 minute drive. We stopped in at my office to pick up the nail gun and air compressor and a grinder. After a quick demo on how things worked we ran to Hilltop RV to purchase scissor jacks for the trailer. At this point we’re not quite sure where we’re going to install them; we’re hoping to have our welder weld them on while she’s doing the other welding (more on that later).
We’ve decided to get the bulk of our supplies from ProBuild in Marquette. We’ve been working with Tony, and not only has he been very helpful in getting us what we need, he also thinks this is a very neat project. We picked up a box of nails for the nail gun, a box of construction adhesive, the lumber for the floor, ear protection, and concrete blocks for when we put the leveling jacks on. I had originally picked up all the lumber for the floor two weeks ago; however, after consulting with our project manager, he strongly recommended that we frame the whole floor in treated lumber. It’s been his experience that the first thing to go in campers and trailers is the floor. Taking his advice we purchased treated lumber for the floor and will use the lumber I bought previously for the framing of the walls.
The first thing we tackled when we got home was cutting off a metal bar that runs perpendicular to the trailer boards. This piece of metal sits higher than the rest of the trailer frame and we felt it was going to interfere with the floor frame resting on the trailer. Pete used a metal cutting blade and starting cutting through the welded joints to free the bar. He had gotten trough all but the last corner weld when the cutting blade was down to nothing. We were hoping to get this piece of extraneous metal off and then remove all the unnecessary boards from the trailer, so we decided it was worth another trip into town to pick up another cutting blade as well as a grinding blade. And of course, on such a beautiful day, we picked up some ice cream!
Back at home with a brand new cutting blade, Pete cut through the last join and the metal piece was free. I followed that up by unscrewing all the boards from the trailer that we planned on removing. The plans say to remove all extra boards leaving a 24”-36” gap between boards. This left us with four boards on the trailer.
After the prep work we were able to start framing the floor. We started on the section on the hitch side of the trailer above the wheel wells. We were able to get a few boards cut and pieced together and was about to start cutting the cross pieces when the weather started to look ominous. We decided that we made pretty good progress for our first day of construction and decided to call it quits.
It feels good to have actually started construction. We are finally moving out of the planning phase and actually building a house!