How To Build A Tiny House | Part 1

Thinking about trying to build your own tiny house? Check out this full DIY project where I show you how a couple of us built our very own DIY tiny house!

Tools Used In This Tiny House Project:

ISOTunes Bluetooth Hearing Protection
Circular Saw
Framing Nailer
Custom Tool Belt
Slap Stapler

I went to Seattle for seven days with the motivation to tackle something on Anne’s to-do list. When she threw out a tiny house, I didn’t think it was beyond our ability, even given the timeline.

The location Anne wanted the house actually had a shed currently there but it was in such bad condition, the first thing she did was grab the tractor and push it over. This shot is me standing on the rubble to give you an idea on how tight of quarters we were working in.

The tiny house will be 8” x 12” It’s a prime area for a tiny house once it’s built, as it’s just a short walk from the lake, but we were a little cramped building it, annnnd there is about a 300 ft walk to get to the site. Which means we spent a good portion of the first day doing nothing but humping material back to the job site one load at a time.

Something else about the location – it’s extremely soft and spongy due to all the rain the area gets. With that, instead of doing a slab we went with a pier and beam set up. However, instead of digging them down into the ground and setting them in concrete, we used adjustable brackets on the top of the piers that will hold the beam. This way Anne will be able to make adjustments in the future as the ground shifts or give her the ability to pick it up completely and relocate it.

After getting the piers set up roughly where the footprint of the tiny house needed to be, we pulled a string line to get them all in a perfect line then set both of the beams in their brackets.

We pulled a tape and spent a good amount of time not only getting the two beams square, but also getting them level. First getting each beam level then making sure they were also level to each other. We made adjustments by raising or lowering the brackets in the piers.

Alright, beams are set, let’s start making a floor.

The timber you see here, the beams and the 2x6s are actually treated wood. In my area treated material is blonde with a green tint, so I found this interesting. We started by butting together the two end boards and marking off where each one of the floor joists will need to go.

And can I just say how cool it is to come off my shop build where my friend George taught me so much about building and framing, then so quickly jump into a project where I’m able to not only put my knowledge to use, but to also pass it along.

Before attaching the joist, each one needed to be cut to length so Anne and I worked out a quick system where I would mark the boards, draw a line, then pass them to her to cut.

Then to attach them we would use the marks we made previous on the outside boards to line the joist up. You can see I used a speed square to make sure the tops were flush to one another while Anne stuck it with a nail. This keeps things aligned and also your hands out of the way. We repeated all the way down until all the joists were attached.

What I mentioned earlier about being cramped while building, meant we didn’t have much area to work outside of this footprint where the house was going. So that’s why we are building the floor directly on the pier and beams. It was a little bit of a balancing act, but heck we got it done. You can see that after attaching one side, we slide it over until we could use the opposite beam to attach the other side.

With that done we made a few marks on the beams then centered up the floor before taking the diagonal measurements and squaring it up. Once both read the same measurement we attached the floor to the beams by toe nailing in nails through each joist.

Next up was decking. For a sub floor, we went with 3/4” treated plywood and this step is as simple as laying down panels and attaching it to each joist. Anne was pretty impressed with our work so far when things lined up perfectly…..: )

And that is the truth. If you build a structure, take your time to get things level and square and it will make every step on the project quicker and better for you.

On the floor, we staggered the seams of the plywood. We would set the panels in place, then rip them to land on center of the floor joist. Anne would nail the corners to tack them in place, then we used a caulk line to mark the location of each joist to quickly do the intermediate nailing.

I got to introduce Anne to bump mode on the nailer and I might be mistaken, but I think she’s a fan. If you aren’t familiar, bump mode allows you to hold the trigger down and the gun will shoot a nail when the nozzle is compressed. You should always be mindful when using a nailer, but even more so if you are in bump mode.
Next we pause because we were building this tiny house on the fly and I wanted to take a second to model up the walls we were about to start framing so we would have a plan of attack.

We will be using the floor we just built to build all the walls on. We started building the back wall first because it’s one of the two largest and also doesn’t have any windows or doors to frame in. So it will go pretty darn quick.

Just like what we did with the outside perimeter boards when building the floor, we started off with what will be the top and bottom plate butted up next to each other, and first marked off where the studs needed to be placed.

Every stud needed to be cut to length so we set up a system once again to knock it out quickly. I think it’s worth noting that it takes a surprisingly small amount of tools in order to complete such an undertaking. We were restricted to only using battery operated tools, because of the location, and about 90% of the entire building relied on a circular saw and nailer. Here’s a photo we took of all the tools we used, after the project was complete. The only thing missing is a chalk line.

With this wall not having any doors or windows to frame in, it came together very quickly.

Next we framed the two side walls, starting with the side without a window in it, just to knock out, and we actually built it directly on top of the larger wall we just finished. Then we did the exact same with the other short wall, over on the other side. And if you’re interested in a set of plans for the build, I will have a set of plans on my website.

After getting the third wall built, we had to pause on framing to get these stood up before building the fourth and final wall. Instead of doing what I did on my shop where we framed, stood the walls up then skinned them off ladders, Anne and I decided to try skinning the walls before standing them up.

We’ll be using T1-11 for siding but since house wrap has to go down first, that is where we started. We quickly squared the wall up then stretch the house wrap tightly across the studs and stapled it down. You’ll notice that we are skipping sheathing the walls in OSB first, that’s because we’ll be using 5/8” siding which is thick enough to give the wall it’s sheer strength. This not only saves on time since we won’t have to skin the walls twice, but it also saves a little bit of cost.

Once we got the house wrap attached, we came back with the Tonge and groove T1-11 siding. And let me say that while it may seem the simpler option to skin the walls before standing them up, I don’t think it is. It does remove a lot of ladder work later, but it presents a whole new set of challenges and introduces a lot of points for mistakes. Such as making sure to compensate the correct amount for the double top plate that will later be added in, the siding overhang at the bottom, and the mating up of where two walls join together.

Doing it both ways now, I can honestly say I don’t think this route is any quicker and I also wouldn’t say it’s easier.

After getting done with each short section, we he-womened it off to the side to gain access to that bottom, larger wall.

We decided to only apply siding to two of the four walls because on one wall, the siding will land flush to its stud. but then the perpendicular wall’s siding will overlap it and be flush to it. That just seems sketchy to do until the walls are up and next to each other. So that’s why that other short wall only has house wrap and a cross brace on it, the brace keeping it in square.

Even though the wall isn’t too terribly heavy, it definitely required more than two sets of hands to get it stood up and braced. Thankfully, Anne has some awesome neighbors that were able to chip in. Three of us started standing up the wall, while a fourth person stood on the outside incase we needed some opposing pressure.

Now the siding overhangs the baseplate of the walls by about 1”, and this is to seal over the joint where the baseplate mates to the floor so that water won’t be able to get when it rains. With that, once we stood the wall mostly up, we had to move it forward enough for this lip to fall off the edge of the floor. Then we could line up the wall squarely to the floor then attach some bracing to hold it in place. We went with some extra 2x6s laying around and went directly from the outside stud to the foundation’s side wall.

You can’t see him, but one of the guys is checking for plumb as Anne hammers in the nails. Oh, and we chose to use hammer and nails here because they are far easier to remove later on over nails shot in with the nailer.

We repeated on my side, first checking for plumb then securing it with a brace.

Even though we were losing day light, we were bound and determined to get the remaining two walls up before we called it quits. I mean this is the most exciting part of the build.

We ran into a small problem with the brace of the wall interfering with the brace holding up the large wall, so we switch the brace holding square to the inside of this short wall then continued nailing it in place.

Then we placed a brace in the center of the large wall going down to a cleat on the ground because we discovered we wouldn’t have enough room to move the other short wall into place with the side brace located where it was. Again, the job site was a little cramped but we totally made it work.

The last thing we did that day with the little bit of daylight we had left was cut all the studs and cripples for the last remaining wall. This way the next morning we could start right in with building out the wall.

We once again used the floor as a work surface to build the walls, and decided to build it in two parts to make standing it up on our own easier. This wall will have a giant double door opening as well as a window framed in. With breaking the wall into two, we framed then house wrapped one section, moved it into place then repeated with the second. Or actually, since this second section is mostly door opening we didn’t bother house wrapping it before standing it up. But you will notice that we made a temporary scab piece to span the bottom of the door opening just to stabilize it as we moved it into place.

After plumbing this final wall, we secured it to the two side walls, then came back and cut out that bottom scab piece.

Next we attached the second top plate. The reason you don’t do this in the initially framing step is because you want to use it as a way to tie the four walls together and you can only do that once they are all four standing. I can show you what I mean in the model I sketched up a little bit easier. See this top plate ends at the wall, but the second top plate connects not only to this wall but also it’s neighboring wall.

And with the majority of the four walls done, we came back with house wrap on this last section. With it having a door in it, I cut two diagonal lines from both top corners down to the center, to create a V. Then wrapped the loose ends up or around the wall. Once things were tight I stapled them in place then cut off the remainder.

Now all the seams in the house wrap need to be tapped over so next we went around all four sides and taped every horizontal and vertical seam.

And that is where I’ll have to stop for this one. If it isn’t obvious from the video footage, Anne and I had a blast building this. If you are interested in seeing more then I recommend checking out Anne’s video on the build, linked for you here. And of course also stay tuned for my next video where I’ll continue on with the build process.

I hope y’all enjoyed this one, I hope you learned something, and I hope you’re building something of your own. See you soon.

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