Things I have learned in the past two weeks: framing a house in sketchup is tedious, and coming up with a cut list is almost painful.
Let me explain.
It was bittersweet finishing the floor design for our tiny house. It was a lot of fun to come up with a design for our house and create the “perfect” floor plan that would include everything we wanted in a house in a layout that works most efficiently for us. However, once the fun of designing was over, the hard part of figuring out how to actually build the thing set in. Thus, the bittersweet feeling I had rush over me when the initial designing was done. I spent the last 3 weeks researching how to frame a house, referencing the hOMe plans we bought, drawing countless (okay, maybe that is an exaggeration) 2×4’s, and doing copious amounts of math to make sure I got every board in its correct location. And then I realized the trailer I ordered was 3 inches narrower than we wanted it to be, so I had to scrap the framing I had just finished, deal with the trailer issue and then re-frame the entire house.
Sidebar: we had originally wanted to mirror the Morrison’s trailer plans and get a trailer that was 99” wide, giving us 1.5” of space to work with on either side of the trailer which would be enough room for the house wrap, sheathing and house siding while still maintaining the 8’6” maximum width road regulation most (all?) states have in place. When I called to order my trailer, however, Tom with Tiny Home Builders made several very good arguments for making the trailer 96”, all of which were completely valid and made plenty of sense. Since his experience was far superior to mine, I second-guessed myself and my design and went with the 96” trailer. If things were a bit different with our design, this would have been the better option for us and I appreciate Tom taking the time to explain his reasoning to a newbie….I also very much appreciate his help when I realized (several weeks after ordering the trailer) that I did in fact need it to be 99” to accommodate for the design I came up with. He called his fabricator immediately and made sure they would take care of it, at an additional cost of course, but at least we will be getting the trailer we want without compromising any interior width!
Back to the framing… After I went down the “hmm..how DO I anchor our house to the trailer??” rabbit hole and spent two days researching tirelessly all of the ways people have done it, the ways that would work with our design and the ways that wouldn’t, I finally was able to start framing again. Luckily, because I had already done most of the hard work it took me much less time and I got the framing done in two days on the second try. The angle of the shed roof gave my brain some fun math problems to figure out, but in the end it was time well spent. I really feel like drawing it out (twice) has given me more confidence in what to do when we are actually at the build site.
Once the framing was completed, it was on to figuring out a cut list and a “shopping list” for the lumber we would need. After some research online, I discovered this wonderful plug-in for sketchup called “Cut List” that actually gives you all of the cuts needed, as well as how to lay them out on your lumber to minimize waste. I was so excited I wouldn’t have to do this by hand!! And then I tried using it and two of my walls and quickly realized it wasn’t going to work for me. The plug-in is awesome, for anyone who has NOT framed their house on sketchup yet, I would highly recommend learning to use it BEFORE you frame your house. This is because in order for the plug-in to work properly, you have to designate your lumber as components/groups in specific ways so that it can recognize them properly. Sadly, I did not find out about Cut List until after I was done framing, so I couldn’t use the program without having to essentially re-doing all of the work I had just done, for the third time. To avoid this, I decided to create a cut list by hand.
This process proved to be FAR more tedious and mind-numbing than drawing little 2×4’s in sketchup. Essentially, the process went something like this: look at my design in sketchup, measure the framing piece of interest, write that measurement in excel along with labeling it so that I knew what part of the wall it was, listing the size of lumber (2×4, 4×6, etc), then moving on to the next piece…then then next wall. What I ended up with was a huge list of cut measurements that I will need when we start the build. Of course, this did not come with its own number of set backs, as I continued through the list of “parts” of the wall I realized some the ways I framed a certain part of the wall were wrong or the measurements were off or didn’t make sense, so I had to go back and figure out what was wrong and how to correct it. It turned out to be a great thing that I didn’t just rely on the cut list plug-in because I found more mistakes than I care to recount. Once I had all of the cut measurements listed, I went through and figured out how long the lumber would need to be to accommodate the cuts and then began combining smaller pieces into larger pieces to minimize waste. At the end, I tallied all of the boards I would need for each wall, then totaled all of the walls and came up with a list of lumber to order.
I put together a little video sort of showing this. Perhaps it doesn’t make any sense at all. Nevertheless, here it is: