Hello! I’m Ana, a mother and homemaker from Alaska.
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posted by Ana White

Momplex Stats

Money Spent So Far: 
$39,000 + Cost of Property
Time Spent So Far: 
800 Hours on Site + Tons of Planning

It just started snowing. 

These past few weeks, it's been all hands on deck to get the Momplex as far along as possible before winter sets in, so I haven't had as much time to post plans and answer comments, and I do apologize. Thank you so much to everyone helping out - I am so thankful that our community of builders is not only very smart and innovative, but generous and helpful. Thank you thank you!
But we have been making steady progress on the Momplex, and I'm excited to share with you more posts on our work there.
I find myself quite confident when it comes to building furniture. Because if I make a mistake or don't like something, it's either fixable or liveable. But up there on the Momplex, I really loose my confidence fast when it comes time to do things like drilling holes in concrete, setting walls or choosing the location of windows. Knowing your actions and decisions are set in stone is more nerve racking then building independent furniture out of wood!
But with winter fast approaching, there hasn't been time for self doubt or second guessing, and I find myself just doing whatever it takes to get the job done.
I remember back in college having a horrible bussing/dishwashing job at a chain restaurant, and the dish sink drain backed up. We girls all said, "Ewwwww, I'm not sticking my hand in that drain!"

And someone said, "Find a Mom!  They aren't afraid of anything and will do whatever it takes!"

Wall Anchoring

After we built the walls, we need to anchor the walls to both the concrete slab, the other walls, and the exterior ICF walls.

Exterior Wall Attachment

To keep the walls from falling down, we immediately screw the interior framed walls to the ICF blocks at the black fastening strips.  Where no fastening strip is available, we used 1/8" metal strapping to reach the fastening strips.
Anchoring the Lower Level Walls

Interior Walls to Interior Walls

The interior walls need to be nailed together. We make sure all the walls are plumb, square, and on the line.

Remember the blocking we put in the walls?  This blocking is used where interior walls meet up.  Not only does this give you a spot to nail walls together, it also gives us a spot to screw our drywall to when we go to hang drywall.
Anchoring the Lower Level Walls

Top Plates

Top plates are handed up and nailed to the tops of the walls, overlapping wall joints.
Anchoring the Lower Level Walls

Framing Nailer

We just purchased a framing nailer for $199 and man has it been a time and sanity saver!  There's nothing wrong with a hammer and nails, but having a framing nailer sure helps out!  The top plates are nailed to the tops of the walls.  Notice how this top plate extends beyond the center wall for extra support.
Anchoring the Lower Level Walls

Concrete Anchor Holes

Finally, the interior framed walls need to be anchored to the concrete slab.  But remember, we have radiant heat tubes in the slab, and have to be very careful about not drilling into the heat tubes.  So the concrete drill bit is measured and taped off for the depth we can safely drill to.
Anchoring the Lower Level Walls

Drilling Holes

I did the drilling, and let me tell you, I was nervous. Drilling into a heat tube would be catastrophic.
Anchoring the Lower Level Walls

Concrete Anchors

Aren't these strange looking nails?  Once they are pounded into the concrete, they will keep the walls from moving or shifting.
Anchoring the Lower Level Walls

It's easy to pound these in ...

Anchoring the Lower Level Walls

But the last little bit get's tough. Maybe I was too cautious in drilling my pilot holes, but thank goodness, we didn't see any pieces of heat pipes in the sawdust!

And our walls are secured!  
Now that our interior basement walls are in place, we can start working on putting the upper level floor in and building stairs!  Can't wait to share our progress with you.  Thanks for reading and keeping us encouraged and inspired!  
Happy Building, Ana
posted by Ana White

Momplex Stats

Money Spent So Far: 
$39,000 + Cost of Property
Time Spent So Far: 
820 Hours of Site + TONS of planning

Planned Outage

Before we get to this post, there will be a planned site outage tonight at 10PM CST, lasting approximately 1 hour.  During this time, the site will not be available due to scheduled maintenance.  If you are in the middle of a project, please print out or make sure you can access the plan through a cached version (search for the plan with Google and select "cached version") prior to the planned downtime.

Wall Framing!

We are finally building walls! Framing is my most favorite part (well, aside from building the furniture) of building because you see a ton of progress for the work you invest.

If you are thinking of framing walls up in your unfinished basement, or just wondering what the heck is behind your drywall, read on!
How to Frame Walls

How a Wall is Framed

Wall framing is pretty simple, but there are a few things you need to know. A wall is comprised mainly of top and bottom plates and studs. The studs are spaced either on 16" or 24" centers. This is done because plywood and drywall comes in 48" widths, so your plywood or drywall seams always end in the center of a stud. You follow the 16" or 24" on center pattern without exception - if you don't, you will just be adding the blocking in later when you hang drywall.

About Studs

Studs come in 92 5/8" lengths, so you can just add top and bottom plates, plus the top tie in plate, to get a wall that is 96 1/8" high - just perfect for hanging drywall on.  Our walls in this post are actually 9 feet tall, so we cut 2x4s to length.

Headers and Openings

For doorways, windows and other openings, you will need to frame in a header and support to the sides.  This is done by simply adding a King and Jack stud, topped with a header, with Cripple Studs above the header in the 16" or 24" on center pattern.  Check with your door or window for rough opening requirements.
How to Frame Walls

Basement Walls

We have five main walls to build for the Momplex lower floor.  It starts with the load bearing wall down the center (not pictured) and then we will build two walls on either sides of the stairs with doorways in them.  
How to Frame Walls

Chalk Line

First things first, the location of walls is marked using a chalk line on the concrete slab.
How to Frame Walls

Load Bearing Wall

The center load bearing wall is made of 2x6s per recommendations by our structural engineer.  We reused the boards from the scaffolding system for the studs to minimize waste and save money.  Every little bit adds up.
A framing nailer was used to fasten the walls, but you certainly could use a good ole hammer here.
How to Frame Walls

Standing Walls

Every little bit of help helps when it comes time to stand the center load bearing wall - it's a heavy one!  Ready, set, lift!
How to Frame Walls

Almost there!

How to Frame Walls

Victory lap.

How to Frame Walls

We added blocking to the center wall where the smaller walls are tied in.

How to Frame Walls

Bracing

Followed by bracing to keep the walls plumb.  
How to Frame Walls

Real Alaska Man

We are getting a ton of work done lately, and I know it's because this handsome guy is visiting.  What a guy, to volunteer his time off to helping build the Momplex for his family!
How to Frame Walls

Headers

For the smaller walls, we had to add in doorways.  The headers are pretty simple to build, the main thing is keeping with the 16" on center pattern and adding in the extra support.  
How to Frame Walls

Long Walls

For longer walls, you may need to join bottom plates to get the full length of the wall.  Just plan for the seam to be centered on a stud as shown in the photo.
How to Frame Walls

Then it's just a matter of standing more walls.

How to Frame Walls

Making sure the walls are level.

How to Frame Walls

And trying not to look out the window at the approaching snow line.

We've still got some work to do on the walls to get them secured to the slab and adjoining walls, but that's a whole 'nother day and a whole 'nother post!

Happy wall building!

Support Walls

September 30, 2011 |
posted by Ana White

Momplex Stats

Money Spent So Far: 
$47,000 + Cost of Property
Time Spent So Far: 
760 Hours on Site + TONS of Planning

You know all to well, DIY saves money.

And on this most monster of DIY projects - a duplex for our mothers fondly referred to as the Momplex - not hiring contractors has saved us quite a bit of money.

But it's the little things, the small decisions over time, that really add up. It's using materials smartly to minimize waste and reusing scraps that are the silver lining.

And when you are the one writing the check, you really take a minute to consider what you are buying, and how you can cut costs.

Support Walls

Structural Engineer

It is always a good idea to take your floor plan to a structural engineer, and that's exactly what we did. But we never had a chance to sit down and talk about all the details - we basically just gave him the floor plan and picked up the structural recommendations.  

Support Walls

Engineer Recommendations

We followed all of the recommendations so far, and the Momplex is one sturdy, well built structure as a result.
But when we went to order the floor, I suddenly got cheap.
You see, each of those blue boards cost a staggering $500 a piece.  
Now if we were contractors spending someone else's money, I would never have even considered alternatives.  We probably would have just put the order in and kept on building, not considering if there might be a more efficient way of doing things.
But I could see $2000 in savings - not to mention time savings as well.  
Can you see it too?
There's $2000 just sitting in that diagram.
(drawings for illustrative purposes only - not exact construction drawings)
Support Walls

Support Walls Under Support Beams

On the Momplex, the stairs are boxed in with walls to separate out the garage and bonus room.  The engineered diagrams called for double LVLs (Laminated Veneer Lumber - or just a beam made up of boards glued together that is incredibly strong) on top of these support walls.  Each LVL is $500, and we'll need four on top of these support walls.  That's $2000 in LVLs (in addition to the LVLs that the joists tie into).
But do we really need them?  
(drawings for illustrative purposes only - not exact construction drawings)
Support Walls

Taller Support Walls

Why not just make the support walls taller and scrap the LVLs?  We are already buying the boards and building the wall - building the wall 16" taller is not going to cost us a penny more and will save us tons of time.
Putting the LVLs in there is like modge podging our tickets to Hawaii (our yearly sanity saving vacation when Alaska gets very cold and very dark) under the floor.  $2000 is alot of money to us!
(drawings for illustrative purposes only - not exact construction drawings)
Support Walls

Win-Win

So that's the plan - we'll build the walls on either sides of the stairs to the height of the floor joists, and plywood overtop.  This also gives us a very strong and accessible place to frame the stair platform to, not to mention already framed walls to finish the stair openings (we plan on using the space under the stairs for utilities and storage). 
 
So often I find myself a support system when building, rather than getting to actually do the building  :(  .  It seems every time I get all my work done at home, get the children occupied, and go up to the Momplex to help, I'm just tasked with ordering lunch or ordering materials.  Somedays, I feel like I'm no help at all, just someone to run errands and support those who are working.
But these small things are actually a big help.  Someone has to do it, and good planning saves everyone time and money.  There's nothing wrong with being a support wall - unless you are supporting a supported beam.  
Support Walls

Floor Arrives

We ordered the floor - thank goodness, I can't imagine loading and hauling those joists!
It's sad to think the trees are ready for snow ...
Support Walls

This is the floor for the Momplex.

Support Walls

Guess what we are doing this weekend?

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