Alex’s playhouse has been done for almost a year now, and this post is finally going to see the light of day.
Doors, windows (plexiglass), and soffets were added. An area rug was purchased as a floor covering to keep splinters out of little feet were purchased. A toy kitchen was also added. Alex did express disappointment that it didn’t have running water or power. He didn’t appreciate Dave telling him it is powered by imagination. We also added a swing.
With the support posts up and the flooring joists installed, progress on the playhouse can continue. Next steps were to add flooring, framing, and sheathing. The flooring was easy since the the dimensions of the playhouse are 8′ x 12′ (3 sheets of plywood laid next to each other).
The framing was a more complex situation with the introduction of doors and windows. These had to be planned out and properly framed. We opted to build the east and west wall frames on the floor of the playhouse, sheath, and raise into place. This option was much safer than framing the wall in place and then trying to sheath it. Some safety concerns included the height we would be working off the ground and the hillside resulting in less than stable ladder placements. The south wall was the easiest to deal with since the deck could be used as a work space. The north wall was also easy to frame in place because it is only a few feet off the ground.
Alex’s birthday has come and gone and unfortunately the playhouse wasn’t finished in time. We experienced a delay with having to move the playhouse location in order to maintain good relations with our neighbors. Lesson learned, go into more detail on what one is seeking approval. All is good, friendly relations were preserved. In part thanks to the use of the demo hammer – quick work was made of hole digging and original footer destruction. Everything else transferred over (brackets were salvaged!), the posts just had to be cut down to accommodate the different elevation.
Critical Tools: Levels – old school and laser, circular saw, reciprocating saw, measuring tape, drill with spade bit, guide string
Create channel is post, drill through bolt holes, mount post.
Determine desired floor height and use laser level to determine cut down post height of a single post (cut down post height = top of post – floor decking – floor joist)
Cut posts down to proper height and notch out shoulder for support beams.
Tip(s): Use the laser level to mark the posts at dusk. Makes it much easier to see the line.
Know your tools. We mounted the laser level to make the top of all posts (floor height). While we struggled with the optical illusion introduced by the land’s slope, something still didn’t look right. We fastened a 2 x 4 along the marks across two posts and checked with an old fashioned level. Definitely out of level. Looking closer at the laser level it was determined the wrong setting was being used. Whoops. Second tip is when in doubt using a different method to confirm what you are seeing.
With Alex’s birthday fast approaching, we thought it was time he had a playhouse to enjoy. Our initial plan was to purchase a playhouse from Costco or Amazon (something like this, not this – read the reviews), but discovered the smallest ones needed a flat area approximately 154 square feet for the structure and 598 square feet for a safe play area. Our sloped mountain lot does not have this type of level area, at least not without a major earth moving project.
Plan B? Build a playhouse from scratch! Since we can’t find something that suits our lot, we are going to build. And our next house project is with the various engineers, we need something to keep us busy.
As always with our construction posts, when associated with actual building, ‘we’ is Dave.
Preparation:Select build site, with consideration for set backs. Know your local regulations on how large of a structure you can build without a permit.
Critical Tools: Makita 20 lb Demolition Hammer – This tool was rented from Home Depot and was selected because it also has drill functionality. Just in case rocks are encountered in the Rocky Mountains.
Trigonometry and guide string – To ensure square corners just remember a^2 + b^2 = c^2. Yes, that seemingly useless class will come back to haunt you.
Dig first hole and set concrete form
Mix and pour concrete, set support brackets
Confirm location of next hole
Skill Level: Advanced/Expert. There is trigonometry involved.
Tip(s): Just rent the demolition hammer. A post hole digger and breaker bar will only get you so far.