Walls are square.

I probably should have built a doghouse or something first. I know that 8’x12′ is a very tiny house, but it’s still a lot for me to handle. I scoured the internet for resources and found some helpful advice from Pythagoras. His theorem could help me out with the walls.  a²+b²=c²

Okay. I’m not in over my head with that. A common right triangle is a “6-8-10” triangle. All I need is a pair of extra hands while I try to turn that fact into a game plan. Kristin and I walked down to the building site.

I took a tape measure and made a mark along the end of a side wall vertically at 6 feet. I made another mark on the sill plate 8 feet from the same originating point. According to the theorem, the distance between these points should be 10 feet. No surprise, it wasn’t.

I climbed up a ladder and pushed violently on the top plate to rack the wall back to where it should be and measured. Progress. I had to go back and forth quite a few times before the hypotenuse of the triangle was 10 feet. Once I measured a 6-8-10 triangle originating at the corner, I screwed in a diagonal brace to keep the wall from flexing back. The added triangulation of a diagonal brace spanning at least three studs will hold the wall in square until sheathing can be applied. Once you attach plywood to the outside of the wall, nothing will take it out of square. It makes an incredibly strong system.

The opposite wall was harder. I couldn’t just rack it back in place, so I had to get fancy. I ran a ratcheting strap clamp from the top corner of the wall to a tree that was conveniently located in the same plane as the face of the wall. I had to tighten and measure many times, but I finally ended up with the 6-8-10 triangle I was looking for. Dead on. This wall is as square as any wall out there.

Once I had the 12′ walls squared, I forced them to be plumb as well. This is a lot easier. You just hang a plumb bob from the top plate and attach a brace when the top plate is directly above the sill plate. Once I had it dialed in, I attached a brace from partway up one of the studs to a block that I screwed to the subfloor.

With everything plumb, square, and braced, I attached the second top plates to bolster the hold. I overlapped the top plates at the corners and quit for the day feeling pretty good.

Lesson learned: square the walls and use a diagonal brace to hold them square before putting them up. I would even consider attaching the plywood sheathing while the walls are still on the ground. Next time. I have lots of ideas for “next time.”


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