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high desert. small house.

Days 104-107: Building a Scaffold

After cleaning up metal shavings and measuring stuff, we did a lot of standing around with crossed arms, looking up at the ceiling.  We have maxxed out what can be reached using the scaffold and we are not excited by the prospect of stacking the ladder on the scaffold.  We need to come up with a different approach.

One – We can borrow an extension for the scaffold that stacks on top and can then reach up to 12 feet.  Two – We can build temporary platforms on top of the cross beams, essentially elevating our floor to 8′ and then only requiring the ladder in a low position to reach the highest points.  Three – We can hire someone to do the high stuff.

We decided to go with a modified version of Option Two.  While it would be easier to borrow an extension for the scaffold, it would not be easy to move it around in the house.  Every time we were done with an area, we’d have to disassemble the scaffold, move it under the cross beams and then reassemble.  Additionally, because it is only a 30″ x 72″ platform, we would need a second set (or the ladder on a single scaffold) to be able to hold opposite ends of a 16′ 2×4.

We spent the day designing scaffolding.  And not just any scaffolding – something made from wood that would end up as the bathroom framing.  Brian worked out the scale drawings in Illustrator (1ft = 1cm) and then adjusted lengths and materials until everything was optimized.  Not only did he work it out so that the lumber we purchase for the scaffolding will all go into the walls of future framing (very little waste) but also there will be no cuts required to make the scaffold.  Additionally, we decided to go higher than the 8′ of the cross beams and just use the cross beams for step-ups and maybe hook on to them for a failsafe.  We will not be standing directly on them.

By the time we worked this all out, we had missed the delivery deadline for the hardware store. That meant we would have to transport it all on our car.  However, our rooftop rack can only transport 130 pounds at one time, so we would need to do multiple trips back and forth to get the lumber to the house.  Not super exciting….

Thankfully, we were saved by our customers – the shack got busy and we didn’t end up closing on time.  The hardware store closed and we couldn’t pick up any lumber.  The impromptu night off worked out because one of our customers invited us to the soft opening of his BBQ place.  No lumber but plenty of great food.  Not a bad Tuesday.

One thing we did Tuesday night was take a mental map of our scaffold plan to the house and determine if the 12′ height would be too high for any of the furring strips.  We decided that the plan could be improved by dropping the platform down to 10 feet.  So during Wednesday morning, Brian redid the drawings accordingly and then went off to the hardware store to examine lumber.

Design of scaffold - side view on top; side view down the skinny side on the left and top down view on the bottom.

Design of scaffold – side view on top; side view down the skinny side on the left and top down view on the bottom.

Unfortunately, due to our delay, we ended up on the end of the list and wouldn’t be able to get the lumber delivered until Friday.  Having done little on Monday and Tuesday, we were definitely not interested in twiddling our thumbs until Friday.  [Yes, we could have worked on the fence or thrown gravel around, but those things didn’t seem as appealing as pushing the house forward.]

Brian decided to make multiple trips.  He started loading lumber sometime around 2pm and got every load to the house except the final one.  Each round-trip to the house takes only 30ish minutes, but there is a giant vortex of time consumed in selecting the lumber.  For example, Out of ~50 (fifty) 16 foot 2×6’s, he found ONE good one.

All these 16" 2x6s are very much warped, at least partially due to storage on unlevel racks.

All these 16″ 2x6s are very much warped, at least partially due to storage on unlevel racks.

Our Wednesday evening consisted of unloading lumber off the car, getting the day’s lumber pile in the house (Brian had been dumping it outside to facilitate a fast turn-around), painting the first coat on the back of the trim pieces and then hoisting the plywood up on top of the cross beams.  (These will be the platform of the scaffold.)

Also, it turns out the hot water faucet at the apartment was not fixed.  It exploded open Wednesday evening.  We shut it off at the wall and decided to deal with it on Thursday.

Also again, we purchased our bathroom pocket door.

Pay it forward, right?  One of our apartment neighbors showed up at the shack early in the morning and asked if he could have a ride because he had just dropped his car off at the shop.  Before we could say ‘of course’, he also offered his help on the house because he had the next four days off.  He’s a contractor and trustworthy guy – so he and Brian took off mid-morning.

They picked up the last load of lumber and dropped it at the property.  Then, to get the necessary faucet repair out of the way, they went to the apartment to address the issue.  Believe it or not, that took the next several hours.  The two of them did not get back to the house scaffold project until 5:00pm.

Long story short – They built one hell of a scaffold.  Great design Brian and fabulous teamwork guys!  While they did the high, scary stuff, I did the last coat on the trim and moved gravel.


View of Scaffold from door.


Lumber that will be used as scaffold cross beam support.


Getting dark…That’s a big scaffold!

For a full summary of our experience with Arched Cabins, please read Arched Cabin Summary.

One Comment

  1. Knowing that it is a pain in the butt, but so happy you are creating a safe work platform..

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