Turns out, there's a huge supply of used warehouse racks available. As the economy was sputtering along in 2008-2010, companies who sold warehouse racks (like you see at Home Depot, Lowe's, Sam's, Costco) had to convince companies to replace their racks as they moved into new warehouses. There were also a lot of companies going out of business. Landlords would sell off assets as warehouses were abandoned. Kind of like the abundance of shipping containers that we see people making tiny houses out of now, these racks have been piling up in steel yards by the ton. They're heavy duty and incredibly durable. Time to repurpose!
We started with an 8'x8' design and slowly talked our way into a 12'x12' with an open area of 8'x12' and 4' of shelves on one side. We went with the same basic shape as the house, a single floor slant roof. This time we're going to put the door on the front instead of the side. It will have an open floor all steel frame, wood rafters, OSB siding and decking, steel corrugated on the outside. We also left a little overhang (4') for a side porch. The height difference from front to back will also lend itself to putting in a 3' deep loft on the tall side. Should give us lots of storage for the things we don't want in the house all of the time - off-season clothes, seasonal decorations, memorabilia, etc.
Friday afternoon, I roughed out a CAD sketch on my Mac and got bids on the materials we would need. Placed the order and got the steel picked up the same day. The guy who was pulling the order at the steel yard looked at me a little funny when I pointed to the old Dodge. I must admit I was a bit worried when he got it all gathered. About 1400 lbs worth. It was only hanging 6' out the back of the bed. I also had to get the 3 of us in with our gear for the weekend. A quick stop to put some more air in the tires can't hurt.
Saturday, we scouted the spot and started clearing. We wanted something that was accessible to the house but not right next to it. We positioned the door so that it'll be convenient as I'm sure we'll be in and out of it all the time. We had 3-4 small trees to remove and some brush. A new chain and bar on the chainsaw meant it went quickly. Harder part was leveling the area. We unloaded the steel and went to Emory to pick up more supplies - runner beams, concrete pads and hardware for assembling it all along with some tools that we had forgotten in Arlington. We now own 3 ratchet/socket sets! :(
We marked out the beams with a chalkline to register where the footing bolts would go and drilled through with a paddle bit. Yes, one hole is larger than the other. The hardware store did not have any ⅝" galvanized bolts long enough, so I mixed some ⅝" stainless steel with some ½" hot dipped galvanized. The stainless were just so expensive, I couldn't force myself to use them on every hole. I set one stainless and one galvanized on each footing.
I put a buffer of tar paper between the footings and the beam just to reduce exposure of the metal to the chemicals in the wood.
|Beam attached to teardrop upright. Beams are typically 3"-6" tall and about 2" wide. They are made to support from 2,000-10,000 lbs, depending on the thickness of the uprights you are attaching them to.|
The footing bolts are to the inside of these uprights. This means that the measurement of the beam is flush to the outside edge in this case. These uprights were listed as 42" wide and 10' tall.
|Kim, standing next to the short side (10 feet) for scale.|
We got all 3 uprights on the north side mounted to the skid beam in about an hour. We used a 9" spacer between each upright to get our wall length of 12'. (42"+9"+42"+9"+42"=144") I couldn't find a supplier that had 48" wide uprights with all of the other pieces (beams, wire racks, etc) on the spur of the moment so I went with 42" and got spacers to finish out my design. Spacers come in various widths from 3" to 12". I wanted to stay with something divisible by 4' so to make good use of my other building materials like plywood and OSB.
|North side uprights attached to beam.|
We then started attaching uprights to the other skid and started tying them together with 12' steel box beams. Notice the lip ledge on the top/inside of each beam pair. This is to accommodate wire decking that drops into place once assembled. It's 1 ⅝" tall so you could also cut 2"x wood to make a solid shelf.
|Kim, standing next to south uprights (12' tall) for scale.|
Since the cross supports are bolted in on the tall (blue) side (the green ones are welded), I'll pull those and rearrange to leave a door opening in the center upright. It's a 36" opening.
|South side upright wall - 12' tall.|
Since the uprights are made of 3" square steel members, they'll easily accommodate attaching our OSB skin. We'll just use carriage bolts at the corners and self-tapping metal screws throughout the body.
|East view of building frame.|
|West view of building frame|
|Beam making up shelf on west side. Notice the locking clip (silver) in the middle|
Next - we'll start with the roofing and siding. I don't have any delusions that it will go as quickly as the frame did! Not bad though for about 9-10 hours of work for 2 old people and a 9 year old boy! :) I can't wait to get started some day on the workshop. It'll be 5 times the footprint and twice as tall as this. I'm thinking something big enough to build a tiny house in? ;)
The uprights and wire racks we purchased were used. The beams were new. The steel cost me $989, tax included and was available for pickup here in DFW same day. The 16' 4"x 6" PT wood beams were $28 ea and we spent another $100 on nuts, bolts and washers. We've got another $800 budgeted for roof, walls and flooring. That should put us just shy of $2K for this build. Add some insulation and cabinetry and you could just about call this a tiny house. 144sf with bunk beds and a storage loft. I'm predicting we'll see a lot more of these going up across the country as people figure out how easy the assembly is and how sturdy the structure is.
We'll make the next trek out in a couple of weeks, weather permitting, for round 2. This spring weather (it was 72° all weekend) has got me itching to do some gardening. Too many projects, too little time. Having to work for a living sure eats into your play time! Who knows, some day, maybe we'll figure out how to make a living out of our hobbies. How amazing would that be!
Have a great Valentine's Day and be safe!
BTW, our new wildlife camera caught the culprits that had been opening the can that we store the bird feed and corn in. Here's one of the 3 we've seen so far. :) He's much smaller than the other 2!
|Night shot of a raccoon on the tree by the cabin|