The next step was to build a 2 foot wall with windows that would go on top of the back wall. This really too us 2 days to fully complete (but lets call it all of day 5). The engineering behind this little wall was the most complex part of the build yet.
We decided that the best way to go about this was to build the small wall in 2 parts on the ground then lift it up into place above the rear wall. We also decided that these 2 sections should be almost fully constructed before we get it mounted up top. The windows, and sub-siding had to be installed to the wall frame prior to lifting it into place. This meant that the wall would be heavier but it would save us from attempting to finish it 12 feet in the air and in a very tight space against the garage.
I chose to go with two 15 by 31 inch “hopper” windows to optimize space while allowing for as much light as possible over the top of the garage. I also have the ability to open these windows should I ever choose to.
Once we constructed each of the 2 wall sections with their windows and sub-siding attached we lifted them up into place. It was pretty serious challenge but we took our time and made sure we got them up there in the safest way possible considering the situation. Once in place we secured them to the top plate of the wall with a liberal amount of 3 inch deck screws and nails. Then finished it off with four 4 inch lug bolts drilled through the top plate and tightened down with washers and nuts. The goal is to get this second level wall to act as one with the wall below.
A little rain shouldn’t stop us…
At this point we still had some daylight left in the day, though off in the distance we could see dark sky. The forecast called for showers at about 2:30 and it was about 1:45. I figured we could get the sub-siding (which consists of 1/2 inch particle plywood) attached to the walls and then call it a day. A little rain shouldn’t stop us from getting that done.
So, if you are unfamiliar with building walls you may not be aware that the frame of a wall is very unstable and highly susceptible to racking until you get some kind of siding and/or drywall hung on it. Even if you have 4 walls the entire structure can rack and lean without something to tie all the corners together. To remedy this while you work on getting everything built you can nail or screw a stud from one corner of the wall to the opposite corner. This prevents the wall from racking (becoming un-square) and possibly falling over.
To begin hanging the plywood to the walls we had to take off our braces which keep the walls from racking. At this point we have a sheet of 4 by 8 foot plywood in our hands as we hold it up against one of the walls to position it for hanging. The sky is suddenly much darker and my Dad is worried about his tools getting wet if it begins to rain. So we stop for a moment and he starts packing up and walking power tools to his car in the front of the house.
Oh shit, panic mode.
Thats when it came in. No, not the rain, but the wind. A sudden 50mph gust came roaring in. To the terrifying sound of nails and wood creaking under stress the structure violently leaned over about a foot. Oh shit, panic mode as I was thinking “I am about to lose all progress on this in a matter of seconds.” The wind was only going to continue to pound the walls back and fourth until they collapse.
My Father came running back to attempt to hold the walls (which was pretty futile) while I would run back and fourth from his car out front and back to the shed in the back yard. The tools needed to just screw or hammer a brace to the walls were packed away making the ordeal feel like an eternity. After nearly having a heart attack from sprinting back and fourth and freaking out about the near catastrophic disaster we encountered we had some braces in place.