Portahut Tiny House — The Foundation

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | September 2, 2011      

Sometimes it takes half a six-pack, sometimes it doesn’t.

That’s been my motto while transforming the beater car-hauler trailer into the “foundation” for our portable backcountry skiing hut similar to the tiny houses being built all over the world these days. Operating a cutting torch in the hot sun, then crawling around on the ground with my welder? Those activities chew through the sixers like that torch punches mild steel. Strapping on the tool belt and cutting up nice fresh 2x4s? That’s when I’m a friend of Bill. Check out the first stage of the project. Lucky for my liver, the steel phase is over with.

Portable hut for backcountry skiing.

The double axle car-hauler before hacking on it.

Portable hut for backcountry skiing.

We cut and otherwise removed nearly everything from the trailer, leaving the bare frame. I then boxed the L-metal frame with the L-metal from the upper rail. I've worn out three sawzalls in my life, this is the fourth, a monster Bosch that's pretty dang impressive.

Portable hut for backcountry skiing.

Hot knifing began with removing steel that held down the existing deck. With Scott operating the sawzall and me on the torch, we got the demolition done fairly quickly.

Portable hut for backcountry skiing - torch.

Rail and deck removed. Trailer is down to bare bones.

Portable hut for backcountry skiing, weld cross member.

I had to do some welding on a damaged cross member. After we installed the wood platform, I welded another metal band around the outside parimeter, which was tied into the main frame with metal bracing. I'm figuring for a 150psf snow load, so since the perimeter of the platform will overhang on the sides where the roof bearing walls are, reinforcement was necessary.

Portable hut for backcountry skiing, truck load.

Should I admit I'm enjoying being a carpenter again, even if it does mean running in and out of the blog office, answering email with my toolbelt still on?

Portahut rodent proofing.

We began the decking process with a layer of hardware cloth as rodent proofing, 2x4 sleepers are spacers to raise floor superstructure to level of side rails, so it can hang over the sides and produce our 9 foot 6 inch wide platform.

Portahut floor framing.

Floor framing nearly complete.

Portahut insulation.

While we'll be skipping wall insulation and interior paneling for now, I figured we should insulate the floor since it'll be difficult to access later.

Building backcountry skiing hut.

The platform foundation completed. It's 16 feet long and about 9 foot 6 inches wide. We'll need a wide load permit for highway moves, but the extra width gets the interior feeling away from the 'travel trailer' ambiance. We're not planning on moving this very frequently, so needing a permit shouldn't be a big deal.

Next, we’ll get some walls up!


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12 Responses to “Portahut Tiny House — The Foundation”

  1. Tom Gos September 2nd, 2010 9:04 am

    Lou, something about those pics of you, maybe its the plaid shirt and the hat, combined with the very concept of this project – it all reminds me of the Red Green show.

  2. Jordan September 2nd, 2010 10:02 am

    I second that.

  3. Dan September 2nd, 2010 10:17 am

    4 sawzalls is a worthy tally for any man.

    That looks like a sweet base!

  4. RandoSwede September 2nd, 2010 1:29 pm

    This is a great project. Please keep us posted on the costs. Can you believe what they are charging for one of those Tumbleweed houses… almost $500/sf!

  5. Ryan September 2nd, 2010 2:06 pm

    Oh yeah Red Green, third that!!

  6. tOM September 2nd, 2010 7:32 pm

    Lou, your progress looks not too bad, but toasting good tools really isn’t something to brag on. I wouldn’t expect a blogger to own a full-on fabrication shop, but next time you need to do rough cutting try 6″ X .062″ depressed center cut-off wheels with a good 4.5-5″ grinder,(about 3-4 bucks each). It cuts fast and is much less punishing than the reciprocating torture device,(though when you need one you need one). A side benefit is no need to grind afterward. FWIW.

    All the best, tOM

  7. Lou September 2nd, 2010 8:15 pm

    Tom, good point but I didn’t toast the tools, I just used them up! Wasn’t really trying to brag, just make a point about knowing sawzalls quite well. I do have a metal chop box that uses cutting wheels, so I know how well those work, but good suggestion about the grinder. I’ll rent one next time — mine are to small for that. The torch was great, however, as it got in places I never could have done with a grinder or a sawzall.

  8. ed September 2nd, 2010 9:57 pm

    cool stuff!

  9. Daniel Lowell September 3rd, 2010 6:57 am

    Might try metal studs for walls, will save some weight.

  10. Lou September 3rd, 2010 8:02 am

    Daniel, thanks, we were thinking of that, but we are leaving the interior framing exposed so wanted wood. The wall system is 2×4 with 5/8 sheathing covered by roll roofing as siding, so without interior wall covering and without an extra layer of siding, they are still pretty light. I don’t think we’ll exceed the rating of the trailer.

  11. ScottN September 3rd, 2010 6:06 pm

    Yeah, that big Bosch sawzall is a sweet tool. It cut through that 1/8″ ish steel like butter and with a nary a vibration, i.e. no numb hands, like a lighter duty sawzall would inflict you with. And the “red green” thing regarding Lou…totally, ha ha.

  12. jk December 11th, 2011 12:01 pm

    I enjoy this idea, and have been accumulating materials for a sauna on wheels in a very similar style. I notice in these photos that the top of the wheel breaks the plane of the sub-floor. And I don’t believe I have seen how you have dealt with that. Did you build weatherproof boxes to capture potential road debris, or have some other secret finishing detail that I missed?

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