Chapter 55: At Last, Walls Glorious Walls

March 1, 2011 • Written by Christina Berry

When last we left you, we’d survived a rather harrowing roofing adventure, and were relaxing with our annual E.A.S.T. showing. Almost as soon as E.A.S.T. was over it was time to get back to work.

Errek’s job had been working him 12 hours a day for 7 days a week, but the overtime was slowing, and after a short break and a few sessions with a chiropractor, Errek was ready for the next stage in our construction plan — walls.

That’s right, a roof only goes so far on the comfort scale, at some point we’re going to want to stand in our kitchen wearing only our knickers and not get the cops called on us (not that anyone ever calls the cops for such things in this hood, but you catch my drift). Twas time for privacy, an enclosed house, and all that that entails. STAT!

And so it begins.

Now, this will take some explaining. Since we first started drawing houseplans on bar napkins, Errek has wanted to build a “skin vent.” Maybe it sounds a bit naughty, but I assure you it’s a green thing. A skin vent would draw the air up out of the crawl space, through the walls, into vents in the roof, and then push it out the top through the ridge vent. How? Physics. Why? Well, it keeps the crawlspace ventilated and cool, and it allows for a radiant barrier in the walls as well as on the roof, and it will keep the roof temperature lower. All of this adds up to a cooler house in those hot Austin summers, and lower energy bills. This skin vent makes the AC work less hard. Sorry, that’s the best I do without a diagram. As we build out the layers, hopefully it will make more sense.

So, the first layer of this complex contraption is the radiant barrier. It reflects the rays of the suns, keeping the house cooler. It’s like a freakin’ mirror.

See that? That’s us. We’re totally waving at you right now!

These walls are crazy tall.

In fact, they are so tall we didn’t really even have to finish them before we were feeling all kinds of secure.

Next up, the kitchen and breakfast room wall.

The only downside to working with radiant barrier is that it’s really freakin’ bright when the sun shines on it. You can even see it reflecting onto the fence behind Errek. Sorry, neighbors.

Pretty walls and pretty flowers!

Now, we just had one wall left to build.

But there was a small roadblock. See those diagonal bracing beams? Well, they’re keeping the house from going all wonky. And in order to put the back wall up, we’d need to remove those very diagonal braces. What a conundrum!

Clearly we needed to find a permanent way to brace the house and keep it dewonkified. The answer was to put up a layer of OSB on the wall that separates the bedroom and bathroom — one of the few east/west walls in the whole house. And since we had all this radiant barrier (glorified OSB) laying about, we just used that.


To celebrate the fact that we were 2/3 of the way to an enclosed house, we decided to have some cocktails in the future kitchen. It was cold, but we had an answer for that too. What are we if not resourceful?

The next day, we finished up.

This back wall will someday (soon) be entirely composed of windows (put our deposit down last week), but for now this wall too will be made of radiant OSB. Not quite as view-friendly, but it’ll have to do for now.

Well, okay, “finish up” was too strong a term. We got it to a secure height, and then we put a piece of plywood over the door opening.

Hey there, welcome to our home…you might want to come around front.

Then came my favorite part, Errek used a router to cut out the window holes.


Next up, Tyvek to keep out wind and rain. The rain was coming and we didn’t want our radiant barrier to get wet. That OSB is as bad as cork when it gets wet.

Future bathroom windows, covered by Tyvek.

Unrelated, but check me out — totally sporting the latest in fall fashion.

Yep, back to work. Finishing up that rear wall.

Well heck, would you look at that? The house is all buttoned up!

Now we just need to move the temporary back door back to where the permanent back door will go. Ready? Ready? Yes. Wait. What? What’s this? Oh crap, see that glow coming out of the space just above the wall? Yeah, that’s the outdoors. See, the walls are covered and the roof is covered, but there is this 4″ x 16″ gap between each rafter/joist. Ugh. I don’t know how you define “buttoned up” but that ain’t it.

Clearly, before we can open up our house, we need to build a comfy room to live in, inside our house. Yes, I’m a total princess who can only sleep in enclosed spaces. Sorry.