Raising the Walls >> Computer Lab + Multi-home Build Gilbert, AZ

Mockup of the typical Pallet house construction.
Mockup of the typical Pallet house construction.

Raising the Walls visits Gilbert, AZ

On December 8th, 2012 the non-profit NGO Raising the Walls came to Gilbert, Arizona to Gilbert Christian High School’s parking lot to assemble a Computer Lab and three residential Homes for families living in the Colonias outside of Juarez, Mexico all in one morning and a few hours after noon.  A few hundred volunteers came together to back the cause of constructing these wood frame homes in order to provide a new residence for a few families in Mexico, which currently are living in poorly constructed pallet houses. The homes they are replacing (not unlike the mock display shown above) are makeshift, formed from cardboard, plastic and other readily accessible but unsafe materials.

Once the framing elements were nailed to the headers and footers, the next step was to nail the Oriented Strand Board (OSB) on the roof frames and the Siding on the wall elements, in order to square both of those and give them rigidity for transport on the journey across the border.

Once the excess siding and OSB had been cut to the exact dimensions of the frame it was time to paint all the walls with siding the corresponding colors for each of the structures. We moved the walls over onto the plastic tarp in order to protect the parking lot asphalt from getting paint on it from all the volunteers dipping their rollers and brushes into the paint buckets. I made sure that the computer lab was adequately back-rolled and sealed to alleviate some of the worries of having to completely repaint the structure when it arrived in Juarez. Finally, after Adept Painting had mixed the colorful hues for each of the structures, all the separate teams commenced the painting of the wall members.

Assembly time! 

Now that everything had been painted and had a chance to dry, it was time to RAISE THE WALLS and install the Roof Members to test the preliminary fitting and joining of all the parts of the structures. The typical dimension of the two-room homes is roughly 12′ W x 25′ L. First the walls would be lifted, then the internal partitions and a supporting member were fastened inside to provide lateral stability and rigidity. Finally, the windows were cut out and the roof was slid into place, completing the process of assembly.

After the three homes had been raised, the final structure left to assemble was the Computer Room, which was double the size of the homes, coming in at about 20′ W x 25′ L. This room being double the width of the homes and having a double pitched roof, required the use of a post and lintel structural system to support the center of the structure. I was lucky enough to work with Jesús the site foreman on constructing two matching post supports, completely devised by joining multiple 2×4’s in between a header and footer. As you can see they are made up of 3 full length 2×4’s and filler pieces all nailed together, no screws.

Computer Room photo lapse of the assembly.
Computer Room photo lapse of the assembly.
360˚ Panoramic view of the finished structures after assembly.
360˚ Panoramic view of the finished structures after assembly.
Raising the Walls, Gilbert, AZ Build Volunteers!
Raising the Walls, Gilbert, AZ Build Volunteers!

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