Introduction: A House for Noah

A House for Noah

Every child needs a place to call their own. A place to dream, to laugh, to play, to have adventures, to explore their world and their place in it. What better place to do so, then their own little house, a house where all the adventures of a lifetime can be plotted, planned, hatched and realized bounded only by the fertile imagination of their own minds! I made this house for my nephew Noah out of used pallets, shipping crates, and leftover materials I had around the garage, so that he would have his very own place for all those adventures.


I believe strongly in the reuse and reimagination of items that have fulfilled their orginal intention. Noah's house is made almost entirely of used pallets, shipping crates, old fencing, a bed frame, deck railing, and a few 2x4's I had laying around the garage. Despite my best intentions, I did have to buy 8-2x4x92" studs since I didn't have enough.

I know most Instructables will give precise measurements and detailed plans and proceedures. This one wont. I made Noahs house by the seat of my pants, designing, changing, reimagining as I went along. the project "talked' to me and ended up with what you see. I guess what I am saying is create what you feel and you will love what you create. Let your imagination be your guide, you don't always need a blueprint to walk you through your creation. I hope this project will inspire some of you to make your own free-form instructable!

The pallets and shipping crates were from a neighborhood greenhouse. The crates were fantastic for all the siding. Some of the pallets were pine, but some were made of oak which I used for the flooring, the door and the window and door trim. You can really find some great used material in pallets and crates. The fencing that I used for the roof was being thrown out by someone down the street. It layed on his grass for about three weeks, (the garbage men wouldn't take it), before I grabbed it. I orginally made a rabbit hutch out of it, and the rest sat around untill I used them for my roof. Many of the boards were twisted and rotten, but I was able to salvage enough for the roof. Though it will not keep you dry in a rain, that's ok with my nephew cause he said "...I just won't sit in it while it is raining...."

I also used

  1. Decking screws, 2 1/2" and 3 1/2" tork head. best head to use, really hard to strip them
  2. 18 GA. brad nails, hundreds of them
  3. Varathane Polyurethane oil-based finished
  4. Olympic Water-Repellent wood treatment
  5. Various hinges and handles I had left over from other projects and replacements

Step 1: The Breakdown

I used a reciprocating saw with a metal cutting blade to cut apart the pallets and the shipping crates. It made quick work of cutting the nails that held them together and allowed me to get the best and longest planks and pieces of wood to use. I seperated them by type and thickness of the wood along with the "straightness" of the pieces so I was a bit more organized and could see exactly what I had to work with.

Step 2: The Base

The base or floor of the house and deck is made out of an old hand-made bed frame. It consisted of 2x4's and 4x4 posts and is 60" by 80". It definitely needed more beams for support, so I used an old deckrailing, along with parts of pallets and 2x4's to build that needed support. I also added 3-9" 4x4 posts cut from some leftover posts. I placed the joists in a location that would allow a porch of 22" and an interior floor space of 38". It seemed like a good divison of the 60" width. I attached the boards using the 3 1/2" tork decking screws. The posts are pressure treated so they can be used with ground contact. I do recommend to place them on cement blocks on a layer of stone to keep them strong and rot-free for years to come.

Step 3: The Floor and the Deck

I had so many pallets, that I was able to get enough oak planks for the floor and deck. Strong and beautiful, oak would ensure a safe and durable base. I wanted a staggered placing of the floor planks for a better look, and to have more nailing surface. This helped determined where I placed the floor joists. I had to squeeze some of the planks together with clamps to straighten them out and ensure a tight finish, and then securely fastened them to the joists with the brad nails. The flooring extended beyond the outside of the joists, so I snapped a line and cut off the excess to have a clean look.

The porch was made with one end butting up at a 90 degree angle to the interior flooring, and the other ends hanging over the joist in front. I couldn't decide wether to have the staggered look of an uneven porch front or cut them off evenly. I would decide that later. The transistion between the floor and deck would be covered up later by a 2x4.

After the floor was layed down, I sanded with 80, then 200 grit sandpaper to remove some markings, some uneveness, and then I applied two coats of polyurethane finish to the interior floor. A smooth, durable, sliver free (hopefully) finish!

Step 4: The Framing

Time to build the house! Using both 2x4's and parts of the broken down pallets, I began with attaching two 2x4's and two wood pieces from a pallet to form the rectangle for the base of the house. I had installed the floor joists to correspond where the front wall would be so I had a solid surface to attach the 2x4. It would also cover the transistion between the floor and porch. I screwed down the frame with the 2 1/2 screws.

I made the corner pieces by butting and screwing two 2x4's into a L shape, screwing them down and screwing up through the bottom with the three inch screws and topped it off with a top frame to finish the box for the house frame. The height of the box is 42 1/2" from the floor to the top of the uppermost 2x4. Plenty of room for a growing boy!

Step 5: More Framing and the Sheathing

Now the house takes shape. I installed studs on all four sides, their placement being dictated by the length of the planks that I was able to get from the pallets and shipping crates. For the back wall, each stud is approximately 26 1/2" on center, the side wall stud is 19" on center, while the front wall is divided into three sections leaving, a rough opening of 19" for the door. I planned to used some oak planks I had gotten from some heavy duty pallets for the door, and the three I selected ended up being just under 18" together.

I decided to overlap each wall plank to help shed water and because it looks fantastic that way. It reminded me of old weather-beaten shacks down on fishing piers back in the day.

Step 6: The Siding Goes On

The reveal is about 2 3/4" inches. I made a jig to help me keep the spacing consistent. That, and the Ryobi brad nailer made the process quick and easy! That nailer is gonna to be a great addition to my tool chest. When I nailed on the siding, I either would start with lining up one side even with corner on the front, this would leave me the ability to trim the boards even with the stud, or if the planks were long enough, and depending on what and where nails were in them, overhang and trim both sides. On the side walls, I first attached the siding to the center of the middle stud, then trimed at the corner post. By doing it this way, I did not have to measure and precut the boards, saving time and waste. The shipping crates had all sorts of bracing and extra boards. At times there were be nails right in the middle of some boards I had to straighten and pound them out to remove them.

Step 7: TheTrimmming of the Corners

To give a nice finish I took the best pieces I could find and used them to cover up the corners and edges. There wasn't any oak pieces long enough for the corners, but I was able to use oak for the trim on the door and future window. Brads, brads and more brads! I think the trim really makes the house pop!

Step 8: The Attic Space

What to do about the roof? I thought a long time about what type of "upstairs" and roof I wanted. Would it be a traditional roof with the peak in the middle? Or a roof with the ridgeline running the length on the building? Neither I decided, they would be too boring. So I came up with an offset roof, one that kept the "old sea shanty" thought that I had in mind. Also it would allow a lot of head room, more then a traditional design.

I first started by making another rectangular frame to go on top of the exsisting top plate. Why you ask? Why could I just use the exsisting top plate to attached the roof rafters? I could, but the reason for this will come later and I think you will be surprised and like the reason why!

So I used the remaing 2x4's to frame the roof rafters. I made three, figuring one in the middle would give the needed support for my rather flimsy fence roof! That fence I took from my neighbor had seen a lot of weather! I used 3" screws to attach the rafters at the top, and cut the bird mouth to firmly set and secure the rafters to the newly made box frame.

I then vertically attached the boards to finish off the top portion of the house. I love the fade line going through the boards and left that aligned when I added the boards. I trimmed the excess to the roof rafters but left a "chimney" shape to the very top, I just loved the way it looked! and it gave me a place for the big "N" that would top off Noah's House! I would later add small 1x1 trim pieces to hide the rough edges and give it a nice finished look.

Step 9: The Roof, the Roof, the Roof Is on Fire...?

The Roof is on fire?!?

No, but that song was in my head while I was making it. The roof gave me the most issues, not because of it's design, but because of the condition of the fencing I had to use for it. The fencing was old, warped, twisted, rotten in places, had holes in it, just wasn't the best for a roof. But it was what I had to work with and would definitly keep with the old sea shanty design!

I first seperated the individual pieces of fenceing, they were dirty, moldy and grey. I power washed them carefully as too much pressure would have destroyed them. Some I had to soak, then gently try to straighten them in a home-made jig! I was sucessfull on many, but some were too far gone. I layed the pieces out on the ground and then played with them until I found the best way to start putting them on the rafters.

I planned on having an overhang on both front and back, so I placed the fencing in a way so it would be the best looking finish for the front. Once again I overlapped the pieces as I did on the siding. It would help shed rain, and gave it a weather-beaten clapboard finish. I lined up the front of the roof, nailed it down and snapped a line in the back to even if out and cut the excess material. It wasn't perfect, but it kept with the thought of an old broken down shanty.

I added the 1x2 furing strips to held hold the roof down when we transported the house to my nephews.

Step 10: The Door and Window

Every house needs a window to look out upon the world, and a door to close to bar the distractions of real life. I decide to install a window sized 13.5x13.5". It was fairly straight-forward measuring the frame, assembling it from some 2x4's, nailing it in, and cutting the siding with a jigsaw. Afterwords, I used some 1x4 oak pices from a pallet to put a nice trim around it and a 1x6 for the window sill.

The door was assembled with some more pallet oak. I had to choose it's size during framing because of the oak. I eneded up with a finished size of 33.5x18". The hinges were from my old cabinets from a kitchen remodel and the door handle was an old drawer pull. I placed 5 hinges on the door for added strength since they were rather small and lightweight.

I cut the Peace sign out of a pallet board and attached it right above the door, and added the big 'N' to finish things off.

Step 11: The Porch

I also decide to cut the porch evenly. I liked it better then the uneven finish. Snapped a line, cut it with a circular saw, and rounded over the end with a router and a round nose bit.

I used an electric sprayer to apply two coats of Olympic water-proof finish to help protect the wood.

Step 12: The Big Problem

The Big Problem. Noah's House is big and heavy. It is 80" wide, 60"deep and is 94.5" from the ground to the top of the chimney. How could we safely lift, carry, and transport the house to its final location?

Step 13: The Roof Again

Remember the double top plate? Why double you ask?

Step 14: Raise the Roof

The double top plate enabled the roof to be safely and easily lifted off!

Step 15: The Transport

Another nephew has a nice sized trailer that we were able to use to transport the house. Ezy-pezy

Step 16: That's All Folks

Noah's House fit nicely in the corner of the backyard. Noah, I'm happy to say, uses the house all the time and has his friends over all the time!

I had a blast building this house. I hope this instructable inspires you to build something that is both fun for you and for who you build it for. I hope I showed that you don't always need exact plans, just the desire to create!

BUT, one word of advice...measure twice and cut once!!!!

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