The Hobbit House

I joined a group of two after the loss of a friend and classmate in our engineering class after the first semester. I had already envisioned a very different playhouse structure and design with my original group: A surf shack with big windows and a takeout bar.

So at first when Gab and Nick-my new partners-explained to me their plan of a round-roof house with an aesthetic that can only be described as hobbit-like, I was a bit skeptical. But I agreed to follow their plan in hopes it would turn out with a quirky-cool look.

A playhouse with this structure was not only new to our group, but to our teacher as well. “How will we roof that?” “Will that be structurally sound…” But Ms. Oropallo had faith in our trio and let us mess around with the idea of a half-circle home to build for the second graders.

We began with the floor: an 8×4 basic template, much like the rest of the classes whose playhouses were rectangular and normal. After this step is when it got complicated…

The other groups went to work on their identical, square walls that climbed eight feet into the air while we began our six foot wall which required extra studs for support. Next we spent two class periods with a chalk line, pencil, and string trying to meet Gaby’s standards of a perfect arc. At the time it seemed tedious but looking back I am glad she made us measure, draw, and re-measure so many times because the arc we got is great.

After we drew the arc, it was time to cut. Nick took a jigsaw and followed the carefully drawn line on two walls to create the symmetrical, round roof we have now. Next, we built the two side walls that only reach about two feet up to meet the flat edge of the two rounded walls. Nick used the jigsaw yet again to cut out our surprisingly difficult circular window and door. We are using the circular plywood cut out as a template for our round door. We will panel pallet wood vertically on the plywood and add two gothic-looking hinges to the door to add to our hobbit aesthetic. For the round window, which has a layer of plexiglass screwed in, we still need to buff out the scratches and dings since it was previously used. Gaby, Nick, and I are still trying to figure out if we should put a frame around this window on the back wall.

With the help of Dan, our professional contractor friend, we put up all four walls and screwed them to our floor. This part was a particularly hard one because of the constant rain that was coming down and the time we spent putting up a canopy (which consistently broke) to protect our electronic tools and not leave us soaked for the rest of our day.

Now it was time to conquer the roof, which before us, was a mystery of how to do to Dan and Ms. Oropallo. Dan started us cutting long, thin pieces of plywood to have divots every couple of inches to allow bending. It took a couple pieces of wood before we found a way to prevent breaking and allow bending, but we did it. We screwed these to the walls and put 2x4s between the walls to study the structure.

Now we are paneling the outside walls with pallet wood and using the jigsaw to round the edges. And next we will hinge the door and panel the roof, wish us luck. Thanks for reading!

22 COMMENTS

  1. Sounds like it was a bit of a challenge to get that complex roof up. I didn’t realize how hard it was, but I should have, considering it was very much of a group effort to hang the rain covers in between our playhouse, yours, and Rosie’s. Great blog!

  2. I love the shape your group came up with for your playhouse and your article was very well written. I think you might want to rephrase your intro as you make it seem as if Cam died, not transferred schools.

  3. Way to be flexible Evann. even though it wasn’t your original group, and your vision of a surf-shack had been lost, you still put both hands in to help make an awesome hobbit house with a curved ruf.

  4. Your playhouse idea is great. We like to call it the “taco” as it looks a lot like one. The way you guys designed it made it very hard to make the walls and all the siding work together but you guys did it and it looks great. Keep up the good work!

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