We have four walls, two of which are finished! The door and window frames are in place and we built the box beam in place. Carrie's sister Regan and her boyfriend Trevor came down from Canada and helped us build for a ten days. I found building the box beam in place advantageous because I can do it myself when I have too instead of building it on the ground and having a team of people trying to lift it in place while standing on ladders. The plywood is nailed straight down into the bucks this way instead of toe nailed in afterwards. Then the 2x8's are screwed vertically into the plywood from below and from the top. Inside the box beam I put spacers every three feet. I will fill the box beam with cellulose, which is recycled paper insulation, then cap it with more plywood. Felt paper on top will finish it off for a bit more water protection. Fifteen inches of cellulose is well over R50 insulation which will match my bale walls nicely. The roof will then rest on top of the box beam. While two of the walls were still down, I moved dirt into the house with the tractor and spread by hand for the next floor layer. Once I compact this layer I lay the radiant floor tubes directly on top. With this layer in place I was able to put the bucks in for the other two walls. The other earth floor layers will not require the tractor. Now I can frame the rest of the windows and doors and tie the walls together with the last two box beams. When I finish those walls I am ready for the roof which should arrive any day now. I find the stick frame building goes very fast. Moving lots of dirt is very slow:) There are still several floor layers to go, but things should move along a little quicker now.
I used screws to frame the walls because I happened to have a ton of them recycled from the forms I built. Using screws was a Good thing it turns out since this is my first time building a house. For instance the first window I framed I had to take apart and move three times before I got it right. All I had to do was unscrew everything and move it instead of trying to bang and pry out nails. The next thing I framed was the door ( twice ). After that I got the hang of it and started getting them done in one go. Using recycled wood, you find odd lumbar sizes. I learned to measure everything no matter what you thought the wood sizes were supposed to be. I am framing everything with 2x8''s because I scored a very large stack of them for a very good price. I now have used lumbar, windows, and door sources that seem to be endless. If you ever try this, get to know some builders. They generally stockpile building materials that they pull out of old and even new houses. It can literally cut your materials costs in half or better.