I was fortunate to participate in this unique experience as one of 303 volunteer construction workers who joined together in a coordinated effort to build a brand new house in a single day; actually in under seven hours to be exact. It was the world’s fastest built house at that time, taking only six hours, fifty five minutes, and twenty three seconds to complete a normally three week operation, earning a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. The 960 square foot three bedroom ranch-style home was built for Richard and Mindy Galbraith before a live audience of about 2,000 spectators in the Sundance Meadows subdivision in Post Falls, Idaho. Local television news agencies were covering the story as well as the national television program “That’s Incredible.” Paul Harvey, the famous radio announcer, exclaimed to his noon audience that a group of builders in North Idaho were attempting to build a house in under eight hours. The owners were interviewed and said they believed the $39,500 house was a real bargain, with lots of extras, and built with quality materials by most of the best skilled labor force in Kootenai county. It came complete with landscaping, carpeting, oak cabinets, appliances, a finished garage, decorative window blinds, and a 10-year guarantee.
When the starting pistol was fired promptly at 8:00 a.m. on July 7, 1982, the team of builders launched into a flurry of activity, in what turned out to be a carefully choreographed production. The builders were divided into various crews according to their trades or specialties, and dressed in color-coordinated T-shirts to designate the various teams. I worked on the framing crew and drywall crew. The only preparation that was made to the building site before the event started was the placement of the underground utilities, garage slab, and concrete foundation footings, plus the prefabrication of the floor and roof trusses. The house was designed to use the new Bowen Foundation System of treated lumber foundation trusses spaced at two foot intervals. The all-weather wood foundation system consisted of 2×8 dimensional floor joists combined with 2×6 pressure treated vertical legs resting on concrete footings, with one row down each side, and one in the center. It only took 30 seconds to install the mud sills and complete the foundation framing and install the AWWF treated plywood around the perimeter and the 3/4″ tongue and groove plywood sheathing on the floor.
As one crew finished their tasks, they were quickly replaced by another, and the house started to unfold according to the normal sequence of construction. Within minutes, the exterior walls were framed, then the interior partitions, followed by the installation of the roof trusses. The roof sheathing was nailed down just as soon as the trusses were set into place and the fascia boards were attached. Just as the last truss was installed on one end of the roof, the roofing was already being applied on the other end. As the interior work was being installed, the outside of the house was being sided, trimmed, and painted. The windows and doors were installed within a matter of minutes. By 9:30 a.m. the exterior shell was complete.
Meanwhile, inside the house, the plumbers and electrician teams were installing their work with the insulators and drywall teams close on their heels. Each crew drove the crew in front of them to complete their work as fast as possible. The drywall finishers used a quick-set mud that dried in seconds followed by the texture coat and a fast-drying paint. The cabinets and doors were quickly installed followed by the trim, countertops, plumbing and lighting fixtures. Each trade promptly completed their tasks, cleaned up after themselves, and then the floor coverings were installed. As the furniture movers went to work, the sod layers put the final touches on the yard.
A little before 3:00 p.m., more than 1 1/2 hours ahead of schedule, the last dabs of paint were applied to the front door and the Post Falls Building Inspector made the final inspection and emerged with the certificate of occupancy. At the end of the event, a catered champagne dinner was served to the owners by tuxedo-clad waiters in their completely furnished house. As smoke rose from the chimney, the couple settled down to their first meal in their cozy dining room. The feat was a new world record and I and all the other participating builders enjoyed a victory dinner of hamburgers and hot dogs out in the street.