How to raise walls in the most frightening way possible:

  1. Make sure you're working totally alone.

  2. Make your walls 11 feet high with 2x6 studs 16" OC. Install some sheathing before raising for added weight.

  3. Build your own wall jack from a 16' 2x6, a $12 hand winch, a gate hinge, and a garage door pulley.

  4. Try to pick a moderately windy day.

Building and raising the first wall went well until it was actually raised to about 45 degrees and the wind started to whip it around like a sail. I had to lower it back down and install some braces that would be raised with the wall and then immediately secured to the floor. The DIY wall jack actually worked fairly well at this point. Here are photos of building the first wall, the wall jack, and raising the first two walls (after braces added).

The excitement really started when raising the third wall. About halfway up, the gears on the hand winch stripped and it wouldn't raise any further. Luckily they didn't strip enough to send the wall crashing to the ground. Lesson learned: $12 hand winches aren't very high quality. I eventually managed to finish raising the third wall using a long board on one end to push the end up a little at a time and a tie-down strap to incrementally push up on the existing brace on the other end. Took about an hour to get the third wall up the rest of the way.

For the fourth and final wall which has two windows and a door, lacking a wall jack, I just installed the top and bottom plates and the full studs, hoping it would be light enough to manage. It was still very heavy and I raised it a little at a time using two ladders and a long board to push it up. I then started framing out the doors and windows. Finished the door framing and most of one window when a thunderstorm rolled in and I didn't want to be standing on an aluminum ladder with lightning in the area so I called it a day. All that's left is some window framing, the top plates for the walls, and the rest of the sheathing (roughly 14 sheets). I'll tackle that this coming weekend.