Construction Begins


Construction begins with plans. There were multiple floor plans of the house where the crime was committed. Most didn’t have any measurements on them. Some had some measurements, but nothing close to complete. There was a bit of math to get the layout put down so I’d know where the walls would go. Plenty of time with a square and a ruler. And another ruler. And a third ruler. And a tape measure.

If you’ve never built anything to scale before, it’s great if someone has worked out your dimensions for you. If they haven’t, you’re going to be doing some pretty small measurements. For instance, what is the riser height on a stair? If you have a section of the house that’s two stairs higher than the rest, you have to account for that. For your edification, a stair riser should be 8 inches. In 1:12 that’s 3/4.”

The house sits above grade in the real world and that means the whole construction needed to be raised. The lower level, living room and kitchen, at one level and the rest of the house two steps higher. Since everything sits on risers to get the house above grade, it’s two measurements.


Here’s the risers before they were glued down. The four in the foreground are the shorter ones for the living room/kitchen area. The back six are the longer ones. Each riser had to be measured and cut with a great deal of care to ensure flat floors. When the glue went down, the subfloor (top picture) was used with a whole collection of books to weigh everything down securely. To hopefully ensure some knowledge seeping into the work, I used all my old Criminal Justice textbooks. I added additional risers in the centers of the squares to give extra support. The glue bond between the subfloor and the base is what gives the structural integrity to the whole unit, at least at first. Since the overall length is 51″ and the base is 1/4″ birch ply, warping over time is a concern. The plan is to add additional bracing across the bottom before the unit is finished.


As the walls go on, twists and warps in the birch ply can be difficult. The stock is 1/8″ so it’s easy to bend, hard to keep the bend where you need it. Two glued surfaces is really a minimum. More is better and also more difficult. Duct tape, book piles, even a variety of woodworking clamps were required. I can’t stress accurate measurements enough. And accurate gluing. The wall on the left of the picture, a shared wall with the house next door, slid while I was setting all the bracing. It only slid 1/16″ but at 1:12 scale that’s the same as having your wall almost an inch out of whack. If you think that’s fine, remember that everything you add after has to take into account that error. Flooring, carpets, doors…everything will have to be altered to account for the difference.

Notice the steps, too! The thickness of the subfloor was taken into account to build the steps.

bdrm walls

Quite a bit of extra rigidity was added with the walls. Seams were glued from edge to edge with corners measured for which way they overlap. The more edges were secured, the more rigid the construction is. As much as was possible, each wall was a single piece of birch ply. The only places it wasn’t possible (walls more than 12′ long) have to have seams. The room in the foreground with the roll of painter’s tape on the floor is one such room. You can see the seam above the door. Seams were glued with clamps to ensure a close a fit as possible. They still require work so the seam disappears.

Several times while assembling the walls I was amazed at the space and how it didn’t seem enough. Pictures of the scene, though, show that, yes, the hallway was that narrow.


This last pic for today is just before the top plate was installed. Notice how the room at the front/left has a twisted wall. With nothing to secure it, it wandered. The top plate secures all the free corners and squares everything up. The walls were pushed, pulled and finessed into square with clamps, piles of books, pins, tape, curse words aplenty and more than a little begging with powers higher than myself.

The finished model will not have exterior walls on the front or back. The largest rooms will have views from front, back and top. The smaller rooms from side and top. The investigation into this crime scene will require investigators to view the scene as the responding officers saw it, as much as possible. Being able to view from the side facilitates this view better than just a view from the top. The only exception to this may possibly be in one of the bedrooms where there was enough evidence on the wall to make it important. In this case, a partial wall will be added. The possibility of an acrylic wall is still an option, where the evidence can be added without obscuring the view of the rest of the room.

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