What?! Christmas?!

So. You’ve been thinking: What the heck have they been up to?!

Answer:

So much, and yet, not so much. If you’ve been keeping up on the YouTube vlog, you pretty much know what’s what, but for those for you who haven’t discovered it or don’t have a means of playing it (or perhaps worse, have been trying to use the closed captioning provided by YouTube-so funny) you’re likely totally in the dark. Unless you’ve been hiding somewhere in the back yard. Then you probably know more than us.

What is now sitting in our RV port is looking super, super house-like! I mean, it has walls and window-holes (shhh) and house wrap and roof sheathing(!!!! You may not care- we’re thrilled) and this past week it has even got it’s underlayment (complete with Grace Shield) in preparation for the super-awesome roof we’ve ordered. 

True, it doesn’t look that earth-shatteringly different from our last entry. The thing that has gotten us, and the thing you really can’t underestimate, is thinking and planning ahead. If you are completely new to construction (as I am- Ryan has a guesstimate as to what’s what) you have to learn eeeevvverything. And in the end, most of the time that you spend working on a given task, thinking you’re doing it right, you’re actually creating something that’s now just waiting to screw you over… months down the line… without warning. No pressure 😉 

We hit a bit of a wall (okay it was more like quick-sand) back in July. We muddled through till August and by September we were beat. We took some time away from the project and cooled off. We thought about starting the electrical when the siding was far beyond what we had budgeted for. But then you run the risk of nailing through all of your wiring. We thought about moving onto the roof. Every roofing option was either exceedingly expensive (the thing about small quantities for small houses, is that they don’t have enough of a profit margin to interest sellers- if you can go in with a group of tiny builders to buy en mass that would better) too heavy (Tile, Slate, Asphalt- also terrible for the environment) or terribly impractical (just add Wood Shingles to the last list). 

But with the muddling and fuddling we’ve finally gotten to the point where we are able to crank it out again. Well…. that’s the plan at any rate. 🙂

We’ve had some super-awesome craigslist finds-which you can’t really count on finding, but are fantastic when you do.

$350 Cedar Siding (approximately enough for our house…. may have to stretch it with shingles) A-MAZ-ZING! This should have run us at least $2,000+.

$350 Used On Demand Marine Water Heater New-$1,450 Whoop!

$150 Engineered Wood Floor- Would have loved solid, but it wasn’t to be. Picked this up in Las Vegas while visiting Ryan’s Sister and Brother-in-Law. 🙂

$450 Acrylic Clawfoot Tub. New from $1249. Cannot convey how pleased we are with this find! It was a little beyond our shower budget, but it solves so many worrying water-damage issues, we’re stoked! 

Annnnddd….. here are some shots of what we have been up to.

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The inside of that ever-so-troublesome gable dormer. Just don’t. Can you see where we had to frankenstein in the rafters to get their pitch to match the pitch of the other roof? GAH!

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My greatest accomplishment in the compound-angle world of Windows. Yeah, that’s one solid sill (which is the outside bit that sheds water, the inside bit is the stool) with a 15* bevel on the back (where the stool will nail in) and on the face that meets the wall. HA! Eat that. (And no, it’s not mounted all skiwhompus like that. It’s just chilling up off the ground to avoid rain while I make its guts)

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The fascia boards all stained and ready to go.

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Here is the best way I have come up with for venting the baffles at the blocking. Other people drill holes in the blocking, but this made way more sense to me. If you’re more friendly with large drill insert, then by all means, go that way. I’m more comfy with the table saw. Bevel the blocking to the angle of your roof, insert on top of top plate between all rafters. PSSST- Do this before you put on your roof sheathing. 😉

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We’re baffled! So. Some thoughts. Baffles are spacers that allow air to move up through the soffit vents (a soffit is the underside of a roof, usually on the outside of the building) and out of the ridge vents without being blocked my insulation. In small spaces it is imperative to have good moisture control. We are using sheep’s wool for our insulation as it wound up being about the same price as the foam-type, naturally fire resistant and it is one of the few insulations that allow moisture to breathe and disperse (great for any area that needs some extra moisture defense) We got ours through Oregon Shepard and we are thrilled with the product! They even sell it by ‘wall’ if you just want to do the steamy side of your house. Now, because the wool allows moisture to breathe, you need somewhere for that moisture to go. If it’s in the walls it can breathe upwards (towards your baffles) and/or outwards, through the sheathing, the housewrap (its designed for this) and up and out the airspace in your rainwall. (You are making a rainwall, right?) Sooo… if our insulation is allowing for moisture movement, why in the world would you use a non permeable material for your baffle? I don’t get it. There are allegedly some cardboard baffles out there, but I couldn’t find any… and they say that carboard leads to rot, because it fills with moisture. But what is going to happen to that moisture if it can’t get out through the ridge vent? Is it going to puddle on my top plate? Will that rot? Will it try to work its way through the walls? Will the housewrap be okay with added moisture?

Anyway. I cut little holes in them.

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You really want your whole roof to have air movement behind it for icedams, moisture control and general roof health. But the baffles don’t fit in all of our rafter spaces. Sooooo… I made my own! I got this fabric from my sister (who got it from Oregon Shepherd for her build, but never used it) which is super lightweight and breathable. A few staples, a premade baffle (to hold the shape) and voila! Continuous air movement! Yay!

Ain’t that pretty? 🙂

 

Two Months Later….

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So…. yes. We have (okay, okay… I, not Ryan) have been pretty terrible at this written blog thing. We have (okay, Ryan has) been really good at keeping up the Vlog, which is awesome! I just need to keep up.

I keep forgetting to take pictures. We take video where we can, but it gets in the way of progress and I shrug it off. Shame, shame, shame. Which is silly, because I really enjoy reading other people’s blogs. Check out http://www.goldthreadtinyhouse.blogspot.com/ ,  smallhousebigadventure.com/  and tallmantinymansion.blogspot.com/  for some of my recent faves. 🙂

So yeah, it’s been just over two months and we have made great progress! We have framed, insulated and sub-floored the floor, framed the door end, the back end, the bedroom and most recent started on the roof (got a few bits more to frame as we decided to go the semi complicated route… which led to having to let out three inches of tire air…..) and, perhaps most structurally defining, a mostly-sheathed exterior. Yay!

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On roofing… if you plan on a dormer, I now know first-hand why shed dormers are recommended over gable type dormers. It’s cause they’re a pain! The valley is all full of math and whimsy and if you look at it wrong, well…. you’ll just wind up making it wrong. But yeah. 😀 I’d say give it a miss, or stick to a right angle triangle. Acute has been rather vexing.  If you are going to attempt it, there is just about nothing that I could find to tell you how to do it. Aside from this:

http://www.oocities.org/web_sketches/framing_math/hip_valley_90.html

….. yeah…. so I guessed. In the end I eyeballed it and then cut the angles at 40* and 30* Did it work? Maybe? It’s not super snug, but it seems to do the job. Also, you need to use one size up for the lumber. Our roof is framed in 2x4s so I needed to use a 2×6. I think this is because if it were real-house-sized, it would have a lot of pressure on it, but it does help it line up.  Oh yeah… weird angles? I figured out that you can MOVE THE LUMBER! HA! That was really exciting for me… instead of relying on the angles precast into the compound mitre saw, you can…. theoretically, clamp down the piece to be cut at an alternate angle. AND IT WORKS! So proud.  Don’t tell Ryan…. it may be super dangerous… :/ Nevermind, you can’t do that. And, uh…. I certainly have never tried it. :/

Also, we discovered that if you would like to include a rounded or curved roof into your structure, it’s a good idea to have your wall framing to allll the way up to the roof. That way there are no breaks in the distribution of weight and thus fewer weak spots. We combated this by making our curved roof flat on the inside, which means we’ve lost some precious inches. Not ideal, but it beat taking out and reframing the whole hitch end of the project. :/ Anndd… now we’re pretty solid! 🙂

If you’d like to follow the far-more-updated vlog on the You of Tubes, it can be found here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/tinydrunkenpixie?feature=watch

The Trailer has Arrived!

The trailer arrives!

The trailer arrives!

 

Trailer in construction port. Yay, shade!

Trailer in construction port. Yay, shade!

Woot! On monday 6/10/2013 at about 2:30PM our beautiful 24′ CC242 model trailer by PJ Trailer arrived! It is super swish. It features two 5,200 lb axels, with electric brakes, four stabilizing jacks (one on each corner), it weighs 3,440 lbs, and has a GVWR of 9,990. (El, you’re right I did have the number wrong, though I am not entirely sure why 2 x 5,200 = 9,990.) So we can have a load/house of 6,550 lbs. Pretty cool.

(Exciting! We are also doing a video Blog through the You of Tubes and it can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/user/tinydrunkenpixie )

Once we had this most-vital ingredient in our possession we got cracking! We measured our new ‘foundation’ and compared it against our plans (which we have been unable to solidify because we did not know the exact measurements of the trailer) and finalized them (well, the floor bit at any rate :). The new and probably most frustrating ordeal with the plans has been the handy stabilizing jacks. They make it so that we can only (and I mean juuuuust barely) have a max width of 7’3″. Gah! So we have brought in our hitch-end for the last 10″ and everything on the door end will be a max of 7’3 exteriorly.  Oh well! The jacks are very handy.

Stabilizing jack- handy but a pain

Stabilizing jack- handy but a pain

On Tuesday we drew out a schematic and designed our floor framing and from thence our buy list. We also decided that removing as much of the trailer bed as possible was a good idea as it 1) lowered our weight (we’re very concerned about being too fat) 2) it gave us about 130 ft of treated wood to repurpose for our floor framing! We just had to rip them on the table saw from 2x6s to 2x4s (just incase you aren’t very familiar with lumber those numbers are no longer the actual dimensions– a modern 2×4 measures 1.5 inches x 3.5 inches) and viola! I regret to inform you that nearly all of the still photos somehow didn’t download and have been deleted. So…. you’ll just have to take my word for it that we did the steps between the bare trailer and this.

Insulation!

Insulation! (psst– the shade from the RV Port is sooo wonderful! I don’t know how we could be doing this out in the 90+ weather and beating sun)

Never-the-less, here are the steps we have accomplished! We went to the hardware store and after just shy of $1000 we had our floor makings! This included 23 @ 2x4x8′ 6 @ 3/4″ x 4 x 8 plywood to cover the floor when it’s done, 6 @ 1/2″ x4’X8′ Insulation board  6 @ 2″x4’X8′ Insulation board, 6 @ 1″x4’X8′ Insulation board (we forgot this and had to go back *doink* actually only 5 of each will be used for the floor) 8 @ anchor bolts, washers and nuts, 5 @ 20″x 25′ Aluminum flashing rolls, 1 @ insulation knife (probably could have used a standing knife instead) 3 @ cans of insulation filler, 1 @ flashing sealant. We already had a roll of duct tape and one of aluminum tape.

We ripped down the 2x6s to the 2x4s that we needed and mocked the floor framing from the hitch end to the door side of the wheel wells on Tuesday and then called it quits.

On Wednesday we finished the mock (complete with a reworking of the door end because we forgot to account for the cantilever on the end of the trailer in framing version 1), nailed it all together and flashed to the same point as Tuesday. For flashing we stapled the material to the framing and then taped over the seams. Eventually it was not meeting on a joist so we had to tape the inside with duct tape, run a bead of flashing sealant from on end to the other and tape the outside with the aluminum tape and squash the whole thing together.  (It was a lot of work! it doesn’t sound that exciting here, but it we rocked it and that was as far as we got.)

Finally, on Thursday we finished flashing, put in all of the through bolts (these suck! Don’t drill the trailer holes first because it is very difficult to align a hole through the floor… instead drill down through the floor framing with a metal and wood drill bit and make a mark where the hole should continue, then remove or elevate the floor framing and finish drilling through the trailer beneath- so much easier!) and began insulation. If you’re using the foam board type insulation, make sure to get everything as straight as possible the first time. It is very hard to cut the darn stuff  when has is less than a foot on each side. If you align the score line (which you make with either the evil-looking insulation cutter or a standing knife) on a hard straight edge you will have a cleaner and smoother cut. Hacking through the material will only lead to messiness. 😦

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Either of these can score the foam insulation board.

Hmmm…. all of this doesn’t sound very impressive, but it was mind-numbing toward the end. Now we just have to finish the insulation, put up a moisture barrier and throw on the sub floor! That’ll be easy….. right?

Settling In and Setting Up

And thus it continues! We have unpacked and organized (and perhaps more importantly, cleaned) the workshop. Yay! We also constructed a workbench (it’s huge… worktable? work bridge?) to, er, work on. Thus far we have procured:

Table Saw

Radial Arm Saw (super dangerous! and unable to be retrofitted so we’re sending it back to its makers)

Air Compressor

Framing Nailer

Plunge Router

Mortise and Tenon Jig

10″ Sliding Compound Mitre Saw

Impact Driver, Screw driver

Circular Saw

Multiple extension cords and electrical socket extenders

A couple levels, a T square, two hammers, some screw drivers, a collection of electrical paraphernalia and a couple mystery boxes. Who knows?! Could be something cool!

We were very fortunate to find some great deals off of craigslist- Yay! Early on we also got some really crap deals from thence, but we didn’t know any better. Always check with your local hardware store before you think something is the best deal ever. ’cause you just miiiight have something confused and for $20 more you could have a brand new item with a warrantee. Just saying… We bought our 10″ Sliding Compound Mitre saw new because everything we found on craigslist was WAAAYYY more expensive than new ($500 used $300-500 new).Huh? We were picky in that we needed it to be sliding and not fixed, but still… (My understanding is that when these saws first came out they were quite pricey and the guys who purchased them years ago for $700 are now trying to sell them off for what would be a reasonable markdown, if the technology hadn’t become vastly more available and -in some cases- better) We got ours (by Ridgid) for $399 from Home Depot. The same price as the Dewalt at Lowes, but Dewalt have crappy blades and no laser sight. It would have been another $30 for a new sight and $50 for a good blade. The Ridgid came with a Diablo blade by Freud. It. Is. Fantastic. ! We like the sight as well.

Now, all we need is a trailer…

Which continues to be delayed, though it is (allegedly) going to arrive next thursday, the  6th of June 2013. Here’s hoping! Because all trailers are dramatically to ever-so-slightly different from each other, we have been waiting on this feller’s arrival to finalize our plans. Can’t wait for it to show up!

Build Site!

Yikes! It has been a whirlwind of packing and tetrising and unpacking and cleaning like you wouldn’t believe and gahhh! We are here and landed and mostly disinfected! Honestly, we did not pick this place for its cleanliness. Because if we had, we wouldn’t be here. Neither did we choose it for it’s mousey/buggishness, ’cause who really wants that? But the reasons we did choose it for are still awesome. 🙂

We also adopted a beautiful dog named Bubz (with a ‘z’ 😉 to help us keep the property safe and full of slobber (okay, we didn’t really see the slobber beforehand, but it’s certainly there:). He is a big sweetie, quite well behaved (if you forgive a huge fondness for water that lead to him eat a sprinkler yesterday) and a joy to have gallumphing around the place.

The trailer is now delayed by over a month. Not really that awesome. I guess something happened with over booking at the factory because it has had to be pushed back to being shipped from Texas to Ridgecrest on the 24th of May (originally we were told the 20th of April, then the 1st of May, then with the move we asked if it could be delivered on the 15th of May and now we’ll be lucky if it’s here before June). Oh well, it will work! It gives us a bit more time to acquire the needed tools.

So far we have purchased (all secondhand) a table saw, a radial arm saw (we’ll see how scary that really is!), an air compressor and a plunge router. Our dear friends Baird and Diana have let us borrow a slurry of others (including a dremel, a reciprocating saw, an other router, a set of chisels and a bunch of hand tools) Yay!

The delay also means that I had better get cracking on windows. I have decided and am determined to make them. It can be done! First of all, don’t get all worked up thinking that I am going to be melting my own glass for some-such nonsense. I am not even going to be making the glass units. Those you order from a glazier as a sealed replacement unit, so all that guess-work is taken out. I will just be making the frames and fitting the hardware, etc. It’ll be fiiiinnneee. 😉 There’s a great discussion board on the topic at http://lumberjocks.com/topics/9340 .

So while Ryan is at work, Bubz and I will be setting up shop… in the next little bit! 🙂 Go team Fulcher!

 

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Of Momentum and Moving

Wow! This past…. (has it been two weeks?) has really gone fast! Shortly after our last post we began searching for a new building site. It is truly incredible what you can learn from talking to your friends. We had a couple people offer use of land in the surrounding hills, but with no electricity or storage we had to pass of these ever-so-tempting options. We also met with the mother-in-law-ish of a friend (whom we haven’t seen in years) who has been living tiny with her husband for the 10+ years. She was a wealth of knowledge with an enduring desire to help (even effective strangers) get up on our feet and running as quickly as possible. If you think modern community is weak, or failing, you are wrong. 🙂 Thank you, Danada!

After determining that living close to our build will be the most effective use of time and space (and lets face it, we can’t afford a build-site rental in addition to our apartment) we began looking into houses with garage space, a workable bit of land and a house. Enter the High Desert. After speaking with Ella, we knew that being close to a hardware store would also be very important for us, so we started out our hunt in communities that had larger hardware stores in their vicinity. Hello Hesperia!

When we walked onto the property that will soon be ours (ahhhhh!) for a year (eeek!), we knew that we had found it. It is a little run down and a bit more pricy than the other houses in the area, but it is cool even in the heat of the day (impressive in the desert) and it has a covered car port AND(!!) a covered RV port that will be perfect for our tiny-house-to-be. If you were making a house to build a tiny house at, I imagine it would look something like this one. We are only 4 miles from both a Home Depot and a Lowes (jealous, El?) and about 45 mins from Ryan’s work (beats the 1:20+ that he currently battles).

Our next hurdle has been finding a way to replace the woodworking shop that we would have had use of had our previous site gone as planned. That means buying tools, and lots of them. Unfortunately, despite having saved for years towards this project, our budget is very tight and with the added expense of a carpentry shop, it was looking as if our tiny house was getting off to a false start. But, luckily for us, we are surrounded and supported by the best friends and family that anyone could ask for. At the suggestion of our friends, Mike and Sarah, we set up a kickstarter-type fund to help offset the cost of the tools we will need. We were bulled-over by the response that we got from everyone. In a mere three days, we had raised enough money to purchase the tools that we will need. Thank you all so very much!

And now back to packing up our home of the last four years in preparation for tiny-ness!

Trailers and Tribulations

“A Scout is never taken by surprise; he knows exactly what to do when anything unexpected happens.”  – Robert Baden-Powell

And so the project has begun in ernest (well, Los Angeles, but that’s not as interesting).

The search for the exact trailer we want has been a long and rough road. Apparently a 24ft x 8.5ft trailer is an uncommon size for such a thing and so our idea of buying one second hand trailer and saving some money for the rest of the build came to a grinding hault upon this discovery.

But fear not, we are not so easily put off! We contacted the wonderful Ayub at American Loan Masters and he helped us out with finding the ideal trailer for our needs AND they’re going to deliver it.

Now, as we have discovered the deliver part has also proved to be more difficult than we had imagined. The problem arose when the site that we had been told we could build on fell through. It’s no-ones fault. It’s just one of those annoying things what happens when you least expect it. A fly in the ointment. A monkey in the wrench. But we shall cowboy up, batton down the hatches and soldier on! Also, we like mixed metophores 😀

So now begins the frantic running around activity associated with having to move across the state with only two weeks notice and find a house with enough land to build on, in an area that is cheap enough to rent without braking the bank… and we all know how that is!

The tiny house adventure has begun and along with everything else we try to do, this project seem to be resisting our efforts already kicking, screaming and making a fuss. But, as you will soon discover, we are never more determined than when inannimate objects are kicking and screaming!